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Americans are "clueless"

Lest MPS be accused of an anti-American bias by claiming that Americans are clueless, let it be immediately said, that that is the "verdict" of Frank Bruni in an op-ed piece of his in The New York Times.    The evidence he cites to support his claim is troubling.....to say the least!   And this is the country said to be leading the West!!!

"The problems with our country’s political discourse are many and grave, but an insufficient attention to Obamacare isn’t among them. We have talked Obamacare to death, or at least into home hospice care. The “Obamacare” shorthand itself reflects our need to come up with less of a mouthful than “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,” given how regularly the topic recurs. “Obamacare” is like “J. Lo” or “KFC.” It saves syllables and speeds things along.

So explain this: according to a recent poll, roughly 40 percent of Americans don’t even know that it’s a law on the books.

Now if I learned that 40 percent weren’t aware of when Obamacare was to be fully implemented or whether any of it had yet gone into practice or precisely how it’s likely to affect them, I wouldn’t be surprised or distressed. Obamacare is nothing if not unwieldy and opaque: “Ulysses” meets “Mulholland Drive.” The people confused about it include no small number of the physicians I know and probably a few of the law’s authors to boot.

But 40 percent of Americans are clueless about its sheer existence. Some think it’s been repealed by Congress. Some think it’s been overturned by the Supreme Court. A few probably think it’s been vaporized and replaced with a galactic edict beamed down from one of Saturn’s moons. With Americans you never know.

According to a survey I stumbled across just weeks ago, 21 percent believe that a U.F.O. landed in Roswell, N.M., nearly seven decades ago and that the federal government hushed it up, while 14 percent believe in Bigfoot.

According to another survey, taken last year, about 65 percent of us can’t name a single Supreme Court justice. Not the chief one, John Roberts. Not the mute one, Clarence Thomas. Not even the mean one, Antonin Scalia. Though when it comes to Scalia, perhaps the body politic suffers less from ignorance than from repressed memory.

That we Americans are out to lunch isn’t news. But every once in a while a fresh factoid like the Obamacare ignorance comes along to remind us that we’re out to breakfast and dinner as well. And it adds an important, infrequently acknowledged bit of perspective to all the commentary, from us journalists and from political strategists alike, about how voters behave and whom they reward. We purport to interpret an informed, rational universe, because we’d undercut our own insights if we purported anything else.



But only limited sense can be made of what is often nonsensical, and the truth is that a great big chunk of the electorate is tuned out, zonked out or combing Roswell for alien remains. Polls over the last few years have variously shown that about 30 percent of us couldn’t name the vice president, about 35 percent couldn’t assign the proper century to the American Revolution and 6 percent couldn’t circle Independence Day on a calendar. I’m supposing that the 6 percent weren’t also given the holiday’s synonym, the Fourth of July. I’m an optimist through and through."

****

"At a heated point of the 2012 presidential primaries, when both Rick Santorum and the news media were making much of his faith and fecundity, less than 30 percent of voters could identify his religious affiliation as Catholic, according to one poll. Months later a different poll asked voters about President Obama’s religious affiliation, persistently mistaken by some Americans to be Muslim. The good news? The share of voters making the Muslim error had dropped, to 10 percent. The weird news? Eighteen percent said Obama was Jewish."

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