Monday, January 26, 2009

Smarty Pantsuit

   "We must use what has been called 'smart power', the full range of tools at our disposal.  With 'smart power',  diplomacy will be the vanguard of foreign policy."--Hillary Clinton 

Normally I am not one to nitpick such sweeping and vague pronouncements from a member of our beloved leadership, but when Hillary made the above proclamation at her Senate hearing the other day, a chain reaction was started in the media that I just have to speak to.  
  "Smart Power"  seemed to be the only thing that Ms. Clinton really had to promise in order to get the enthusiastic approbation of the Senate and the media.  There was no real substance to her proposal.  It basically came down to "I will be smart, not dumb. (Like Bush and Co.)  We will be good, not evil. (Like Bush and Co.)  And all will be great, not crap. (Like Bush and Co.)
  Wow, it must have taken a think tank a lot of long nights and many pots of coffee to come up with this new political philosophy.
  I know she is trying to say she will employ diplomacy first and military might only when necessary, but this is really the exact approach taken by Bush and just about every other administration before.
  But hers will be "smart!"
  I have come to really hate when the word 'smart' is employed to sell things, the inference is if you don't want it or like it you are dumb.  It's the same technique used with the Patriot Act or The Fuzzy Baby Bunny bill-"How can you oppose it?!"
  I defy you to find  an article about Tina Fey that does not mention that she is "smart.   "And she has the glasses to prove it!"
  Now, I don't doubt the IQ of either of these fine women, they have both achieved substantial things in their given fields of endeavor.  I just get weary of seeing an appellation like 'smart' getting craftily attached to something to create a 'spin' that is usually unchallenged by the media.  It is what the great poet Charles Bukowski called "a shortcut to thinking."
  I remember years ago when the movie Bram Stoker's Dracula  came out, almost every reviewer to a man mentioned how true to Stoker's tale this movie was, I am sure because of it being Bram Stoker's Dracula instead of just Dracula.  And of course, they revealed to everyone that has read the book that they had never cracked its'  pages, because Bram Stoker's Dracula is waaay off!

And just as an aside, I wonder if Hillary would confess to having employed 'Dumb Power' when she signed on to the invasion of Iraq?

1 comment:

Brer said...

"Smart" has unfortunately gained some of the patina of "slick"; there are few good words left to apply to real thinkers. "Intellectual", "intelligentsia" both have negative connotations. "Smart" now has the same ring as the British use of "clever". If a Brit ever calls someone "clever" it is never a compliment. Monkeys are "clever", full of tricks and amusing, but with no real substance behind them. "Smart" also carries the tang of someone merely trim and well-organized, cosmetic, in fact; also there is an element of pain, as in "That smarts!" "Smart", in this respect, is similar to the evolution of the word "shrewd"; a "shrewd blow" was a hit that hurt; from there it went to a well-aimed hit, then the knowledge of where to apply them, then to knowing where to apply any force or knowledge.

Upon consideration, I think the best term to apply to a truly "smart" person would be "a learned thinker": this implies not only knowing things but applying them in thought.

Enough of these smart remarks!