By Tommy Hough
In a vacuum, the sentence "Dana Perino is entitled idiot" sounds harsh. But I challenge you to find the false premise.
In what was supposed to have been an otherwise light-hearted moment on the NPR game show Wait Wait Don't Tell Me on Sunday, White House spokesperson and former San Diego resident Dana Perino admitted she had no idea what the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis was.
Yes, she admitted this state of the art stupidity on the radio. Hard to believe the president's own spokesperson, a former political science major whose job it is to sell the administration's spin on policy to the nation's press, couldn't tell the most dangerous, potentially deadly, species-ending geopolitical moment in the entire Cold War from, as Wonkette put it, a Bacardi Mojito.
In all fairness, Perino had heard of the Cuban Missile Crisis, but never pursued learning anything about it. The classic mark of a Bush appointee: an utter lack of curiosity, and a fact-devoid, warped view of events that happened before their time. There is no intellectual curiosity or awareness with this bunch, and certainly no need for it, because goodness knows knowing a little bit of history would just get in the way of the botched policies they're still trying to push down the pike.
But with Perino's willful admission of ignorance, we have passed into a new chapter of Idiocracy with this proudly ignorant administration. The true legacy of the Texas country club circuit. In fact, to listen to Ms. Perino tell the story, she played it off as though it were "cute" that she didn't know what the Cuban Missile Crisis was. Perhaps in her mind mushroom clouds and nuclear annihilation are adorable.
Note to Ms. Perino: We escaped nuclear annihilation because President Kennedy chose to respond to the right letter from Khrushchev. We escaped nuclear annihilation because Kennedy was surrounded by capable people who had empathy and patience, who listened, and made the right decision on the most delicate matter of diplomacy in the 20th century, and perhaps the history of mankind. Not that it's of interest to you.
History didn't begin on 9/11, and if you or someone you know anyone over the age of 25 doesn't know what the Cuban Missile Crisis was, seek them out, and bang your shoe on the table. And if you don't know what someone banging a shoe on the table represents from that era, then you are similarly in need of a history lesson, comrade. Just watch the movie Thirteen Days if you have to. That'll be enough to get you and Ms. Perino up to speed.
Why is it our public officials find new ways to make America look bad with their ignorance? We used to be the nation of brains, competence, and capability that landed six missions of human beings on the moon. Now we're just interested in the size of our televisions. Just because something happened before your lifetime, that doesn't mean it's not important for you to know about it. Especially if you're, to pick a purely random example, the president's press secretary.
Not knowing what the Cuban Missile Crisis was is the equivalent to not knowing what D-Day was, or the Tet Offensive. And by treating the event and your ignorance about it as a joke, you insult the men and women of the U.S. armed forces in the fall of 1962, who faced the very real possibility of slugging it out with Soviet forces in Cuba and in a European ground war, with the literal fallout of a nuclear war and global calamity coming down around them.
If sleeping through school the day the Cuban Missile Crisis was discussed still enables a person of privilege and entitlement to become press secretary for the President of the United States, perhaps future administrations will dispense with the pretext of capability and simply hire Larry the Cable Guy. At this rate, we'll soon arrive at a point where graduates of Oral Roberts University's two-year foreign administration program can drop off their resume in their respective fraternity or sorority legacy box.
Dana Perino, you should be ashamed. And you shoudn't be anywhere near a White House lecturn.
A San Diego County planning commissioner and former radio host and media personality, Tommy Hough works as an environmental consultant and communications professional, and is a California Democratic Party delegate and the co-founder and former president of San Diego County Democrats for Environmental Action.