Lincoln * Institute

Ralph R. Reiland

Ralph R. Reiland

The B. Kenneth Simon Professor of Free Enterprise at Robert Morris University


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Dumb and Dumber

by Ralph R. Reiland

It's early in the year, but the dumbest burglar of 2017, captured on multiple cameras, might be the fellow who tried repeatedly on a bright Florida morning to break into Spy Spot Investigations, a Deerfield Beach store specializing in surveillance equipment.

"This is probably the last place you would want to try to burglarize," said

store manager Evan Tannenbaum. "We've got a whole bunch of

surveillance cameras."

"At one point, it looks like he can tell he's on camera, but he doesn't stop," Tannenbaum explained. "Then he comes back, basically kicks the door again, tries to push it with his hands and then walks away."

At a higher level, the top prize for the dumbest burglary launched from an

elevated perch has to go to Richard Nixon.

Two years after he went down due to his role in the break-in of the

Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate complex

as well as other tricks and crimes that ultimately led to the

indictments of over three dozen White House and administration officials,

Nixon told a TV journalist that "if the president does it, it can't be Illegal."

Under that characterization of legality and the presidency, it would've been

lawful for Nixon to dispatch White House "plumbers" G. Gordon Liddy and

Howard Hunt to kidnap Woodward and Bernstein or to steal the most

luxurious Bentley convertibles off the streets of Georgetown.

More recently, perhaps the most self-defeating political blunder in 2016

was made by Hillary Clinton in September before the election when she

condescendingly dismissed half of Trump's supporters as a "basket of

deplorables," thereby imperiously insulting a large swath of the American


Following Hillary's defeat in the election, "Democratic pundits are calling

on their party to court working-class and non-coastal whites," reported

Heather MacDonald, a contributing editor of City Journal and fellow at the

Manhattan Institute. "But the Democratic Party is now dominated by

identity politics, which defines whites, particularly heterosexual males, as

oppressors of every other population in the United States. Why should the

targets of such thinking embrace an ideology that scorns them?"

MacDonald offered a prescription for refocusing the Democratic party:

"Trump's sally during the first Republican primary debate that 'this country

doesn't have time' for 'total political correctness' sent a signal that the

reigning presumptions about oppression were finally vulnerable. The message

resonated. Democrats will have to do much more than invoke traditional

Democratic class warfare to convince non-elite white voters that the

party does not see them as one of America's biggest problems."

In his recent "Revenge of the Yahoos" column in Taki Magazine, Jim Goad

writes that "it was the perennially scorned hicks, hillbillies, and rednecks

in 'flyover country' who handed Donald Trump the presidency. Trump

beat Clinton by 26 percentage points among voters who live in

non-metropolitan areas, while Clinton bested Trump by about 7

percentage points in urban areas."

Goad refers to the anti-redneck, anti-rural prejudices he wrote about in

his book, The Redneck Manifesto: How Hillbillies, Hicks, and White

Trash Became America's Scapegoats: "As I wrote in a book oh so

many moons ago, rural whites have been the most openly despised

and mocked racial, economic, and geographic group in America since

at least the 1960s."

Why Hillary lost? "Clinton was whipped into defeat by a belt made of

rust," writes Goad.


Ralph R. Reiland is Associate Professor of Economics Emeritus at

Robert Morris University in Pittsburgh.


Ralph R. Reiland


Phone: 412-527-2199