by barbara and The Big Easy
There’s an odd U.S. Senate race shaping up in Minnesota. It's for Paul Wellstone’s seat, which is currently occupied by Norm Coleman. Democratic candidates are popping up like dandelions. Al Franken (think “Saturday Night Live” and “Air America”) has moved back to his birth state to run. Perennial thinkin’-about-bein’-a-candidate, attorney Michael Ciresi (think MN vs. big tobacco) has thrown his hat in the ring. Some guy named Jim Cohen has also announced his candidacy. I have no idea who he is.
The latest possible entry is one Peter Agre, M.D., who, among other things, was born in Wellstone’s teaching town (Northfield, MN), is a Duke University School of Medicine professor, and was awarded the 2003 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Ho-hum. Just your average intellectual giant.
Some of us have been musing about whether an academic, yea verily an intellectual, candidate could have a chance in the state that elected Jesse Ventura and the country that almost elected George Bush. All of which prompted my new pal, The Big Easy to weigh in. Here’s what he has to say:
I've read about Peter Agre. He sounds like an interesting candidate and someone I'd like to see be elected to the U.S. Senate, but this ain't the Czech Republic where they voted a playwright and poet to be their leader, and this ain't Israel that was willing to make Albert Einstein its titular leader.
Shoot, let's face it, Americans don't exactly like intellectuals. From Adlai Stevenson to Gene McCarthy to Al Gore to John Kerry (gad, don't he look French?), we've rejected intellectuals and consider them geeks…. Americans think it's way too uppity to have smart people in elected office. How Bill Clinton ever got elected is beyond me. He was successful in playing down his Rhodes scholarship….
One of the catch phrases for W back in 2000 was, "He's the kind of guy you'd like to have a beer with." Never mind that W was then and apparently still is a dry drunk. To ignore the message of 2000 is to do so at your own risk. The message of that election and most others is that Americans love a redneck who pretends to be a cowboy, drives a truck and talks like a hick. Okay, W is only at a 29% approval rating. The amazing thing is he has a rating that high, considering his abysmal policies and butt-ugly stupidity.
There's a current book title that picks up where (Thomas Frank’s) "What's Wrong With Kansas" leaves off. It's "Deer Hunting With Jesus" (by Joe Bageant).
If anyone seriously believes that a Nobel laureate can win a U.S. Senate seat, they are seriously deluding themselves. Consider this, three GOP presidential candidates have said that they don't believe in evolution and apparently have actually proposed a way that Noah loaded T-Rex and other dinosaurs onto the ark. A Nobel laureate for U.S. Senate? With all due respect, give me a break and pass me another beer.
(sigh) He's right, you know. And I gotta tell you that this dumbed-down, passive, unquestioning thing we have going in this country is making me cranky. I know, I know. Pretty much everything does.
But this particular thing about our candidates needing to be media gods/goddesses churns my breakfast. Had that been the criterion in Revolutionary times, most of the founding fathers would have been voted off the island. And that too-tall, sad-faced depressive Abe Lincoln wouldn't have made the cut either, never mind that his intellect ran deep, deeper, deepest.
I don't have a big wrap for this post, friends. I'm just brooding and musing. Muse along with me, will you? I'd love to hear what you're thinking. I'll go catch up on the latest Paris Hilton gambit while I wait for you to check in. (sigh)