One notes the case of a Broward city commissioner who has been subject to a recall movement. She is easy to recall, for who could forget the dumb defense that worked when she was on trial for allegedly taking stuff in return for her vote. Her dumb defense, in effect, was that she was too dumb to do anything crooked. Her lawyer argued that she was admittedly not a bright bulb, but surely not venal. She simply did not realize anything was wrong. A jury accepted that explanation and found her innocent by virtue of stupidity.
Now she wants her job back, and is fighting the recall on the grounds that this is all personal. She may not be smart enough to realize it, but she may be in the process of establishing a new campaign mode for South Florida. We can see the day when the key to political success will be to appear dumber than anybody running against you.
We had a chance to interview a prospect for a political office.
“Your principal qualification is stupidity, right?”
“Yes, sir. There’s nobody out there who can touch me when it comes to being one brick short of a load.”
“And that qualifies you for public office.”
“Sure, I’m too dumb to cause any harm. I won’t understand the laws. I’ll vote for anything anybody wants, as long as my net worth increases annually.”
“Your opponents don’t seem that bright," we said. "How do you know you outdumb them?”
“Oh some of them may have a certain cachet, but not dumb as a stump like me. I’ll take a polygraph.”
“What was that word you used?”
“What word?" he said.
“Didn’t you say cachet? Now that’s not an everyday dumbster’s word. You even pronounced it right. A truly dumb person would rhyme it with hatchet, rather than the traditional French pronounciation, which rhymes with maché. People who are trying to become smarter tend to use such words, like paradigm and conundrum, and they fancy expressions such as ‘kick the can down the road,’ and ‘at the end of the day,’ and ‘you have my back.’ Nobody knows what they mean, but they sound smart. You could have a problem if voters perceive you are trying to become smart. And, by the way, by cachet did you mean an official seal of recognition or approval, or were you referencing a medicinal preparation for swallowing consisting of a case usually of rice-flour paste enclosing a medicine?”
“No, I didn’t mean nothing like that. I was thinking more of a design or inscription on an envelope to commemorate a postal or philatelic event. Also a girl who dresses good," he said.
“Friend, I think you have a problem. People will distrust you if they think you are smart enough to pretend to be stupid just to get their vote. You can’t use arcane words and be accepted by a dumb voter. For starters, you need to bury the cachet. And imagine if you got in front of a jury for misfeasance or malfeasance. You could never convince them they you are too dumb to be on the take. I think the reason the woman got off was that she may well have been truly, honest-to-God dumb, a bona fide boob, and the jury was smart enough to grasp that. Suppose in a trial somebody uses a word like ‘venal.’ What would you say?”
“I’d play dumb.”
“Friend, we wish you well. But we’ll put our money on the jury.”