Wednesday, November 03, 2010

A Victory for Wooden-headedness

In the week the Republican Party took back control of the House of Representatives, Richard Cohen weighed in on the subject of Sarah Palin: "The fierce stupidity of this woman," he wrote, "is hard to comprehend. It is the well from which she draws her political sustenance." It's obvious that many Americans have been drinking from the same well.

The historian Barbara Tuchman had another term for the Palin Effect. In The March of Folly, she defined "wooden-headedness," as "the source of self deception:"

It consists [she wrote] in assessing a situation in terms of preconceived fixed notions while ignoring and rejecting any contrary signs. It is acting according to wish while not allowing oneself to be deflected by the facts.

For the simple truth is that the mess Mr. Obama inherited will take more than two years to clean up; and the Republican objective -- stated with laser like clarity by Mitch McConnell -- is to make Obama a one term president.

When John Boehner says that his priorities are the "peoples' priorities" one must ask, "Which people?" That is what the mid-term elections were all about -- which people will be served. The Republicans have been very successful over the last thirty years in convincing common folk that the priorities of the wealthy are their priorities -- even though the facts point to a much different conclusion.

At the end of his life, Mark Twain -- who, like modern American voters, had no respect for Congress -- concluded that there was little hope for "the damned human race." Thornton Wilder was a little more charitable."Wherever you come near the human race," said the stage manager in Our Town, "there's layers and layers of nonsense."

Rand Paul declared last night that he and his ilk have arrived to take back the country. It will be interesting -- and truly sad -- to see what they do to it.

This entry is cross posted at The Moderate Voice.


Orwell's Bastard said...

Delighted to see someone else citing Tuchman.

Colette Amelia said...

I sense we have the same feelings here and it truly saddens me that people are sooo short sighted.

Closer to home I have to applaud the potash nixing and also really closer to home the nixing of the Gold mine in BC's interior...

But of course those who were speculating on 10 chickens in thier own pot at the expense of the environment are really not too happy with their man Stephen.

Does these announcements mean that that man Stephen is getting a little cautious these days?

And if so I really worry about our short sighted because heaven help us if he gets a majority!!!!

Owen Gray said...

I suspect Stephen's nixing of the two mining deals is all about winning a majority. He can't afford to lose all those seats in Saskatchewan and B.C.

After Canada lost its bid for a Security Council seat, he insisted that he and his government took principled stands. But four years should have taught us that the prime directive is power -- not principle.

Owen Gray said...

Tuchman is absolutely clear headed. John Kennedy had read The Guns of August before he was confronted with the Cuban Missile Crisis.

I'm certain Tuchman was at least partially behind his decision to blockade Cuba instead of heeding the opinion of the majority of his advisers to invade that island.

I get the feeling that many of our "best and brightest" know nothing about her work.

ChrisJ said...

The results were not as bad as they could have been - the smallest "turnover" loss since 1945.
Also, many exit polls suggest that the voters wanted to send the Democrats a message, as opposed to liking the GOP.

I'm guessing (maybe hoping is a better word!) that the Republicans may have to reign in the more wooden-headed and extreme (eg. Rand Paul!) in their midst.

Finally, I have been able to access the word verification on your blog. I've been accessing it through BlogCatalog, but seem to have better luck going directly to blogger.

Owen Gray said...

Democrats will be in trouble if they do not understand the disappointment which was behind this election, Chris. That disappointment caused many in Obama's coalition to stay home.

Republicans will be in trouble if they interpret the results as an endorsement of their policies.

Over and over again, Americans have said that they expect their politicians to solve problems by cooperating. It's the same message Canadians have been delivering to their politicians.

Is anyone listening?

I'm glad you're using Blogger directly. Perhaps something changed when BlogCatalog was revamped. I value and look forward to your comments.

ChrisJ said...

Thanks, Owen.

Aargh - rein, not reign! (although in retrospect, "reign" might not be so bad in view of the Republicans view of themselves.)

Owen Gray said...

Call it a Freudian slip, Chris, which speaks volumes.