Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Is Obama Smart?

One can hardly expect an article thusly entitled to constitute a ringing endorsement of the President's intelligence, and Bret Stephen's exploration of the President's grey matter doesn't disappoint.
When it comes to piloting, Barack Obama seems to think he's the political equivalent of Charles Lindbergh, Chuck Yeager and—in a "Fly Me to the Moon" sort of way—Nat King Cole rolled into one. "I think I'm a better speech writer than my speech writers," he reportedly told an aide in 2008. "I know more about policies on any particular issue than my policy directors. And I'll tell you right now that I'm . . . a better political director than my political director."  On another occasion—at the 2004 Democratic convention—Mr. Obama explained to a Chicago Tribune reporter that "I'm LeBron, baby. I can play at this level. I got game."  Of course, it's tempting to be immodest when your admirers are so immodest about you. How many times have we heard it said that Mr. Obama is the smartest president ever? Even when he's criticized, his failures are usually chalked up to his supposed brilliance. Liberals say he's too cerebral for the Beltway rough-and-tumble; conservatives often seem to think his blunders, foreign and domestic, are all part of a cunning scheme to turn the U.S. into a combination of Finland, Cuba and Saudi Arabia. 
I don't buy it. I just think the president isn't very bright.
Ouch!  And Stephens is one of the post-Murdoch concessions to NY Times readers at the Wall Street Journal.   The piece goes on to devastate the President, less on the grounds that he is dumb--which he isn't--than on the grounds that he is venal and wracked with hubris.  These vices make him stupid.  He is more Icarus than Coalemus.

Noman had the pleasure of taking a class with then Harvard Law Review editor, Barack Obama, while both were at the law school.  In class, he struck Noman as a thoughtful, articulate man of the left.  In fact, Noman had a lot more respect for him then than he does now.  What appeared then to be an ability to consider his adversary's perspective for the sake of getting at the truth was, in retrospect, just a callous, manipulative technique for getting his way.  That is the way he has governed.

Obama was famous even then as the first black editor of the HLR, and was evidently being groomed by his very intelligent, and leftist, professors for bigger things.  Harvard Law in those days was a bastion of political correctness and liberal intolerance, churning out culture warriors for the alienated, anti-Christian, anti-mainstream left.  The conservatives on its faculty were Earl Warren liberals.  The cutting edge at the time was deconstruction and critical legal theory--with chip-on-the-shoulder attitude.   Obama learned his lessons well, and to disguise them even better.  His skills were finely honed at the ACORN finishing school for political revolutionaries, and the Chicago school for hardball politics.  He is, in brief, the polished product of elite, left-liberal centers of education and politics.

What a waste of a good mind.  In Noman's opinion, Obama is very smart.  It's the things he believes in that are stupid--at the concrete level, not at the level of glimmering abstractions.  He is not grounded in the truth about human nature or society, and thus is subject to criticisms of cerebral insufficiency despite ample and evident proof (at least to Noman) of his smarts.

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