What conduct definitively labels an elected official as incompetent, you ask? Well, opinions may differ, but I think we can all agree the publicly exposing yourself as uninformed, ignorant, and devoid of reading comprehension qualifies.
Meet Maricopa, Arizona Vice-Mayor Ed Farrell (D), who saluted the passing of anti-gay, military funeral-disrupting Fred Phelps, who tookleave of this homosexual-blighted world recently, by writing this on his Facebook page:
“We need more Fred Phelps in this world. May you rest in peace sir….This world needs to get back to the biblical standards that our God made for us. This guy was not afraid to preach it, and I respect that.”
To prove his point, Farrell linked to a satirical obituary in The Onion, believing it to be genuine. He believed this despite clues like the following:
“What Fred Phelps accomplished over the past 30 years—from a federal constitutional amendment limiting marriage to one man and one woman, to nationwide laws allowing businesses to turn away gay customers—makes him easily one of the most successful and monumental figures of the past century,” said biographer Michael Ammons, noting that depictions of gays and lesbians began to disappear from popular culture and the media as soon as Phelps began taking his powerful rallies against homosexuality from state to state. “Fred Phelps devoted his life to one goal, and he triumphed. This was an incredibly influential man who deserved all the attention he received. Think of the legacy he leaves behind: In the past three decades, homosexuality has become practically nonexistent in society.”
Wishful thinking, perhaps, on Farrell’s part?
Finally alerted to his gaffe, Farrell explained that he had never heard of Phelps, didn’t know that he spear-headed harassment of mourning family members of fallen soldiers, and didn’t know that the Onion was a satirical site—and, obviously, is too dense to figure it out. He just knows that he’s sick of all those pesky homos. “I am just having a hard time with all of this gay and lesbian rights thing. It has never been an issue until these kind of people made it an issue,” he added to his commentary.
All of this can be neatly summed up as incompetence, or perhaps “What an idiot!” He praised a man he never heard of, based on satire that depicts Rick Santorum’s fantasy U.S., never checked his facts, and many years into the most significant cultural shift in decades, professed ignorance and bewilderment regarding it. I don’t care how small his town is: he doesn’t know enough to hold office in it. Farrell apologized once someone set him straight, and properly diagnosed himself as “shamed.” But, as they say, you can’t fix stupid.
You shouldn’t vote for it, either.
[ Runner-Up: California state Sen. Leland Yee (D), who was arrested for bribery and gun-running, despite being a gun control advocate. Yes, I know what Yee did is much worse. But he’s almost certainly smarter.]