… much more eloquently than ol’ UD can, on this blog devoted to the importance of higher education, that a reasonably serious college education might really help you be less stupid throughout your life. But Don Young also reminds us that democracy means people are free to choose the political leaders they feel best represent them; and in always returning this man to Washington, Alaska has made its sense of itself clear.
Back in 2011, in one of many similar embarrassments for the state of Alaska, Young called a congressional witness’s testimony “garbage,” and addressed him by the name of the university at which he teaches. Called him Mr Rice. The witness, Douglas Brinkley, professor of history at Rice, responded.
“It’s Dr. Brinkley, Rice is a university,” and “I know you went to Yuba [Community College in California] and couldn’t graduate — ”
Then it was Young’s turn to interrupt. “I’ll call you anything I want to call you when you sit in that chair,” he told the witness. “You just be quiet.”
Brinkley countered: “You don’t own me. I pay your salary. I work for the private sector and you work for the taxpayer.”
See, that’s democracy too. Stupid aggressive people run the risk of encountering smart aggressive people – people who know the difference between a king and a congressman.
You know how during his presidential elections, Barack Obama’s opponents are always calling him a professor? Because you wouldn’t want an intellectual, a smart, non-representative, non-Don-Young sort of person running America? Another Alaskan, Sarah Palin, called Obama “professor” repeatedly. Remember what Michael Kinsley wrote at the time?
If an intellectual snob is someone who secretly thinks he’s smarter than the average Joe, we’ve probably never had a president — even Harry Truman — who wasn’t one. It’s true, I think, that Obama hides it worse than most. But having a president who thinks he’s smart, and shows it, is a small price to pay for having a president who really is smart. Or would people really rather have a stupid president?
Alaskans have every right to be represented a man so stupid that he has become a national laughingstock. That’s representative democracy at its best. This country’s proud anti-intellectual tradition was famously articulated by Senator Roman Hruska in defense of Nixon’s nomination of Harrold Carswell to the Supreme Court:
When Senator Hruska addressed the Senate in March 1970, speaking on Judge Carswell’s behalf, he asked why mediocrity should be a disqualification for high office.
“Even if he were mediocre,” Mr. Hruska declared, “there are a lot of mediocre judges and people and lawyers. They are entitled to a little representation, aren’t they, and a little chance? We can’t have all Brandeises, Frankfurters and Cardozos.”
If Alaskans have dipped significantly below mediocrity in Don Young, that is entirely up to them. But whether it’s Young, or perennial presidential hopeful Donald Trump, the rest of us have an equal right, like Brinkley, to laugh at these buffoons. (And yes, I know Trump went to good schools. I said a good education “might” help you.)
Update: Wow. Telling people to shut up turns out to be Young’s whole thing!
Gloria Poullard approached Young to ask him about a profane speech he gave last week at Wasilla High School, in which the congressman offended students by arguing that suicide was caused by a lack of support from friends and family.
“You know, it really put a hamper on my faith in you because my elders voted for you, and this is my state, I’m an Alaska native,” Poullard said to Young, according to video of the exchange from local TV station KTUU. “How do you feel within yourself, what possessed you to even make a comment like that? My nephew just committed suicide.”
You just be quiet.
But UD – an extremely proud American – notes with delight that in both of these encounters the tinpot dictator’s efforts to shut up a world which disagrees with him elicited a fast firm fuck you. Brinkley, Poullard: Yes.