The Problem With Our Elected Officials Is That They Sound Like Us

What follows is a rant, not so much an argument. The proof of what I’m saying should be self-evident. If it is not, then we disagree, and that’s that:

Listening to this one Senator discuss exactly what was wrong (in his opinion) in Iraq and how it could all be fixed with his magic policy, I thought to myself this is the same sort of blowhard who talks loudly about his car and money and his purported intimate relations at the bar. He throws out a lot of specifics quickly that may or may not add up, and conceives of the problem in such a way that it is the “most obvious thing” – how could we have missed it before?

(Listen carefully to what he says: he says the problem in Iraq is “political.” No shit! You think? Maybe it’s complicated by a “military” problem too. Woah.)

The really deep problem with populism is just how purposely ignorant we are of how complicated problems always are. The Senator sounds reasonable to some degree because he fudges a number of issues: he seems to have more knowledge than he possibly could have, and that “seeming” makes his assertions sound valid. The critical issue is this: If I sit and pontificate about how the war is lost or won because I’ve read some news articles, or worse yet, gotten biased Intel reports (biased from the Left if they come from CIA and State, biased from the Right if they come from the Pentagon or DoD, and thoroughly unusable if they come from the Senate, House or those Independent Commissions where people are parading for the oh-so-glorious cameras of C-Span), then I’m a complete idiot. (I’ll speak more on how-complicated-things-are in a later post, because it is a really difficult issue to address: notice how the people we consider wise are hesitant, and listen more than speak, and persuade through an almost religious tone of voice.)

I mean, seriously: how do you treat the guy at the bar saying that stuff? You just ignore him. And perhaps elect him eventually to the Senate, since he can then be ignored by most Americans and much of the government easily that way. The only people that can’t ignore him are his staff and the press, but that’s the sacrifice that must be made to preserve the sanity of the Republic.

But the sanity of the Republic, while a wonderful thing, is being paid for through our stability nowadays. These idiots are making laws, and quite frankly, just listening to the way they talk I wouldn’t trust them with my car keys. Perhaps the most insidious thing about the political talk shows is that they lower our standards for discourse so much that we start thinking real minds can’t be elected, and turn on genuinely qualified candidates for the guy who sounds better than the raving nutcase each show trots out for ratings’ sake.

My challenge to those running for office or in office is for all of you to shut the hell up for a day.

I would like a National Day of Silence, and in honor of the expectation of such a National Day, I am going to look for the real candidates that should run, the ones that have been silent and yet enduring. I proclaim my vote as going to the Lincoln Memorial, since it looks Presidential and doesn’t say much loudly (the Second Inaugural, I think, is written on the inside).

I encourage all Americans to consider voting for monuments or other inanimate objects. Anything has to be better than sitting and watching cable or the Sunday morning news programs and actually believing the people on those shows to be qualified for anything.

If you’re wondering how one could sound better than our elected officials, try this. Imagine someone, as opposed to Senator Biden, laying out the case for how the situation is being assessed now, and what he thinks might be different in the mere assessment, and where he stands. Then imagine him outlining the actors involved, and talking about motives, and where we’ve been successful and where we’ve failed. Then imagine him talking about our resources and our will and our political actors, and what is feasible and considered feasible. Then and only then would such a “someone,” after caring to inform thoroughly and covering a number of possible positions people might think or have, pose a plan, and he would willingly discuss the strengths and drawbacks of it.

His delivery is nearly everything here: Sen. Biden has a lot to say, and he sure sounds smart to many people talking fast and using a lot of verbiage. He sort of addresses what I’ve outlined above, but it’s probably fairer to say he’s looking to overwhelm the listener with his “knowledge” as opposed to demonstrating why his idea is the best.

I write so I can be reread. You’re reading because you want to hear a voice other than your own. Enough said.


  1. Geeze, I was allways just kidding about splitting up Iraq into its various components. To actually believe that there is a correlation between what was going on in the Balkans and Iraq is to be completely ignorant of both the histories of Iraq and the Balkans. Not to mention there is still no true government in the Balkans and that those NATO troops will be there for many many more years.

    You are absolutely right, he tries to overwhelm the audience with his massive “knowledge.” Although I believe him to immensely ignorant of anything other than the few opinions he has cobbled together to inform his idea of history. What’s sad is that he has done the best job at describing and explaining his position and alternatives. He hasn’t just drooled and repeated “Matt Damon” over and over again when addressed.

  2. It happens in Malaysia too, fast-talking politicians. So, it’s a ruse to overwhelm… clever.

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