Essay: Where's All That Liberal Brainpower the Media Promised?

Einstein said the definition of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” That may be so, but it certainly is the definition of stupidity. Which is why the behavior of Obama administration and congressional liberals is so puzzling.Wasn’t the Obama administration supposed to be populated by the elite of Ivy League intelligentsia, each cabinet secretary brighter than the last? Just weeks after the election, ABC’s George Stephanopoulos swooned "We have not seen this kind of combination of star power and brain power and political muscle this early in a cabinet in our lifetimes." Newsweek called Obama economic adviser Larry Summers “brash and brilliant” and part of “a team of Harvard and Yale types whose SAT scores have not been equaled since the Kennedy administration.” The infusion of blue gray matter into Washington was going to calm the economic waters, create entire new “green” industries and maybe usher in a golden age for D.C.’s art-house movie theaters. Heck, Obama even tapped Hillary (“World’s Smartest Woman”) Clinton to be Secretary of State.It must be that these sages really are that incandescently brilliant, thinking thoughts so profound only the Nobel Prize Committee can even tell they exist. That’s the only explanation for the contrast between the promised genius (inability to operate “Turbo-Tax” notwithstanding) and cranium-thumping stupidity now on display.We’re not talking about misstatements or gaffs – Janet Napolitano’s bizarre assertion that the border with Canada is our real weak spot comes to mind. So does the White House giving British Prime Minister a collection of old DVDs that won’t even play in his country. So do half the things Joe Biden says. No, the problem is that they keep pounding their heads against a locked door, expecting it to open. Each time they lurch back from the impact they’re a little woozier. But they keep right on banging.On issue after issue, the liberals have shown that they generally have only one idea (usually involving government doing things it shouldn’t). When that idea fails, they … try it again. And again. This summer, the public resoundingly rejected the substance of their health care reform. So they went back to the drawing board, counted to 60 and came back with the same plan, hanging words like “co-op” and “trigger” on it in the hope that nobody would notice. Every time Obama spoke on health care, more of the public decided they didn’t like what he was selling. In June, before the big health care push, Rasmussen polling had support for health care reform at 50 percent. By September 15, after the “All-Barack, All-Health Care, All-The-Time” summer, it was down to 42 percent. What to do … Hey, why not go on six TV shows in two days to talk about health care?How about the economy? Obama and his staff demanded and got a massive $787 billion stimulus package back in February, warning that we would see unemployment reach 8 percent otherwise. Now that unemployment is poised to hit 10 percent by the end of the year, Hill liberals and media types are floating the idea of a second stimulus. It’s like the scene in “Monty Python and The Holy Grail” when, realizing he’d forgotten to hide in the Trojan rabbit with his comrades, Bedevere says, “Look, if we build a large wooden badger …”Foreign policy and national security aren’t any better. Apparently the president’s numerous wea-culpa tours were intended to soften up all those international types that were so cross with the Bush Administration. Clearly, the Russians aren’t buying. Miss Smarty Pants-Suit has been unable to get them to agree to sanctions on Iran, probably because the Iranian nuclear facilities are stuffed with equipment stamped “From Russia with Love.” Still, if we just talk a little more, listen a little more and maybe apologize again, the mullahs will close up the labs, or at least admit the Holocaust really happened.And now, as Obama hesitates to give his hand-picked general the resources he says he needs in Afghanistan, strategic geniuses like Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., are arguing that against it, saying we should concentrate on training the Afghan army and executing pin-point counter-terrorism operations. You know, because that worked so well the first four years of the Iraq war. The media never seem to notice. Like proud parents unable to accept that little Barry probably shouldn’t be in the advanced placement classes, they help the administration cast about for scapegoats. The problem couldn’t be the inherent awfulness of liberal ideas. It must be the fault of Fox News, the “Teabaggers,” the Town Hallers – the racists.And they’re still bragging about little Barry to the neighbors. In August, USA Today’s Richard Wolf was impressed by Obama’s “hefty” vacation reading list of “smart” books that reflected “exquisite taste.” And this month, AP’s Nancy Benac admired the “highly sophisticated” and “impressive assortment of modern and contemporary [art] work” now adorning the private apartments at the White House. Wonder what they did with W’s “Dogs Playing Poker” print.At some point, even the media’s going to have to drop the charade and come to terms with the fact that when you’re facing two wars, a deep recession and growing unemployment, that Harvard degree may not be worth the paper it’s printed on. 

Matthew Philbin
Matthew Philbin
Matt Philbin is Managing Editor of MRC Culture