Opinion » Bill Cope

Dear President Obama,

I want to apologize...


...for something that appeared on the pages of this publication a couple of weeks ago. In a regular feature in which Boise Weekly profiles individuals of varied interest, New York University law professor and itinerant speechifier Richard Epstein told the interviewer that you have "no intellectual ability."

You, Mr. President. According to this man, you are "no intellect." Professor Epstein professes to have an equal disdain for both political parties, though in the interview, the only politicians he admits to admiring are Calvin Coolidge (the president who paved the way for the Great Depression), Ronald Reagan (the president who set the free market hounds loose on America's middle class), and Reps. Eric Cantor and Paul Ryan (both congressmen who constantly promote the bludgeoning to death of democracy by blunt oligarchy).

The particular hobby horse on which Epstein mounts his indignation is, of course, that bad ol' big government. Which is what he came to Boise for, to lecture whomever would listen on the urgency of "Putting the Limits Back in Limited Government"--presumably so it won't have the means or muscle to prevent another Great Depression whenever the reigning oligarchy decides once again to chew up what's left of the Middle Class.

As with everyone I know of with such a Libertarian bent, this Epstein fellow struts his great insight about as though we non-Libertarians ain't never before heard such talk. Like, over and over and over. Like, this time, it isn't the same tiresome, discredited, ideological dribble they've been spouting for decades.

We've all seen this phenomenon with these libertarian lords of laissez-faire, haven't we, Mr. President? They just know that if one doesn't side with them--does not, when hearing their message, slap his own forehead and cry out "Why didn't I think of that!?"--then that person must not be smart enough to understand the Gospel according to Adam Smith they preach. Not intellectual enough.

Get that, Mr. President? In Professor Epstein's eyes, Coolidge was intellectual enough. Reagan was intellectual enough. But you, Barack Obama, are not intellectual enough.

Well if I may, Mr. President, allow me to examine for my readers here in Boise what a dummy you must be. In the days before I sat down to write this letter, during the government shutdown crisis, you out-maneuvered the Republican leadership like a border collie among sleeping sheep. They lost, you won. They are weaker now, you are stronger now, and all without a drop of Epstein-approved intellect in that head of yours.

Before that, during the Syrian poison gas crisis, you out-maneuvered the dictator Bashar al-Assad, the dick Vladimir Putin, the radical elements fighting Assad and our in-country radical elements who have been fighting for six years to make you look like a crappy commander-in-chief. You opened the door to clearing chemical weapons out of Syria, opened another door to ending that civil war entirely, opened yet another diplomatic door to the Iranian regime and slammed a door in your critics' faces, leaving them to wonder what was left to bitch about. How did you do all that without none of that there intellectual stuff?

Before that, you out-maneuvered the opposition to a policy that will insure millions of uninsured Americans, in spite of a blitzkrieg of resistance and boatloads of corporate money, all designed to sink your greatest achievement. Must of been nothing but luck, eh?... seeing as how you couldn't possibly have managed such a victory without an intellect.

Before that, whatever you did turned the tide in Libya's civil war, until Muammar al-Gaddafi was road kill and another dictatorship had turned to a democracy. And you did it without a single American casualty.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention that despite all those unrelenting Republican efforts to keep the economy comatose until they could boot you out and replace you with someone I presume Epstein would call an intellect--Mitt Romney--you brought the Dow up, the unemployment down, ended the war in Iraq, crippled al-Qaida, gracefully withstood more demeaning abuse and insult than a nerd in a middle-school gym class and won re-election quite handily.

If one didn't know better, he might start to think there was not only an intellect at work behind that endearing grin of yours, but a very formidable one. So formidable, perhaps, that a little Libertarian troll like Epstein can't fathom it.

And that's what I think, Mr. President--that behind your cool and calm, lead-from-behind, no-drama Obama exterior, is an intelligence so intense and so expansive that these monotone dronebots set on permanent ideological autopilot are incapable of grasping either how deep your intellect runs or how thoroughly you are disgracing them.

So whatever you're doing, Mr. President, keep it up. Every day, with every hysterical drama and contrived crisis that the Tea Party trailer trash in Congress churns out, more Americans are coming to understand just how thin the Republican gruel really is. And I have a growing feeling that come election day a year from now, when Americans compare your steady leadership to the alternative, there's going to be a major House cleaning.

As to Epstein, I can certainly agree with him on one--if only one--thing. When reminded that he'd been described (by Legal Affairs magazine) as one of the "top legal thinkers of our times, he responded, "I find it hard to take that very seriously."

Yes, Professor. So do I.