As Opposed to What? Partial Omniscience?

A lot of praise in the blogs and on the WELL for Keith Olbermann’s speech about Donald Rumsfeld.

Me, I thought it was great that he said it, but I also thought the whole piece is likely to fly over too many heads. Really, liberals need to learn to express their opinions in plainer, shorter words.

“… sober contemplation … impugn the morality of … transient occupants … total omniscience … adroit in invoking the memory of …”

Olbermann’s speech is stirring but it’s the eighth-grade-reading-level folks, by and large, who we most need to communicate with. I wish just once these days I could hear about a powerful speech from a Democrat and then go read the transcript and not feel like the language is sending the subliminal message that social progress is a private club for the college educated.

Part of George W. Bush’s power is that he would never in a million years say something like “transient occupants”. He’d say “You know, those people aren’t going to be in those jobs forever”, and chuckle, and a few million Americans would chuckle with him for no other reason that they’re relieved for once not to be made to feel inferior and stupid by a politician making a speech.

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Still Not Getting It

From a recent “Scarborough Country” column on MSNBC.com:

Has anyone considered keeping the President away from the press altogether if he is no longer up to the task of answering questions?

I’m serious.

If George Bush has lost his ability to give a commanding presser …

Lost his ability? Lost his ability?

It would seem that, having at long last taken off the special glasses that he has been obediently wearing at the behest of the authorities for the last six years, Mr. Scarborough now laments that the Emerald City has lost its old greenness.

While Only Six Percent Could Name Three of the Twenty Questions That Were on This Poll the Last Time It Came Around

Lordy, it’s yet another poll designed especially to show how ignorant Americans are.

According to the poll by Zogby International, commissioned by the makers of a new game show, 57% of Americans could identify J.K. Rowling’s fictional boy wizard as Harry Potter, but only 50% could name the British prime minister, Tony Blair. …

Just over 60% of respondents were able to name Bart as Homer’s son on the television show “The Simpsons,” compared to 20.5% who were able to name one of the ancient Greek poet Homer’s epic poems, “The Iliad” and “The Odyssey.”

I just can’t bring myself to get all that riled up over the fact that four Americans out of five can’t name either of Homer’s epic poems. Half being able to name Tony Blair actually seems pretty good to me, and why it’s supposed to be significant or meaningful that this is a whopping seven percent fewer than could name the title character in a series of books and movies that has been relentlessly hyped for the last several years is a mystery. Well, no, not really a mystery; the comparison is obviously chosen in order to make 50% seem like a poorer showing than it is.

Going to the trouble of actually taking a poll about all of this just in order to bemoan the ignorance of Americans feels to me rather like the intellectual version of setting your table with fish knives and salad forks just for the fun of seeing who gets them wrong.