Joe Klein of Time laments poll results indicating that many Americans think the stimulus spending was wasted since, as he reminds us, a big chunk of that went to tax cuts for those same folks. He interprets this state of affairs as proof that Americans are "flagrantly ill-informed" and, "too dumb to thrive."
For this, Dad29 calls Klein a twit, and he is right. Klein is a twit.
Liberal blogger Matthew Yglesias is nicer to Klein, but still thinks he is wrong both in his approach and on the substance. Yglesias argues that the "too dumb to thrive" line makes it too easy to dismiss Klein's argument as elitist. From there, though, he descends into a chilling argument on why average folks don't need to be experts on policy. He argues that what we need are elected officials that "produce results people approve of." He stopped short of calling for bread and circuses, but that can't be too far behind.
I would argue that while the average American may not need to know the intricacies of many policy issues, when the government undertakes a $787 billion spending effort they ought to be able to understand its major components and their basic implications.
Of course there is another explanation. Perhaps what is showing up in the poll results is really dissatisfaction with the infrastructure spending portion of the stimulus. In Klein's piece even he admits that the highly touted shovel ready projects simply didn't exist. Given that, is it any wonder that the stimulus polls badly?
Ultimately, these two items are not mutually exclusive. It seems to me that the poll results get it about right and that much of the stimulus was ill-conceived and poorly executed. But it also seems quite clear that many people remain in the dark about the basic facts surrounding a government supposedly of, by, and for them.