Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Quote of the day

Paul Krugman, being asked by Christiane Amanpour about Newt Gingrich, said that ‘somebody said ‘he’s a stupid man’s idea of what a smart person sounds like’.

I wish I knew who that somebody was. She or he was right on the money. The common wisdom among the American media seems to be that Newt Gingrich is an intellectual. I never saw anyone less interested in the free play of ideas, and with less intellectual discipline. I have never heard him say a brilliant thing, and I watch a lot of American political television.

Maybe the oddest and most stupid thing he ever said was that the only way to understand President Obama was to look to that famous Kenyan model:

‘What if [Obama] is so outside our comprehension, that only if you understand Kenyan, anti-colonial behavior, can you begin to piece together [his actions]?” Gingrich asks. “That is the most accurate, predictive model for his behavior.”’

This is an almost meaningless string of words. It is unmoored from reality on about four different levels. Obama was born in Hawaii, of an American mother and a Kenyan father, spent some of his childhood in Indonesia, went to university at Harvard and Columbia, and taught law at the University of Chicago. From this, the famous intellectual concludes that he must be a Mau Mau.

I always like to put a photograph with each post, and so was looking for one of Paul Krugman (too much to see the wide face of Newt). Instead, I came across this beauty, which has nothing to do with anything, but is so lovely I thought I'd put it up anyway. Sadly, it is completely uncredited, so I have no idea of its date, provenance, or artist. 

What do you think? Paris? Some time in the late fifties? If it turns out to be a really famous picture by Brassai, I shall feel quite ashamed that I did not know that.

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