Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Way Ahead of Them

Even when it wasn't trendy, I was asserting that George W. Bush was quite clearly stupid. People would gainsay; claiming that - according to unsourced anecdotal evidence - Bush was quite intelligent in a one-on-one conversation. Proofs were also brought as to his education (Yale undergrad, Harvard MBA) and his success in life (president, hello?).

I would counter-argue that (1) education does not correlate to intelligence - especially for wealthy brahmins before 1970 (when most Universities were compelled to matriculate women and minorities). The fact that W's younger siblings were not accepted in Yale (Jeb = UT, Neil = Tulane, Marvin = UVA, Dorothy, BC) is good proof of the pre/post 1970 theory.

(2) Bush, sorry to say, has not been successful on his own. Note, most of the millionaires I know, self-made and otherwise, are not particularly smart. The ones who are intelligent are the exception, to be honest. Bush's successes came from his being well-born. See proof #1 about his education. Anything he did on his own (his businesses are exhibit A-Z) failed. When he became a vapid stooge for the GOP elite - as governor of Texas and Looter-in-Chief of the federal government - then he 'succeeded.' It's in fact much more probable to use Bush as proof that intelligence is *not* predictive of success more than the other way around.

(3) Unsourced anecdotal evidence are not very compelling when punched in the face by facts.

The facts are that intelligence is demonstrated by doing and saying smart things. And for the most part, smart people don't need third-party confirmation for their intelligence. If a person is smart, other people aren't compelled to say "oh, but he's really smart, believe me." Nobody has to confirm Clinton's intelligence, or Cheney's, or Rove's. Their intelligence is assumed because they sound smart. George W Bush, Dan Quayle, Jack Kemp, and Gerald Ford all sound really stupid; hence why their friends have to confirm and reconfirm the doubts of their intelligence.

Answer this about Bush: what smart things has he done? Has he written (on his own) intelligent books/articles/essays? When he speaks, does he say smart things or does he sound barely sentient? Note, I'm not even arguing about whether Bush is smart "enough" to be entrusted with great power (an idea - that the president should be talented and competent - that used to be held as an article of belief by most Americans), I'm saying that Bush's speech and behavior is indicative of someone barely smart enough to whiz with his pants down.

The real question about Bush isn't "how smart is he" but the larger question of "how dumb can you be before they start calling you that in public."

Which brings us to John McCain.

I've said on previous occasions that McCain strikes me as a dumb person. There are certain hallmarks of intelligence in his record (e.g. his willingness, before 2008, to speak unfiltered to reporters), so he's in a category above the profoundly stupid George W. But in our present day, whether it's because of age-induced brain-damage, or just inborn handicap, McCain doesn't seem to be that smart.

His inconsistencies in belief and action - what he's done his whole life - are proof for his stupidity. He did one thing right, that I know about: his refusal to be let out of the Hanoi Hilton early because of his family connections. But his undistinguished military career before his imprisonment, his erratic public behavior in Congress, and his despicable acts of private behavior (e.g. adultery), make me think that he just ain't bright.

So, anyway, other people are starting to notice. John Cole, of Balloon-Juice, for example: "Is McCain Just Dumb?" (based on this latest show of idiocy).

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