The really brilliant Noemie Emery takes note of those pundits who, persuaded of Obama's brilliance, are puzzled at his failures.
She observes they have an odd test of brilliance.
That Obama seems so much like their idea of brilliance that they assume it of him without too much evidence; or that their perception of brilliance -- often no more than a verbal facility -- isn't much use in the world.
Nor are degrees from the very best places. Presidents George Washington, Andrew Jackson and Abraham Lincoln had next to no formal schooling, a failed haberdasher from flyover country saved West Europe from Josef Stalin, and one of the two most important presidents of the 20th century was an "amiable dunce" from Eureka College and Hollywood.
There have been many good presidents, and their backgrounds are varied. But none has been a blogger, a pundit, an editor of the New Yorker, or a writer for Vanity Fair.
When and how then does this president's intellect shimmer? At meetings.
He does seem a genius at chairing a forum, as at the "nuclear summit" in April, where the Washington Post claimed that he shone as a teacher, "calling on leaders to speak, embellish, oppose, and offer alternatives," coaxing consensus and forging agreements among 45 countries at hand.
The problem was that the value of these things was limited, as the attending countries weren't menacing anyone, while Iran and Korea, who were not in attendance, went on happily building their bombs.
He isn't a sphinx, he's a seminar leader who's out of his element. And more and more out of his depth.