Dumb As A Trout

In reality, the title should be dumb as a Sunfish, but it doesn’t read as well… Anyone who remembers lake fishing with a parent, or uncle, or older sibling remembers the Sunfish. It was the one that made your heart bump because it was ‘most always the first to yank on the line making you sure you’d caught a trout, or bass, or pike. But as it fought mightily to get off the hook as you dragged it closer to your net, you saw the distinctive, bright yellow belly. “Oh no, it’s only (or if fishing longer “another”) Sunfish.

Sunfish were voracious eaters. They’d take any bait. And/or they are impossibly dumb. It was not unusual to catch and throw back the same fish more than once. It was easy to tell both from the tear on its mouth inflicted while getting your hook back and oftentimes the bait you were using that was stuck to the hook and its lip. This brings us to a bit of family lore that has nothing to do with fishing but a lot to do with dumb.

One of my mother’s favorite expressions was, “How can someone so smart be so dumb?” Most often that expression was lobbed in my direction. It had more universal uses as well: a professional person who had made a diagnostic mistake, the neighbor’s whiz-kid who somehow didn’t see the mudpuddle and was ankle or shin deep in it before the dawning came. Even the dog was a target on occasion though by tally of expressions it probably was the smartest of us all.

I am bringing mom’s expression back and dusting it off. The dusting is in case  Senator Elizabeth Warren, Professor of Law at Harvard University and rumored potential presidential candidate, has allergies because I am hanging it around her neck while I place a feather or two in her hair. You see, Pocahontas, so named by our machine gun mouth president fell for the bait.

In case you’ve been in outer space or a coma you know this story. The Senator, for some reason, thought America would care that she had a native American chromosome encapsulated in her DNA. This then would explain her deep, and well-founded championship of the native Americans and all the down-trodden of the nation. Well, it turns out that most folks thought it was silly–including the Cherokees. The only person who cared was “Nick-name Nelson” aka Donald Trump who affixed Pocahontas to her.

When I was preparing to apply to college my advisor gave me this advice. “Pick a few schools that are safety schools, ones you are sure to get into. Pick a few that you’d really like to go to and work like hell to get into them. But pick one or two “pie in the sky” schools that it would take the world shifting off its axis for you to get into. Sometimes that happens.” I chose Harvard. I still have somewhere the small note, typed on expensive paper, that rejected me and that foolishness.

Well smart as she is rumored to be Senator Warren had her own pie in the sky moment and she grabbed “Nick Name’s” bait. She took a DNA test. With two degrees in Political Science and a lifelong interest in politics, I cannot for the life of me figure out why. Was it to legitimately stand with the Cherokees? Was it so that after she leaves the Senate she could be nabbed by one of the companies that do DNA testing and do a commercial for them? No, she did it for the dumbest reason possible, to prove a point. She wasn’t gonna let some buffoon make fun of her. She was going to ram those chromosomes right down his throat.

So she took the test and it turns out she is telling the truth, though statistically not by much. Even hear the phrase about unintended consequences? First lightly blooded American Indian, Elizabeth Warren is told by the Cherokee chief that the chromosome doesn’t make a member of the Cherokee Nation. For that, there are all kinds of other qualifications. She’s just a mostly white American woman who had a relative way back when who had a dalliance with a tribal member. And then there’s this. News Note: “Today the White House announced that the President has apologized to Senator Elizabeth Warren for doubting her Indian ancestry.” Wrong.

Remember my college advisor’s dictum that sometimes the world shifts off its axis? Well, it didn’t this time just like it didn’t when I applied to Harvard. The test, in fact, has fallen under the law of unintended consequences. Now that Warren has Native American blood everyone will still remain uncaring. Smart as she is she will continue to look like she’s been played for a fool. Oh yes, and the president will undoubtedly continue to call her Pocahontas.

Or he could take to calling her “Princess Sunfish of the Cherokee tribe” because she took the bait–at least from my perspective.


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