Ha! I just posted that myself. It’s Humiliate-Kevin-James Day all over the internet today. Look at ‘im squirm!
Important fact I have learned about Kevin James: he’s a former AUSA, a federal prosecutor. Which means that he isn’t actually a bona fide idiot, and that he is in fact perfectly capable of knowing what he’s talking about, if he wants to.
He doesn’t have the excuse of being born an idiot; he has deliberately chosen to cultivate idiocy as a career strategy.
Coulter graduated near the top of her class from a good law school, and clerked on a federal court of appeals for a judge who I will not name because he’s dead now and I do not wish to bring shame to his family.
I’m not saying that means she’s a genius, but she’s not stupid. She’s just chosen to make a career out of saying stupid things.
Just to be 100% clear, I’m not offering this as a defense of either Coulter or James, both of whom are vermin. My point is that if they were just born stupid and didn’t know any better they would have a kind of excuse.
Felix— I get your drift, but then are we to equate how someone does in school with intelligence? I don’t think so. Many times people who do well in school are complete boobs, while those who do poorly are brilliant (like myself and Einstein).
But seriously . . .
I don’t think accademic credentials are really worth much. If you take ten illiterate sheep farmers from Nepal and ten people with University degrees from California, Boston or Oxford and talk to them, the conversation of the sheep farmers will not be any less intelligent.
Commenting on Felix’s thoughts regarding Coulter, I’d like to add that I actually think that she’s a performer of some sort, and her public persona is a contrived alter-ego that she uses to make a few bucks at the expense of idiots. Not that this lets her off the hook, mind you.
I really don’t pay her any more attention than I do the half dozen other caricature-like talking heads that populate prime time television, and this includes Chris Matthews in my opinion. These folks and their programs are to civilized discourse as cock fights are to petting zoos. It’s like we’re back in the Dark Ages and we have to have our “Punch and Judy.”
Brendan — There are all sorts of different things that we mean by intelligence. In this context, I mean mainly (1) “the ability to construct a coherent abstract argument about politics, e.g. what happened at Munich and why it matters,” and (2) “the ability rigorously to distinguish between fact and myth, and to understand how to back up what you’re saying with fact.”
James and Coulter choose not to do either, but they can do both — they would have been fired from their early jobs if they couldn’t.
But sure, so can a lot of people who for whatever reason didn’t do well in formal education, and I didn’t say otherwise. There are — in this culture — other ways of picking these skills up than formal education.
An example of a horrible right-wing radio/TV pundit who I think probably doesn’t have the mental equipment to understand that he’s talking nonsense: Glenn Beck.
I’d rather not talk about illiterate sheep farmers in Nepal because I don’t know anything about them and one or probably both of us is going to end up appearing horribly insulting or culturally condescending to them. “Illiterate sheep farmers” covers a wide range of cultures, now and in history, and some of them are quite scare-quotes-modern in their culturally ingrained habits of mind and capable all else being equal of skills (1) and (2) and some of them are definitely not.
Yeah, I understand what you mean. But honestly, with Ann Coulter, I have never seen form a coherent political argument. Of course I haven’t read tons of her stuff, but what I have read has never been terribly coherent.
On the other hand, another right wing pundit who I don’t like but who I do consider intelligent, is David Brooks.
So I am not saying she is stupid because she is right wing, but more because I haven’t actually heard her say anything that has any real insight to it. And I don’t think she has been fired for the very simple reason that she has a huge following. She is basically the Maureen Dowd of the right wing. Neither of them seem terribly brilliant to me, but they are popular.
I think we’re talking past each other — Coulter has had two careers: an early (quite successful) legal career, and a subsequent career as a horrible right wing hack.
In her current capacity as a hack she has never said anything intelligent because that’s not in her job description. Coherence and nuance would be a liability to her.
In her former capacity as a (successful) lawyer she may or may not have ever said anything “intelligent” or “creative,” but she must at least have known how to say things that were “consistent with the evidence.” When I say she would have been fired if she weren’t aware of the distinction between fact and nonsense, I mean she would have been fired from those (highly competitive) legal jobs.
Brooks is an improvement on Coulter but I’m not a fan.