April 3, 2011

Obama at Harvard Law School

President Obama's decision to plunge America into a war with virtually no prior public debate raises inevitable questions about his ability to foresee the future. For several years, we've been reassured about Obama's brilliance, mostly stemming from his record at Harvard. For example, in David Brooks' quasi-novel The Social Animal, the Obamaish character tells the David Brooks-like main character:
"I'm going to be a great president. I have the gifts. I know more about more policy areas than anybody else in the country. ... My attitude is going to be, 'I've got game. Give me the ball.'"

Buried deep in the comments to an earlier post, TangoMan points to a 1999 LA Times article that sheds some light on the mystery of how the President ranked in the top ten percent at Harvard Law School without much intellectually distinguishing himself during most other periods of his life. Most likely, he didn't rank in the top 10% at HLS, as has so often been assumed based on his magna cum laude honors. Only since 1999 has magna cum laude at HLS been restricted to the top 10 percent. 
Honors Grow Scarcer for Harvard Law Grads 
June 10, 1999|Reuters 
When members of Harvard Law School's class of 1999 receive their prestigious degrees Thursday, 36% fewer graduates than last year will be awarded with honors, the school said Wednesday. ... Under a system implemented three years ago that first took effect with this year's class, Harvard Law said it will limit magna cum laude degrees to the top 10% of the class. The next 30% will receive cum laude degrees. Under the old system, 76% of Harvard Law grads earned honors, the school said.

So, more likely, Obama finished in, say, the top 30% or 40% at HLS in grades. 

And, you want to know something? That's really good. He's a very smart guy. He's plenty smart enough to be President.

On the other hand, Obama has been told that he's a genius so many times that he apparently is starting to believe it. Peter Baker reported in the NY Times Magazine last year:
One prominent Democratic lawmaker told me Obama’s problem is that he is not insecure — he always believes he is the smartest person in any room and never feels the sense of panic that makes a good politician run scared all the time, frenetically wooing lawmakers, power brokers, adversaries and voters as if the next election were a week away. 
Emphasis mine.

85 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wow, that information would have been useful earlier. No wonder so many of us were confused - top 10% at Harvard is not nearly as gameable as top 40%.

Why did that supposed Harvard alumnus not enlighten us about this?

Maybe because he only claimed cum laude, which apparently was...top 75% at the time.

Things are a little less puzzling now.

Anonymous said...

"And, you want to know something? That's really good. He's a very smart guy. He's plenty smart enough to be President."

True, but this makes him worse. The Republic would be safer if he had the brains of Alvin Greene.

Anonymous said...


And, you want to know something? That's really good. He's a very smart guy. He's plenty smart enough to be President.


Right. I always find it ironic that people quibble about well Obama did at Harvard, when the reality is that he's a lot smarter than most other major politicians in America. Smarter than George Bush and way smarter than Sarah Palin. People here let their personal projudices get in the way of objectively evaluating the strengths/weaknesses of individual figures.

I don't personally support Obama, but he's pretty smart. Smart enough to get into Harvard, smart enough to make in the cutthroat world of Chicago politics, smart enough to get to the Senate, and smart enough to clobber Hillary Clinton. McCain took the fall in the end, but Obama has taken down a lot of formidable competition to get where he is today. Being black has been a huge boost, but even a white Obama would probably have accomplished quite a bit in life.

Anonymous said...

In his case, the only thing that matters are his first year, blind-graded grades. Where was he after the first year? What was HLS policy on getting on the journal at the time - was it grade based/ blind write on - or were there other ways to get on? After the first year, he could easily have ridden it out taking seminar courses and special interest research projects where the professors gave him A's because of AA and the potential they could see in him. I'm not saying he isn't smart enough to be president. All I'm saying is that if he was top 40% at HLS, he is probably not as smart as the others in that range. The others would have been taking regular large classes on practical subjects like tax, criminal procedure, business orgs; they would not have had the appetite for endless seminars and special projects on race, civil rights, etc. Barry could have started off in the what bottom 20 or 30 after year one (blind graded) and clawed his way into top 40 with a relentless drive for taking seminars.

TangoMan said...

One of the most effective ways to lie is to tell only half of the truth and to count on people to assume the desired conclusion.

Obama has been completely silent on the presumption that his honors designation meant that he graduated in the top 10%. He allowed people to assume something that was just not so.

On a point of curiosity, does anyone know where the original source of information on Obama graduating Harvard Law with honors can be found? For a man who famously keeps all of his academic records private I find it out of character for this information, and only this information, to have been released. I haven't run this issue to ground but I suspect that Obama is the originating source for this information.

I'm wondering if, on this issue, we've all become liberals, in the sense that Reagan described liberals as "There are just so many things our liberal friends know, that are just not so."

Has the claim that Obama graduated with honors been independently corroborated?

ben tillman said...

When members of Harvard Law School's class of 1999 receive their prestigious degrees Thursday, 36% fewer graduates than last year will be awarded with honors, the school said Wednesday....

No, the school said that 47% fewer would be given honors. Thirty-six is 47% of 76.

Anonymous said...

"And, you want to know something? That's really good. He's a very smart guy. He's plenty smart enough to be President."

Uh, huh.

Carter was book smart, too.

Fool gave away the freaking Panama Canal.

Whiskey said...

No, Obama is not a smart guy. How smart is it for himself and his staff to fail to recognize he had a Wright problem, and deal with it before it blew up? [Machiavelli writes that the smartest rulers act before things get out of hand.]

How smart was it to simply make the US lose in Libya to "teach America a lesson" for his own personal political progress? How smart was it to outsource ObamaCare to Reid and Pelosi? How smart was it to fail to do anything that would create jobs/patronage? [Military spending could have made a whole class of people beholden to him personally.]

Obama is just dumb. Dumber than Bush. He just looks smart because he's a Black guy who doesn't sound like Jeremiah Wright. His mentor. [How smart was it to pick THAT GUY as his mentor?]

Anonymous said...

"So, more likely, Obama finished in, say, the top 30% or 40% at HLS in grades.

And, you want to know something? That's really good. He's a very smart guy. He's plenty smart enough to be President."

But that's not the point! Obama was sold to voters as a pig in a poke, but we were reassured by his handlers that, although his executive experience was nugatory, he was such a quick study that he could master the job of US President in the first 100 days.

Obviously, Obama hasn't been a quick study of anything. For the past 720 days Obama has been stumbling and bumbling from one crisis to the next, mainly because, as Steve has already pointed out, Obama doesn't know anybody outside progressive circles: so whom does he go to for wise counsel in times of crisis? Now the US Airforce is bombing Libya because Obama got some bad advice third hand from a French socialist philosopher.

Obama is a dumbass.

Anonymous said...

"So, more likely, Obama finished in, say, the top 30% or 40% at HLS in grades.

And, you want to know something? That's really good. He's a very smart guy. He's plenty smart enough to be President."

But that's not the point! Obama was sold to voters as a pig in a poke, but we were reassured by his handlers that, although his executive experience was nugatory, he was such a quick study that he could master the job of US President in the first 100 days.

Obviously, Obama hasn't been a quick study of anything. For the past 720 days Obama has been stumbling and bumbling from one crisis to the next, mainly because, as Steve has already pointed out, Obama doesn't know anybody outside progressive circles: so whom does he go to for wise counsel in times of crisis? Now the US Airforce is bombing Libya because Obama got some bad advice third hand from a French socialist philosopher.

Obama is a dumbass.

Anonymous said...

Steve, stop writing about Obama!

Write more about people who really matter. People whose opinions will change our life for better or worst. People like Levy, Wolfowitz, Frum, Soros, etc.

Obama, GWB, etc are all puppets. I want to know the IQ level and opinions of the puppet masters.

Anonymous said...

"I don't personally support Obama, but he's pretty smart. Smart enough to get into Harvard, smart enough to make in the cutthroat world of Chicago politics, smart enough to get to the Senate, and smart enough to clobber Hillary Clinton."

Yeah, he's smart, but could he have gotten into Harvard if he was white? I mean Michelle got into Harvard and her being black had a lot to do with it. Barry is certainly much smarter than Michelle, but many white students who were not accepted into Harvard were probably much smarter than Barry.
In fact, I'll bet the top 10% of white students at UCLA or University of Michigan are smarter than most black students at Harvard or Yale.

As for being smart enough to make it in the cutthroat world of Chicago politics, the fact is he was no good at it. He succeeded only because he was flooded with money by rich and influential Jews in Hyde Park. They 'noticed' him and worked together to build him up. The proof is in his pitiful loss to Bobby Rush. And he won the state senate seat through a technicality, surely aided by clever Jewish lawyers.

Two kinds of politicians succeed in city politics. People like the Daleys, who've long been well-connected. And people like Blago who whore themselves out to anyone and pull every dirty trick to climb the ladder. Obama didn't have connections like the Daley, didn't have much traction among blacks, and didn't have the shameless ruthlessness of Blago. What he had was the right style and the ability to show himself to be noticed by the powers-that-be, especially the liberal Jews who, with their economic might, had defacto taken power away from the Irish. He basically auditioned for the role of 'hope and change cleancut black guy who will cut a deal with the Jews.' He was useful for Jews for strengthening the political/moral bonds between the Jewish and black communities and for deracinating the white community by serving as the new seuxual model for white women--have mulatto children with black men.

Irish ruled Chicago for a long time not with brains but with control of bureaucracy and with the loyalty of blue collar ethnic whites. But once Chicago was de-industrialized and was taken over by service and information industries, high-tech and finacial Jews became the new bosses. And many blue collar ethnics had moved up the social ladder and moed out to the suburbs. Chicago became Schicago, and Obama well understood who the new bosses were. It's fitting that Daley stepped out and his seat was filled by the Jewish Emanuel. Jews own all.

James N.S.W Australia said...

Still going on about this, Steve?

I don't care how smart Obama is.

Anonymous said...

"How smart is it for himself and his staff to fail to recognize he had a Wright problem, and deal with it before it blew up?"

Look, he needed credibilty in the black community, and Wright was his meal ticket. Without the Wright connection, he would have been seen by too many as a 'house black person'. He needed a connection to 'field black persons' to gain street cred. This was important to blacks but also to white liberals. In the past, progressive white liberals preferred a clean-cut black guy who looked white-ish and acted white-ish--someone like Colin Powell. But in time, even this was considered 'racist', an example of white people being unable and unwilling to accept authentic blackness in favor of 'uncle tom' oreos.

White liberals take pride not only in opening their hearts and minds to black people but in accepting and admiring authentic blackness. They don't listen to no Nat King Cole or Johnny Mathis. They want the world to know that they go for real stuff like Bob Marley, Jimi Hendrix, Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin, Etta James, and etc. They may have gone to fancy white schools and live in nice all-white neighborhoods but when it comes to culture, they be da bomb.

So, for the Obamagic to work among white liberals, he needed an element of 'dangerous blackness' in his bio, and his connection to Wright offered just that. But notice Obama's relations with Wright too was ambiguous. On the one hand, Obama was full of praise, but on the other, Obama was closer to Jews than to Wright, who served essentially as a totem.

Another thing: Wright was useful to white liberals as a reminder of 'fire next time unless they do the right thing'.
It's called the Malcolm X rule. As we all know, Malcolm X was both crazy and intelligent, both extreme and sane. But there was a certain nobility to his craziness since blacks had been mistreated for so long; in other words, the black man has the RIGHT(or wright)to be angry!!!! The fact that Malcolm X came to his senses and tore himself away from the crazy church of Elijah Muhammad has been seen as a sign of hope by white liberals: he had the right to be angry, but he chose decency and peace, so white people too must struggle to open their hearts to guys like X. And there was an element of X-lite in Obama's politics. Obama was the X-lax by which white people could wash about the 'racist' doogie stuck in their historical bowels.

White liberals both fear and understand/sympathize with black rage. So, people like Obama understand that it's not enough to be merely good and nice to white liberals but to send a subtle message that even a nice guy like himself COULD lurch into angry Wright territory IF decent whites didn't give him a chance.

It's like the final scene in CONQUEST OF THE PLANET OF THE APES. Caesar is spitting mad and speaks of violence and vengeance. But a decent black guy appeals to his conscience, and Caesar cools down and tells his ape devotees to put their guns down and let the humans live.
The understanding is that Caesar is really a decent ape but has become unhinged by wrongs done to his kind. He could let his rage consume him and choose 'race war' or he could arrive at some mutual understanding between himself and the humans. The bargain, however, is that humans must accept him as king. Cuz if humans reject him, the gorillas will go crazy and there will be 'fire next time', and then even Caesar wont' be able to do anything about even if he wanted. Shelby Steele wrote something along this line in the NR.

Anonymous said...

Steve, all this speculation about whether he's top 10% or top 30% is really petty and makes *YOU* look bad.

Karl Rove said...

Mr Sailer, maybe I'll disclose my own findings to your readers.

TangoMan said...

Smarter than George Bush and way smarter than Sarah Palin.

All else being equal, intelligence is a pretty desirable characteristic to have in a leader. However all things are not equal for we have to contend with political ideology layered into the mix with intelligence.

Now we have to disentangle the two, weigh them separately and combine the weighting to arrive at a function which measures both.

-Obama is more intelligent than Palin.
-Palin has a political philosophy and a governing philosophy which tends to produce greater aggregate benefits for society than Obama's political and governing philosophies.

Obama is using his greater intelligence towards advancing suboptimal policies. He's also likely using some of his intelligence to rationalize his political choices and the policies that are derived from his philosophy. How exactly is that a benefit to the welfare of the people?

I'd much rather have Palin in the White House than Obama, even though I'm a pretty dedicated cognitive elitist.

Intelligence is important, no doubt, but it's not everything.

I don't personally support Obama, but he's pretty smart.

Yeah, Obama is pretty smart, but so are a lot of people. How much of his vaunted intelligence was deployed to the Libya question?

Smart enough to get into Harvard,

That's a misleading statement. When you're dealing with Affirmative Action considerations, you're dealing with dual standards. If blacks admitted to Harvard Law School can do well, and they're admitted under reduced standards, then the logical equivalence is that whites admitted under those same reduced standards would do just as well. The implication of this is that those admitted students with more stellar intelligence are not doing well due to their intelligence. What's really going on is a manifestation of the Gatekeeper Threshold. Once you are admitted you will succeed. The real barrier is to get admitted. The actual class performance isn't the true barrier.

With dual standards in place, being smart and being admitted to Harvard Law are not synonymous concepts.

smart enough to make in the cutthroat world of Chicago politics,

You need to flesh this out some more. How exactly did Obama use his intelligence to succeed in Chicago politics? You seem to be assuming the conclusion as a premise here. There are lots of demonstrably dumb politicians who succeed in politics. The fact that they succeed doesn't make them smart.

smart enough to get to the Senate,

Again, you need to flesh this out some more. Obama got to the Senate by benefit of Jeri Ryan revealing that her husband wanted to have sex with her and this leaking out of a divorce document and Jack Ryan withdrawing from the race. Obama running for the Senate, essentially unopposed, is not a reflection of his intelligence. To the degree that he had anything to do with the leak of the Ryan divorce documents speaks to his character and marginally so to his intelligence for concocting the scheme, but such a devious plan is not really something that is reserved for those with high intelligence.

and smart enough to clobber Hillary Clinton.

Obama was either smart for hiring the right campaign strategists or he was lucky. He didn't clobber Clinton through the application of his intelligence. If you believe he did, then make a case for your position citing instances where his intelligence outmatched hers.

Being black has been a huge boost, but even a white Obama would probably have accomplished quite a bit in life.

Being black, and well spoken and clean, were huge boosts for Obama, especially with a primary season audience of liberals who were so hungry for such a history making candidate. If Obama was a white man he'd have been laughed out of the primary contests with his political resume.

Michael Farris said...

I've never doubted Obama was smart enough to be president, but temprementally he's unsuited for the job in about 347 ways.

the most important of these are...

- he's not very curious about things he's not already interested in (like W). you don't want someone who's always distracted by new things (comme moi) but being able to get up to date with something unfamiliar is necessary and requires more curiosity than obama (who's mostly interested in himself) has.

- he's kind of thin-skinned and sulky when the adoration slows down. a president needs to have very thick skin and he doesn't. that doesn't mean never losing your temper (it's a good idea to do that once in a while) but it does mean not sweating small stuff.

- he's clearly uncomfortable about aggressively pursuing and furthering american interests. this is the biggie. it's one of the things that most attracted the chattering classes, what would a post national president be like? now we know, no need to keep the experiment running.

Anonymous said...

As a character in the under-rated movie "The Way of the Gun" puts it: "Tell ya the truth, I don't think this is a brains kind of operation. "

Brains is pretty far down on the requirements list for the presidency. Anything above about 115 or so is probably fine, if combined with other personality traits needed by the office. You can buy brains; in the case of the presidency, you'll have all sorts of people offering you brains for free. It's merely annoying that Obama's supporters have been portraying him as the second coming of Madison.

The great virtue of conservatism is that you don't need to be very smart to be successful at it. The whole idea of Burkean conservatism is that tradition incorporates latent wisdom that is very unlikely to be discovered from first principles by even a very smart guy. This is probably why Palin has the distressing ability to usually get things right while so many of the people in the Obama administration get things wrong in complex ways.

elvisd said...

"he's not very curious about things he's not already interested in (like W). you don't want someone who's always distracted by new things (comme moi) but being able to get up to date with something unfamiliar is necessary and requires more curiosity than obama (who's mostly interested in himself) has."

Just where is all this cosmopolitan insight to the world? this vaunted intelligence that comes from his "exotic" upbringing? I've been waiting to see it. So far, the main hunch I've had about him seems to be playing out: he's not that worldly at all, nor particularly curious about the world, as this poster says.

An earlier poster seconded what I've suspected is his real center of gravity: he's a standard-issue East Coast Liberal of the Unitarian variety. Their religion is anthropology: a kind of "we are the world" type. It's very bloodless and abstract. You don't join in communion with people, you "stand in solidarity" with them.
They've read Joseph Campbell, gone to a discussion group, and are satisfied that the world is a hero and has a thousand faces. There's not much more depth to be had.
The Jeremiah Wright thing was his "getting down with the people" phase. I'm sure he picked up some stuff from wright, but I can truly imagine his Dr. Spock self viewing it all through a lens of a researcher studying another tribe, like his mother spent a life doing.

Polistra said...

>>One prominent Democratic lawmaker told me Obama’s problem is that he is not insecure — he always believes he is the smartest person in any room<<

I can't understand why so many people still buy the old pop-psych assumption that a big boastful personality is a cover for insecurity. My mom used to tell me that when I was bullied by big boastful personalities. I knew better.

People who appear to have infinite egos do in fact have infinite egos.

It's not complicated.

headache said...

And, you want to know something? That's really good. He's a very smart guy. He's plenty smart enough to be President.

Ha ha ha ha, that was a good one Steve, I wonder whether you started laughing whilst typing or thereafter?

If Obama really believes he is always the smartest guy in any room, that proves that his IQ is sub-par. One of the hallmarks of truly smart people is that they know their limitations.

Anonymous said...

contemporaneous CHicago trib article (found on Google), at bottom of article, says:

"The policy for summa cum laude, the highest honor, is unchanged. One summa degree was awarded this year, Harvard Law School said.

Under the old system, 76 percent of Harvard Law grads earned honors, 16 percent of them magna cum laude and 60 percent cum laude, the school said."

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

So, 16% -- not 10, not 30-40%.

Formerly.JP98 said...

"On a point of curiosity, does anyone know where the original source of information on Obama graduating Harvard Law with honors can be found?"

One source is the Harvard Law School Alumni Directory. My 2001 copy (which I acquired in 2001) states in relevant part: "Obama, Barack H., A.B. Columbia Univ. 1983; J.D. 1991 m.c.l." Needless to say, m.c.l. is defined in the Directory as magna cum laude. (I've included so much detail not to be a jerk, but just in the interest of forestalling conspiracy theories.)

* * *

On the issue of whether Obama is intelligent enough to be president, I've no doubt that he is. I find this topic interesting not because I hope to find "proof" that Obama isn't qualified to be president. I find it interesting because Obama's a world figure, because many people have claimed that he's effing brilliant, and because I'm interested in psychometrics and HBD generally.

Anonymous said...

It's wise to be sceptical of the intelligence of anyone who has a publicist on his staff. This includes all politicians.

Jimmy Carter's people at one point claimed that he was a nuclear physicist. They had to backtrack. They then said he had been a nuclear engineer. That was true in a sense. He had been the "ship's engineer" on a nuclear sub. A ship's engineer is like a train's engineer - the guy who drives the boat. He had essentially no training or education in anything to do with with nuclear energy. But the myth was born.

Clinton also wanted to appear smart. He was caught gaming the NYT crosswod puzzle. He had a contact at the Times who fed him the solution to the day's puzzle. He then staged scenes where reporters would come into the oval office to see him rapidly filling in all the acrosses and downs in ink. His legend grew.

Obama allowed everyone to think he was elected to head the Law Review based on merit when it was in fact based on race. They were in the midst of a campus struggle over racial equity issues and he was a very convienient solution.

We also heard that he earned honors at HLS. Now we find that virtually everyone earned honors.

Lawyers are very impressed with themselves. They apparently believe that just to study law makes you special and you therefore deserve special recognition. My father's law degree was a LLB - a bachelor's degeree. Then they changed it, without altering the curiccula or requirements to a JD - a doctorate.

I don't have a publicist but I grokked the technique. I screwed up my right foot playing basketball. I referred to that foot as my Basketball Foot. Then when I screwed up my left foot I called it my Baseball Foot. This gave everyone the impression that I had been a great athlete as a youth. The backstory was that a car ran over my left foot in the parking lot as I was leaving a ball game at the Oakland Coleseum. Never mind the details - my sports legend flowered.

Albertosaurus

Has to be said...

I always find it ironic that people quibble about well Obama did at Harvard, when the reality is that he's a lot smarter than most other major politicians in America. Smarter than George Bush and way smarter than Sarah Palin. People here let their personal projudices get in the way of objectively evaluating the strengths/weaknesses of individual figures.

Oh, the irony, the irony!

McCain took the fall in the end, but Obama has taken down a lot of formidable competition to get where he is today.

Like...umm...Alan Keys?

-Obama is more intelligent than Palin.

How do you know that? Yes, Palin bungled her first TV interviews--but so did Obama. It was remarked on at the time but quickly consigned to the memory hole. Yes, Obama has polished demeanor that's more appealing to intellectuals vs. Palin's more folksy style. But this has no bearing on intelligence. And if you judge by raw achievement, Sara Palin will have to be the more intelligent one. Look at where she started and where she ended up, and all without the kind of help that Obama got.

Chicago said...

So he's smart in theory but what has he actually done that a professor from out of a local community college couldn't do? Obama has no substance, no real world capability. His speechifying has worn thin by now, the wishful thinkers are no longer enchanted. He's a smart guy who is worthless for all practical purposes.

Kylie said...

"Steve, all this speculation about whether he's top 10% or top 30% is really petty and makes *YOU* look bad."

But of course, all the left-wingers' certainty regarding Bush's idiocy made *THEM* look discerning.

Right?

Anonymous said...

Does Obama matter? Did George W. Bush matter? Analyzing these guys seems like a big waste of time. I doubt they are actually making any of the important decisions themselves.

Mark said...

I know a lot of people who voted for Obama and boy are they stupid. Obama didn't get to be president because he's so smart, he got to be president because the people who voted for him are so dumb and they make up a majority of the population

Aaron B. said...

"But that's not the point! Obama was sold to voters as a pig in a poke, but we were reassured by his handlers that, although his executive experience was nugatory, he was such a quick study that he could master the job of US President in the first 100 days."

Bingo. No, you don't have to have a super-high IQ to be a good president (though I doubt you could be very effective with a low one). But Obama's supposed brilliance was his main selling point, aside from the "racial healer" fantasy. He was sooooo smart that it didn't matter that he only had a few years of experience in electoral politics, and played hooky through a lot of it. It didn't matter that he had no foreign policy experience and little interest in foreign countries outside Africa. It didn't even matter that there were questions about his eligibility. All life's problems would be solved by his magnificent brain, as soon as we gave him the chance to apply it. Telling us that he was smarter than average, but not a genius, wouldn't have cut it.

It didn't hurt that Bush had been portrayed as an imbecile chimp for eight years, so it made even more sense to position Obama as the opposite. "Stupid president bad; ergo genius president good! Change!"

Nice to see the facts about Harvard's honors coming out. I was amazed how many commenters took that as proof of something, as if a guy with a ~130 IQ couldn't possibly graduate magna cum lauda there. I thought there was more cynical realism here. They've gotta have a dozen ways to game any "blind" system to get the right honors to the right people when necessary. After all, isn't that how all the Bush-is-a-chimp folks think Bush graduated from Yale -- by cheating the system? If Yale, why not Harvard?

Anonymous said...

That changes things. Law profs are free to give a boost to a student's grade for class participation, and it sounds like Obama was a pastmaster at class participation.

So based strictly on law school exam scores, discounting class participation, his class rank was probably right in the middle of the pack. Back then, average LSAT scores at Harvard were probably lower than they are today. They've gone up about 2 points in the top 20 or so schools in the last 10 years alone, perhaps because more people are choosing to study instead of chance long-term unemployment in today's economy.

Obama's verbal IQ is probably in the mid 130's, high but not high enough for doing a good job as an editor on law review or publishing as a law professor. His numerical IQ is probably substantially lower, which helps explain his apparently lackluster academic record prior to law school.

Anonymous said...

Brains are like having a really good computer. Garbage in, garbage out.

I have the privilege of being a really smart guy myself, which has allowed experience to teach me all too painfully that temperament and drive and convictions matter a lot more than just smarts do.

Chess is the Russian game. The American game is poker. We won, they lost.

-Osvaldo M.

Svigor said...

Good to have front and center the reality of HLS MCL, and the context of how brilliant Obama and his supporters seem to think he is.

Now maybe we'll see less righteous indignation from the confused.

Svigor said...

Right. I always find it ironic that people quibble about well Obama did at Harvard, when the reality is that he's a lot smarter than most other major politicians in America. Smarter than George Bush and way smarter than Sarah Palin.

His watts are about standard for a President. But he's "brilliant" and a "genius." So who's quibbling, again?

Campion said...

I have to admit that I'm growing a bit weary of this obsession with IQ in parts of the blogosphere. Based on 'The Bell Curve' IQ correlates with (or is causitive of)many desirable life outcomes but it seems crystal clear to me that, in terms of the social policies and cultural attitudes most of us support, IQ has proven of neutral value at best. Culture and tradition trump IQ.

Heck, many high IQ commenters don't seem to know the difference between "less" and "fewer" or to use the construction "different from" (not "than", let alone "to".)

This doesn't reflect on their IQ it's that those traditional distinctions in English are evaporating.

none of the above said...

Anonymous:

I think Obama's lack of experience was taken away as a weapon by the Palin selection. Hillary Clinton made much of the experience argument, but once Palin showed up, McCain didn't dare. On the other hand, given the previous eight years and the melting down economy, there was probably not much McCain could have done to win.

none of the above said...

Steve:

Is it possible to turn on comment numbering? Since lots of people post as anonymous, it would be useful to at least bs able to refer to posts by number.

none of the above said...

TangoMan:

Edwards wasn't laughed out of the primary in 2004 or 2008, despite having even less relevant experience than Obama. Though I'll admit, an Edwards candidacy would have been entertaining, what with his ex campaign worker raising his love child and all.

Anonymous said...

"Steve, all this speculation about whether he's top 10% or top 30% is really petty and makes *YOU* look bad."

Maybe, maybe not, but Steve can't help it. IQ is to him what batting averages are to baseball fanatics. He lives for that stuff.

And it did inspire some interesting posts that revealed Obama's classroom style and the changes in Harvard honors system which may account for Obama's cum laude or whatever.

catperson said...

I don't personally support Obama, but he's pretty smart. Smart enough to get into Harvard,

He didn't get into Harvard until very late in life. He started his college career at a mediocre college, despite coming from an elite high school, desire to leave his home state, and access to money and affirmative action. Michelle Obama went straight to the Ivy league without the benefit of well-to-do family or an elite high school, so her SAT scores might have actually been higher.


smart enough to make in the cutthroat world of Chicago politics,

That's impressive, I agree.

smart enough to get to the Senate,

Though he was running against a very dark skinned nutcase (Alan Keyes) though a super articulate one, who scared away voters.

and smart enough to clobber Hillary Clinton.

He didn't clobber Hillary Clinton. It was extremely close, and Hillary was considered the winner of every debate. Two economists proved that had it not been for Obama's Oprah endorsement, Hillary would have won by a million votes. It's still extremely impressive that Obama won and got the key endorsement, but his margin of victory was small.

Being black has been a huge boost, but even a white Obama would probably have accomplished quite a bit in life.

I don't think being black per se was a boost at all. Had he been a traditional African American with broad features, dark skin, and a threatening body build, he never could have been elected. However Obama's mother is white, and his father is East African. East Africans have more refined delicate caucasoid facial features, as East Africans are arguabley the missing link as humans evolved from negroid to caucasoid. Thus Obama had the historic status of the first black president, without alienating white voters with a negroid appearance.

take one said...

"Look, he needed credibilty in the black community, and Wright was his meal ticket. Without the Wright connection, he would have been seen by too many as a 'house black person'"

They would have voted for him anyway. Unless somebody "blacker" also ran.

Anonymous said...

"Edwards wasn't laughed out of the primary in 2004 or 2008, despite having even less relevant experience than Obama."

Edwards: Jack Tripper.

Obama: Prince of Bel Air.

Hillary: Maude

Palin: Chrissy

Ron Paul: Popeye

Rand Paul: Sweat Pea

Thomas Friedman: Meathead.

Anonymous said...

"I have to admit that I'm growing a bit weary of this obsession with IQ in parts of the blogosphere."

But what else should we discuss? Obama's ear size? His basketball or golfing ability?

Anonymous said...

Steve, the only reason you're making the argument that Obama is above average is because you're defending your high opinion of his intellect as expressed in your book. We have no reason to believe that Barry is marginally more intelligent than Michelle, and I estimate Michelle's IQ in the low 100's.

Udolpho.com said...

I thought there was more cynical realism here.

Aaron, many of these HBD types have been in an Aspergers-like academic bubble almost all their lives. They tend to be intelligent yet impractical.

Common sense tells you that a politician, particularly a successful one, is never as bright as he appears, because he is able to use social cues and manipulation to promote himself as a larger figure than he really is--a leader. And around here, common sense should tell you that affirmative action routinely promotes blacks well above where ability and labor could take them.

And yet still many of Steve's commenters feel compelled to say that Barry must be a genius or near-genius with the only proof being magna honors that only really required him to knuckle down a little for one year. I suspect there's a bit of "this proves I'm not racist!" status-seeking going on.

HE'S SMARTER DEN DUBYA! they aver. If there was any likelihood that we'd ever get hold of them, I would wager that Barry's SAT scores were just a little lower than Dubya's. But this appears to be a secret as well guarded as the number of children the Pope has.

(Oh, also at work is an unrealistic gauge of how much IQ you need to succeed in life. There is a general belief among the HBD that more IQ is more better--that somehow if two people compete, the one with the higher IQ, all else being equal, must win, even though it's difficult to see how an IQ of 150 makes you a better basketball player than, say, an IQ of 115. It's like a religious belief.)

Whiskey said...

Obama is like Napoleon. Ike observed that Napoleon's stock among staff officers studying him fell once they realized that the Corsican fought exclusively against coalitions.

Obama defeated: McCain, Hillary Clinton, that guy cheating on Jeri Ryan in swingers clubs, and some Congresswoman. He got beat by Bobby Rush. Repeat: Bobby Rush beat him.

So Obama is like the tallest midget in midget league basketball, suddenly up against Kobe Bryant and LeBron James.

Whiskey said...

Rudy Guiliani was twice elected mayor of NYC. So was Richard Riordan. Neither "whored out" nor had massive political connections. So, it was and is possible for big city Mayoral candidates who are neither whores nor connected, even Republicans, to win office.

As far as Palin goes, she's at least as smart as Obama. True, she has an accent, did not benefit from AA, and so on. But getting elected Governor of Alaska with both parties against her was considerably difficult.

As far as Wright goes, elite liberals love that stuff, true, but ordinary Whites don't, particularly as they recede into minority status. Any candidate besides McCain would have savaged Obama with it. Including the stuff he wrote about killing White guys to purge the White blood from his veins in "Dreams."

TangoMan said...

As far as Palin goes, she's at least as smart as Obama. True, she has an accent, did not benefit from AA, and so on. But getting elected Governor of Alaska with both parties against her was considerably difficult.

True, as far as this goes, but Palin's accomplishment was even more astounding in that she did what only a handful (if I can believe a report I read on this aspect of that election) of people have done in the 20th Century - she challenged a sitting governor in her party during the primary, snatched the nomination away from him and then went on to win the general election. How often does that happen?

Truth said...

"Look at where she started and where she ended up,"

Yes, a disgraced quitter making an ass of herself on a reality TV show. Hey, come to think of it, that Flava-Flav is a genius also, isn't he?

Mac said...

"He didn't clobber Hillary Clinton. It was extremely close, and Hillary was considered the winner of every debate. Two economists proved that had it not been for Obama's Oprah endorsement, Hillary would have won by a million votes. It's still extremely impressive that Obama won and got the key endorsement, but his margin of victory was small."

Do you have a link for the economists claim?

Also, to add to what catperson said,if I recall correctly Obama won mainly caucuses whereas Hillary won most of the primaries. Caucuses are somewhat controversial because you state your vote openly (no secret ballot) and they require spending a good chunk of an evening or day at the local assembly hall. If you have kids with no sitter or a job during those hours, you don't go. Some consider caucuses to be anti-democratic or at least inconvenient enough to deter some voters from going and voting in them.

I forget who it was, but during the '08 primary season one of the talking heads on TV said, "You hear all this about Obama energizing the electorate, bringing in new voters, blah blah blah, but when you give voters a ballot and put them alone behind a curtain... SHE wins."

Anonymous said...

"True, as far as this goes, but Palin's accomplishment was even more astounding in that she did what only a handful (if I can believe a report I read on this aspect of that election) of people have done in the 20th Century - she challenged a sitting governor in her party during the primary, snatched the nomination away from him and then went on to win the general election. How often does that happen?"

I think it had more to do with her personality and looks than ability. Besides, what do you expect in a state full of meth users and Eskimos?

Obama also relied on his style and 2008 was perfect storm for the Democrats after 8 yrs of Bushbag.

Anonymous said...

"Rudy Guiliani was twice elected mayor of NYC. So was Richard Riordan. Neither 'whored out' nor had massive political connections. So, it was and is possible for big city Mayoral candidates who are neither whores nor connected, even Republicans, to win office."

I would say any guy who wears a woman's dress and participates in the gay pride parade whored himself out. He was also a regular guest on the odious Howard Stern Show. Stern, though not your ordinary liberal, works very much in the style of the crazy pushy Jew.

Also, Giuliani lucked out in that even NY liberals got sick of all the crime, black craziness, and the ineptitude of Stinkins Dinkins.
Remember Koch rubbed lots of blacks the wrong way, so white and Jewish NY liberals took on a chance on Stinkin Dinkins, but it turned out to be a fiasco, which gave the opening for Giuliani. But white liberals chose him as the last desperate straw after everything seemed to fail under the old liberal paradigm. They got themselves Dirty Harry Lite to clean up some of the mess and then got rid of him once the rough stuff was done.

It's like the peasants in SEVEN SAMURAI. They don't like the samurai nor trust the samurai, but they hired samurai as a last resort to deal with the bandits.

Anonymous said...

"So Obama is like the tallest midget in midget league basketball, suddenly up against Kobe Bryant and LeBron James."

But as long as he sits atop the shoulders of Jewish giants, he's gonna be on top.

Anonymous said...

Other than IQ, maybe we should look into mysti-Q. Mysti-Q would be the quality in man to search for the godly. Humans are not just about interest in personality but longing for divinality--divine personality.

The world, politics, history, power, etc are very complex. Godard's ALPHAVILLE opens with the line: “Sometimes reality is too complex for oral communication, but legend enhances it in a form which enables it to spread all over the world.”

Consider the oft-heard remark that 'Reagan won the Cold War'. If so, why did 'he' win the Cold War? It wasn't just him but his advisors working with him. Also, America was in a position to win because of its economy, technology, pop culture with worldwide appeal, and a million other factors. People who designed better computers, better cars, better medicine, better business models, etc all had a role to play in winning the Cold War. But that's a WHOLE LOT of reality, and so we prefer to the simpler myth of larger-than-life Reagan winning the Cold War.

Or, take a team that wins the superbowl. We are eager to name someone as MVP when in fact, it was a team effort. Beyond that, coaches, trainers, recruiters, owners(who run the sports franchise)all played a part, but we like to fixate on the quarterback or running back, etc as the Great Hero.
Similarly, you'd think MLK won the Civil Rights battle on his own. When Hillary pointed out LBJ's role in signing the Civil Rights bill, many people were offended. How dare she complicate the beautiful myth?

We want a larger-than-life singular human face to own and define complex events and realities, and we want to worship that face as the god-like force behind history.

And that, more than Obama's IQ, is what's crucial here. Obama is bright, no doubt. He's certainly no dummy.
But if this mytho-madness is a dumbness on our part, his real magic is not intelligently being intelligent but intelligently exploiting dumbness.

A scientist uses his intelligence to find deeper truth. He uses his intelligence for more intelligence.
A conman uses his intelligence to fool dumb people. It's intelligence used on dumbness.

The weird thing about the Obama phenom is its biggest suckers are high IQ whites. Either Obama is really smart to pull this off, or high IQ is no protection from idiocy.

TangoMan said...

I think it had more to do with her personality and looks than ability. Besides, what do you expect in a state full of meth users and Eskimos?

Who gives a damn what you think? Your statement carries as much weight as if you had said that millions of Sasquatch came out of the woods, shaved off their body hair, and voted for Palin in the election.

You're advancing a proposition, so make a case for it, cite some evidence, construct an argument. Pulling stuff from your ass and telling us what you think is a meaningless gesture.

catperson said...

Do you have a link for the economists claim?

Yes:

http://econweb.umd.edu/~garthwaite/celebrityendorsements_garthwaitemoore.pdf

Anonymous said...

"You're advancing a proposition, so make a case for it, cite some evidence, construct an argument. Pulling stuff from your ass and telling us what you think is a meaningless gesture."

I saw Nolan's INSOMNIA. What a crazy state.

catperson said...

The weird thing about the Obama phenom is its biggest suckers are high IQ whites. Either Obama is really smart to pull this off, or high IQ is no protection from idiocy.

Nothing to do with idiocy; Americans just love to worship their presidents, especially if they agree with his politics. The sitting president has been the most admired man in America virtually every single year in the history of Gallup polling. The fact that Obama is arguabley the first black president is just icing on the cake.

Have we all forgot how much adulation Bush got after 9/11? Bush was such a sacred cow in 2001 that entertainers ruined their whole careers if they dared criticise him.

Folks complain about Obama's IQ being overhyped but what about Bill and Hillary? Reporters couldn't go one week without blathering on about how smart Bill was and Hillary was described as the smartest woman in America despite failing her bar exam and being unable to figure out how to work a coffee machine:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-C9bkuJliMY

JFK was considered a super genius even though his IQ was below 120.

I agree Obama's intellect is overrated, and he's been far from perfect as a president, but he was the best candidate America had to choose from in 2008 and I'm glad he won.

Anonymous said...

Michelle got into Princeton because of her older brother Craig, a noted Princeton basketball player, not her SAT scores.

Politics is not very g-loaded. The fact that Palin knocked off a governor and ran against her party while winning doesn't necessarily translate into a high IQ. Success in politics is more of an eye for the main chance, and social skills, backslapping, remembering names, and so on. Using it as a proxy for IQ is doomed.

The CrimeThink in discussing Obama's IQ involves discussing the likely intersection between the course of his career and AA. His supporters, I think, posit a stratospherically high IQ as a way of denying the legitimacy of discussing the ways in which his career was boosted by AA.

That would be an interesting topic that Steve could use his competitive niche to tackle. Obviously the media, even much of the conservative media, is not going to touch that with the proverbial ten foot pole.

Anonymous said...

"Being black has been a huge boost, but even a white Obama would probably have accomplished quite a bit in life."

'A white Obama'? Surely there could exist no such thing. How would it walk? How would it talk? What would it be named? What would be the point of it?

... does not compute.

Gilbert Pinfold.

catperson said...

Clinton also wanted to appear smart. He was caught gaming the NYT crosswod puzzle. He had a contact at the Times who fed him the solution to the day's puzzle. He then staged scenes where reporters would come into the oval office to see him rapidly filling in all the acrosses and downs in ink. His legend grew.

I used to get annoyed when people would blather on about how brilliant Clinton was because I never found him impressive, but when I read about his spectacular cross word solving talent, I decided he must really be quite brilliant and blamed myself for not being able to see it. I had no idea that was all just staged propaganda. Do you have a reference about Clinton cheating on those cross words? Who does that?

none of the above said...

Gilbert:

I think Obama's victory had a lot in common with Jimmy Carter's victory. A huge number of people were absolutely fed up with the other party, and so a relative unknown with little national exposure could win.

Leading into the 2008 election, we'd had eight years of really horrible leadership from Bush. Republican party discipline had managed to taint just about every national level Republican with support for Bush's policies, and the Republicans in Congress had done plenty of utterly goofy crap on their own. A few months before the election, global financial markets more-or-less collapsed.

In that context, the democratic nominee was going to win, assuming he didn't get caught on film buggering a sheep the day before the election.

And here's the thing: The Republican party deserved to lose. They screwed up massively and consistently, to the country's enduring cost. The fiscal situation we're in now owes a great deal to Bush and the Republicans' mismanagement. The endless war on terror, which we'll still be fighting when my children are grandparents, is the legacy of Bush and his supporters, and it's like a cancer that's spread throughout the country, and that no surgeon is likely to be able to cut out all of it. (Of course, neither party wants to cut it out. They'd rather give no-bid contracts on providing blood supply to the metastases to their friends.)

McCain's decisions during the election (particularly the absolutely nutty choice of Palin as running mate), and since, leave me thinking he would have done a worse job in the white house that Obama. Would we have gone to war in Iran by now?

The truth is, we had lousy choices in 2008, as we have most years since I've been an adult. The kind of people who run for office are the kind who should never be allowed anywhere near power. That selection process for leaders strikes me as far scarier, for our future, than unsustainable deficits, or irreversible growth of police state mechanisms waiting for a convenient crisis and a man on horseback, or huge and unnerving demographic changes.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with some people that Obama may have heard how smart he was so many times, that he has begun to retroactively believe he did better in college and law school than he actually did. This is a common human foible, apparently in the early days of Apple, Steven Jobs began to quote his accomplishments to fellow employees in order to impress them until a marketing exec at the company pointed out that they invented these stories in order to sell Jobs as Apple's resident genius. Jobs began to believe lies he himself didn't even have a hand in making, happens all the time.

none of the above said...

Udolpho:

It's hard to say what the comparison between Bush and Obama would look like in terms of test scores. Obama's PR machine plays up his intelligence, Bush's played down his intelligence so he could pretend to be a good old boy from Texas. I'd expect Obama to do better, since HLS is pretty selective and by all accounts he did well there. What's known of Bush's performance in his Harvard MBA program? That's not as selective as the law school, but it is selective.

Anonymous said...

NOTA, I take your point, especially on McCain. And from your colourful reference to sheep I imagine you may be familiar with Bill Hayden's bitter remark after Bob Hawke robbed him of the Australian Labor Party leadership shortly before the general election in 1983: "A drover's dog could lead the Labor Party to victory at the present time..."

Gilbert Pinfold.

Anonymous said...

Carter was very smart--the navy nuke engineers are a sharp bunch, though checklist-happy and personality-deficient. He was involved in the development of some of the early sub reactors. He was given some difficult organizational tasks and did them well; he was involved in the cleanup of a Canadian reactor that had an accident. Being given a task like that is a sign the command had confidence in his abilities, and Rickover didn't exactly suffer fools well.

Which just goes to show that being smart is a small part of being president, since he was a lousy president and is an insufferable ex-president. I don't look forward to a few decades of Obama being a pest and sucking up to dictators as the hot-swap for Carter.

Anonymous said...

Apparently Bush was in the middle of the pack at HBS. In team events, he was often chosen as team leader. See NYT for some details.

HBS is more quantitatively oriented than HLS, and as I recall Bush did pretty well on the quantitative portion of the SAT--a 640. I suspect Obama has strong verbal skills and a pretty abysmal quantitative score, so the two are just about cognitive mirror images of each other. Obama would probably have done worse in the business school than Bush ("Hey guys, let's spend a trillion dollars we don't have to no clear purpose!") and Bush would have been blown out of the law school.

Anonymous said...

Steve got fooled. That supposed Harvard classmate with insight was as a total bullshitter. How could he not have brought up this fact?

Anonymous said...

No svigor you're still a dumbass. He graduated in the top 16%.

I doubt Steve has the balls to make a correction.

Anonymous said...

"Which just goes to show that being smart is a small part of being president, since he was a lousy president and is an insufferable ex-president."

He was dealt a bad hand. If Ford(ore even Reagan)had won in 1976, he might have been similarly disgraced. To be sure, Carter wasn't very 'presidential', but a lot of bad shit that happened were beyond his control.

I wonder, suppose Carter had won in 1980. Suppose Gorbachev had come to power and worked with Carter to end the Cold War. Would historians be saying the liberal approach worked to end the Cold War? There's a lot more happening in history than players. Players make history but history makes the players.

Anonymous said...

"Carter was very smart--the navy nuke engineers are a sharp bunch, though checklist-happy and personality-deficient."

Problem with Carter was he was culturally Old School but tried so hard to be relevant to the 60s boomer generation. It just made him look ill-at-ease, something of a misfit, neither here nor there, which is why he pissed off liberals as much as he did conservatives. Having brokered peace between Israel and Egypt, he thought he could bring all sides together. Maybe he meant well; maybe he was deluded about his magical powers.Who knows?

At any rate, he failed to notice that the boomers, by the late 70s, were no longer the counter-culture kids of the 60s. Also, his brand of Hustler-Evangecalism--made famous especially by his sister--didn't go over well with secularites nor with the religious. You can't mix the world of smut and world of faith. But Carter kept thinking.. 'If I can bring Israel and Egypt together, I can fill any gap..'
But shit hit the fan in the late 70s, with Nicaragua falling to Sandis, Russians rolling into Afghanistan, Iran on fire, etc. Suddenly, Carter, who spoke of peace and cooperation, turned hawkish, but it was too little too late.

Also, though a dishonest person by nature, Carter did have an earnest streak, and this brought him close to too many people, too many issues, too many sides, etc.

Reagan was politically more astute. On core issues, he was very clear and stood his ground. He stood for conviction than compromise. But he never closely associated himself with anything. He met with Jerry Falwell but didn't act like preacher-president like Carter. Reagan made peace with 80s commercialism and yuppie materialism--so different from the American of his youth--, but he didn't try to be hip and relevant.
He spoke with passion but kept a distance from the issues, which is why he survived Iran-Contra. Nixon had to know EVERYTHING, which made his lie hard to believe. But we could almost believe that Reagan was duped by some of his more zealous associates.

So, they called him the teflon president. Carter, more earnest and wet with emotions, was the flypaper president.
This is why Obama is channeling Reagan. Nothing to do with ideology, everything to do with style.

Formerly.JP98 said...

"Steve got fooled. That supposed Harvard classmate with insight was as a total bullshitter. How could he not have brought up this fact?"

If that guy graduated in the early '90s, he might not even have known about the 1998-99 reforms. They weren't publicized, for obvious reasons.

Anonymous said...

http://www.lrb.co.uk/v33/n07/perry-anderson/lulas-brazil

Another example of mysti-q in action. Lula could not have succeeded without some of the unpopular reforms enforced by his predecessors which laid the ground for economic growth. The rise of Brazil also owed much to US-China relations. China sold tons of stuff to US and used the trade surplus to buy tons of raw material from Brazil. China mainly made money from the US and pumped this money into Brazil--as did India. This was what made it possible for Lula to fund some of his social programs. Some of his programs worked but they were possible in the first place because there was money to spend.
Of course, Lula deserves credit for certain reforms, such as doling out cash and loans to Brazilian women who were more likely to run a small business or feed their kids than to the men whose first instinct was to cash the check and blow it as a bar, on drugs, or on hookers.

Anyway, the relative success of Brazil under Lula owed to something more than Lula, just like Giuliani's successes in NY also owed to forces beyond his control, like super-rise of the finance sector in the 90s. But Giuliani hogged much of the credit.
And though Gorbachev and Yeltsin are seen as failures, Putin could not have succeeded--or be perceived to have succeeded--had it not been for the tough reforms of the earlier era. But Putin got all the credit.
And the recovery of the US economy had much less to do with FDR than many people think, but he got all the credit.

Then, it's no wonder that so many people are trying to ascribe all the good things as flowing from the mind and heart of godlike Obama.

Remoob said...

Problem with Carter was he was culturally Old School but tried so hard to be relevant to the 60s boomer generation. It just made him look ill-at-ease, something of a misfit, neither here nor there, which is why he pissed off liberals as much as he did conservatives.

Carter wasn't a leader, at least not one to which Baby Boomers could look up.

The Baby Boomers were a generation of followers, yearning for the Perfect Leader. Even the so-called "slacker" generations X and Y had more leadership.

At any rate, he failed to notice that the boomers, by the late 70s, were no longer the counter-culture kids of the 60s

They never were.

The leaders of the Beatnik/Hippie counter-culture were nearly all Boring Old Farts born in 1900-1930 who also happened to be dynamic rebels against a prusso-victorian repression largely irrevant in 1965.

As for the Boomers as Hippies, they never really were. As well as wishing for their Perfect Leader, the Baby Boomers had a strong generational solidarity mistaken for youthfulness.

It's funny how often Baby Boomers were accused of "selling out" to the establishment / MIC in the 1970s and 80s. They didn't. They could never have sold out of hippie values they never bought in the first place. It was all an act, a teenage protest to shock their parent's generation by pretending to be horny, hairy, druggy freewheeling commies and eastern magicians. Nearly all of the Boomers hated pot, but smoked it anyway to be cool, and piss off their parents. Look how quickly they dropped it when it was no longer cool. A "cool" generation indeed, but not a very "hip" one.

Now onto leaders. JFK was the first such Great Leader for the Baby Boomers. Nixon wasn't - too uncool and too much like their parents. Reagan the ancient arch-conservative was because he was so "far out" their parents' generation wouldn't touch him. It was all a matter of cool image not actual policies. Kennedy, Reagan, Clinton - all the Great Leaders of the Baby Boomers.

Ditto with the Religious Right / Moral Majority. They knew how to reach out to a generation backlashing from now-uncool hippie values. Hell, if Nazis could market themselves that way, the Baby Boomers would have fallen for them too!

Assistant Village Idiot said...

NOTA - that info on Bush is available here if you browse around.

Anon "Obama's verbal IQ is probably in the mid 130's, high but not high enough for doing a good job as an editor on law review or publishing as a law professor. His numerical IQ is probably substantially lower, which helps explain his apparently lackluster academic record prior to law school." (note: you wanted the term "performance" IQ, not numerical)

Bingo. Spot on. Or, if you prefer, 700V, 500M on the SAT, give or (more likely) take. All the is he/isn't he resolves easily if you hold that guess over the data and look for a match. 700V can hold you up through a HLS magna. 650 might just barely, but no less. 500M would keep you from applying higher than Occidental, but you might get in A/A down to 450. Once you start succeeding at classes and get your math requirements out of the way, the math scores become unimportant. But you wouldn't want an electorate to know about them. LSAT has only the math-ish analytical reasoning section.

TGGP said...

"Palin has a [...] philosophy"
To quote the DVD commentary from Spinal Tap, you don't even have to finish the sentence because you were already wrong.

Palin was for the Bridge to Nowhere before she was against it.

ben tillman said...

Lawyers are very impressed with themselves. They apparently believe that just to study law makes you special and you therefore deserve special recognition. My father's law degree was a LLB - a bachelor's degeree. Then they changed it, without altering the curiccula or requirements to a JD - a doctorate.

That wasn't a matter of ego. That was done so that lawyers with government jobs could qualify for higher pay grades.

Anonymous said...

Hello to Internet folk out there,

I will start a website soon discussing the IQ of Sarah Palin, you will likely run for president in 2012. It will be at www.sarahpalin.blogspot.com. As far as I know, she hasn't released her college records yet, but I don't know for sure. Nevertheless, we can still speculate endlessly on her IQ in the comment section of hundreds of articles based on what we know about her college attendance record (she transferred schools, like, a gajillion times, right?) Oh wait... no one's interested? I wonder why.

Udolpho.com said...

Oh wait... no one's interested? I wonder why.

Because everyone in the world assumes she is average to moderately above average intelligence. No one is claiming she is very smart.

none of the above said...

On the other hand, actual evidence about Palin's IQ, knowledge, scholastic and career achievement, etc., would surely be of interest to a lot of iSteve readers.

Anonymous said...

We know he's top 16% but Steve doesn't bother to post a correction.

This whole series of posts should be embarrassing to you and your self-perception of objectivity.

TangoMan said...

Palin was for the Bridge to Nowhere before she was against it.

Damn, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing to behold, especially when it's deployed under false understanding.

Palin cut all Alaska engineering funding to the bridge only a few weeks after taking office. That effectively killed the bridge even though Federal funding was still involved.

You can criticize Palin for promising all things to all people, as all politicians are wont to do, but your grounds for claiming that Palin isn't guided by a philosophy and using the Bridge to Nowhere events as supporting evidence are meritless. Her decision to cut funding wasn't reactive, it was proactive. There were no outside pressures which forced her to make that decision only weeks into office.

If you want to criticize Palin you'd have more fertile ground in using the Bridge incident to blame her for telling the voters of Ketichikan that she was on their side in order to win their votes and then cutting all funding for the bridge after she assumed office. On that charge she'd have lots of company from most every single politician elected in this nation who are similarly guilty of the same behavior.

To your larger point, Palin's philosophy on governance is pretty solid and substantial. Her record in office amply demonstrates the philosophical thread that binds together many of her initiatives and executive decisions.

David said...

>I don't personally support Obama, but he's pretty smart. Smart enough to get into Harvard, smart enough to make in the cutthroat world of Chicago politics, smart enough to get to the Senate, and smart enough to clobber Hillary Clinton. McCain took the fall in the end, but Obama has taken down a lot of formidable competition to get where he is today. Being black has been a huge boost, but even a white Obama would probably have accomplished quite a bit in life.<

And all this he did without help, eh?

No backers, handlers, publishers, groomers, speechwriters, political allies.

By sheer smarts, Obama broke through in a world which had no use for him.

Pardon me if I cough behind my hand.

Anonymous said...

Tango Man: "Has the claim that Obama graduated with honors been independently corroborated?"

I don't think it has.