Who's stupid here?

They clutch to the notion as does a baby who cannot sleep without her pacifier. Within a group never known for its consistency, it has been the one thing upon which the left agrees: George W. Bush is an intellectually incurious baboon.

How do we know this? Well, Jonathan Chait said so — again — in a column for the increasingly readership—challenged Los Angeles Times this past July 16. This sort of piece has been something of a habit for Mr. Chait, who seems to return to this subject time and time again. Using his apparent powers of deduction, he seems to lack deep reservoirs of creativity in manufacturing original columns; perhaps his judgment on the President's intellectual capabilities is just an old—fashioned case of projection.

Nevertheless, the piece is all too predictable; it relies on secondary sources to pronounce the President as the unsinterested party as chaos swirls about him. The usual canards are trotted out: President Bush knew about 9/11 beforehand but didn't care, he had no time to ask questions regarding the damage Hurricane Katrina could cause, he had nothing for disdain for his 'intellectual superiors' while at Yale, etc., etc.

Apparently, because the President does not carry books around for show as his predecessor did, we are to conclude he never reads for pleasure. Mr. Chait declares that he and the vastly superior minds in the media intelligentsia were right to have originally seen President Bush as nothing short of a silly goof—off, a notion that was challenged briefly in the immediate aftermath of September 11, 2001. As Mr. Chait puts it so modestly:

'But the more we learn about how Bush operates, the more we can see we were right from the beginning.'

There is only one problem with this statement: Jonathan Chait has no earthly idea how President Bush 'operates.' Either that, or he has been willfully ignorant when many have explained the President's management style.

Thomas Lifson two years ago penned the best description of the President's leadership qualities. Both Dr. Lifson and President Bush have MBAs from Harvard. Dr. Lifson graduated and taught at Harvard Business School, and knows of what he speaks, and is able to draw more concrete analogies than playing pick—up basketball in Ann Arbor against Michigan football Wolverines. For example, regarding just getting through HBS:

'There is simply no way on earth that the son of the then—Ambassador to China (technically, head of the Beijing Liaison Office), or anyone else, could have coasted through Harvard Business School with a 'gentleman's C.' I never, ever heard of a case of an incompetent student being allowed to graduate, simply because a certain family was prominent. On the contrary, I did hear stories of well—born students having to leave prior to graduation. The academic standards were a point of considerable pride.
 
'An inability to learn and apply the lessons of the classroom and the voluminous nightly study materials, from regression analysis to strategy—formulation to marketing to human behavior in organizations, was simply not tolerated. Grading took place on a strict curve, and those who found themselves on the lower range of the curve in too many subjects hit the dreaded 'screen' and had to supply convincing rationales to the Academic Performance Committee as to why they should be allowed to attend the second year of the program, much less graduate. The screen was a vital component of the HBS quality assurance program, itself an essential method of protecting the value of the school's MBA 'brand.' Harvard Business School would no sooner voluntarily graduate an incompetent MBA holder than Coca Cola would ship—out bottles containing dead mice.'

Perhaps the most intriguing part of Mr. Chait's column is the perception he had of the Republican caricature of John Kerry in 2004 as 'an egghead' and that 'anti—intellectualism was triumphant' during the campaign. Mr. Chait suggests that Bush supporters were proud of their truck—drivin' brush clearin' chief who had no use for, as Mr. Chait states without a whiff of irony, 'book learnin.' Again, nothing could be further from the truth.

Folks who were against Sen. Kerry were not so because he is supposedly intelligent and they scoff at brilliant minds. To the contrary, it was Sen. Kerry who made far more blunders of intelligence throughout the 2004 campaign. Recall his 'I voted for it before I voted against it' gem, his allowing himself to be photographed looking like a giant blue prophylactic at NASA, and his failure to mention al—Qaeda once — not once! — in his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention. Best of all was the  revelation that Sen. Kerry and President Bush had nearly identical academic records at Yale.

No, supporters of the President in 2004 knew — instinctively or through a careful review of the available information — that President Bush is inherently more intelligent than Sen. Kerry. Not only that, Sen. Kerry's prevarications, his seeming willingness to bend to the will of the United Nations when it came to matters of U.S. sovereignty, and his desire to fight terrorism in the courts rather than on their turf showed him to be not an egghead, but a person with his head in the sand.

This bizarre man's ideas and solutions were either born of ignorance or an unwillingness to confront the world on its own terms. Based on his actions and words throughout 2004 and since, it is John Kerry — not President Bush — with the ignorant worldview. In addition, Sen. Kerry has never operated an organization of any kind — there is a reason U.S. Senators are so seldom elected President. Republicans and supporters of the President did not need to be told that John Kerry was smart and President Bush was not. The opposite was obvious.

So in his haste to declare President Bush intellectually incapable of managing the executive branch of the federal government based on a couple anecdotes, perhaps Mr. Chait should take his own advice and broaden his horizons. Maybe it is Mr. Chait who has allowed his own lack of intellectual curiosity blind him to a tightly held and unwavering opinion.

Matt May   7 21 06

They clutch to the notion as does a baby who cannot sleep without her pacifier. Within a group never known for its consistency, it has been the one thing upon which the left agrees: George W. Bush is an intellectually incurious baboon.

How do we know this? Well, Jonathan Chait said so — again — in a column for the increasingly readership—challenged Los Angeles Times this past July 16. This sort of piece has been something of a habit for Mr. Chait, who seems to return to this subject time and time again. Using his apparent powers of deduction, he seems to lack deep reservoirs of creativity in manufacturing original columns; perhaps his judgment on the President's intellectual capabilities is just an old—fashioned case of projection.

Nevertheless, the piece is all too predictable; it relies on secondary sources to pronounce the President as the unsinterested party as chaos swirls about him. The usual canards are trotted out: President Bush knew about 9/11 beforehand but didn't care, he had no time to ask questions regarding the damage Hurricane Katrina could cause, he had nothing for disdain for his 'intellectual superiors' while at Yale, etc., etc.

Apparently, because the President does not carry books around for show as his predecessor did, we are to conclude he never reads for pleasure. Mr. Chait declares that he and the vastly superior minds in the media intelligentsia were right to have originally seen President Bush as nothing short of a silly goof—off, a notion that was challenged briefly in the immediate aftermath of September 11, 2001. As Mr. Chait puts it so modestly:

'But the more we learn about how Bush operates, the more we can see we were right from the beginning.'

There is only one problem with this statement: Jonathan Chait has no earthly idea how President Bush 'operates.' Either that, or he has been willfully ignorant when many have explained the President's management style.

Thomas Lifson two years ago penned the best description of the President's leadership qualities. Both Dr. Lifson and President Bush have MBAs from Harvard. Dr. Lifson graduated and taught at Harvard Business School, and knows of what he speaks, and is able to draw more concrete analogies than playing pick—up basketball in Ann Arbor against Michigan football Wolverines. For example, regarding just getting through HBS:

'There is simply no way on earth that the son of the then—Ambassador to China (technically, head of the Beijing Liaison Office), or anyone else, could have coasted through Harvard Business School with a 'gentleman's C.' I never, ever heard of a case of an incompetent student being allowed to graduate, simply because a certain family was prominent. On the contrary, I did hear stories of well—born students having to leave prior to graduation. The academic standards were a point of considerable pride.
 
'An inability to learn and apply the lessons of the classroom and the voluminous nightly study materials, from regression analysis to strategy—formulation to marketing to human behavior in organizations, was simply not tolerated. Grading took place on a strict curve, and those who found themselves on the lower range of the curve in too many subjects hit the dreaded 'screen' and had to supply convincing rationales to the Academic Performance Committee as to why they should be allowed to attend the second year of the program, much less graduate. The screen was a vital component of the HBS quality assurance program, itself an essential method of protecting the value of the school's MBA 'brand.' Harvard Business School would no sooner voluntarily graduate an incompetent MBA holder than Coca Cola would ship—out bottles containing dead mice.'

Perhaps the most intriguing part of Mr. Chait's column is the perception he had of the Republican caricature of John Kerry in 2004 as 'an egghead' and that 'anti—intellectualism was triumphant' during the campaign. Mr. Chait suggests that Bush supporters were proud of their truck—drivin' brush clearin' chief who had no use for, as Mr. Chait states without a whiff of irony, 'book learnin.' Again, nothing could be further from the truth.

Folks who were against Sen. Kerry were not so because he is supposedly intelligent and they scoff at brilliant minds. To the contrary, it was Sen. Kerry who made far more blunders of intelligence throughout the 2004 campaign. Recall his 'I voted for it before I voted against it' gem, his allowing himself to be photographed looking like a giant blue prophylactic at NASA, and his failure to mention al—Qaeda once — not once! — in his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention. Best of all was the  revelation that Sen. Kerry and President Bush had nearly identical academic records at Yale.

No, supporters of the President in 2004 knew — instinctively or through a careful review of the available information — that President Bush is inherently more intelligent than Sen. Kerry. Not only that, Sen. Kerry's prevarications, his seeming willingness to bend to the will of the United Nations when it came to matters of U.S. sovereignty, and his desire to fight terrorism in the courts rather than on their turf showed him to be not an egghead, but a person with his head in the sand.

This bizarre man's ideas and solutions were either born of ignorance or an unwillingness to confront the world on its own terms. Based on his actions and words throughout 2004 and since, it is John Kerry — not President Bush — with the ignorant worldview. In addition, Sen. Kerry has never operated an organization of any kind — there is a reason U.S. Senators are so seldom elected President. Republicans and supporters of the President did not need to be told that John Kerry was smart and President Bush was not. The opposite was obvious.

So in his haste to declare President Bush intellectually incapable of managing the executive branch of the federal government based on a couple anecdotes, perhaps Mr. Chait should take his own advice and broaden his horizons. Maybe it is Mr. Chait who has allowed his own lack of intellectual curiosity blind him to a tightly held and unwavering opinion.

Matt May   7 21 06