Column: U.S. voters don"t deserve stamp of stupidity

American people," or so I keep hearing, "are stupid." At least, that's a refrain that keeps coming up every time I hear the 2000 presidential election discussed — at parties, in classrooms or even on television or talk radio, from pundits or from cranky shock jocks masquerading as cultural analysts.

"American people are stupid," a friend declared to me in an argument about why, exactly, "American people" voted for the embarrassing bozo who will take the oath of office this weekend.

I won't rerun the tired complaints that Bush, in fact, lost the popular vote or discuss the questionable electoral majority awarded to him by judicial ruling — points we've all heard, in one form or another.

I tend to think a sound bite is aptly named, as we (and I definitely include myself in my indictment) swallow and digest them and make them our own all too easily and uncritically.

But the idea that "American people are stupid" is not a theory I've heard from a mainstream journalist yet. I don't think even the irascible Bryant Gumble or the bland, if perpetually disgruntled, Andy Rooney would dare to declare to their audience that they think us "stupid." It's too risky an argument, though at this point, after watching a press conference during which the bozo seemed unable to compose answers to very standard post-election (or in this case, post-appointment) questions, it seems he stands as a living monument to the "stupidity" of "American people."

No, it's by and large "regular" people (and, obviously, people who did not vote for the bozo) who seem to be assessing the election fallout as proof of "American stupidity."

But, despite my occasional pang of sympathy with that sweeping judgment, I subscribe to a different explanation for the election results. That is, I really believe that rather than serving as evidence of some kind of epidemic stupidity, it makes perfect sense to grow up in the United States and to vote for George W. Bush (or, as syndicated columnist Molly Ivins calls him, "Shrub").

Think about it: In many American communities and families that still mythologize and aspire to a paternalistic, white supremacist model of living "the American dream," it makes perfect sense to vote for the fellow who both represents it and doesn't apologize for it. Bush, a man I don't think stupid "&acirc"'&nbsp

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