How do you rank or rate ‘dumb’?

Published 6:04 pm Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Newt Gingrich has been around politics and Washington for a long time. For the record, he was born in 1943 and is 68 years old. He served in Congress for 20 years (1979-1999) and was the House of Representatives’ Speaker for the last four of those years.

As I wrote recently, he is generally regarded as the “thinker” among the Republican hopefuls who are campaigning for President. He recently said something in one of the debates, though, that really got me to thinking.

Gingrich said, “this ‘Super Committee’ is about as dumb an idea as Washington has come up with in my lifetime.” His lifetime is 68 years long and that is a lot of time to consider dumb ideas coming out of our nation’s capital. How would one rank or rate dumb when it comes to Washington?

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With all due respect to Elizabeth Barrett Browning, let me count the ways.

Could it be the way things are said? For instance, remember former Speaker Nancy Pelosi? Her statement that “we have to pass the bill (The Affordable Care Act a.k.a. Obamacare) so that we can find out what is in it?” Where would that rank on the dumb scale?

About that Affordable Care Act, how dumb is it to propose throwing in another 30 million or so Americans into the current healthcare system and, at the same time, saying that it won’t add to the national debt. On the contrary, it would reduce it. As the song asks, “What kind of fool do you think I am?”

President Obama, of course, would want to put the best light possible on his signature legislation, Obamacare, but I’m not so sure that he accomplished that with this statement. He was trying to assure confidence in the handling of our health care by the government. “UPS and FedEx are doing just fine, right? It’s the Post Office that’s always having problems.”

When thinking about the dumb things that our politicians say, the list is almost endless. There might not have been an Internet around back in the founding days of our country; Al Gore had not been born yet. I can assure you, though, they had some doozies back then.

How many remember Bella Abzug, the New York congresswoman who always seemed to be photographed wearing some weird or dumb-looking hat. She once said, “We need laws that protect everyone. Men and women, straights and gays, regardless of sexual perversion, uh, I mean persuasion.”

Just so you won’t think me partisan, let me quote our most recent Republican President, George W. Bush. He is speaking of our educational system. “Rarely is the question asked: Is our children learning?” Everybody has a little problem with English every now and then. Here is another quote from George W. “You teach a child to read, and he or her will be able to pass a literacy test.”

You don’t have to be President to say dumb things. Vice presidents have that same opportunity. Our current one, Joe Biden, is one of the best. Remember the time he was in Missouri and was introducing state Senator Chuck Graham?

“Stand up Chuck, let ‘em see ya,” Biden said. The only problem was that Senator Graham was in a wheelchair. Where would that rank on the dumb scale?

Words are not everything, though. Sometimes actions speak “dumber” than words. Here is a dumb action. You know China, right? They have one of the most aggressive economies in the world. Sucessful, too.

Uncle Sam is struggling economically at this time, yet guess who is sending who foreign aid? Not smart.

Here is another dumb move. Mexico has some of the world’s meanest criminals in those drug cartels and we should strive to keep them out of our country and do nothing to enhance their criminal activity. Our Department of Justice made high-powered rifles and machine guns available to the criminals with the intention of tracking the weapons.

Who’s the smarter; career bureaucrats or career criminals? The winners were the criminals and, unfortunately, the losers were two United States border patrolmen who were murdered with the guns.

Let’s look at one more example of Washington versus anybody. The Department of Energy received a lot of stimulus money to help so-called green businesses. A solar panel manufacturing company by the name of Solyndra applied for a half-billion-dollar loan. As business goes, that’s not too far out of the ordinary.

Someone, though, questioned the economic viability of Solyndra. It could be embarrassing they said. At the same time, there was a good photo-op for the administration so the loan deal was rushed and the pictures were taken.

A little later the embarrassment of a bankrupt Solyndra was close. The investors, however, pulled a deal that put their interests ahead of the taxpayer and, if anyone is saved from loss, it will be investors first and Uncle Sam last. Another dumb move.

Newt Gingrich calls the Super Committee “one of the dumbest” of all time. He has his reasons, but my question is: how do you rate or rank the dumbness of Washington?