Smart. We are surrounded by smart: Smartfood. Smartphones. Smart bombs. Smart houses, hotels and helicopters. Smart planes, trains and automobiles. Smart dogs. But we’re also surrounded by very, very, very stupid people. One of the reasons so many countries and people overseas have been bitching and moaning about America for so many years now is because of our tunnel vision about the outside world, not to mention the morons we’ve chosen to run this great democracy.
George W. Bush has meant many things to many Americans, but what he symbolized to the rest of the planet was our own navel-gazing ineptitude. We elected a self-professed alcoholic. Still, most of the citizens polled said they voted for him because he seemed like the kind of guy you could have a beer with. Yeah, you could have a beer with him. But after you left, he’d have another case of cold ones and then open up the bourbon cellar.
This is the man who famously uttered, “There’s an old saying in Tennessee—I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee—that says, fool me once, shame on… shame on you. Fool me—you can’t get fooled again… ” He segued from a well-worn bit of wisdom to a lyric written by Pete Townshend of the Who in less than one paragraph. Sixteen years after his last drink. Now that’s what I call one hell of a hangover.
The Republicans are also offering up the spectacle of Sarah Palin running for president in 2012. This is a woman who recently said she thinks the country should be run according to laws “based on the God of the Bible.” What does that mean, exactly? That our economic recovery would depend on 10 million jobs in crucifix construction? Sarah Palin is an excellent argument for separation of church and brain.
This is why I look to the shining example of President Barack Obama. Love him or hate him, and whether you voted for him or for “true American hero, John McCain,” one thing you cannot argue against is the man’s ability to speak. Obama speaks well, he speaks deep and he has a finely tuned and highly self-deprecating sense of humor.
In the end, that’s perhaps the most important element of being the president: It’s not just how he feels about particular issues, but also the rock-solid guarantee that he will stand up and speak, no matter when and no matter where, and not end up quoting the Who when he meant to reference a famous saying.
When our chosen leader looks like a moron, we look like the meatheads we sometimes are. But when a smart and well-spoken leader strikes a chord and we respond, it sends a message of real hope to the rest of the world—hope that we actually do have hearts. And a sense of caring. And a desire to do something other than sit on the edges of our couches, watching The Real Housewives of New Jersey while we suck on salted pretzels and pork rinds. Come to think of it, that’s probably where George W. Bush is right now.