"Doofus" is an intriguing and timely word. The Oxford Living Dictionary says it likely originated in North America in the 1960s and suggests it is either an alteration of the word "goofus" or from the Scottish word "doof" meaning dolt. The Online Etymology Dictionary says it is "probably related to doo-doo and goofus."
The definitions range from "a foolish or inept person" to "a slow-witted or stupid person" to "an incompetent and stupid, though well-meaning, person." Synonyms include dolt, idiot, nerd, fool, idiot, airhead, birdbrain, boob.
The only doofus connection to doo-doo I could find was this, from Darrin Bell's "Candorville" comic strip (excuse the missing graphics): "Dear 'journalist,' I am offended by your biased hit-piece condemning so-called 'Fake News.' You wrote '…some of these sites' main sources seem to be their rear ends.' Who are you to say what's fake and what's real? I don't know that your 'sources' are any more 'real' than my rear end. I know my rear end. I trust my rear end. You, on the other hand, are a total stranger to me."
No surprise that fake news and doofuses are related, but the rear end trust thing got me.
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A blog called The Lunatic's Asylum had another take on doofuses and news. Speaking of "political pundits" in 2012 it said, "These people are put on the air because they have acquired, we're led to believe, a certain expertise which is, sadly, all too obviously totally lacking. I cannot begin to count the number of times one of these professional pundits, paid attack dogs, campaign confederates, party hacks, the so-called 'strategists' are trotted out to examine every possible detail of even the least-interesting and least-pressing subjects in minute detail, and to put a political 'spin' on it all. What's truly amazing, though, is that it's often the same doofuses showing up all over the same networks, one day uttering what they consider an undisputed fact, and the very next contradicting themselves without ever a) seeming to notice, or b) making an admission that they have changed a position or assertion. This is Orwell's doublethink in action."
In his novel "Nineteen Eighty-Four," author George Orwell defined "doublethink" as, "The power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one's mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them. To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just so long as it is needed."
Sounds so current, doesn't it?
In Orwell's novel, Big Brother was the tyrannical party leader behind the doublethinkers. Today, the major political parties' powerful special interests play that role. And, like Orwell's Party, they primarily seek "power entirely for its own sake."
Not that hard to detect all the doublethinking doofuses – the talking heads, the duped politicians, the ardent followers on the left and the right. The ultimate question is will the vast majority of Americans join them, or will some common sense coalition get off their rear ends and save us from doofus driven debacles?
Bill Crawford is a syndicated columnist from Meridian.