Giving Rational Ignorance a Bad Name

More evidence that the Biden Administration is largely staffed by morons and ignoramuses. A couple days ago I drew a contrast between the late UN Ambassador Daniel Patrick Moynihan and Biden’s UN Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, who gives Kamala Harris a run for her money in the word-salad platitudes sweepstakes.

Thomas-Greenfield outdid herself when, after the Algerian cease-fire resolution was defeated a few days ago, she concluded her statement as follows:

We intend to do this the right way so that we can create the right conditions for a safer, more peaceful future. And we will continue to actively engage in the hard work of direct diplomacy on the ground until we reach a final solution.

Wait—did she really say that, in this conflict between Israel and Hamas, the U.S. is seeking a final solution? To borrow the shorthand acronym the kids like, AYFKM!?!?! Was there no one on the U.S. mission to the U.N. who had the wit to suggest that the term “final solution” might be better avoided in any official statement that involves Israel and the Jews? Wouldn’t “long-term settlement” or “stable peace agreement” work just as well for their purposes?

Recall how much grief Trump has received since 2015 for using the phrase “America first,” because of the anti-Semitic baggage associated with the America First movement of 1940. Time magazine was only too happy to remind us:

Or recall the criticism President Obama received for using the phrase “peace in our time” in his second inaugural address in 2013, such as from the very establishment-oriented Foreign Policy:

On the other hand, maybe the problem of abysmal historical illiteracy is epidemic these days. Turns out that pollsters Kirstin Soltis Anderson and Patrick Ruffini of Echelon Insights probed likely voters about just who they think Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is. And it turns out that nearly a third of likely voters think RFK Jr is his father, who was killed in 1968:

But Robert F. Kennedy Jr. might be facing another big issue. Among those who do express support for RFK Jr., we wondered; are voters even thinking of the right person?

Our latest omnibus included a test to evaluate this question. We presented voters with a picture of Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and his father, Bobby Kennedy, and asked them which one was “Robert F. Kennedy Jr.”. The results are quite remarkable. Only 59% of likely 2024 voters correctly picked the image of RFK Jr. instead of the image of his father.

Maybe this isn’t that remarkable, though. Back in 200o, there was some survey evidence showing that a non-trivial number of voters confused George W. Bush with his father, George H.W. Bush, and rather liked the idea of Bush-pere making a comeback after the drama of the Clinton years.

And if you go back to 1968 and Eugene McCarthy’s strong showing against LBJ in the New Hampshire primary that precipitated LBJ’s withdrawal from the race three weeks later, there is anecdotal evidence that some flinty New Hampshire voters confused Eugene McCarthy with Joseph McCarthy, and voted for Gene because they thought he’d actually win the Vietnam War. (For example, a Rotary Club where McCarthy spoke presented him with a plaque reading “with thanks to Sen. Joseph McCarthy.”) Liberals have always downplayed this angle of the story because it would harsh their heroic anti-war movement narrative. But life is complicated.

“Rational ignorance” is a postulate of public choice theory, which holds that the real return for spending the time to inform yourself about your voting choices is not rational given the marginal effect of one vote. Maybe this is an argument for having fewer people voting, especially as irrationally ignorant people seem to be the leading potentates of Democratic administrations lately.

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