Monday, September 22, 2008

Obama Supporter Advises: Dumb it Down

The anti-conceptual nature of the left has been obvious for some time. But the Obama supporters in the media not only support such a mindset, they advocate it. The 9/19/08 editorial page of the Detroit News carries an op-ed by Chicago Tribune columnist Clarence Page titled "Obama must learn to give short, forceful answers." Notice the headline does not say correct or right answers but 'forceful' ones. The appeal here is not to reason but to emotion. The concern is not what Obama says but how he says it. He starts:
"As we enter the season of highest political advice, here's my advice to the Democrats: Dumb it down."
Why? Because it works for Republicans.
"I don't need to give that advice to the Republicans. They've been dumbing it down for years. That's why they keep winning."
So Dems need to stop being so intellectual and be more crass and mundane?
"Do I sound condescending? No way. It takes smarts to dumb the issues down well enough to help people to make an intelligent choice."
Huh? So to make an intelligent choice, the data must have a certain amount of dumbness? If an objectivist were to write that paragraph, it would say something like "It takes intelligence to deduce from a principle a concrete example of what that principle would look like in reality, or to infer from a concrete issue the principle on which it is based." But Mr. Page doesn't speak or think in those terms. What he's really complaining about is that Republican conservatives have been using (some) concretization over the years while Dems have been avoiding it like the plague preferring fog, obfuscation, and altruistic platitudes. So when Republicans use concrete examples, speak in plain English, they are dumbing down their communications. So us eloquent, educated people must dumb down our rhetoric so the simpleton masses can understand us like they do the Republicans. But there's more:
"Elite is a dirty word these days. It sounds too much like "elitist," which to most people is the same as a snob. Nobody likes snobs. Not even snobs."
Notice he is not discussing the relationship of elite to elitist so that we may understand it. He is concerned about how it 'sounds.' He's operating on the sensory/perceptual level. Also, the idea that snobs don't like snobs is false else Manhattan would be at war with itself.

After telling us how Reagan 'smiled' his way to two election victories--no examples of Reagan's dumbed down rhetoric, he just smiled his way into office--he says that Republicans have a chance to win because:
"A big reason, as everyone seems to know these days, is how McCain-Palin has outmatched Obama's elegant charisma in winning the support of working-class white voters."
How did Mc/P out match Obama? With more charisma? No answer. Notice the nudge phrase 'as everyone seems to know these days'--therefore you should know it too.... So why can't the Dems win these voters?
"It's not that Democrats don't share the values of ordinary hard-working Americans. It's just that their candidates sometimes have a hard time expressing those values."
Now that's very true but why do they have such a hard time? Could it be that the Dems in fact don't share those middle class values at all? Ayn Rand was right when, talking about the erosion of the American sense of life, she said that
"This is prevalent among the two groups that are the main supporters of the statist trend: the very rich and the very poor--the first, because they want to rule; the second because they want to be ruled. (The leaders of the trend are the intellectuals, who want to do both.)"*
This is true. Notice how today's intellectuals want to tell everyone else how to live, and get the government to enforce it, but also want to be led by 'charismatic' leaders like Obama. It is the middle class to whom the liberals cannot relate. So what does Mr. Page suggest Obama do about it?
"That makes the upcoming debates an acid test for Obama. He has shown great eloquence at speeches but uneven performances in past debates. He does not speak in bumper stickers. His speech often hesitates and ponders too much -- like someone who is still reconsidering their views. Debates are a time to speak not just eloquently but strategically. Even when you're uncertain, try to sound certain."
In other words, fake it. Notice too that Obama doesn't have bad performances, only uneven ones. And when he hesitates (stumbles, stammers and stutters), it's because he's too deep in thought (pondering). {So that's what Bush has been doing all these years!}

The last two paragraphs give a glimpse of the elitist mentality of our intellectuals:
That vision came to mind as I watched Governor Palin try to answer ABC's Charles Gibson's question about "the Bush doctrine." She obviously didn't know much about what Gibson was talking about, but she gave a decent boilerplate version of Bush's foreign policy. Synopsis: We got to get them terrorists.

That's the kind of answer voters tend to like. Short and strong. It sounds resolute, even if it lacks the nuance or flexibility that virtues like wisdom and experience bring.
Observe that Mr. Page is still on the emotional level; answers that are short and strong are the kind voters--not understand--but like. Their value lies in the fact that they sound resolute. Observe further that speaking in 'bumper stickers' or dumbed down rhetoric--Republican speak I suppose, lacks "...the nuance and flexibility that virtues like wisdom and experience[which liberal Dems like Obama-ME] bring." If you re-read that op-ed looking for nuance and flexibility, for slanting words and nudge phrases, you will find lots of them. But the theme of the op-ed is that the essence of successful political campaigns is to be as anti-conceptual and concrete bound as one can get. Such advice is doomed to fail though. Today's intellectuals can't go back and forth from what they see as their conceptual level, one of eternal nuance and flexibility, to the concrete, precise level of objective conceptualization which they see as only the dumbed down perceptual level of the masses. It is this op-ed that is an example of dumbed down conceptual level.


*(The above Rand quote is from her essay "Don't Let It Go" in the book "Philosophy-Who Needs It" which can be purchased here. A deal at $6.95.)
Post a Comment