Ed Driscoll

Mister, We Almost Had A Man Like Herbert Hoover Again

We didn’t get a chance to comment on Kerry’s college grades yesterday, although lots of others in the Blogosphere did. Of course, we generally don’t lose a whole lot of sleep over the varying degrees of intelligence of political candidates. And as Orrin Judd wrote yesterday, “it’s wise of Mr. Kerry to play up his own scholastic mediocity if he plans to run in ’08. The candidate perceived as smarter has never won an open presidential race in at least modern times. Americans despise intellectuals.”

Certainly as potential presidents. Along those lines, James Taranto writes:

When It Raines, It Pours

The revelation of John Kerry’s averageness prompted several readers to remind us of an article that appeared last Aug. 27 in both the Washington Post and London’s Guardian. The author was Howell Raines, the former New York Times executive editor; the topic was John Kerry’s superior intelligence, and we noted it at the time. The key passage:


Does anyone in America doubt that Kerry has a higher IQ than Bush? I’m sure the candidates’ SATs and college transcripts would put Kerry far ahead.

Maybe Raines was being sarcastic (“Oh yeah, I’m sure!”), but we don’t think so. Also, several readers took issue with our contention that Woodrow Wilson was the last egghead to win the White House. As Kevin Shapiro writes:

Arguably, the last egghead to win the White House was actually Bill Clinton, who’s rumored to have taught law at the University of Arkansas between his failed congressional bid in 1974 and his election as Arkansas attorney general in 1976. At any rate, Clinton is by most accounts considered a very bright fellow–albeit one with numerous character flaws.
We didn’t mean to disparage Clinton’s intellect, which by all accounts is formidable. But we would not characterize him as an “egghead“–i.e., an intellectual or highbrow. Despite his brief stint as a professor, he has spent almost his entire career in politics, and there’s no denying his regular-guy appeal.

A better candidate for the title of egghead president is Herbert Hoover, who before entering government worked as a mining engineer and who, according to the Hoover Presidential Library, “regarded himself as a
scientifically trained professional”:

Prior to his presidency and throughout his mining career, he wrote for numerous professional publications; by 1914, he had ritten more than 30 signed articles. His early interest was almost a “personal trademark: the subject of working costs and efficiency in mining.” In 1909, Herbert Hoover published his Principles of Mining, which was based on lectures delivered earlier that year at Stanford University and the Columbia School of Mines. According to Dr. Nash, “Principles of Mining firmly solidified Hoover’s reputation not just as a successful mining engineer, but as a scholar and professional as well. Recognized as a classic, it became a popular textbook for engineering students and did not go out of print until 1967.”
So one way of looking at Kerry is that he aspired to be the next Herbert Hoover, but didn’t quite make it. In today’s Boston Globe, one pro-Kerry egghead, Robert Kuttner, offers a theory as to why: because he “came up just one state short in 2004, perhaps due to deliberately contrived long lines that held down Democratic turnout in Ohio.”

This just goes to show that book learning doesn’t necessarily prepare you to deal with the real world. Long lines mean high turnout. If Kerry lost a state with long lines, that would be because so many people in those lines voted against him.

Heh, to coin a phrase.