Ed Driscoll

The Left's Bizarro World Dale Carnegie Course

As Victor Davis writes, “Calling voters stupid is a losing strategy:”

The bookish, twice-unsuccessful Democratic presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson once sighed that if most thinking people supported him, it still wouldn’t be enough to get elected in America because “I need a majority.”

For some reason, Democrats have chosen to follow the disastrous model of Stevenson and not that of the feisty, man-of-thepeople Missourian Harry Truman — though the former nearly wrecked the party and the latter got elected.

Former president Jimmy Carter likewise seems to feel that he’s still too smart for us. Carter, who turns 86 on Friday, is hitting the news shows to explain why he remains America’s “superior” ex-president — and why more than 30 years ago he was so successful yet so underappreciated as our chief executive.

Most Americans instead remember a very different President Carter, who finished his single term with 18 percent inflation, 18 percent interest rates, 11 percent unemployment, long gas lines, and a world in chaos, from hostage-taking in Teheran to Soviet Communist aggression in Afghanistan and Central America.

Now, John Kerry — who failed to win the presidency in 2004 and recently tried to avoid state sales taxes on his new $7 million yacht — is voicing similar frustrations about Americans’ inability to fathom what their betters are trying to do for them. He is furious that an unsophisticated electorate might not return congressional Democratic majorities in 2010. Kerry laments that “we have an electorate that doesn’t always pay that much attention to what’s going on.” Instead, it falls for “a simple slogan rather than the facts or the truth or what’s happening.”

In 2006, Kerry warned students that if they did poorly in school, they could “get stuck in Iraq.” He apparently had forgotten that soldiers volunteer for military service and are overwhelmingly high-school graduates.

In the 2008 campaign, Michelle Obama at one point said of her husband’s burden, “Barack is one of the smartest people you will ever encounter who will deign to enter this messy thing called politics.”

That sense of intellectual superiority was channeled by Barack Obama himself when he later tried to explain why his message was not resonating with less astute rural Pennsylvanians: “And it’s not surprising, then, that they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”

During the recent Ground Zero mosque controversy, Obama returned to that Carter-Kerry sort of condescension. When asked about the overwhelming opposition to the mosque, the president felt again that the unthinking hoi polloi had given into their unfounded fears: “I think that at a time when the country is anxious generally and going through a tough time, then fears can surface, suspicions, divisions can surface in a society.”

The president often clears his throat with “Let me be perfectly clear” and “Make no mistake about it” — as if we, his schoolchildren, have to be warned to pay attention to the all-knowing teacher at the front of the class.

And speaking of classrooms, in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Thomas H. Benton (“the pen name of William Pannapacker, an associate professor of English at Hope College,” the Chronicle inform us) asks, “Why Do They Hate Us?”

Glenn Reynolds, a university professor himself, responds:

Backlash against New Class overreach. . . . Plus, from the comments: “Interesting that Benton’s take is largely that they just don’t understand us. Maybe they understand us too well. The academy is currently very out of step with the values and beliefs of mainstream America. Whether that is good or bad, it has consequences. And our response again is that they don’t get it. We have all the answers and we rarely show the willingness to question our own orthodoxy.” I think it’s also the sense that education has been oversold, to its consumers’ detriment and its producers’ advantage.The discussion in the comments is pretty interesting. There’s also this: “I’m not nearly as worried about what the general public thinks of professors as I am about what the college administrators think of us. If we have enemies, and arguably we do, that’s where most of them live.” Well, that’s where most of the bloat comes from.

Business consultant and marketing guru Dan Kennedy adds that “Obama Resents People He Would Lead,” and as VDH noted above, he’s far from the first “progressive” to do so:

Past week or so, former President Jimmy Carter has been making the rounds of any and every TV show that will have him, pushing his book, and trying to spin his tenure in the White House as effective and successful. Most media has been kind, most hosts sympathetic. Carter’s evidence: that he got more of his legislative agenda enacted than Reagan, Bush, Clinton.

Carter’s toothy smile cannot hide his rank bitterness about being broadly viewed as a failure America said “good riddance” to rather than “thank you.” He’s angry at what he sees as the stubborn stupidity of the American public, too damn dumb to understand the superiority of his policies and his leadership.

President Obama displays the same arrogance and the same pique with the stupidity of the public. His administration has suggested the need for “re-education” of the majority of Americans who reject Obamacare — although they haven’t mentioned rounding up people for incarceration in camps (a tactic of other regimes that share his philosophies).

At a town hall, when an articulate woman explains why she is “exhausted” with defending the hope ‘n change guy she voted for, Obama lectures her about credit card regulations. He shows his toothiest grin, just like Carter’s; both masking rage. Like Carter, he sees himself as a miraculously successful president getting no credit from ignorant masses for his legislative successes, for finally making sweeping health care reform (destruction and takeover) a reality – after all prior presidents failed, etc.

Obama can surely see his supporters disappearing. Michael Moore is now vocal critic. Jon Stewart skewered him with clips of that CNBC town hall and a particularly pointed, vicious question. Chris Matthews begs him nightly to toss his teleprompter. His defenders in the media as well as those with Obama bumper-stickers not yet peeled off are, as that woman put it, exhausted. Administration figures have been slinking off, his media and far-left base is critical, and the overwhelming majority of voters – left, right, middle – have abandoned him.

What neither Carter or Obama grasp is that the American public does not score them based on percentage of agenda enacted but by the beneficial or destructive outcome of what they enact. Historically, that public has repeatedly demonstrated that, while it may be briefly fooled, it ultimately rejects policies of theft, of socialism, of destruction. It rejects arrogant would-be dictators who exhibit disdain for the citizenry, willing to let it “absorb” a myriad of pain for their ideology. Hopefully, the American citizenry will once again rise and reject you, Mr. President, with a stop sign erected this November and “good Riddance” said in November two years hence.

But in the meantime, we to get sit in on a nationwide Dale Carnegie Course piped in from the Bizarro World. Or as James Taranto put it recently, “How to Lose Friends and Alienate People.”

Update: “It took time to free the slaves…ultimately we’ll make progress….There better not be an enthusiasm gap, people.”