Evil or Stupid?

EVIL OR STUPID?….Jon Chait is reading Ari Fleischer’s book and trying to make sense of it. An acquaintance provides the key:

While I was slogging through the book, I happened to be e-mailing with a conservative I know. My correspondent thought my Ari-as-virtuoso theory was silly: “When Ari worked on the Hill he was widely considered to be a moron even by other press secretaries, who are mostly a bunch of ignorant dolts themselves.” But how, I asked, could he have run circles around the Washington press corps? “Ari is a genius like the [Peter] Sellers character in Being There,” he replied. “He was too stupid and too ignorant to know he was telling lies.”

Ah, the age old “evil or stupid?” question. I usually side with stupid ? on the statistical grounds that there’s way more stupidity in the world than outright evil ? and Fleischer’s book seems to provide some pretty good evidence for this in his case.

Of course, Fleischer was also a pretty successful press secretary, so perhaps IQ tests will become standard fare for future nominees: score above 90 and you’re disqualified. After all, if it works for NRO financial writers, why not press secretaries?