October 6, 2008

"In Search of Bill Clinton: A Psychological Biography"

My wife is reading this new psychobiography about Bill Clinton by John Gartner, which she quite likes. Gartner specializes in "hypomania," that fortunate cousin of manic-depression. Hypomanics can maintain a controlled level of high-energy living for years on end. Teddy Roosevelt is probably the most famous American hypomanic.

One interesting thing about it is its realism about why Bill Clinton played an important role in recent American political history, which Gartner sees as having roughly the same causes as Shaquille O'Neal's large role in recent NBA history. Usually, biographers try to come up with some nonsense about how the leader embodied the Spirit of the Age or whatever, but part of Gartner's approach is more down to earth: Clinton was born with the tools to be a highly successful conventional politician.

Nobody is too sure who Bill Clinton's genetic father was, but Gartner makes a strong case that it was a hard-working local doctor whose legitimate children have grown up to be successful professionals as well. Bill's mom was of course a tramp, but a bright, charming tramp.

Clinton is a largely self-taught politician. He didn't have, say, George H.W. Bush around to imitate. But he taught himself lots of useful tricks. For example, when working the rope line, most politicians don't look into the eyes of the person they are currently shaking hands with because they are already looking for the hand of the next person to shake hands with. Clinton, however, makes solid eye contact with each person he shakes hands; meanwhile, he's using his left hand to feel blindly for the next hand he's going to shake. (Perhaps being left-handed helped him invent that trick.)

In one section, Gartner takes a psychometric approach to Clinton. Unfortunately, he lacks actual psychometric data on Clinton, such as an IQ score, but his rough estimates are of interest:

Hitting the genetic jackpot

Even the most virulent Clinton critics would not deny that Clinton is extraordinarily gifted. Before we even consider the effect of Bill Clinton’s childhood on the formation of his personality and career, we need to examine his genetic endowment., Like Secretariat, to whom he has been compared, Clinton was simply born with more God-given political talent than any of his contemporaries. Statistically, Clinton is a freak of nature.

In his profile of Clinton for GQ, George Saunders speculated: “My guess is that if you rated a million people on the basis of aptitude and verbal skills, and powers of persuasion and retention and simple physical energy, Clinton would come out near the top in all categories” I think Saunders is right in his intuition that Clinton wasn’t just born off the chart. He was born off multiple charts.

There are probably more, but I will discuss five of those traits. Two, mentioned by Saunders, are intelligence and energy (one component of his hypomanic temperament). In addition, Clinton is a statistical outlier on three core inborn dimensions of personality: intellectual curiosity, empathy. and extraversion.

There is an impressive body of research pointing to intellectual curiosity, empathy and extraversion as foundational dimensions of personality. For a hundred years, academic personality psychologists have been trying to identify and name the basic axes on which to map the human personality. In recent years, the Five Factor theory, developed by Paul Costa and Robert McCrea at The National Institutes of Health has won surprisingly unanimous degree of acceptance in the field. In searching to solve this old problem, they turned to an improbable source: the dictionary. Where past personality psychologists had started with abstract theories about human nature and then looked for data to validate it, Costa and McCrea built from the ground up. They reasoned that because we are social creatures, collectively, we have made many nuanced observations about personality traits that have become part of the language: Using a complex statistical technique called factor analysis, Costa and McCrea were able to boil down the 18,000 traits found in the dictionary to five basic mega-factors. I will argue that Clinton is extraordinary on three of them.

Research using the five factor model has shown that these basic building blocks of personality are largely innate, and family environment has surprisingly little impact. "It turns out that you get virtually identical results with identical twins reared apart and identical twins reared together,” said McCrea. And in turn, adopted children, who share the same family environment with their adopted siblings, but no genes, show no correlation in their personalities with their adopted siblings. “They are as similar to one another as any two people picked at random." In essence, then, these measures of personality are measures of temperament, genetically-based, inborn, fundamental predispositions. So if Clinton is exceptional, it is because he was born that way.

On three of the five dimensions of personality uncovered by Costa and McCrea all data converge to put Bill Clinton off the charts. From my questioning of people who known him at every stage if his life, it is clear that he had these tendencies since he was a toddler, and manifested them throughout his life. When we add to these three personality variables his astoundingly superior intelligence and his enormous hypomanic energy, we have our own five factor model to explain Bill Clinton.

That Clinton is an an outlier on so many traits is one clue as to why he is such a rare specimen. the odds of two independent events both taking place are equal to the odds of the first event multiplied by the odds of the second. For example, while the odds of flipping a coin and getting heads are 50 percent, the odds of flipping two coins and getting heads both times are 25 percent (1/2 multiplied by 1/2). Even if we estimate conservatively, and say Clinton i sonly one out of a thousand on each of these five dimensions, the odds of one person being that extreme on five independent traits is one thousandth to the fifth power, or one out of a quadrillion.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

59 comments:

Anonymous said...

Bill Clinton has to have illegitimate children. It would be impossible for him not to.

Jeff Burton said...

1 out of a quadrillion. So this guy is saying Bill Clinton is the most extraordinary person who's ever lived. What boon in Clinton's gift does he seek?

bill said...

Clinton's a very impressive and able politician, but what made the most difference, as with Obama, is how much he wanted to be President. There can't be many more than one out of 1,000 or so who have that kind of political ambition (does that put him in the one out of quintillion range?).

Jason said...

What evidence do we have of Clinton's political skill?

Ok, he became the governor of one of the poorest, most backward, and corrupt states in the union. He then won the presidency in an election where the opposition vote was split by one of the first serious third-party candidates in several generations. He won again as an incumbent with a recovered economy built by his predecessor. (While he passed on a collapsing bubble fueled by loose monetary policy himself.)

During his term, he was such a skilled politician that he lost the legislative branch, was almost entirely poll-driven, displaying little in the way of principles, much less the skill to push them through in the face of opposition. His one ambitious plan (which was probably his wife's) failed outright. He brought the country together to such a degree that we experienced our most deadly act of domestic terrorism. Negotiated no agreements of importance with foreign powers, and was shamefully played by North Korea. Finally, he was (unsuccessfully) impeached.

Most recently, he's been at least as much of a liability as an asset to his wife's career.

He has very little in the way of true political skill, but quite a lot of talent for casting a spell on a certain type of person.

Anonymous said...

> Bill Clinton has to have illegitimate children. It would be impossible for him not to.

He would actually be doing a favor to the human race by having illegitimate children.

halfbreed said...

The key to Clinton's personality is not that he's hypomanic, though he may well be. It's that he's a sociopath. He simply doesn't have the brakes on his personality that most people do. Sociopaths give themselves away in all sorts of small (as well as big) ways. And a lot of them have a bottomless need to be perceived as near saintly (when in fact they are just the opposite). What kind of person says, "I feel your pain"? With normal people, it's just assumed that there is some basic sympathy (as opposed to empathy) there, but with sociopaths, there is none. So they feel obliged to point out that they feel it. (It's a little like someone who, apropos of nothing, volunteers that he has a lot of integrity: you can be pretty sure he has none.)

Or think of the way he described his relationship with Monica (before the DNA stains showed up): "I was just ministering to a troubled young girl." Most guys would just say something along the lines of, she was an intern, so we used to talk from time to time. But Clinton felt the need to portray himself as nicer than average.

Sociopaths are also completely uninhibited. Think of how he (allegedly) approached Paula Jones: he had her summoned to his hotel room and then just pulled out his pecker. Now I've known a fair number of guys who were pretty prolific womanizers, and I've never known one who was that uninhibited in his approach. (The only reason I say "allegedly" is because it was her word vs. his, but I find Jones the more credible of the two.)

Another thing that sociopaths do is that they react angrily when accused of anything, even when it's true, just like a wrongly accused innocent person would. (This is a great tactic to get people to believe you, at least temporarily.) Think of Clinton angrily pointing his finger at his audience and saying, with barely repressed rage, "I did not have sex with that woman."

Another distinguishing thing about sociopaths is that they cannot resist temptation (this is a function of not having any inhibitions). According to the American Spectator, Clinton was at one point a cocaine addict. He also showed all the signs of being a sex addict, and seemed to have a problem with food as well (for all the jogging he supposedly did, and for all his running himself ragged over the years, to the point where his voice gave out on him frequently he was always a little overweight). Now we all need food, and anybody who takes a lot of cocaine is going to become addicted, but becoming an addict of something which is not physically addictive -- like sex or gambling -- is something sociopaths are going to be far more susceptible to.

Perhaps the most basic sign of sociopathy is the utter absence of guilt or shame. One image I could never conjure up was that of Bill Clinton, sitting in his bedroom in the White House, head in hands, feeling ashamed. This is the key to why he was such a great performer and actor.

I could go on for pages, believe me.

simon said...

I don't believe these traits are truly independent of each other.

My son is a toddler now, and is shaping up to look a lot like this description of Clinton. His parents are high on intelligence but suffer from depression (like 3 of our own parents) - maybe he'll get that later, but right now he's incredibly extroverted and charismatic (unlike us) - the nursery staff often ignore other children to focus on him - as well as energetic and athletic (unlike us); at 12 months old he was already climbing playground frames most three year olds can't manage, often eliciting jealous comments from other parents. "The Indiana Jones of the baby world!" one mother called him.

Lawful Neutral said...

the odds of two independent events both taking place are equal to the odds of the first event multiplied by the odds of the second

That's obviously true, but we're assuming the five dimensions are independent, which is pretty questionable. Yeah, Bill's quite the character, but one in a quadrillion? I don't think so.

A mere100 billion is a reasonable estimate, for the total number of people ever born. He was a fine President, but Bill Clinton is not more remarkable than Jesus, Buddha, Einstein, Mohammed, Newton, DaVinci, and Ghengis Khan, all put together!

Anonymous said...

Most highly intelligent people are introverted. Most extroverts are idiots. Clinton is a very smart extrovert, which makes him unusual and has obviously contributed to his success. I've noticed this years ago, along, I'm sure, with millions of others. By the way, think about how harmful a smart extrovert can be to society: he has the intelligence to contribute in some real, as opposed to political, way (think science or engineering), but since he's an extrovert, he'd be too bored with that to ever want to do it. However, because of his smarts, he's more effective at cheating, fooling and otherwise bamboozling his fellow citizens than is the average, dumb, extrovert.

Anonymous said...

IS this legit or phsychobabble? Great politician? Clinton lost several elections before winning the governorship, and most data cleary indicate Bush 1 would have easly defeated him but not for pure demogoguery from Perot.

What would have happened the next round? Certainly the domocratic primary field would have been chock-full of centrist who were unwilling to take on Bush. How would Clinton have fared in a primary including, say, Sam Nunn?

Even if he won the primary, his republican opponent would have been a younger man than Bush, coming off what was the enevitable economic recovery and dot-com explosion.

My guess is we would never have heard of the masterfull Bill Clinton.

Scott said...

Chelsea also probably has an extremely high IQ--being the product of two very high IQ people.

For what it's worth, in My Life Clinton wrote that he had to give up helping Chelsea with her high school math homework. B. Clinton has a high verbal IQ and a low quant IQ.

Anonymous said...

I don't disagree, but I've never understood why people are attracted to him. I lived in Arkansas while he was governor, and I couldn't really understand why he kept getting reelected, excpt that he was in very tight with the corrupt Democratic machine that ran the state. Clinton's scandals and womanizing were out in the open for all to see, but no one seemed to care. I guess it is a tribute to his political skills that he kept getting reelected, because he sure didn't do much as governor except steal and grab ass. Sort of like when he was president....

daveg said...

It is interesting that both recent successful democratic candidates where essentially raised without fathers.

Anonymous said...

Well, Bill Clinton is certainly an excellent politician, but one in a quadrillion? Not sure I buy that. We've had several politicians in the White House who were Clinton's equal in all of these areas, and the odds would be against that. Allowing for some hyperbole, though, the guy is probably on to something.

Black Sea said...

"Nobody is too sure who Bill Clinton's genetic father was . ."

Well, this is a tantalizing tidbit. If true, it would explain a lot.

I agree with anonymous above. In the next 10 to 20 years, entire litters of promising young politicos will emerge from the hills of Arkansas, all gabbling on incessantly about the knowledge economy, tuition tax credits, and what it's like to feel everybody's pain.

Should be really sickening.

foghorn leghorn said...

I once dated a woman with hympomania. I recall she had a sex drive that no women I've dated since comes close to. *sigh*

(ps The US ambassador to Canada is the former speaker of the South Carolina state legislature, and a close family friend. Apparently Clinton is frequent visitor across the border. Google "Bill Clinton" and "Canadian girlfriend").

Anonymous said...

did you have to say that Clinton's mother is a "tramp?" What is wrong with you?

Half Sigma said...

"Empathy" isn't one of the Big Five personalityi factors.

It's not clear that unusually high levels of openness lead to being a successful politician. Newt Gingrich has a high level of openness, and it hurt him politically because he would often come up with unusual ideas that were received negatively by some people.

So I doubt that Clinton's openness is unusually high. He seemed like a rather conventional politician.

Lucius Vorenus said...

I thought that Edith Efron's 1994 Reason Mag piece was about the best psychoanalysis of BJ that I ever saw:

Can the President Think?
Edith Efron
November 1994
reason.com
.

Lucius Vorenus said...

PS: I was going to say, "Gee, I wonder what ever became of Edith Efron?", but I just googled her, and it turns out that she was already about 72 years old when she penned that 1994 piece, and she died back in 2001:

Edith Efron
en.wikipedia.org
.

fish said...

Supremely skilled pol or greasy sociopath? You make the call!

dearieme said...

"his astoundingly superior intelligence": really? Did his fellow students at Oxford think so, or did they think him just another Oxford chatterbox?

dearieme said...

Doesn't "he lacks actual psychometric data on Clinton, such as an IQ score" mean "here follows empty speculation of a sort rather common when discussing American politicians"?

Lucius Vorenus said...

Steve Sailer: Nobody is too sure who Bill Clinton's genetic father was...

No joke.

David Maraniss mentions some fellow out of Louisiana:

books.google.com
[see especially pages 45 & 46]

Another thing about these psychopaths & their broken homes is the aversion to acknowledging the existence of their half-siblings.

For instance, in 1993, Gene Weingarten, at the Washington Post, discovered that Clinton had a "legal" [if not biological] half-brother, Henry Leon Blythe Ritzenthaler, which then raised the obvious question:

Why Didn't President's Staff Pursue Half-Brother Rumors?
Monday, June 21, 1993
seattletimes.nwsource.com

Bill Clinton's campaign staff didn't pursue rumors that Clinton had an older half-brother because the presidential candidate wanted his father to "rest in peace"...

Kinda reminds you of The Messiah's half-brother, living in that mud hut, in Kenya, on an income of $1 a month:

Obama's brother by another mother found living in a hut
isteve.blogspot.com

BTW, this is precisely what just got Jerome Corsi imprisoned in Kenya:

Jerome Corsi, anti-Obama author, detained in Kenya
timesonline.co.uk

...He had been planning to launch his book, entitled The Obama Nation Leftist Politics and the Cult of Personality, before travelling to one of Nairobi’s slums to donate money to the Senator’s half-brother George, who was found living in squalid conditions two months ago...

Journalists were turned away from the hotel suite where the launch was due to be held. "He shouldn't have had anything in the paper this morning," said one. "That was his mistake. He should have kept it secret."

Dr Corsi said he had a $1,000 cheque for George Obama, seen as part of a stunt to suggest that the senator was not taking care of his Kenyan-based relative...


In case anyone at iSteve is not aware, Kenya is now run by a murderous thug named Raila Amolo Odinga, son of Jaramogi Ajuma Oginga Odinga:

Barack Obama Sr.'s Mugabeist plan for Kenya
isteve.blogspot.com

PS: In his book, Corsi alleges that Obama fils donated $1 MILLION [?!?] to Odinga fils.

Weird that Obama could find $1 MILLION for Odinga, but couldn't come up with pocket change for poor George in that mud hut.

Anonymous said...

Bill Clinton has to have illegitimate children. It would be impossible for him not to.

Why? He could easily be sterile--it has long been argued (persuasive when you look at the side-by-side photos) that Chelsea's father is actually Webb Hubbell. And even if Clinton's sperm is viable, any reader of the Starr Report can deduce that his sexual tastes are not those optimal for conception.

JJW said...

I don't think so. The National Enquirer looked at these rumours. They found nothing, and they are very, very good at what they do. So there probably is nothing. Maybe Clinton had a vasectomy after Chelsea's birth.

l. ron hoover said...

At least they'd be gifted children...

josh said...

He should have had 5 sons,and tried to pass on more of his talents!

Matt Parrott said...

Wait, a couple posts back you say that humans are not random and now you're proposing that Clinton's likelihood of being that awesome is one in eleventy billion based on statistics which presume randomness?

Would you not agree that awesomeness generally clusters? Anecdotally, the women at universities are more attractive than the women taking GED courses. The valedictorian of my high school class was also handsome and a star football player.

I know there's the "egalitarian stereotype", which holds that "jocks" are all stupid and "geeks" are all inept. A lot of losers leverage this to redeem and validate themselves.

Imagine, though, that you had a building with ten stories, with the top story being the most successful. If blondes were favored over brunettes, for instance, you could have a phenomenon on each story where the blondes are generally less intelligent, even if blondes are more intelligent.

Since humans make most of their observations within their peer group, you could have the "dumb blonde" meme arise based on observation even if blondes are more intelligent.

Ronulus Paulius said...

Just a pity he couldn't keep his trousers on, isn't it? Or is that just a combined function of hypomania and extraversion?

MQ said...

Contrary to your quote here, the "big five" personality traits are generally considered about 50/50 inherited/environmental, based on twin studies (which are themselves problematic, as is the general attempt to separate heritability and environment into mutually exclusive factors, but anyway...). See e.g. Jang, K., Livesley, W. J., Vemon, P. A. (1996). Heritability of the Big Five Personality Dimensions and Their Facets: A Twin Study. Journal of Personality, 64, 577-591

David said...

I admit Slick Willie looks good now, compared to the current crop of candidates. But let's not get our panties in a wad, okay?

dearieme said...

Tell me, if Clinton is so unusually gifted politically, how come he needed the intrusion of funny little Ross Perot to win the Presidency? Bah! He's just an ordinarily slimy pol who was lucky (except in marriage, obviously).

testing99 said...

What this suggests is that Clinton's electoral success was due largely to his unique abilities as a politician, not a Democratic Realignment.

Obama may very well win, but overconfidence, particularly among Obama's people and Pelosi/Reid, could lead to disaster -- particularly if the nation is in a Depression and there is a stark choice between Affirmative Action and job-creation for the majority.

This is going to be even tougher since most White Women are unmarried, and AA does not benefit many White men.

Dutch Boy said...

Speaking as someone for whom Clinton has zero appeal, I am doubtful about about Mr. Gartner's analysis. I remember years ago reading that a professional historian who prepped Clinton for his participation in a 1994 D-Day commemoration was impressed with his intelligence but shocked that an Ivy League graduate had such an appalling ignorance of recent history (so much for his intellectual curiosity). I think a more sinister picture of Clinton is justified by what we know about his history. He is likely a psychopath who saw politics as an easier and less risky path to self gratification than outright crime.

Anonymous said...

Extraversion and empathy - isn't this just a fancy way of saying confidence?

headache said...

testing99 sed:
"Obama may very well win, but overconfidence, particularly among Obama's people and Pelosi/Reid, could lead to disaster"

Isn't this what GOP strategists are secretly hoping for? Surely the AA mechanism is only going to come crashing down when things really get serious? As long as the government keeps bailing out the banks and the EU follows suit, things will just tug along on a lower level but nothing really changes. It’s only when the middle class which pays the national bill can no longer afford AA AND their lunch that the system comes into question. And what better crowd to get the country there than Obama + Reid/Pelosi. The net result may be a national excuse to dismantle AA and leave the Dems in the desert for another generation.

Anonymous said...

Testing-

You don't think white women will get extra credit from the Democrats for marrying black men, helping to foster their dream of a beige, raceless society?

Brutus

anony-mouse said...

So is Tramp-Q inherited?

culturalstudiesmajor said...

"This is going to be even tougher since most White Women are unmarried, and AA does not benefit many White men."

Fear of the "Black Superman" rears its ugly head. What don't you people just admit one of the reasons you don't like blacks is because of their bolder masculinity?

Bill said...

anonymous said...
did you have to say that Clinton's mother is a "tramp?" What is wrong with you?


What do you mean "What is wrong with [Steve]?"

Clinton's mother married five times. She ran off with Bill Blythe when she was engaged to another man. That's a tramp.

Why is it OK to call a guy a cad but when a woman can't keep her pants on we've got to pretend she's the Madonna?

Some Anglo cultural relics are just plain stupid, and that's one of them.

Anonymous said...

culturalstudiesmajor, could you please explain how your comment relates to the comment you quoted?

testing99 said...

White women, almost exclusively, date White men. The exception is in the working class military, across both genders and races. It's common in Crystal City VA to see both white/black men and women together. For them, it's civilians and military. Color relatively unimportant. Their world is separate. It is however a very small one, compared to the population at large.

However, among middle class young White women, the pattern is pursuit of the Alpha male, White, someone with power and wealth and connections (think Mr. Big on Sex and the City). Then, single motherhood, with perhaps one kid. Fathered by a sperm bank a friend, or what have you.

Affirmative Action's support among Whites rested on White Women being married. White men found it to their advantage, for both wives and daughters. A man might easily have daughters as well as sons, so that bet being hedged helped generate support.

However, if most young men are not married, not in a relationship, and most young White women pursue a few Alphas, this creates a whole class of young white men who will vote against AA at every opportunity.

Moreover, as White men decline relative to the population, the cost proportionally to each one increases. Such increased costs in Depressions GUARANTEES a political struggle. No longer will nepotistic advantage cut against the cost -- single motherhood guarantees this. In fact, a White Man's ability to attract a woman depends on his ability to show socio-economic status, in combination with testosterone social dominance. That also provides powerful incentives for single white men to vote against AA at every opportunity.

Two-fer: it reduces women's position relative to themselves, making the White men more attractive. Ugly? Yes politics of reduced resources always are.

Truth said...

"My son is a toddler now, and is shaping up to look a lot like this description of Clinton. His parents are high on intelligence..."

Let's not injure our shoulders patting ourselves on the back, shall we?

Reg C├Žsar said...

[Bill Clinton] would actually be doing a favor to the human race by having illegitimate children. --anonymous

I can see why this statement is anonymous.

Steve has been surmising from speeches here and columns there that important people have been reading his work. I bet he never guessed it went this high!

Ronduck said...

As long as the government keeps bailing out the banks and the EU follows suit,....

The EU and the US are looking more like the typical man and wife by the day. The EU takes the typical democratic female positions: abortion, gun control, feminism, welfare for single mothers. The US is slightly more to the right and is more likely to use violence rather than "talk through the problem."

As the couple gets older both partners begin to suffer from the same diseases that come from having a shared life.

Heck, look who represents each party:

US: a late middle-aged man - age 62
DE: middle aged woman age - 54
UK: elderly parent age - age 82

Unfortunately the man has had a child with the maid, which may lead to a messy divorce.

Anonymous said...

foghorn leghorn:
"I once dated a woman with hympomania. I recall she had a sex drive that no women I've dated since comes close to. *sigh*"

How unstable was she? If I were you I'd have hung onto her if she knew night from day. Randomly finding a girlfriend with a high sex drive is like finding a blue carbuncle in a goose; a dumb luck miracle.

ogunsiron said...

to culturalstudiesmajor :

Has it ever occured to you, Mr culturalstudiesmajor, that a lot of nonblacks are *indeed* afraid of black male hypermasculinity , especially since it tends to manifest itself in a very high propensity towards various types of violent and sexual crimes ? Black males surely lead the pack when it comes to the old testosterone, with predictable consequences.
I'm a black male myself but I'd rather belong to a race known for its high IQ than for its testosterone because ultimately it's the big headed , not the big d*cked who rule this world.

Of course this has never occured to you. As a cultural studies major, you're most likely a retard.

simon said...

truth:
"Let's not injure our shoulders patting ourselves on the back, shall we?"

Heh, I can never understand why people take offence at such comments. If I'd said I was a good weightlifter I doubt you'd have taken offence. There seems to be an insecurity about intelligemce that doesn't apply to most other characteristics.

Michael T said...

Fear of the "Black Superman" rears its ugly head. What don't you people just admit one of the reasons you don't like blacks is because of their bolder masculinity?

Oh sure, that's one of the reasons I keep away from blacks. (Who the hell needs the hassle of the overconfident black man hitting on your woman, unable to be made to understand she's with you?) But I have a lot of much more important reasons for disliking blacks than just that.

Anonymous said...

As neither a conservative nor someone who particularly hates Clinton (I always thought he was simply a self-indulgent egomaniacal hack--not an original assessment I know) I've always felt his intelligence was overrated. He's bright but would have had a mediocre academic career.While there are plenty of prominent mediocrities like the Bushes and Kennedys who dominate American politics there are also some national figures in the Democratic party who are smarter than Clinton--Spitzer and Obama almost certainly are.

Bill may be politically gifted but he was commonly portrayed as outright brilliant which is stretching the truth.

Black Sea said...

This article may be relevant. A brief quote:

“It’s not surprising that narcissists become leaders,” Brunell said.

“They like power, they are egotistical, and they are usually charming and extraverted. But the problem is, they don’t necessarily make better leaders.”

It was linked to by Futurepundit. The entire article is here:

http://researchnews.osu.edu/archive/narcissism.htm

dearieme said...

"Clinton can memorize as he breathes. But he finds thinking--analysis, evaluation, reaching conclusions--intensely difficult", says Edith Efron. That sounds like Tony Blair - just another below-average Oxford chatterbox.

Truth said...

"But I have a lot of much more important reasons for disliking blacks than just that."

Mr. T, I think you made an error here; the sentence should have read:

But I have alot of much more important reasons for disliking myself, for which blacks provide a convenient scapegoat, than just that.

You're welcome.

Anonymous said...

Spitzer and Obama almost certainly are [smarter than Clinton.}

Obama? Nonsense. No indication of it. Recalled by a few fellow high school students as a whiner of no great merit and no great trouble (and they thought of him as white with dark skin); Mediocre Columbia student (hardly anybody even remembers him even being there, yet he somehow he gets into Harvard and graduates cum laude from there? With that record we should know more about his pilgrim's progress.
JFK produced "Why England Slept" for his master's thesis. It wasn't a work of genius, but at least you got some idea of what he thought on world issues, and not his ethnic identity.
Obama's grades and academic performance have never been released. If they were stellar, we'd have heard about it. No brilliant writings from his editorship of the law journal. Not even any writings at all.
No particular history as a Senator. An autobiography in which he goes on about himself for god knows how long. Doesn't sound like any brilliant insights or originality there. Probably ghost written.
Speeches written and teleprompted by his handlers. No ability to think on his feet, no intellectual curiosity or insight into any sort of people different from himself.
In what ways has Obama shown briliance? I could sight the quick wit of Kennedy, his interesting list of favorite books, his curiosity and openess to new information. Yet his IQ was not extraordinary, if you believe what they say it was. Johnson and Nixon--both brilliant,corrupt pols who manipulated everyone around them. Obama doesn't manipulate--he puts his culties into a trance, and the rest of us to sleep. His handlers are doing the hard, dirty work.
Obama is upper average at best, by the upper SEC standards of his class and level of education. There just isn't any evidence to the contrary.
Clinton could think on his feet, seemed to be able to carry on a conversation about almost anything. He was bright. Brillian--I thought his IQ was actually revealed to be 176. That seems a tad high. I mean he's not a genius. But damn, he smarter than Obama.
Now Spitzer I don't know about.
Actually, although I loathed him,I must admit Nixon was very intelligent and the last intelligent Republican president we've had.

Bungalowlife said...

Bill Clinton does not walk on water. Does anyone remember the speech he gave at the 1988 Democratic National Convention when nobody knew him? He was a resounding bore and the only big applause line was when he said "And so in closing....". This is a classic case of the Emperor having no clothes and the power of the MSM. Once Time magazine dubbed him the "Comeback Kid" during the 1992 primaries, and he won a split vote to become president, everyone thought this yokel was a political genius. Please - his speeches are still as boring and full of platitudes as they were back in 1988.

Anonymous said...

The trolls are always looking for excuses to disprove Clinton's talents; their hatred is so blind for him.

Anonymous said...

I despise Clinton and all his works, but Clinton was a Rhodes scholar (IIRC) and yet came from a family of complete nobodies. As a white male, he was not sought out by the Ivy League, and he had a Southern accent at a time when that would have been deeply unfashionable amongst the Ivy League types who would have been interviewing him. Clinton didn't get ahead through family connections.

As far as not being able to help Chelsea with her math homework once she reached the high school level, this was probably due to lack of interest combined with laziness. Most parents are secretly relieved when Little Johnny's homework reaches a level of complexity sufficient for them to justify telling him that he needs to be responsible for his own work.

My understanding is that JFK's IQ was in the low to mid 120s. I would guess that Clinton's IQ was in the range of 140 to 155, and that would be my estimate of Nixon's as well. Clinton and Nixon were probably among the brightest presidents since Hoover. Hoover was reputed to be intelligent as well. I think it is harder to compare as you go back in time, because education, writing style, etc., were so different in those days, the Ivy League was NOT academically competitive, and there wasn't much in the way of standardized testing.

As a final thought, my experience in law school was that the "ability to think on one's feet" and the ability to make good grades on law school exams were NOT well correlated. The one guy in my class who showed the most obvious talent for being a trial lawyer was NOT one of the academic stars of our year.

I was little when Kennedy was president, but apparently he was quite witty and able to speak without notes, answer spontaneous questions, etc. In contrast, Obama the former law professor is an absolute mess without his teleprompter. My guess is that Obama is very bright for a black, but that a release of his work from his college and grad school years would tend to show that he did indeed benefit from affirmative action, just as the internet release of Michelle Obama's thesis revealed her to have benefitted from affirmative action.

Anonymous said...

Clinton's Rhodes Scholarship has to be asterisked because of young Billy's association with Senator Fullbright. The Rhodes peeps and Fullbrights kiss each others asses by handing out the goodies to each others friends and families. So if your dad is on the Rhodes committe it looks a lot cleaner if you get a Fullbright and versa vice.

No biggie as the Rhodes is a lot of crap anyway. The program produces almost no real scholarship. Clinton neither sought nor received a degree.