Calling Brilliance Into Question

Right From the Start

We were at a social gathering the other night when yet another empty headed ninny began to gush about the brilliance of Pres. Barack Obama. I’ve listened to this artifice for two and a half years and that evening, perhaps due to the excellent single malt scotch, I had had enough. I replied, “Sez who?”

You could have heard a pin drop. It was as if I had sworn in church. And perhaps that was it. I had called into question the essence of liberal thought, the core of their beliefs – that liberals are significantly more intelligent than the mere mortals they stoop to govern.

The response was immediate. “What do you mean?” I related that one of the nagging remnants of my life as a lawyer was the necessity to prove what you say. And so I was simply asking for the proof that Pres. Obama was this “brilliant young leader” as claimed by the mainstream media and on several occasions by Vice-President Joe Biden – a demonstrable average Joe himself.

Beyond the “everybody knows it” reply the only definitive answer I got was that Obama was an honors graduate from Columbia University, President of the prestigious Harvard Law Review and a law professor for ten years. Okay, good enough if all of that were true. So let’s examine them.

President Obama has refused to allow the release of his undergraduate records from either Occidental College where he began or Columbia University where he finished. Despite claims by the media, Obama did not graduate with honors from Columbia, which means that his academic achievement was a GPA of less than 3.3. While at Columbia Obama like other students wrote a senior thesis. His was on nuclear disarmament of the West and he has refused to allow the release of it because it might appear to be naïve. Other articles he wrote during his college years on disarmament were simply regurgitation of far left orthodoxy on unilateral disarmament – hardly an indication of original or critical thinking.

President Obama was the head of Harvard Law Review. The titles of president, leader or editor-in-chief are used interchangeably. Traditionally, the position has been in recognition of academic achievement – the top student at the end of the junior year becomes the editor-in-chief for the senior year. Since 1887 until 1970, inclusion on Harvard Law Review was based purely on academic achievement. After 1970 half of the members were chosen for academic performance and half were chosen by the students. Barack Obama was part of the latter category – chosen for popularity rather than achievement. The position of editor-in-chief is chosen by the faculty.

The editor-in-chief of Harvard Law Review has two main responsibilities. The first is to “manage” the monthly production of the Review (assisted ably by a professional staff) and to publish the premier scholarly law review article for the academic year. No such article was published by Pres. Obama. In fact, the only article published by Obama during his years at Harvard Law School was in support of abortion on demand and can best be described as the normal screed of far left orthodoxy lacking any indication of original or critical thinking.

Yes, President Obama graduated magnum cum laud from Harvard Law School and that by itself would suggest significant academic achievement. However, the faculty manipulation resulting in his selection for and leadership of the Harvard Law Review on other than academic merit calls into question whether his graduate honors were based on real academic achievement or were simply a part of a continuing promotion by the faculty.

Under normal circumstance, the editor-in-chief of Harvard Law Review is the most sought after graduate by America’s prestigious law firms. Again, there is no evidence that Pres. Obama was either courted or offered employment by any of these firms. That lack of “peer” recognition suggests that Obama’s academic achievements were moderate and his honors suspect.

And finally, Pres. Obama was NOT a college law professor. He was, in fact, a visiting lecturer. Enough said. But being a college law professor is hardly proof of brilliance. When I was in law school, one of my professors in contracts lectured us repeatedly about the importance of words. He went on to detail important cases in which the minutiae of language became the critical element in a decision. He emphasized the importance of the rules of contractual interpretation and particularly those relating to the consistency of language. Several years after I graduated, he was hired by the Constitutional Convention to provide drafting expertise. But the new constitution vetted by him is a remarkable work of vague phrases and inconsistent language that has given rise to forty years of litigation over what the framers intended. So much for academic brilliance translating into practical detail.

President Obama’s achievements since graduation are, to put it mildly, pedestrian. His successes are measured in being popular (getting elected) not in achievement. He has been a community organizer, a part time lecturer, an undistinguished Illinois state legislator, a United States Senator without an identifiable accomplishment and President of the United States. In the latter role he is best noted for an economy that is in shambles, a national debt that will suppress economic recovery for a decade or more, and a foreign policy that has instilled distrust among our allies and boldness in our enemies.

Brilliant? Not from where I stand. If there is proof, please bring it forward.

There is a reason that, outside of Hollywood, you don’t go from mailroom clerk to CEO in one-step.