Saturday, January 3, 2009

George W. Bush is Probably Smarter Than You

Ok--depending upon which of my (few) readers is doing the reading, that may not be true. If you're my cousin Cyndi or my best-ever former student Matthew, NOBODY is much smarter than you. But as the end of Bush's term winds down, I, for one, am getting a little tired of being told over and over that he is (a) stupid; (b) the WORST PRESIDENT EVER!

Let's address the "stupid" business. The guy graduated from Yale undergrad and got an MBA from Harvard. He could fly jet planes. He somehow got himself elected to two terms as governor of Texas and two terms as president of the United States. Only 16 men have EVER been elected twice as president (there are other 2-termers who succeeded to a term and then were re-elected to one more, such as Teddy Roosevelt, Coolidge, Truman, and LBJ). Look, I've got "Bush fatigue" as bad as anybody. I won't even attempt to defend all of his policies (although some have been good, and I have never once wished that we had president Gore or Kerry instead). But there have been lots of presidents who had numerous failures, and we don't call them stupid (think Carter, for example). Yet it is a common deal in the media to assume any Republican, especially one who admits to evangelical Christian faith, is a blithering idiot. They did it with Reagan. Dan Quayle was savaged. and of course, what was done to Sarah Palin during this past year was just awful. What gets me is that the liberal is ALWAYS assumed to be an intellectual. Gore got the same family nudge into school Bush did, and flunked out of divinity school... but he was OBVIOUSLY smarter than Bush. Same thing with Kerry, even after it was revealed that he made worse grades at Yale than Bush did. JFK, who got into Harvard the same way Bush got into Yale and won the Pulitzer prize for a book ghost-written by Ted Sorenson, was considered much smarter than Eisenhower, who "only" went to West Point and commanded allied troops in WWII. After a while, you start to see the pattern.

Now, of course, Barack Obama is the intellectual. And he may be. I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt, which is far more than was ever given to Bush. But just imagine the media played the same game with Obama. He hasn't released his transcripts from his undergrad days at Columbia... do you suppose that's because his grades were too high? We know he was the editor of the Harvard Law Review, but there's not a single example of his legal scholarship out there. Why is it OK to say out loud that Bush would have never gotten into Yale without family connections, but inconceivable to think that a guy with the most interesting pedigree this side of Tiger Woods didn't get a few "diversity" points when he applied to Harvard? And of course, if he were a conservative, the fact that he says "um" and "uh" every time he's off the teleprompter, or that he claimed to have been to all 57 states would be "proof" that he's just as dumb as Reagan/Quayle/Bush/Palin. And that would be unfair.

How about this, for a change. Let's stipulate that if you got to be president, you're NOT STUPID. (Okay, maybe Warren G. Harding was no scholar. But that leaves 42 out of 43 occupants of the oval office who aren't dumb.) Not everybody can be a super-genius like Teddy Roosevelt or Thomas Jefferson. And some of our "best" presidents were not necessarily the ones with highest IQ's (I'll take Truman over Wilson every time). That doesn't mean we have to like the guy. Dislike Bush all you want. But enough with attacks on his intelligence--especially if you haven't accomplished a tenth of what he has.

As for the "WORST EVER" deal, that may be more than I want to write about for now. But even if you assume every bad thing ever attributed to Bush is true (which I don't, but this is for argument's sake), let me give you just a couple of folks worse: NOBODY is as incompetent as Jimmy Carter. Even if Bush "shredded the Constitution," he at least seems to have done it because he thought, even wrongly, that it was in the interest of saving American lives. But Richard Nixon did worse, and only for personal gain. And finally, two words: James Buchanan. Look him up.

13 comments:

Pete said...

you should write a book. I'd buy it... several copies to give to my lib friends.

I whole heartedly agree. Even Millard Fillmore who (as a non-elected President) didn't really "accompllish" anything... also didn't seem to be accredited with doing anything extraordinarily stupid. And he took the Bad-Luck presidency place in history: #13.

Coach Sal said...

Pete, my only piece of Millard Fillmore trivia knowledge is that it was during his presidency that the USA opened trade with Japan, when Commodore Matthew Perry "persuaded" the Japanese to sign the Treaty of Kanagawa in 1853. And no, Perry was no relation to the guy on "Friends."

bekster said...

What people don't realize is that what we see on TV or read in the news is only a small part of what is really going on. With the tools available to the media, it is very easy to make ANYONE look stupid or smart. It is maddening to realize that the media uses its power to throw mud on people who do not deserve it. Actually, no one deserves that. I did not vote for Obama, but it would anger me to see him flayed on a Republican news station. I just want the TRUTH. If you think about it, the fact that the [liberal] media felt it had to make Bush look stupid shows that they were afraid to show the truth. I mean, if the man were truly that bad on his own, they wouldn't have to go out of their way to dirty him in front of their lens. Yes, we have the right to free speech, so people can say what they want. However, it wouldn't be a bad thing to see a little more respect for people who have worked so hard to get where they are.

Essie said...

Larry!! I love your blog!! Could we get you to do a radio show?? I am sure you would be as big a sensation as Glenn Beck within a few weeks!!!! Keep on posting! I have given up on the media so I need to read Coach Sal!!
Elizabeth

Anonymous said...

way to bring in buchanan,
I've always appreciated Mr Polk and they ran against each other in 1844

CJ

Coach Sal said...

Some folks rank Polk as a top-10 guy, which (if I recall correctly) would make him the only Prez in the top 10 to not serve more than one term. Manifest Destiny! %4-40 or fight!

Coach Sal said...

That %4 should be 54, without the shift key held down.

Greg & Kim said...

First comment: Ugh, Polk.

Second: Why do you hate Carter so much? I was born in the last month of his presidency, and my history classes never made it past WWII, but I read about him once in Pageant, and while he wasn't the greatest, it seemed to me that a lot of things were beyond his control (no specifics, besides the Iranian hostage thing.) I'm not starting a debate, b/c I can't remember a thing. I'm on a fact finding mission. And I'm from GA, so you know...

so maybe if you could write why you hate Carter in 50 words or less, that would be very helpful to me:).

Coach Sal said...

I don't "hate" Carter. Indeed, I like the guy, and feel sorry for him. He was smart, nice, and a genuine Christian, and also politically pretty moderate. He also presided over one of the most ineffective administrations in history. I grade presidencies on 3 criteria: foreign policy success, domestic policy success, and political success. Carter goes zero-for-3. The hostage crisis was just one of the numerous foreign policy disasters of his term... when the USSR invaded Afghanistan, Carter was SHOCKED that the Soviets had lied to him. His good heart made him hopelessly naive, and during his brief time in office, we lost serious ground in the Cold War. Indeed, the hostage crisis itself was at least partially brought on by Carter withdrawing US support for the Shah of Iran. Carter didn't want to be on the side of a bad dude like the Shah. So instead, we get the Ayatollah Khomeni. Poor choice. On the domestic front, I really don't give Carter as much blame as many do for the bad economy of the late 1970s. It is my firm belief that presidents get far too much credit/blame for economic matters. However, his micro-managing leadership style and lack of consistency in apporaching the crisis didn't help anything, and his famous "malaise" speech was the exact opposite of inspiring leadership. And even though it's not "fair" in my view to hang the economy around the neck of the president, we do it to Hoover, and now Bush, so Carter can't be exempt unless you want to re-evaluate all the other folks who get the same treatment. Finally, in politics, he BARELY beat Ford in '76, even despite Ford's pardon of Nixon. Barring that, he wouldn't have won at all. And then Reagan beats him by 44 states in 1980. So by any reasonable metric of success, he is among the least-successful presidents of all time, a case-study in failure.

All that said, I prefer him to the much more "successful" Nixon because Carter was a man of unimpeachable character. But so are plenty of other people who don't have the skills to be President.

Greg & Kim said...

That makes sense. I know you don't "hate" Carter. I worded it like that b/c when Greg read your blog, he said, "Wow, he really HATES Carter!" So my comment was really from both of us.

I'm definitely thinking that I would make a horrible President. And I think I'm through with my brief belief that politics might have use in my life:).

Greg & Kim said...

And that was not 50 words or less!

Coach Sal said...

You guys are a bit younger than me, but if you could really remember 1979, you would remember the "malaise." As I have written elsewhere, all this talk about today being "the worst economy in our lifetime" seems to be missing how godawful lousy the late 70's were. It was really terrible. I've always felt like Carter was a decent guy who was in way over his head.

Sorry about the 50+ words. You know I can't help it. :-)

Coach Sal said...

Oh, one more thing: "Pageant" is a decent-enough AP history text. But that's like saying, "he's tall, for a midget." Most textbooks are pretty crummy, and edited by serious liberals. Go back and read how Pageant treats Reagan. He probably comes off as a likeable old buffoon, maybe a bit luckier than Carter. He only won the cold war, cleaned up the awful 70's economic mess, completely remade the Republican party, and won two landslides, one of which was the greatest electoral-college victory of all time.

If you'd like to read a good 2-volume US History, pick up "America, the Last Best Hope" by William Bennett. Volume 1 goes from Columbus to WWI, Vol 2 from there until the end of Reagan's term.