Archive for November, 2022

Profiles in Ignorance

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2022

By Andy Borowitz

The Short Take:

Borowitz typically writes satire for The New Yorker and does a great job. However, this is not a satire, though he still makes you laugh. This is an in depth look at the growth of real or feigned ignorance in America’s politicians, going back for generations. While Republicans receive the brunt of the criticism, there’s plenty to go around.


In the not-to-distant past ignorance was usually ridiculed (potatoe, anyone?). But over time that ridicule transformed into acceptance then the nation and the media went even further to the point where ignorance is now celebrated.

While the book includes examples of political–and voter–ignorance throughout American history (such as Andrew Jackson beating the superior John Quincy Adams) its primary focus is on the political scene of the last 60 years. Borowitz makes a point of shining a bright light on the advisors who work to alter their candidates images; sometimes in an attempt to hide ignorance but often packaging and even showcasing it. It’s fascinating how the same actors have played major roles in national politics from the Reagan era to our own. It’s also disheartening to learn how a candidate like Bill Clinton felt he needed to downplay his intellectual status by playing saxophone (poorly) and inviting comparisons to Elvis Presley (upbringing not singing). Why? Because almost every time the Democrats nominated a “learned” man for president they lost (talking about you, Adlai Stevenson).

The whole thing would be terrible depressing if he didn’t wrap up by acknowledging that he–like many of us– has been making ignorant decisions about how to support candidates and has now learned a better, smarter, more effective way.

I will say that the humor I enjoyed so much during the first two thirds of the book was not enough to buoy me up towards the end but I’m glad I took the journey.


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November 2022