August 12, 2012

A Nation Of Low Expectations

In this weekend's Wall Street Journal, Peggy Noonan wrote:

"Both campaigns are afraid of being serious, of really grappling with the things Americans rightly fear. But there's no safety in not being serious. It only leaves voters wondering if you're even capable of seriousness. Letting them wonder that is a mistake."

Seriously? What part of "Who would you rather have a beer with" sounds serious to you?

And yet that is the standard poll question in every election cycle. Likeability is a very American thing. Note that most criticisms today of the current president or his policies are usually preceded by what a likeable guy he is. 

If you think (and the emphasis is on think) that a Commander-in-Chief is doing a lousy job, then who cares whether or not he's likeable? Mister Rogers was a likeable guy, but would you want him as Commander-in-Chief?

Noonan also writes:

“But [Governor Romney] and his supporters should drop the argument that if we don't change our ways we'll wind up like Europe. That's a mistake because Americans like Europe, and in some complicated ways wouldn't mind being a little more like it.”

Ignore the fact that most Americans know little, if anything about Europe - except for it being “glamorous, elegant and old” and a fun vacation spot – Noonan nevertheless thinks Romney et al should drop the comparison because Americans like Europe.

That’s known as treating the American people with the soft bigotry of low expectations. People who think as Noonan does need to decide if it's seriousness they want, or a continuation of the current trend of dumbing things down. Simply put, do the American people want an exceptional nation or a nation of low expectations?


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