Here’s an actual Politico headline on a five-page story they have up today:
If you take the time to read the piece, clicking through all five pages, you’re likely to come away believing that the answer to the headline is “No” despite the anonymous smears peppering the piece. But that’s beside the point, since the headline itself will connect three words in Google searches in ways that are useful to anyone opposed to the 9-0 in elections, former Air Force pilot and currently the longest-serving and most powerful governor in Texas’ history.
Having seen Barack Obama in the presidency for nearly three years, though, this question really ought to be asked: Is Barack Obama Dumb?
There is a case to be made that Barack Obama is not very bright. We haven’t seen his college grades at all (Perry’s have already been leaked); if his grades were stellar, he would trumpet them or they would have been leaked by now. In his biography of the president, David Remnick writes that Obama was “a serious, if unspectacular, student” who enjoyed hearing lectures from far left speakers — people with whom Obama already evidently agreed. In his lone foray into foreign policy as a student, Obama wrote about nuclear arms control, siding with the “nuclear freeze” point of view (they turned out to be wrong about everything, from the effects of the Reagan arms build-up to the true intent of the USSR). There is nothing in what we know of Obama’s academic record that suggests he ever challenged himself. Obama published nothing during his time as editor of Harvard Law Review, which is extremely uncommon. His reputation as an adjunct professor was one of detached, aloof laziness. As a state Senator in Illinois, and as a US Senator, Obama was known for eloquence in speaking as long as his notes or teleprompter were handy, but not for any serious achievement. He was a backbencher over on the far left. In Illinois, he won his seat in the state Senate by clearing the field of opponents — he never had to debate them. He was known for voting “present,” a tactic that kept him from having to go on the record on controversial issues — and in the background, may have kept him from having to think much about controversial issues. He did weigh in on one issue, though, when he supported partial birth abortion.
As president, Obama has been known for outsourcing major bills to Congress, and for “leading from behind.” There is to date no evidence at all that Obama is the least bit intellectually curious. He continues to follow policies that have demonstrably not helped lift the US economy out of recession. When he calls up business leaders for their advice, he tends to call up leaders known for agreeing with him, not leaders who might challenge any of his assumptions. When criticized, Obama has proven to be a thin-skinned man prone to overreacting.
Don’t get me wrong; it’s unwise to underestimate one’s opponents. Barack Obama did defeat the Clinton machine which was thought to be invincible going into the 2008 election. His strategy of using the regulatory state to push his agenda despite the fact that Congress has repeatedly rejected that agenda is probably the shrewdest and most effective component of his presidency. Either Obama or those behind him are tactically intelligent.
But on the individual cases, Perry vs. Obama, there is a better case to be made that Obama has benefited from luck, from others’ guilt, from social promotion, and from his instinct to conceal what he really thinks, than Rick Perry has. Perry learned to fly military aircraft, has built an impressive undefeated election record in bona fide contests, and led Texas as that state leads the nation in just about every economic category. In a political blind taste test — cover their names and political affiliations — Perry is by far the more impressive of the two.
The fact is, east coast elitists are prone to treating anyone not from the east coast or Chicago, or who speaks with a flyover country twang, as their inferiors. And a corollary fact is, east coast elites tend to treat anyone with Harvard on their resume as automatically brilliant no matter how they actually got into Harvard (unless they’re a Republican, in which case the insults fly). Bush was dumb though he attended both Harvard and Yale and was a successful pro baseball team owner and governor; Obama is smart despite his record of failure in the presidency and his lack of real achievement prior to. Reagan was dumb because he went to Eureka College. Perry is dumb because he majored in animal science at Texas A&M.
Meanwhile, we still know next to nothing about Barack Obama’s academic record, and his political record suggests that he is much more of an ideologue than an intellect.
Is Barack Obama dumb? I would like to see Politico examine that question. But they won’t. They might end up learning too much.