Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Pure Drivel

Frist! Not! Unlike the former Senator, I'm not a long-distance video diagnostician. Nevertheless, people importune me to opine on whether Sen. McCain is displaying early symptoms of dementia. Alright, enough, I will pronounce judgment.

No, I don't think so. The cognitive limitations Sen. McCain displays do not appear consistent with early stage Alzheimer's disease or frontotemporal dementia. The first manifestation of Alzheimer's is normally impaired short-term memory integration -- the person will tell the same story twice in two minutes, or forget what you just said, that sort of thing. I haven't observed McCain doing this. McCain's inability to keep Shia and Sunni straight, or to read a teleprompter, is a symptom of a different problem, to wit, he is a dolt. He finished next to last in his class at the Naval Academy, and it's a fair surmise that he would not have graduated at all if his father wasn't a prominent Navy officer. He has always proclaimed that he doesn't understand economics, so it's certainly no wonder that he doesn't understand foreign policy either. He has trouble reading a teleprompter because he has trouble reading, period.

As for saying that he gave his Vietnamese captors the names of the Pittsburgh Steelers defensive line, when has has always said previously that it was the Green Bay Packers offensive line, that's not a sign of dementia either. Only as dementia becomes more advanced does the memory for events in the distant past start to fade. The reason McCain swapped lines is not because he's demented, it's because he's a liar. Of course, he'd have to be pretty stupid to think he could get away with claiming it was the Steel Curtain just because he was in Pittsburgh, when anybody could look it up. Is he really that stupid? Actually a more credible theory is that he became easily confused because he'd made up the whole story in the first place, in other words he never did the Green Bay offensive line trick either.

So, demented? No. A lying doofus? Absolutely.

Sardonic wit: Yes, yes, obviously the point of the New Yorker cover is to satirize the wingnut characterization of the Obamas. Rather, it's obvious to you and me, but that's not the problem. I used to have a habit of trying to create sardonic humor by saying outrageous things on the presumption that the people listening knew me well enough to know that I was mocking people who would say such things. Alas, I learned to my sorrow that people didn't necessarily get that right away, and even if they did, they often didn't like it anyway.

The "controversy" over the cover is going to be a perfect excuse for Fox News and CNN to display it 24 hours a day for two weeks, not to New Yorker subscribers but to tens of millions of people who will not get the double layer of irony, accompanied by a panel stacked heavily with wingnuts who will -- surprise! -- fail to correctly construe that it is a devastating satire of them and who will make endless remarks to the effect that, regrettably, the American people still feel that they don't really know Obama and they aren't convinced of his loyalty or his resoluteness in confronting America's dangerous enemies, and here we have an illustration of how these doubts and concerns are out there, oh tut tut it's certainly offensive but yadda yadda yadda.

Profound, inexcusable error in judgment.

Wonkier, more on-topic stuff to come.

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