June 12, 2012

Obama is smart, but "not in the same league of presidential genius as Nixon."

Says Ben Stein.

43 comments:

Scott said...

But he has that same "Hamlet" quality we all find so endearing.

ndspinelli said...

Ben Stein's Money was my favorite game show of all time when he had Jimmy Kimmel as his sidekick. They were hilarious and both are real smart.

Some folks may not know that Stein was a Nixon aide.

Brent said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brent said...

What matters most in that article is the readers comments posted after it.
Amazing, unhinged hatred for Nixon from - judging by some of the commenters pictures - some who were maybe 5 or 6 years old when the man died.

Similar dissing of Obama by some, but some really nasty remarks about Ben Stein, surely from people who admired him until the moment they felt he attacked their "O" man.


People. What are you goin' to do with 'em?

Sigivald said...

It does help remind one that "smart" and "wise" or "good" are not synonymous.

Indeed, they're not even related.

edutcher said...

Next to Choom, Sherlock looks like an intellectual giant.

I keep thinking there's a reason we can't see his transcripts.

AJ Lynch said...

I was watching this live [a couple weeks ago] when Stein first said this. IMO Stein only reluctantly stated he thought Obama was smart but you could tell Stein did not really believe that.

I suspect Stein believes Obama is sorta smart but he lacks common sense and real world experience.

NorthOfTheOneOhOne said...

What matters most in that article is the readers comments posted after it.
Amazing, unhinged hatred for Nixon from - judging by some of the commenters pictures - some who were maybe 5 or 6 years old when the man died.


Bad mindset the Left is developing. I don't agree with you so you're stupid, your political position is invalid, you don't deserve to live, etc, etc.

That's the sort of mindset that can lead to a real, honest to goodness, shooting civil war.

John said...

I have been hearing this "Obama is smart" meme for 5 years or so now.

Where is the evidence?

I am not saying that he is stupid but he doesn't seem any more than average smart to me.

Graduated from Columbia? Graduated from Harvard?
Got made head of the law review without ever writing anythi?

Whoopty fricking doo.

Did he mange to do this because he was smart or because he was a nasty piece of work who threatened to bring racial charges against profs who didn't give him good grades?

I've been teaching in an MBA program since the 80's. In the 90s this POS student got into the program.

He brought charges of racism in grading against a fellow professor. My friend was exonerated but it was a harassing ordeal in which he had to prove his innocence.

The rest of us got the message. I didn't grade his papers or mark his exams. I just gave him A's on everything. No way I am going to risk that.

I've head that this is not an infrequent occurrance. Thomas Sowell has written about it more than once. Profs just say "screw 'em" and give all black students A's regardless of their work or lack thereof.

We know that Obama can be a very nasty piece of work. Did he do this to get through school?

If he is so smart show me some evidence. So far all I have seen is a bunch of people claiming he is smart.

John Henry

John said...

Just to Clarify, Obama was not the POS student I was speaking about.

My student was just some run of the mill fool who thought he was much smarter than he actually was.

Probably.

Since he didn't do anything in his classes, it is hard to tell.

John Henry

Jay said...

Brent said...
What matters most in that article is the readers comments posted after it.
Amazing, unhinged hatred for Nixon from - judging by some of the commenters pictures - some who were maybe 5 or 6 years old when the man died.


You see why the left has taken over the education establishment?

Because the brainwashing works.

Jay said...

And I'm with John, I see no evidence Obama is smart.

I think anyone asserting that calls into question their own intelligence.

Bob Ellison said...

Not smart. "Purpousely"? Dumb.

Old Dad said...

I'd go as high as IQ 120, but that's about it. He's bright.

But he is ignorant, and arrogant which often makes him appear stupid.

BarrySanders20 said...

IQ smart, but still clueless. I don't think Obama would survive nine days in the wilderness even if he had peanut butter, marshmallows, rice, and a cute young girlfriend to share hot springs with.

phx said...

Amazing, unhinged hatred for Nixon from - judging by some of the commenters pictures - some who were maybe 5 or 6 years old when the man died.

Similar dissing of Obama by some, but some really nasty remarks about Ben Stein, surely from people who admired him until the moment they felt he attacked their "O" man.


Thanks for warning me. What an ugly way for people to spend their time and waste their lives.

Amartel said...

Well, he did graduate magna cum laude from Harvard Law School. That's something. I hope.

Barack Obama, Wonderful Lightworking Genius God, is a myth that was built up in a thousand different ways by the palace guard media and the Obama fanboys and fangirls. (During the 2008 election I kept seeing ads for internet IQ test ads, since disappeared, replaced by the grant money ads, claiming Obama has and IQ of 140. Palin, of course, was claimed to have an IQ of +/- 12.) It was noncredible then and it's noncredible now. He's clearly lost without his teleprompter, especially when he wanders outside his ideological wheelhouse, and does not think well on his feet. He also doesn't work very hard at anything. Smart people will find a way to be interested and involved. Maybe he's a genius at slacking. At the end of the day, Obama's braininess is a secondary, even tertiary, issue. The prioritization of credentialled cleverness over wisdom and knowledge is a pet peeve and the media tilts the playing field way to the left.

I don't think Obama's stupid and I don't think that claiming he's stupid is helpful. This is probably why Ben Stein revised his answer a bit to allow that Obama is smart. It's like the birth certificate issue; maybe the magna was manufactured but it just seems so unlikely. OTOH, I would not be totally surprised to discover that it was. He comes from academia, that's his real base. Ayers, or some other connected little weasel, got him to Columbia from Occidental. Could he have pulled some strings up at Harvard as well? I mean, if Elizabeth Warren can be a woman "of color," why not make Barack Obama magna cum laude? We'll never know.

phx said...

Bad mindset the Left is developing. I don't agree with you so you're stupid, your political position is invalid, you don't deserve to live, etc, etc.

That's the sort of mindset that can lead to a real, honest to goodness, shooting civil war.


That's not the left. Don't be blind. That's people on all sides.

bgates said...

People. What are you goin' to do with 'em?

I'd be willing to leave them completely alone. Wish more of them would extend the same courtesy to me.

Where is the evidence?

This is the most convincing I've seen. If HLS exams are graded blind, and Obama graduated magna, then it's difficult to believe Obama is nearly as stupid as he has admittedly behaved during his entire term.

cubanbob said...

There is no comparison. Nixon was in terms of cold real-politik foreign policy a genius. The left hates him like poison and in the comments you will find the usual stupid ignorant lefty comments usually made by those under forty who have no clue what they are talking about. I never liked Nixon, thought then and still do today that he was one tremendous son-of-a-bitch but given the temper of the times and the situation he was handed to by LBJ he did a remarkable job in foreign policy. Had he not be railroaded by pussy republicans he would have survived his second term and things would have a lot better in the 70's and 80's. Mind you he was no conservative, just look at the liberal polices and programs he implemented but then again he may well have thought that was worth the price of getting the liberals to go along with handling the cold war as he did and salvaging an acceptable outcome in Vietnam as was the case in 1973. While there is no way to be sure, it is most likely had he not been driven out of office Vietnam would have turned out a clear victory for the US (had not the treasonous democrats cutoff military aid to the RVN) and a lot of the problems in African and Latin America that occurred later in the 70's and 80's would not have occurred.

Cedarford said...

Later in the interview the article gives a transcript of, Stein does say Obama is smarter than the average bear.

That is true. True of most Presidents and even candidates that they are above normal intelligence. The typical conservative at a gathering may hate it, but Obama is likely smarter than most of them. Conversely, most Lefties couldn't out-think (or outfly) HW Bush or GW Bush on their best day.

(But the Lefties, especially "Hero" Teachers with their Masters degrees in some sort of caring and nurturing, HATE being reminded of that. They have such a high investment in the idea all progressives are smarter and mor moral than those folks on the other side.)

But true brilliance? Nixon, Clinton, Madison and Jefferson. Romney perhaps if he is elected. (Note being brilliant does not immunize you from saying and doing stupid things)

With Lincoln, James Garfield, John Adams, Wilson, Taft, Hoover, and LBJ in the very, very bright camp.

sleepless nights said...

I don't think he's an idiot, nor do I think he's as exceptional as his fans would have liked to believe. I think Clinton is smarter - both of them. And most definitely harder workers.

Nixon I really couldn't say. I know he's supposed to be a genius, even my lefty friends give him that, in fact, they get nostalgic for that level of opposition, but I didn't experience it in real time.

gutless said...

Actually there is very little evidence that Mr. Obama is truly smart. He undeniably has some style and flair but when I was in college we called that jive. Still is.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

bgates,

How do you grade an essay exam blind if the TAs and the professor all know everyone's handwriting? Or are they all done on computers now?

William said...

In terms of pure IQ, Hoover was probably the brightest American President but only in the way that a physics professor can explain the mechanics of a home run swing better than Mickey Mantle......Salesmanship, character, and sanity are more important in a President than intelligence. Stein's comment deserves to be mocked. Nixon made some extremely dumb mistakes.

Patrick said...


How do you grade an essay exam blind if the TAs and the professor all know everyone's handwriting? Or are they all done on computers now?


I have no idea what it's like at Harvard, but when I went to law school, the exam was the only grade you got, the only assignment you'd turn in (except for practicum legal writing and tax). Therefore, the professors would not likely know an individual student's handwriting. It would be very difficult for a professor to favor a student like that. Maybe an administrator could, but not a professor.

Patrick said...

I have serious doubts that good grades or a high IQ translate into making good policy decisions. The "Best and Brightest" frequently manage to louse things up magnificently. People who believe themselves to be very smart often fail to give serious consideration to the idea that they are wrong.

Cedarford said...

William - "Stein's comment deserves to be mocked. Nixon made some extremely dumb mistakes."

=============

Again, William, being very bright does not shield you from making extremely stupid mistakes.

Look at Rhodes scholar, near photographic memory, 145+ IQ Bill Clinton - and "whatever dragging a 100 dollar bill through a trailer park sort woman turns up".

Cedarford said...

William - "Stein's comment deserves to be mocked. Nixon made some extremely dumb mistakes."

=============

Again, William, being very bright does not shield you from making extremely stupid mistakes.

Look at Rhodes scholar, near photographic memory, 145+ IQ Bill Clinton - and "whatever dragging a 100 dollar bill through a trailer park sort woman turns up".

Jay said...

I guess you can make an argument Obama possesses intelligence. He isn't savvy, he isn't street smart, and he certainly has no intellectual curiosity. Example:

Matt Breen, a reporter for KTIV in Sioux City, Iowa:

Breen: One of those businesses that I mentioned said very specifically when they said they needed to close up shop and move their jobs back to Wisconsin was that it was a direct result of the health care reform that you initiated, that Congress passed. How do you react to that?

Obama: Yeah, that would be kind of hard to explain, because the only folks that have been impacted in terms of the health care bill are insurance companies who are required to make sure that they're providing preventive care, or they're not dropping your coverage when you get sick. And so, this particular company probably wouldn't have been impacted by that. I know that there's a perception sometimes that there's all kinds of regulations coming out of Washington, the truth is actually we've seen fewer regulations coming out of my administration than the previous administration. But obviously, you know it's tough running a small business no matter what. And we're going to make sure that we continue to provide whatever financing help that we can provide."

Aridog said...

"Most of the exams are blindly graded.

Seems like these proofs always contain weasel words.

Revenant said...

You see why the left has taken over the education establishment? Because the brainwashing works.

- Abandoned active resistance to Communism in favor of detente.

- Established socialist price-control policies that Obama himself would be ashamed to try.

- Embraced Keynesian economics

- Expanded Medicare

- Created the EPA

- Permanently drove black voters to the Democrats by openly appealing to white racists in '68 and '72.

And so on. There are plenty of reasons for non-lefties to hate the greasy son of a bitch.

Jay said...

Revenant,

Point taken. I have a hard time believing the people screaming at Ben Stein in those comments are aware of those facts regarding Nixon.

Mr. D said...

Smartest presidents in my lifetime are Nixon and Clinton and its not even close. They also were the only two who ended up staring at impeachment.

johnnymcguirk said...

My guess, in order, highest to lowest, Presidential IQs last 40 years: 1. Nixon 2. Clinton 3. GHW Bush 4. Carter 5 Ford 6 Reagan 7 Obama 8. George W Bush ... Nixon Obama no contest

bagoh20 said...

So, then lets stop talking about a candidates intelligence like it means anything. If you agree with most of the comments here, then clearly there is no correlation with being a good President.

Other than taking an IQ test, I wouldn't put much value into a high I.Q. for any job when compared to history and past performance. The uselessness of intelligence as a measure of anything other than itself is very hard for the educated class to accept.

After a lifetime of being proven otherwise, even dumb people think they are smarter than they are. Smart people don't even have the advantage of that experience, so they're even worse.

Your Resident Humble Non-intellectual.

Mark said...

Bad mindset the Left is developing. I don't agree with you so you're stupid, your political position is invalid, you don't deserve to live, etc, etc.

If you think this is new you haven't been paying attention for the last 120 years.

Brent said...

On our subject, from today's New Yorker:


Why Smart People Are Stupid


(The cartoon at the top of the article alone is worth it)

Bruce Hayden said...

I have seen little indication that President Obama is all that smart. Stein? Most definitely.

Undergraduate grades? Fairly easy if you are a left leaning articulate black foreign student in non-STEM classes. Grading is almost entirely subjective. Law school? IQ is much more closely correlated to LSATs and SATs than to LS grades. 1L and some 2L classes are blind graded (and, no, the TAs and profs don't see enough of your writing to be able to identify it), but the core classes tend to test a very narrow way of thinking. By the end of the term you should have some idea of the way the prof wants the questions answered, and Obama, if nothing else, is a chameleon, so no surprise that he could figure out what the profs wanted. And, a lot of upper level LS classes are seminars, internship, etc., which are, again, highly subjective.

Frankly, I have never seen anything that would make me think that President Obama was all that smart. Not dumb, of course. But brilliant? I think highly doubtful. Rather, this is, again, one of those things, along with much of the rest of his past, that appears to have been made up out of almost pure fantasy.

Finally, not sure that Bill Clinton was as smart as he is usually portrayed. Cunning yes. But, his SAT scores were apparently abysmal - lower than GW Bush's. Maybe he just doesn't test well.

Alan said...

Amazing, unhinged hatred for Nixon from - judging by some of the commenters pictures - some who were maybe 5 or 6 years old when the man died.

I get the impression that those people hate Nixon only because their lefty elders hate Nixon - and they have no idea why that hatred came about.

While serving on HUAC, then-Congressman Nixon not only fought to keep alive the inquiries into Alger Hiss, he chaired the subcommittee that was charged with that task. Hiss was a darling of the Left. He was a long-time State Department diplomat, the driving force (along with V. M. Molotov) behind the founding of the United Nations, and later president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

The rest was history. Whittaker Chambers got his time in the limelight. Forensics proved that the incriminating "Pumpkin Papers" were typed on Hiss' Woodstock typewriter. The statute of limitations for espionage having run out, (um, why is there a statute of limitations for espionage?), Hiss gets nailed for perjury. And lefties carry a grudge more bitter than centuries-old vinegar.

Alan said...

Permanently drove black voters to the Democrats by openly appealing to white racists in '68 and '72.

Can you document that? I thought the New Deal/Great Society was what lured the black vote away from the GOP.

http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/300432/party-civil-rights-kevin-d-williamson

The author also notes:

"The Republican ascendancy in Dixie is associated with the rise of the southern middle class, the increasingly trenchant conservative critique of Communism and the welfare state, the Vietnam controversy and the rise of the counterculture, law-and-order concerns rooted in the urban chaos that ran rampant from the late 1960s to the late 1980s, and the incorporation of the radical Left into the Democratic party. Individual events, especially the freak show that was the 1968 Democratic convention, helped solidify conservatives’ affiliation with the Republican party."

Gary Rosen said...

Nixon never double-posted.

Joe said...

I'm in the "show me" camp and contrary to many assertions above, I think Obama is truly dumb. Just listen to the man; he is a truly stupid man who knows how to weasel himself ahead.

Where are his Harvard Law grades? And where are all the people lauding him for his intelligence while at Harvard Law? I suspect his entire Harvard Law experience was phony--he was given straight A's without earning them, made the editor of the HLR without earning it.

(I did a quick search and ran across this jewel in a NYT article about Obama being elected to head the HLR:

"Mr. Obama said, he would concentrate on making the review a "forum for debate," bringing in new writers and pushing for livelier, more accessible writing."

Nobody claims that he did so, including himself. In fact, nobody really talks positively about Obama's time at Harvard Law Review.

Ten years from now the stories will start coming out and everyone is going to be red-faced that such a moron even got into Harvard Law, let alone led the Harvard Law Review.