This:

This post makes me sad. One of the most corrosive forces in modern American politics is the idea that anyone who disagrees with you, or sits on the other side of the isle, can't possibly have a rational reason for it. So they must be dumb, or evil, or both.

If you don't understand why people think the way they do -- beyond "they must be dumb, there's no other explanation" -- then you'll have a harder time beating them, whether in an argument or an election.

Besides, idiotic and ineffective mud-slinging is par for the course in any election. Either side. People made fun of Kerry over ketchup. Bush was unfit for the presidency because he was a cheerleader. If that bothers you, don't just switch it on 'em.

And this:

I think it is a big mistake to consider Palin to be "dumb," and suspect that is part of the rationale behind the selection. she gave an interview to Maria Bartiromo for CNBC, and on the subject of energy, she is very conversant. Yes, she advocates the "drill here, drill now" philosophy, but she does so in a way that will appeal to Mr. and Mrs. NASCAR, and even more so with creationist/pro-life NASCAR Gimme CHEAP Gas crowd.

I want to be very clear here. The point isn't that Palin is stupid--it isn't even neccessarily Palin. The point is that a strategy that seeks to make an issue out of Honest Tea and arugula,  to preach intelligent design as science, to claim govenorship of Alaska as foreign policy is dishonest and an appeal to ignorance. Palin's intelligence is beside the point--equating intelligent design with evoloution is either, on its face, ignorance or an appeal to ignorance. Arguing that arugula consumption should have something to do with presidency is either ignorance--or an appeal to it.  Now, you may not agree with that formulation--but it clearly isn't the same as saying that Palin--or anyone who disagrees with me--is dumb.

It's also worth saying that Asher is right--candidates appeal to ignorance all the time. I'm a lefty so I'm going to see it more in the GOP. But for what it's worth, I don't think the number of homes John McCain owns is--in and of itself--any statement on his knowledge of the economy.

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