Ionic Politicians and What The Really Know
Boston’s Mayor Menino made one of his typical gaffes the other day when he was describing such “ionic” Boston sports moments like that time Varitek split the uprights for the Patriots. The Assistant Village Idiot (an “iconic” title 😉 explained that the sports-knowledge and vocabulary deficiency that Menino displayed is an indicator about politicians’ knowledge on most subjects in general:
They know lots of important information about getting elected: what emote-words voters want to hear, what the party breakdown is in various regions, what types of advertising are most effective, what issues are currently hot, whose hands need to be shaken, how to raise money. As many of them are lawyers, they also know legal terminology pretty well. Some don’t have much beyond that in knowledge of the law, but there are a fair number who actually do understand it. They know how their own legislative bodies work, who is responsible for what, and something of who the key people are.
That’s about it. You can’t count on elected officials at any level actually knowing more than that. Getting sports names and facts wrong is not an interesting oddity–it is a window into the rest of their knowledge. There’s nothing wrong with not knowing something about a subject. There is something very wrong about pretending to know a subject when you don’t, and then asserting legislative power over it.
Unfortunately, as we rely more and more on government to get through our daily lives, we come to believe that our politicians are experts on almost everything. The truth is, of course, that they’re not, so they turn to career bureaucrats–with an interest in maintaining their own relevancy–for guidance. That is, if they deem it necessary and don’t think they can get by by faking it.