Dunces in the White House

Clark Clifford, a veteran Washington insider and, by all accounts, a very smart fellow, once called President Reagan ??¢â???¬?????an amiable dunce??¢â???¬ . That was pretty much the Left??¢â???¬â???¢s take on the Gipper throughout his eight years in The White House. They cringed at his depiction of The Soviet Union as ??¢â???¬?????The Evil Empire??¢â???¬ . They smiled at his na???? ¯vet???? © when he stood in Berlin and forcefully said, ??¢â???¬?????Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!??¢â???¬  They gnashed their teeth when he ignored large European demonstrations and began deployment of Pershing II and Cruise missiles on that continent.

Yet, somehow, the Dunce prevailed. The Evil Empire imploded and Mr. Gorbachev did tear down that wall. (Actually, others tore it down for him as he turned his attention to signing Western book deals.) The really smart people saw through all this and announced that the Empire had crumbled of its own accord, not because of, but in spite of, the intellectual lightweight who predicted all of that would happen. Of course, these were the same people who preached co-existence with this ??¢â???¬?????superpower??¢â???¬  just a few years before.

Fast forward to 2000 when another ??¢â???¬?????dunce??¢â???¬  was elected and then reelected in 2004. As John Kerry was reported to have said when reading a poll showing George Bush with a lead, ??¢â???¬?????I can??¢â???¬â???¢t believe I??¢â???¬â???¢m losing to this idiot!??¢â???¬  Once again, we had a President who showed his lack of sophistication in international affairs by defining an ??¢â???¬?????Axis of Evil??¢â???¬ , by going on the offensive after an attack on American soil killed thousands, and by suggesting that democratization in The Middle East was the best defense against terrorism. Not only that, this newest Dunce actually believed that such a transformation could happen!

So now we find ourselves with democratic elections in Afghanistan and Iraq; Syria announcing a pullout from Lebanon with elections to follow; small, but unprecedented, steps toward real elections in Egypt and Saudi Arabia; and perhaps the best shot ever at a lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians. Naturally, we are now being told that all of this could fall apart and, even if it doesn??¢â???¬â???¢t, these were things that were bound to happen anyway.

It must be extraordinarily maddening to be so smart and to watch helplessly as epochal events occur during or right after the watches of dunces and idiots, and to see these people given credit by some for these events. To make matters worse, when the really smart people are in power (Carter, Clinton), international events seem to conspire against them.

The 2008 elections are likely to be wide open in both parties. Democrats are still trying to sort things out, the Republican incumbent can??¢â???¬â???¢t run and the Veep says he won??¢â???¬â???¢t. So who knows who will finally emerge and ultimately occupy the office of President? Maybe we??¢â???¬â???¢ll be lucky and find another Dunce.