Stupid Smart People

This story in the Washington Post suggest the health care debacle will have an impact on the midterm elections. One thing we learned from the Nate Silver experience is that polling does not tell us much of anything on its face. The polls today have little correlation to what will transpire on election day in November of 2014. Whatever you may think about his methods, he was more right than wrong in 2012, so I it is not a bad idea to take his word for what it all means, which is not much right now.

Then again, when you see stuff like this it is hard to imagine things getting better for the Democrats next year. This should be the honeymoon period as goodies get dispensed and the Democrats take credit for it. Obama should be enjoying good numbers, as the people tend to get sentimental about the siting president at this stage. If people are angry about Obama’s polices and by extension the Democrat agenda, imagine how people will feel when the bill comes in 2014. Things look gloomy for them.

On the other hand, the Stupid Party always finds a way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, so it is safe to assume they will not gain much from the health care issue. That’s the thing though. Why are they so predictably stupid about these things? How is it that these people got to this point? They are not retarded or even dimwitted. It takes a degree of cleverness to be a politician, even at the town level. When you get to national politics, you need to be a shrewd operator. Why are Republicans so bad at politics?

Of course, it is not just the Republicans. They are the most egregious, but the fact is, all politicians are quite stupid in their execution. Further, they have clueless people on their staffs and there is an army of people in the policy side who get everything wrong. Look at the Bush people. Most of his advisers were smart Jews from the neocon side of the party and they got everything wrong. In fact, they came close to destroying the Republican party. Again, it’s not just Republicans. It is the entire political class.

Look at Obama. According to Steve Sailer, Obama is above average in IQ at the minimum. He thinks he is in the top-2% or maybe higher. John Derbyshire makes similar arguments. John approaches the political-IQ issue a little different. He points to Obama having a high verbal-linguistic intelligence. That high verbal is a huge advantage in politcs, relative to math aptitude. Derbyshire and Sailer are first rate on the IQ beat so if they think Obama is an elite IQ, they are probably right about it.

So, why did Obama sign off on that stupid health care program?

Even if you want to dismiss the argument that Obama is smart, the army of people around him are certainly not blockheads. Pelosi looks like an opium addict, but she did not get to where she is by being stupid. Chuck Schumer is a smart guy. He got a perfect score on his SAT, when that counted for something. Surely the army of policy experts involved in creating the bill were smart enough to know that the bill they created was going to be a political disaster. There really is no way to blame it on stupidity.

How is it that so many smart people could be so stupid? The explanation offered by partisans is that this unfolding disaster is part of a sinister plan to turn the country over to a single payer. That sounds good when you write it down on the napkin at the bar, but in reality it looks like madness. These people are wired to be politicians and politicians always seek to be on the good side of the voters. Even rabid ideologues avoid crossing the people until they have total power.

If the plan is to smash the system and then rush in with a replacement, this is a ham-fisted way to go about it. If you’re so clever to scheme this sort of way, you should be clever enough to remove your fingerprints. If this does collapse private insurance in America, liberalism will be discredited for a generation, maybe forever. The folks replacing the demolished system will not be radical socialists. Now, radical socialists do suffer from a weird form of myopia, but are they really that myopic?

That still leaves a long list of incredible stupid statements that work against the interests of these bright people. Obama admitting that he just learned that insurance is complicated probably lost him five points of support. Pelosi’s crazy act makes even her most fanatical supporters cringe. Then you have back benchers like Debbie Wasserman-Schultz. How in the heck can we explain her existence? The inescapable conclusion is the political class has a large number of very smart people who say and do outlandishly stupid things.

We may be led by smart people, but they do outlandishly stupid things.