Monday, September 15, 2008

Who's the smartest of them all?

Montana Headlines posts a list of presidential candidates over the last 50 years and asks: "After all, if you took a poll of university professors, who would be consdidered to be smarter and more intellectually sophisticated, and which was was the hapless bumbler?"

He seems to think that professors would choose the Democrat in each case. I dunno. But I am a college professor of sorts (OK, really an adjunct, but most students don't know the difference), so I thought I would take the test. For openers, I don't think there is a hapless bumbler on the list. These weren't all great presidents, or great candidates, but they were all pretty accomplished people.

Ike or Adlai Stevenson?
Smarter: Ike (dummies don't win world wars).
I.S.: Stevenson (because when he was told that every thinking person would vote for him, he said, "That's not enough. I need a majority").

Kennedy or Nixon?
Smarter: Kennedy (he could speed read).
I.S.: Kennedy (the man defined cool in 1962, and so did his wife).

Johnson or Goldwater?
Smarter: Johnson (but probably very close)
I.S.: Goldwater (also close, but Johnson was famously crude, sometimes, I am told, even granting interviews while sitting on the toilet).

Nixon or Humphrey?
Smarter: Nixon (but not so's you'd notice).
I.S.: Humphrey (but not so's you'd notice).

Nixon or McGovern?
Smarter: Nixon (give the devil his due).
I.S.: McGovern (the South Dakotan was cooler than the Californian only because Nixon didn't have any friends who weren't named Bebe).

Carter or Ford?
Smarter: Carter (Ford didn't wear a helmet).
I.S.: Are you kidding me? The peanut farmer and the Michigan center? But at least Carter knew something about new-clear submarines.

Carter or Reagan?
Smarter: Carter.
I.S.: Reagan (Mr. Hollywood, with an anecdote for every occasion).

Reagan or Mondale?
Smarter: Mondale.
I.S.: Reagan (but fading fast).

Bush I or Dukakis?
Smarter: Dukakis (but probably close).
I.S.: Bush (no American blood runs bluer).

Clinton or Bush I?
Smarter: Clinton.
I.S.: Bush.

Clinton or Dole?
Smarter: Clinton.
I.S.: Clinton (especially after four years in the White House).

Bush II or Gore?
Smarter: Gore.
I.S.: Bush (see Bush I, and Gore grew up in a hotel room).

Bush II or Kerry?
Smarter: Kerry.
I.S.: Obviously close, but I stick with Bush (you can take the boy to Crawford, but you can't put Crawford into the boy).

Obama or McCain?
Smarter: Obama.
I.S.: McCain (old military tradition, fashionably divorced, married a rich heiress, five or six or seven or eight houses).

Is there a pattern? Looks like Republicans used to pick smart people, and now pick show horses. Democrats are happiest when they can find someone both smart and cool, and that ain't easy.


Jay Larry Lundeen said...

"Smart" is a narrow determinate for leadership. Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Idi Amin, et al were no slouches in this particular category. The millions that were slaughtered by these brutal leaders bear a grim testament to elevating gray matter to such an elevated virtue.

Jay Stevens said...

The shorter JLL: "Them smart people are danger-is!"

IMHO, it'll be a nice change of pace to have someone smart in the office. Maybe we can start fixing some problems.

Anonymous said...

Smart people can hurt us as well as help us. Cheney is a smart person who deliberately hurts people. Clinton very smartly went about killing half a million Iraqi kids.

But I fail to see where having dumb people in power ever serves us well.

Chuck Rightmire said...

As someone who lived during these elections and voted for some, but not all of these candidates, I tend to disagree with the choices listed here. Stevenson was both smarter and more intellectually sophisticated than the sainted Eisenhower who bought into McCarthyism. Don't get me wrong; he was a great military leader, mostly because he worked well with people, apparently even Montgomery. But he was limited beyond that. Goldwater and Johnson were probabbly as you picked them. Humphrey was obviously better in both categories than Nixon, mostly because Nixon was obviously, in retrospect and for me at the time, going slowly insane. I think the same reasoning holds true with McGovern and Nixon. Carter was smarter in most than Ford although the IS quota might have been he same. Reagan had neither smarts nor IS, particularly since his mind was gone when he was elected. Dukakis and Bush I were about the same in both categories, I believe. At least it was hard to measure them. Bush"s blue blood doesn't mean anything when it comes to IS. And Bush II had the same education and turned out to be dumber than a box of bricks. And Clinton may have been the smartest president of the 20th Century in competition with Wilson and more IS than Bush I who, after all, was a company man. Dole was a waste of time in both categories when compared to Clinton; and Bush II is just a stupid, unthinking man who doesn't draw on his education and is a zero against almost everyone with a triple digit IQ.

Anonymous said...

While the general impression during the 2004 presidential campaign was that Democrat John Kerry was the intellectual superior to President Bush, it turns out that their grades while undergraduate students at Yale were remarkably similar.
In fact, Bush's were a tad higher. His four-year average was 77; Kerry's 76. Both were C students. Kerry graduated from Yale in 1966; Bush in 1968.

Anonymous said...

Hey anonymous #81409 - don't ruin Davids argument with facts - they get in the way -

The Democrats first tried to paint GWB as a dummy, they they decided that they were 'tricked' by him when they had to explain their war votes to the far left -

so I guess even a dummy can trick the Dem's - LOL

Who's smarter again?

David said...

Eric, Don't worry about my argument. I know about Kerry's grades. But I still give him the edge because of Bush's absence of intellectual curiosity.

Todd said...

It's pretty well known that McCain graduated fifth from the bottom of his class at Navy in 1958. Doesn't sound either intelligent or intellectually sophisticated to me.

But that's okay; he's a war hero, so he's plenty qualified to be president.