Attention Conservation Notice: Today’s post is self-indulgent, political, and contains no science. And it’s about stupidity. So you know.
Titled “What if Palin were president?”, this opinion piece is a study of stupidity executed from a stupid world view, in a stupid way, which makes it dazzlingly fascinating to me. Maybe because I’m stupid. Let’s move on.
Ironically framed, Harsanyi’s column makes the case that Sarah Palin would make at least as good a president as Barack Obama because she’s really, really dumb. Harsanyi observes that:
We need former constitutional scholars. Who else, after all, has a better understanding of how to undermine the document?
Enriching political donors with taxpayer dollars takes intellectual prowess, not the skills of a moose-hunting point guard.
Does anyone believe that Palin possesses the competence to nationalize entire industries without the consent of the people? A housewife from Wasilla simply isn’t equipped with the political brawn to shake down banks and bondholders.
From all that, I’m figuring that Harsanyi, weighing the relative evils of dumbness and government nannyism, finds nannyism to be the worse. I sent the following suggestion to the Denver Post:
Shorter David Harsanyi (Friday, July 10th, “What if Palin were president?”):
I would rather that the government be run by dumb people than by smart people I disagree with.
I cc’d Harsanyi on the letter to the editor. He replied that he’d rather have government run by dumb people who care about the Constitution and liberty than smart people who don’t. I was immensely tickled by that, and wrote back that the Republicans could probably use it in 2012. At that point the piano player stopped and everyone in the bar hit the floor. Apparently (and I should have known this), calling a Libertarian a Republican is like calling a Norwegian a Swede. With our correspondence so promisingly begun and so abruptly cut short, David and I had no more to say to one another about salutary dumbness. But the concept wouldn’t let go of me. I could hear Harsanyi cheerfully chirping away “I’d rather have government run by dumb people who care about the Constitution and liberty than smart people who don’t” in the voice of Ralph Wiggum saying “My cat’s name is Mittens!”
Then it came to me: why would anyone want to belong to the Dumb wing of the Libertarian party who could belong to the Libertarian wing of the Dumb party? The demographics are irresistible. The coalition of the Dumb will sweep all before it. And so, my friends, I now call on all the Dumb, of all ages, ethnicities and walks of life, to proudly support the one campaign that you can really believe cares about you:
Box of Rocks 2012
Dumbness cuts across all categories of age, race, height, socieoeconomic status, life-plan, handedness, sodium sensitivity, romantic inclinations and planet of origin. Dumbism has something to offer every man, woman, child, manchild, mandrake root, elf, dwarf, elk, whelk, kelpie or pooka on the face of the earth, over or under it. Dumbness is a friend when you have no bottle. Dumbness is a lobotomy when you have no friends. Dumbness will never let you down, and if it does you’ll never know it. Dumb is now.
But wait, you say, all the different kinds of Dumb are, you know, different. How can we make them all get along? God, there’s just no pleasing you people. The defining feature of Dumbism is its inclusiveness:
It’s a Big Box, with Room for a Lot of Rocks!
And Dumbism has a policy solution to every problem:
Climate change? I got a cold, and all my boogers melted.
Health care? I glued my head to my shoulder, now i have two owies.
Economic meltdown? There’s my milk money … and there’s my milk.
As any fool (and probably every fool) can plainly see, there is no important issue that can’t be dealt with by the power of Positive Dumbness. Just wish that everything were just the way you want it to be. And wish for a pony while you’re at it.
 Attention Conservation Notice concept originated by Cosma Shalizi.
 Yes; the whole concept kind of evokes horsemen and dragons and birds gorging on your flesh and all, but it’s a thought experiment, so stay with us here.
 If irony can be limp, witless and predictable. Oh, yes it can.
 Shorter concept originated by Daniel Davies.
 The importance of the distinction depends on context. Hey, did I mention that I know a great lutefisk joke? I’ll save it for Gratuitously Offensive Friday.
 There is, it should be noted, a Smart wing of the Libertarian party, but we’re nowhere near it at the moment.
 Grotesque imaginary political party concept originated by Michael Bérubé.
 Other examples abound, but let’s just keep picking on Harsanyi here because … well, why the hell not?
 Wish for a Pony concept originated by John and Belle.
Edit:Tempered the discourtesy of quoting Harsanyi’s private email by pulling it out of blockquotes. Don’t give me that look.