2006.02.08 Even I could beat up Jefferson

Written by David Green.

By JEFF PICKELL

I’m somewhat disheartened by the prevalence of anti-intellectualism in America. Granted, there are plenty of reasons to hate intellectuals—they wear berets, they’re no good at pick-up sports, they bogart all the library books—but anti-intellectualism is still a problem, especially as it concerns the way we choose our leaders.

A lot of people seem to think they need political leaders who can relate to them—John Q. Everymen who aren’t much different than the rest of us working stiffs. They want a regular guy, with a wife and two kids and an old rust bucket in the garage that he tinkers with on Saturdays. They want a politician who can identify with their sensibilities making the decisions that affect their lives.

As someone who has recently taken to combing his hair with a fork because he’s too lazy to buy a comb, I am of a different mindset. In fact, if there are any politicians in office who can even remotely identify with any of my sensibilities, they should, for the good of the nation, be fired, impeached or forced to resign. I know me, and I know that anyone even minutely similar to me in a position of power is a bad idea.

I’m surprised that few working stiffs feel the same way. I read a report by a professor from George Mason University recently that describes Woodrow Wilson, a former Yale professor, as the last great intellectual president.

Since Wilson, so says the report, presidential candidates have been marketed to appear less educated than they really are. Our current president, for example, rarely mentions that he was born in New Haven, Connecticut, not west Texas, and that he holds degrees from both Harvard and Yale. Gerald Ford is often remembered more for his football days at Michigan than his career as a crack lawyer. Bush the first and Bill Clinton (a Rhodes Scholar, for crying out loud) both used their deceptively stupid sounding accents to their advantage, and Ronald Reagan, as we all remember, was the Gipper.

Why are the political parties so afraid of marketing a candidate as “so smart he’ll make your head spin?” According to the report, intellectuals—thoroughly educated individuals who engage in activities such as writing long, boring books that nobody wants to read—are perceived by the public as effeminate thumb twiddlers who would rather read a treatise than make a decision.

Which boggles my mind. Here’s one for you reactionaries who like to throw around crazy terms like “founder’s intent” when it comes to interpreting matters of law and constitutionality: the founders of our country were wig-wearing wusses. They were intellectuals in the utmost.

Sure, we’ve all seen stern-looking portraits of these guys on our dollars and cents, but has anybody ever sat down and read a document written by any one of the founding fathers? No! Of course not! And for the same reason nobody reads the texts of Locke, or Diderot, or Montesquieu, or, heaven forbid, the Viscount Castlereaugh! They’re dense and obfuscated! They’re philosophical! They’re intellectual!

Attempt to read The Declaration of Independence. I dare you. Just try to plow through it. Call me in March when you emerge from the boredom-induced coma it puts you in. The same goes for the Federalist Papers. Heck, a few random lines from the Constitution are enough to put a roomful of crying children to rest.

But this shouldn’t be considered a detriment to the character of these great men. Though the majority of our founding fathers were undoubtedly girlish prigs, they still did a bang up job with the decisions that led to the founding of this nation, where I can call the founding fathers girlish prigs and not be strung up by my heels (not yet, at least. We’ll see what kind of public response this column gets).

After its founding, the country enjoyed prosperity within the boring clutches of the intellectuals until 1829, when the voting populace soured on John Quincy Adams’ “Think about stuff” platform in favor of Andrew Jackson’s “Kill Native Americans indiscriminately” platform.

That’s where our country first began to stray. We need to go back to the original formula. We need to cede control of the country to the true intellectuals, and put Dubya, Slick Willy, and Bush the First back where they belong—that is, in front of the bathroom mirror, fork in hand, trying to get that part juuuuuuust right. You know, with the rest of us people who want to look stupid.

– February 8, 2006
  • Front.train
    WRECKAGE—Morenci Fire Department member Taylor Schisler walks past the smoking wreckage of a semi-truck tractor on the north side of the Norfolk and Southern Railroad tracks on Ranger Highway. The truck trailer was on the south side of the tracks
  • Front.sculpta
    SCULPTORS—Morenci third grade students Emersyn Thompson (left) and Marissa Lawrence turn spaghetti sticks into mini sculptures Friday during a class visit to Stair District Library. All Morenci Elementary School classes recently visited the library to experience the creative construction toys purchased through the “Sculptamania!” project, funded by a Disney Curiosity Creates grant. The grant is administered by the Association for Library Services to Children, a division of the American Library Association.
  • Funcolor
    LEONIE LEAHY was one of three local hair stylists who volunteered time Friday at the Morenci PTO Fun Night. Her customer, Aubrey Sandusky, looks up at her mother while her hair takes on a perfect match to her outfit. Leahy said she had a great time at the event—nothing but happy clients.
  • Shadow.salon
    LEARNING THE ROPES—Kristy Castillo (left), co-owner of Mane Street Salon, works with Kendal Kuhn as Sierra Orner takes a phone call. The two Morenci Area High School juniors spent Friday at the salon as part of a job shadowing experience.
  • KayseInField
    IN THE FIELD—2004 Morenci graduate Kayse Onweller works in a test plot of wheat in Texas. She’s part of Bayer CropScience’s North American wheat breeding program based in Nebraska, where she completed post-graduate work in plant breeding and genetics.
  • Front.winner
    REFEREE Camden Miller raises the hand of Morenci Jr. Dawgs wrestler Ryder Ryan as his opponent leaves the mat in disappointment. Morenci’s youth wrestling program served as host for a tournament Saturday morning to raise money for the club. Additional photos are on the back page.
  • Front.bank.2
    SHERWOOD STATE Bank opened its Fayette office at a grand opening Friday morning, drawing a large crowd to view the renovated building. Above, Burt Blue talks to teller Cindy Funk, while his wife, Jackie, looks around the new office. The Blues missed the opening and took a quick tour on Tuesday. Few traces remain of the former grocery store and theater, however, part of the original brick wall still shows in the hallway leading to the back of the building. The drive-through window should be ready for customers later in the month.
  • Front.make.three
    FROM THE LEFT, Landon Wilkins, Ryan White and Logan Blaker try out their artistic skills Saturday afternoon at the Morenci PTO’s first Date to Create event. More than 50 people showed up to create decorated planks of wood to hang from rope. The event served as a fund-raiser for miscellaneous PTO projects. Additional photos are on the back of this week’s Observer.

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