Tuesday, July 20, 2004


The local press turns feisty

Yesterday's "Quote of the Day" featured a Madison, Wisconsin editorial calling Bush a "bigot," which "out of respect for the president and his office" was apparently considered more respectful than calling him a "cynic" and a "fool."

Today comes an op-ed piece in the "Lahontan Valley News and Fallon Eagle Standard" in which the writer says,

I think they could have reduced the [Senate Select Committee Report on Intelligence] to one line: "In regards to intelligence, this President doesn't have any."

Two points.

First, it's refreshing to see the obvious in print. If the Emperor had no clothes, George Bush has no brains, and anyone with an IQ above room temperature should know this.

When he took office, there was a spate of articles asking if Bush's intelligence had been "underestimated," and most writers found it hard to conclude that it had been. The tack that was taken was to point out that there are kinds of "intelligence" other than IQ, which is where George excels.

Here's his boyhood friend Doug Hannah in an interview on Frontline back in 2000:

Interviewer: Is he smart enough to be president?

Hannah: Well, there's actually two answers to that. One is, clearly, you do not have to be very smart to be president, that's not a criteria [sic]. We have way too much history of the opposite being true for us to say you have to be smart to be president. But George is sneaky smart, and I think part of his strength is, if you choose to think that he's not very smart, so be it. You're not going to worry about whether you think he's smart or not. But he's plenty smart. And it could be an absolute ally if your smarter than your opponents think you are.

Damning with faint praise.

The second point is more important. Think back a year. Can you imagine either the Madison editorial or the Lahontan Valley op-ed appearing? Madison, Wisconsin is thought of as a bastion of liberalism, but liberalism a year ago was of the mealymouthed variety. No calling a spade a spade, please.

I know nothing about the Lahontan Valley area, but today's issue carries, along with the op-ed, a sports story titled "Fallon cowboys look forward to this year's national rodeo." I may be wrong, but that sounds like the sort of place where you don't call the President an idiot, or at least you didn't.

And what that tells me is something about the mood of the country. Local newspapers, just like the biggies, don't lead, they follow. So forget the national polls. They're pretty useless in a country that elects the President state by state. But check the local newspapers.

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