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?
I.S.: Reagan (Mr. Hollywood, with an anecdote for every occasion).
Reagan or 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?
Clinton or Dole?
I.S.: Clinton (especially after four years in the White House).
Bush II or Gore?
I.S.: Bush (see Bush I, and Gore grew up in a hotel room).
Bush II or 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?
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.