I also noticed Sullivan’s cheap and unfair dig at Michele Bachmann — which I, as someone who’s rather partial to Bachmann, take rather more personally than I do his attacks on Sarah Palin. Jonathan Chait recently filed an impressive assessment of Bachmann’s political appeal. Sullivan dismisses Chait’s piece as follows: “If being an anti-anti-intellectual still means a belief that New Hampshire is where the American Revolution took off, then the standard is set pretty low.”
Give me a break. The typical politician speaks many thousands of words a week, and among them there are bound to be some harmless verbal misstatements. Candidate Barack Obama notoriously said there were 57 states. Vice President George H. W. Bush notoriously said that Pearl Harbor happened in September. To use such mistakes as an easy way to dismiss a public figure — in the absence of even a cursory effort to investigate whether they are part of a broader pattern of stupidity — is simply silly.
P.S. Even a broad pattern of verbal gaffes is not necessarily an indication of stupidity. If you were to judge Vice President Joe Biden solely by his long list of misstatements, you would quite reasonably think the man a total nitwit. But I worked in the U.S. Senate for twelve years when he was there, and, based on seeing him in action, I found him to be a very likable and intelligent fellow.