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What does a criticism of Obama have in common with Animal Farm?

March 25, 2009

According to a post by Andrew Sullivan at The Atlantic, an Obama critic who had some sharp words for the current President’s body of knowledge had some powerfully complementary things to say about Bush’s intellect:

John Hinderaker of Powerline snickered yesterday:

…evidently we have to add astronomy to history and economics as subjects of which Obama is remarkably ignorant. I’m beginning to fear that our President has below-average knowledge of the world. Not for a President, but for a middle-aged American.

Hinderaker on July 28, 2005:

It must be very strange to be President Bush. A man of extraordinary vision and brilliance approaching to genius, he can’t get anyone to notice. He is like a great painter or musician who is ahead of his time, and who unveils one masterpiece after another to a reception that, when not bored, is hostile.

Whether a fan of Obama’s political priorities or not, at what point does political criticism devolve into Orwellian doublespeak? Under what circumstances could the subtle and comprehensive policy discussions Obama is known for be described as coming from a man of less-than-average intelligence? And how could an observer judge Obama to be deficient in astronomy, history and economics but find Bush to be a brilliant genius producing masterworks of great art? I understand that politics produces hyperbole and over-heated rhetoric, on both sides. But has our discourse, and our ability to judge and evaluate the content and skill contained within the artful expression of an idea, degenerated so catastrophically that anything put into print will have weight in the marketplace of ideas? Sullivan calls Hinderaker’s post “self-parody.” I think it is worse than that. It’s a lie passed off as the truth and could only be written by someone who believes the public to be ignorant and docile, no smarter than Animals on a Farm.

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