July 27, 2009
Just how smart is Obama?
Just how smart is the President? Famous presidential historian Michael Beschloss, a regular on PBS's Newshour show, says his IQ is "off the charts" and that he is "probably the smartest guy ever to become president," while admitting he doesn't know what his IQ is. I say: let's look at the evidence.
Jack Cashill has expended a great deal of effort at American Thinker to blast holes in the "foundational myth" that President Obama is a "literary genius".
Comparing books attributed to Obama with known undisputed samples of his writings, Cashill has shown that, in fact, Obama is a crappy writer, who, despite a Harvard-educated father, a mother with a PhD, attendance at the best private prep school in Hawaii and degrees from Columbia University and Harvard Law School, never mastered such elemental matters of grammar as the necessary agreement of verbs and nouns in a sentence.
I think Cashill's rather convincingly demonstrated his thesis that Obama never authored the two books which are cited as proof that he is some kind of literary genius.
But the "literary genius" foundational myth is not the only one in need of serious examination. The very notion that he merited admission let alone degrees from these rigorous and competitive institutions is called into question every time Obama makes an extemporaneous remark. He knows little or nothing about history, economics, law, geography and the grammar rules of his native tongue.
"We only have a certain number [Arabic translators] of them and if they are all in Iraq, then it's harder for us to use them in Afghanistan," Obama said. (Afghanistan is not an Arabic-speaking country.)
"[I]t was also interesting to see that political interaction in Europe is not that different from the United States Senate. There's a lot of -- I don't know what the term is in Austrian, wheeling and dealing." (Confusing German for "Austrian", a language which does not exist.)
"On this Memorial Day, as our nation honors its unbroken line of fallen heroes -- and I see many of them in the audience here today -- our sense of patriotism is particularly strong. " (He sees dead people?)
"I had a uncle who was one of the, who was part of the first American troops to go into Auschwitz and liberate the concentration camps...." (Stalin's army liberated Auschwitz, and he should use "an" before a word which begins with a vowel, a grammatical error he makes often .)
"I'm always worried about using the word 'victory,' because, you know, it invokes this notion of Emperor Hirohito coming down and signing a surrender to MacArthur...." (Hirohito never attended the surrender ceremony and you don't "sign a surrender".)
"... profit and earnings ratio." (The correct term is the Price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio. Profit and earnings ratio is nonsensical.)
"The reforms we seek would bring greater competition, choice, savings and inefficiencies to our health care system," Obama said in remarks after a health care roundtable with physicians, nurses and health care providers. [emphasis added]
"Think about that," he said, "California producing jobs, their economy keeping pace with the rest of the country and yet they've been able to maintain their energy usage in a much lower level than the rest of the country."
Obama Spoken Language
"The point I was making was not that my grandmother harbors any racial animosity. But she is a typical white person. If she sees somebody on the street that she doesn't know. . .there's a reaction in her that don't [emphasis supplied] go away and it comes out in the wrong way."
While he argued that American children should learn to speak Spanish , he referred to the Cinco de Mayo celebration as Cinco de Cuatro (Five of Four)
Often the press smoothes the flubs over, and only careful transcribers like my friend jmh catch them as here where Obama shows he doesn't understand what pronoun to use:
"At the end of the conversation there was discussion about ah -- my conversation with Sgt Crowley -- there was discussion about he and I and Professor Gates havin' a beer here in the White House, ah, we don't know if that's scheduled yet but ah..." (Of course, when he's trying to sound knowingly folksy he -- like Hillary -- also drops the final g in words.)
Sometimes as here -- he just makes up new meanings for words:
OBAMA: The government would play that role with respect to money that the government is spending. Right? Which it always -- it currently plays that role. That's not a change.So Medicare and Medicaid -- those programs in which the government is involved and honing up [emphasis supplied] dollars, I think taxpayers would expect that we spend that money wisely. We don't want to see that money wasted on weapons systems that aren't needed. We don't want it spent on welfare programs that don't work. And we shouldn't want that spent on tests that aren't making people better.
Or he misuses them:
"I could have calibrated those words differently" [emphasis supplied]
He seems to have utterly misread the U.S. Constitution and its role in our lives:
"...That generally the Constitution is a charter of negative liberties. Says what the states can't do to you, but doesn't say what the federal government or state government must do on your behalf. And that hasn't shifted." (Interview on WBEZ-FM 2001)
"In March, President Obama announced that government officials would not be allowed to consider the views of lobbyists regarding specific stimulus projects unless the requests are put in writing. The materials also had to be posted on an agency's website within three business days of receipt."
I have, with the help of fellow posters at Just One Minute, pulled together these representative errors not for the purpose of being mean spirited. We know we all are error prone from time to time. Just as we know that had Obama not been a certain favorite of the media each and every one of these illiteracies and gaffes would have received far more play than they have.
I have another purpose. I do not believe that someone with such a consistently weak understanding of economics, history, and the guiding legal document of our nation and its language merited admission to Columbia University or Harvard law school. Nor can I imagine how anyone could have merited graduation from these institutions (let alone edited the Harvard Law Review, the most prestigious legal publication of its kind) with these deficiencies.
Did his professors give him a special pass along the way? Or was he assisted in school, as Jack Cashill suggests he was assisted in his literary endeavors by ghost writers? Did others write his essays? Did he take only open book exams? Terrorist Bill Ayers, who Cashill says ghosted Dreams of my Father, lived close to Obama when he attended Columbia. Did he shepherd him through college, too? Ayers' wife, Bernardine Dohrn, went to the University of Chicago Law School but there is some overlap between the time she worked at Sidley Austin and Michelle Obama did. Dohrn worked there from 1984-1988 and Michelle apparently worked there as a summer associate for two years before she graduated in 1988 from Harvard Law School. Obama began law school in 1988 and began work as a summer associate at Sidley Austin in 1989. It's hard to believe they all didn't know each other rather well.
In any event, people who entered these institutions under the normal admission rules, took the required courses, and faced stiff graduation requirements, have got to start believing the President is undercutting the once far more prestigious value of their educational accomplishments.
Clarice Feldman is a retired attorney in Washington, DC.