I am no great fan of the contemporary Republican Party, certainly not as it is expressing itself in Congress these days. But Andrew Sullivan, in his inimitable manner, does nothing to help with trenchant analyses such as this one (presented in toto):
You might just get some. If you thought some of the GOP freshmen were from the Palin mold, you weren’t wrong.
If you click through that link, you get an article in Huffington Post that references a report in which the public speaking patterns of MOCs were analyzed and given a grade level. It yields this:
The sophistication of federal lawmakers’ speech patterns is on the decline, with members of Congress now talking, on average, at the level of high school sophomores. According to a new report by the Sunlight Foundation, Congress has fallen by almost a full grade-level since 2005.
Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.) clocks in at the lowest grade-level: 7.9 in this Congress.
“I was trained to write in a clear and concise fashion, and you didn’t use big words if small words would do,” Mulvaney, who graduated with honors from Georgetown and earned a law degree from the University of North Carolina, told NPR. “Certainly I’m not trying to dumb down the message by any stretch of the imagination.”
I am willing to bet you a steak dinner at the restaurant of your choice that I would find the overwhelming majority of Rep. Mulvaney’s politics objectionable. He’s a freshman Republican MOC in a class famous for being rabidly conservative. He may be a swell fellah, but chances are pretty good his political viewpoint would set my teeth on edge, and vice versa.
But unless he’s succeeded through a remarkable string of good luck, he’s almost certainly not dumb. He graduated with honors from a fine institution, and got a law degree from another one. The belies a lack of intelligence. And what he says in that quote is a perfectly reasonable opinion about rhetoric. My office has lots of material for patient education that we write ourselves, and we deliberately try to write in an accessible, comprehensible way, such that as wide an audience as possible can make use of what we’ve written. Rep. Mulvaney’s ends are likely to be similar in that regard. He’s not writing for Granta.
I realize it’s Mr. Sullivan’s style to be somewhat confrontational. Lord knows, he pulled no punches with the aforementioned Sarah Palin, to the point that he started seeming a wee bit unhinged toward the end. But sneering disdain for the opposition isn’t going to score many points, particularly when an even cursory glance at the article you’re linking contradicts the very point you’re trying to make.