Republicans Should Make Intellect the Issue

Despite the left's self-assured predictions that Obama's reelection was inevitable as Osama bin Laden's body slipped beneath the brine, just about every reputable polling agency now shows the president up against history in his bid for a second term. 

The internals of the polls are even more alarming for the White House.  It seems that Republicans could actually dress up a mannequin from Sears to lead their ticket, and the soulless, inanimate, plastic creature would outperform Obama in the realms of jobs, economic growth, foreign affairs, health care, and national defense amongst virtually every demographic.

So to make this election a little more interesting for those of us who watch and observe politics, let me make a strategic suggestion to the eventual Republican nominee, whoever he or she may be: don't play Prevent defense in this campaign.  Don't play not to lose, but rather imitate Obama in 2008: attack your opponent where he thinks he is strongest. 

Granted, the president's narcissism may make it initially difficult to pinpoint which area he believes himself to be most gifted; but that vain conceit actually provides the answer.  Make this election about intelligence...and not the kind that is measured by letter grades (that would be impossible anyway, given that for some reason our scholar president won't release his grade transcripts).  No, I'm talking about working intelligence -- the kind of street smarts that history tells us is far more useful in a chief executive than a high verbal SAT.

Now, this suggestion may seem counterintuitive, given that George Clooney has recently declared Barack Obama to be "smarter than anybody you know."  But I think the 2012 election is a perfect time for Republicans to remind the American people of the wisdom of Forrest Gump: "Stupid is as stupid does."  And as Bret Stephens accurately confirmed to readers in the Wall Street Journal not long ago, "[t]he presidency of Barack Obama is a case study in stupid does."

Current Republican frontrunner Governor Rick Perry of Texas seems up to this challenge.  After being the recipient of the left's typical playground taunts that he's too dumb to be president, Perry responded, "What's dumb is ... to put fiscal policies in place that were a disaster back in the '30s and try them again in the 2000s.  That's what I consider to be the definition of dumb."  In other words, if Obama's economic record is the epitome of "brilliance," and the Perry years in Texas have been the result of a "dumb" executive, those two words officially have no meaning.

But Perry isn't the only Republican who should be willing to take on the supposed intellectualism of this administration.  Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, also taking the brunt of the left's condescending jabs, has every right to engage the brain debate.  After all, how intellectual is it to demand, as our current president does, that upper wage-earners pay "their fair share" of taxes when the top 50% of wage-earners -- which includes primarily middle-class taxpayers -- already shoulder 97% of the income tax burden?  While that absurd definition of fairness may score high on the class warfare scale, it is far more intellectual to observe, as Bachmann has, that it is fundamentally unfair when more people are riding in the wagon than pulling it. 

And should the sycophantic Obama media continue obsessing about how Bachmann's mistaking Elvis's birthday with his date of death, or confusing which Iowa town was John Wayne's home, are proof of her ignorance, Michele could always invite them to one of the 57 states President Obama claimed to have visited, and offer them an alcoholic breathalyzer like the kind Obama prescribed for asthmatic kids.

And this strategy will work for every other Republican presidential contender.  Let voters compare the wisdom of Obama's war on business with Mitt Romney's understanding that those evil corporations the president is trying to destroy employ a lot of people.

Let them gauge the intellect of a president who demands that Israel continue to make concessions to foster peace versus Newt Gingrich's recognition that peace will never be achieved so long as one of the two sides is represented by a terror group, Hamas, that has as its sole reason for existence the annihilation of Israel.

Let the voters who are losing the health care plan they prefer, facing fewer options in their coverage, all while seeing their premiums increase to offset the massive costs of ObamaCare, choose between the intelligence of a man like Ron Paul (who predicted each of these consequences the night of the health care vote) and the president who told them to shut up and take their medicine.

And the list keeps going and going, from Rick Santorum to Herman Cain to Sarah Palin (should she run) to yes, even Jon Huntsman.

Surveying the uninhabited wasteland that just a few short years of Obamanomics has made of the American job market, and considering the monumental task that faces them in piecing together the shattered fragments of our once-envied economic engine, there are many things to intimidate the Republican field.  Having to face off against the intellect of the author of this malaise, however, should not be one of them.

Peter is a public high school government teacher and radio talk show host in central Indiana. Email, visit, or like him on Facebook