“When people show you who they are, believe them the first time.” – Maya Angelou

My Angela, meet Herschel Walker, the Republican candidate for the US Senate.

Here’s what he said about the Inflation Reduction Act: “A lot of money, it’s going to the trees. … We have enough trees. Do we not have enough trees here?”

And on the school shooting: “How about creating a department that can monitor young men who look at women, who only look at social media?” What about this?”

And on air pollution: “Because we don’t control the air, our good air decides to flow into China’s bad air, so when China gets our good air, their bad air has to move. So it moves into our good airspace. Then, now, we have to clear this backup.”

With gibberish like this, Walker showed us who he was and then some. So when a would-be senator from Georgia said, “I’m not that smart,” last week, it’s not like anyone fainted from shock. If the fact that he was telling the truth wasn’t shocking enough, it’s something Walker, who claimed to have no college degree and no FBI experience, is familiar with.

He was responding to a reporter’s question about his preparations for the October 14 debate with incumbent Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock. “I’m that country boy,” Walker said. “I’m not that smart. And he’s that preacher, he’s a smart man, he wears these nice suits. So he’s going to show up and embarrass me.”

Some observers saw this as an attempt to lower expectations so that Walker would “win” the debate by pronouncing his name correctly when he took the stage. However, this contradicts the fact that Walker continues to claim that Warnock is afraid to debate him. For the record, it was Walker who backed out of the Oct. 13 date because, he said, he didn’t want to be scheduled on Sunday Night Football.

October 13 – Thursday.

So it’s doubtful that Walker is even smart enough to lower expectations about how smart he is. And yet, polls say he could be Georgia’s next senator.

It suggests that America’s historical tendency to equate ignorance with authenticity, its distrust of leaders who seem too smart, is still alive and well. One may recall Adlai Stevenson, the 1952 presidential candidate who was derided as an “egghead.” And all the presidential hopefuls with Ivy League degrees who come to Midwestern fairgrounds every four years, roll up their sleeves, eat fried butter, toss “g’s” like loose coins, and otherwise try to pass themselves off as regular people. But maybe leaders don’t have to be “ordinary people.” Maybe it wasn’t the worst thing if they were allowed to be, well…smart.

This does not mean that a leader must live on such a rarefied intellectual plane as to be inaccessible to ordinary people. But perhaps we should abandon the idea that leaders have to be just like us. Have you met us? Or rather, shouldn’t we want them to be a little better than us, ie. had a broader and deeper knowledge of politics and international affairs than the guy on the next bar stool?

Instead, we get people like Marjorie Taylor Green, Louis Gohmert, and Lauren Bobert, people who couldn’t pour water out of a bucket when the instructions were printed on the bottom. Now comes Walker, fresh evidence of the American belief that any moron can run the country. There are doubts that this guy could drive a garbage truck.

“I’m not that smart,” he says. And you know something?

It was like he was bragging.

Leonard Pitts Jr., winner of the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for Commentary, is a columnist for the Miami Herald, 3511 NW 91 Avenue, Doral, Fla. 33172. Readers may email him at [email protected] His opinion does not necessarily reflect the views of The Lima News or its owner, AIM Media.