Who wants to be in the "stoopid party"?
There's been much mockery of Delaware Republican candidate Christine O'Donnell
for her lack of awareness that the concept of separation of church and state is fundamental to the American constitution. Now the backlash begins. Politico carries an article
noting that the remarks attracted ridicule "on the left and in the British press", and suggesting that this sort of sneering at daft remarks is a strategy by elitist Democrats. President Barack Obama is appearing on Jon Stewart's The Daily Show next week, so obviously he thinks touching the funny bone might humour exasperated liberal voters.
It is easy to understand why questioning what look like silly remarks looks like a political tactic in the US. It is mostly comments from Tea Party supporters that have raised the laughs. I've spoken to a lot of supporters of the movement over the last year. Some say things that are bizarre to British ears, like calling Obama a Marxist. Some are inane and confused, my favourite being the lady who seemed unaware that the term "Tsar" to describe an unelected head of a government organisation is a a nickname bestowed by the media rather than Obama, saying: "I mean, that's a word from a socialist European country." But most Tea Party types I meet are well educated, well informed and articulate.
All the same, when Ms O'Donnell says "American scientific companies are cross-breeding humans and animals and coming up with mice with fully functioning human brains", it doesn't seem to me elitist or politically partisan to have a chuckle.
But that word again. Elitist. In an excellent article in the Washington Post, Anne Applebaum points out that the word "elite" has, in the US, become disconnected from its roots - as a description of a privileged class who inherit wealth and power - to mean people like Obama who have risen from ordinary backgrounds and become highly educated. Should the resentment by the ignorant of education and self-improvement become the wellspring of a political movement? Does anyone really want to form the Stupid Party?