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The following books by Robert Paul Wolff are available on Amazon.com as e-books: KANT'S THEORY OF MENTAL ACTIVITY, THE AUTONOMY OF REASON, UNDERSTANDING MARX, UNDERSTANDING RAWLS, THE POVERTY OF LIBERALISM, A LIFE IN THE ACADEMY, MONEYBAGS MUST BE SO LUCKY, AN INTRODUCTION TO THE USE OF FORMAL METHODS IN POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY.
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Thursday, February 16, 2012

THIS AND THAT

Now that it appears that I am all well again, my mystery ailment having been consigned to the dustheap of history, I have been catching up on some chores that I let slide when it looked as though I might be dead in three months [one's priorities do change.]  Today, Susie and I drove to a local auto repair shop to get her car inspected [a nifty red Toyota Yaris, scarcely larger than a SmartCar.]    While we waited, we had some bagels and cream cheese in a Breuggel's in the same shopping plaza.  I passed the time by exposulating to her about one of the bizarre myths that Republicans have conjured concerning Obama.  I refer not to the claim that he was born in Kenya, nor to the pathetic notion that he is a raging radical socialist, the reincarnation of Saul Alinsky [sigh -- I wish], but to the conviction, apparently shared by a broad swath of Republican voters and talking heads, that Obama is a dummy who got into Ivy League schools as an affirmative action baby who cannot put together a coherent sentence without the aid of a teleprompter.

I have already written about why Republicans are freaked out by the presence in the White House of a Black family, but I simply cannot figure out how they have managed to persuade themselves that Obama is stupid.  Whatever you may think of his policies [with many of which I have deep disagreements], he is visibly, manifestly, obviously an extremely intelligent man, with an easy verbal fluency and a firm command of the details of a broad array of public policy issues.  Republicans actually salivate at the thought of Obama forced to confront a sharp opponent in a presidential debate, deprived of the assistance of speechwriters and teleprompters and cue cards.  The momentary elevation of Gingrich to star status in the primary struggle was fueled by the belief that he would dstroy Obama one on one, a belief that Gingrich shares, encourages, and trumpets [with his looney call for "Lincoln-Douglas debates."]

Those of us old enough to have lived through Mohammed Ali's epic career as a heavyweight boxer recall the classic 1974 title match against George Foreman in which Ali employed what came to be known as the "rope-a-dope" strategy.  Ali leaned against the ropes, allowing Foreman to hit him, using the elasticity of the ropes to absorb much of the force of the blows, until Foreman had punched himself out.  Ali then went on to win the match.  Knowledgeable boxing commentators thought Ali was being slaughtered, and were afraid Foreman would kill him.  They were stunned when Ali emerged from several rounds of seeming annihilation, unfatigued and unbattered, and finished Foreman off.

Sound familiar?  People had taken to calling Obamas "lucky," as though his success in winning approval for health care reform came despite his feckless efforts, or as though his series of legislative victories in the lame duck session after the massive Republican congressional victories of 2010 was just a fortunate accident.  One wonders how long it is going to take for the Republicans to figure out that Obama is not a dope.  They might start by reading Joel Chandler Harris' tale of B'rer Rabbit and the Briar Patch.

6 comments:

Michael said...

To be fair, they both think he's stupid and an Ivy League intellectual snob who has nothing in common with the everyman. Democrats are considered effete elitists, while Republicans are boot strapping outdoorsmen or some such nonsense. I don't think the myths are much believed by those who promulgate them, but are instead simply convenient populist phrases that they hope will rile up the voters. At this point I wonder at the Republicans' ability to think (or at least say) so many contradictory falsehoods. (Not that most Dems are free of this, but the Repubs are so much worse.)

Michael said...

By the way, congratulations on health. Zay gezunt.

Robert Paul Wolff said...

Thank you, Michael. Zay gezunt indeed [be healthy, for those not in the know.]

Carl said...

The bagel place is Bruegger's, not Breuggel's.

Robert Paul Wolff said...

true, true. Sorry about that.

Don Schneier said...

Today's Republicans also remind me, at times, of the Sonny Liston of the first fight with Clay/Ali--a bully who stooped to a dirty trick when it was becoming obvious that he was not getting his usual easy way.