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.

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  • J Ybarz

    “There is a reason that, outside of Hollywood, you don’t go from mailroom clerk to CEO in one-step”, say you. Well, he made it to the top! Isn’t he brilliant? I sure think so. What proof do you have that he fluked the high honors he received from Columbia University and Harvard University? Once might be a fluke, but twice, huh?

    “Brilliant? Not from where I stand. If there is proof, please bring it forward” say you…
    I think you’re right that the ‘excellent single malt scotch’ you had, caused you to make unfounded bunch of hypothesis and insinuations about Obama. Come on, it’s not really that hard to admire his excellent achievements unless, like most conservatives, you just can’t handle the truth, hey! OBAMA IS BRILLIANT!

  • Rupert in Springfield

    “Obama is brilliant” once was something seriously believed by a lot of people but at this stage of the game is now more a snide joke than anything one would put forward as serious. You simply can’t have a man who is unable to give a coherent speech without a teleprompter, and who has made so many serious missteps called brilliant.

    The latest blockhead move by Mr. 57 states, the unwise jumping out in front on the Libya situation, will probably come back to bite us hard. Qaddafi emerged from the Bush presidency rendered quiescent by our return to Iraq. Our once sworn enemy had agreed to give up his WMD program and was in the process of normalizing relations with the US. Now the guy who is so brilliant he is embarrassed by his college transcripts has turned him into our mortal foe. He also made us look totally incompetent by making the US distinct in that it was the only country that could not seem to muster an appropriate vessel to evacuate US citizens from the area. Does he even have a clue who impotent that makes the US look? Probably not.

    Contrast this with Iran, where we have had several protests against the government who is already our self proclaimed sworn enemy. There he gave about as limp wristed a response as possible.

    OK – So when it comes to one dictator that was seeking to make nice nice with us he does a bonehead move and turns him against us probably forever. With another group of dictators seeking to destroy us he comes about as close to urging them on as he could.

    57 states didn’t even display common sense there, let alone brilliance. Did it really take a lot of brains to figure out that if Qaddafi was successful in putting down the rebellion, like he appears to be, getting out in front on the side of the rebels would only serve to undo everything Bush had accomplished with him? Obama has single handedly just created another North Korea with this incredibly stupid move.

    Is this a suprise? No. There was no shortage of people warning that Obama really didn’t seem to have a basic competence in several key areas. Obviously economics is not his strong suit, thats not exactly debatable anymore. Foreign policy? During the campaign when he made his incredible statement regarding bombing Pakistan Hillary said it was pretty clear he was not ready for prime time.

    I agreed with her then, that opinion has only been reinforced since that time.

    “Obama is brilliant” is now simply a funny one line joke that most now laugh at and only those who truly once believed it are offended by.

    Yes it’s a little sick, to be joking about a president who thinks its appropriate to check out of for a while, give his NCAA picks and get in a lot of golf and vacation time in the midst of the Mid East blowing up and the Japan situation.

    Then again what can you do but laugh? The guy spent a trillion dollars on the last one line joke to mock him – “stimulus”

    At least “Obama is brilliant” wasn’t a joke we had to literally pay for. “Stimulus” was.

    • not a betting person

      Not jumping into Libya is a sign of low intelligence? Whatever. Given the lack of leadership of the rebels, given we already have 2 Muslim world wars on our hands, given that it is reasonable to expect people around the world to take the responsibility for their own affairs, I’d say an intelligent person might conclude prudence is warranted.

      As for the teleprompter thing, repeating it doesn’t make it so. Obama has done multiple unscripted interviews and press conferences. He shredded the entire Republican House membership on television last year to the point where they don;t dare invite him back.

      His college transcripts? Who cares? He graduated from 3 universities, including 2 of the top 10 in the US. He taught constitutional law at one of the top 5 law colleges in the US. He went from humble origins to the presidency. He is a smart dude. Get over it.

      He has managed to avoid “boneheading” us into another war we would not win and cannot afford. Unlike his brilliant predecessor.

      • wnd
      • Rupert in Springfield

        >Not jumping into Libya is a sign of low intelligence? Whatever.

        “Whatever” is exactly right. As in “whatever” you are talking about, sense your comment makes no sense.

        I claimed Obama did not demonstrate a lot of common sense because he did jump into Libya, not the reverse as you seem to be under the impression I claimed.

        Ok – So you didn’t read what you were replying to and you don’t know what is going on with regard to Libya.

        >As for the teleprompter thing, repeating it doesn’t make it so.

        No, but Obamas ubiquitous use of the teleprompter, even in front of a kindergarten class does make it so.

        Again – you have proven you did not read what you are posting your reply to.

        I never claimed Obama had not given interviews etc. without a teleprompter.

        Please -Your inability to read what you are replying to is a little absurd here.

        >He shredded the entire Republican House membership on television last year to the point where they don;t dare invite him back.

        Ok, so now we know you not only are unaware of Obamas statements regarding Libya, but you also missed last Novembers election.

        >His college transcripts? Who cares?

        Obviously liberals do.

        They went nuts over Bush’s run of the mill grades when he was up against Kerry.

        We will see how you care about them in your next comment, where you totally undermine this nonsense.

        >He taught constitutional law at one of the top 5 law colleges in the US.

        And with this you have just contradicted yourself. Do you see how you screwed up here?

        You cant on the one say you care about his academic record when he was a guest lecturer on the constitution and then say you dont care when it comes to his actual qualifications, his grades, to engage in such.

        >He is a smart dude. Get over it.

        Well, given what you have demonstrated here, I would say a “smart dude” in your assessment is roughly equivalent to being the best surfer in Norway.

        >He has managed to avoid “boneheading” us into another war we would not win and cannot afford.

        Considering Obamas deficits top the ten year cost of the war and then some, this point is particularly ill thought out.

        Then there is also Obama care. You know, the one where the majority of states are suing to get out of it and where they counted Medicare cuts, $500B, twice. Hard to argue about affording things when Mr. 57 States blows more money on things that dont work in a couple of years than Bush ever did.

        Oh yeah! Then again there was also the failed stimulus. You know, the thing thats now a one line joke even in a crowd of liberals? That one, with the stroke of a pen, cost as much as the wars did over ten years and didn’t accomplish what Obama said it would.

        You are very selective over what we can afford and what we cannot. Kind of like how you are very selective about what academic achievements are important and what are not.

        Are you starting to see why people are buying this “smart guy? argument less and less as this failed presidency wears on?

        >Unlike his brilliant predecessor.

        I wouldn’t bring up Bush too much. Let’s face it, people would trade times under Bush for times under Obama in a heartbeat.

        Look – Its pretty simple, Obama has made some bad calls that were really stupid. The only ones out there still running around with this brilliant guy routine are the die hards. The rest of us are all laughing.

        Pass the popcorn.

        • Rupert in Springfield

          since

        • Valley person

          My bad. So you are worried that Ghadaffi was our friend and is now our enemy? Because of Obama? You are serious? Point 1, he was never our friend. Point 2, who cares if he is our enemy? He is a pipsqueak.

          Beyond that, fact is Obama has not “jumped” into Libya. He has maintained a suitable distance. Its their affair unless or until it morphs into massacre time, when it will become a humanitarian affair.

          Obamas use of a teleprompter is no more ubiquitous than it is for any politician at his level. Unless you have some reliable data on this, drop the argument.

          Yes, Republicans won the last election. But Obama was not on the ballot. And the election has nothing to do with his shredding of the House Republicans, which is on tape, and you can watch it yourself.

          His achieving a lecturer position at UC is a demonstration that a prestigious institution thought he was smart and learned enough to teach their students. Its a known fact. His transcripts are apparently not a known fact. You can’t compare a known fact with an unknown fact. He may have had straight As or Gentlemen Cs, Neither of us knows. But both of us know he was on the UC faculty. There is no contradiction in my pointing that out.

          The best surfer in Norway is probably a damn good surfer, so I accept your analogy. Obama is a smart dude.

          Obama does not have 10 year deficits. We have projections based on current spending, estimated spending, and estimated revenues, all from programs and tax rates that others put into place. We once had long term projected surpluses, but your party made short work of that, in part through boneheaded war starting.

          Obamacare is the program your party is freaked out about not because of how much was counted under Medicare, but because if it survives its another nail in your Ayn Rand dream. Your party didn’t care about adding $500 billion to Medicare spending with zero extra revenues. Why would they care about so-called double counting now?

          The failed stimulus? The one that saved 2.5 million jobs and cut your taxes?

          Oh right…it didn’t keep unemployment at 8%, Now that could be in part because by the time the first stimulus dollar was spent, unemployment was already at 9.5%. Is being wrong on a prediction is a sign of low intelligence? Would we have been better off with no stimulus? Could pigs fly if they were built like robins?

          Rupert…people like you and Larry and most Catalyst readers can’t accept Obama as being smart. That is your limitation, not his.

          People would trade to go back to the days of Bush? Are you serious? On what planet? Catalystville? Tea Party Nation? Too bad for you the world is larger.

  • Bob Clark

    America’s been adrift in leadership since Reagan, Bush I and Clinton. Bush II and Bama are bigger government train wrecks. Bama’s probably worse because he only talks about deregulation and spending cuts but then goes about doing the exact opposite. He’s created so much uncertainty for businesses both small and large the economic recovery has lagged. He did extend the Bush tax cuts, and this is helping for now anyways. You would think the GOP could put up a more competitive candidate than the likes of McCain, but it’s not looking very good right now.

  • Bob Clark

    America’s been adrift in leadership since Reagan, Bush I and Clinton. Bush II and Bama are bigger government train wrecks. Bama’s probably worse because he only talks about deregulation and spending cuts but then goes about doing the exact opposite. He’s created so much uncertainty for businesses both small and large the economic recovery has lagged. He did extend the Bush tax cuts, and this is helping for now anyways. You would think the GOP could put up a more competitive candidate than the likes of McCain, but it’s not looking very good right now.

  • Steve Plunk

    Smart? Probably. Brilliant? Hardly.

    Brilliant would have gotten the economy on track by now. Brilliant would have heeded the advice of scientists and not shut down gulf drilling. Brilliant would have offered moral support to Iranian dissidents. Brilliant would have avoided appearances of callousness like golfing while Japan is still shaking. Brilliant would have stayed out of local police matters in Boston or state matters in Wisconsin. Brilliant doesn’t need to bully like grabbing Sen. Lieberman by the arm in a dispute. Brilliant doesn’t need to demonize people by claiming they cling to their guns and religion. Brilliant doesn’t call the Tea Party racist. Brilliant releases records as a sign of good faith and transparency (especially after claiming transparency).

    Smart gets elected president with little record to run on. Smart fills the presidential cabinet with people who dislike America. Smart sells books likely ghost written. Smart says things like “I won”. Smart is a one term president.

    • valley person

      Even brilliant could not have made up a loss of 10 million jobs and trillions of dollars of lost real estate and other equity that happened before he even took office. A brilliant person can’t force an economy to go one way or another. Economics doesn’t work that way.

      Gulf drilling was not “shut down.” There was a pause in deep water drilling until a hole got plugged and we could be better assured that private industry and their regulators were up to the task, which they clearly were not despite assurances to the contrary. Something is always shaking somewhere. A revolution here, a crop failure there, an asteroid headed our way possibly. No golf? That is your complaint? He should be working 24-7 until all problems are solved? Please. I didn’t hear that complaint from you when Bush was president.

      Look Steve, you don’t like Obama politically. Fine. Tat has nothing to do with his level of intelligence. What I find more than ironic is that you conservatives have complained forever that liberals think we are so smart, so if Larry is right and Obama is not so smart, then that ought to be a good thing no? Doesn’t that make him like the rest of us? A regular guy who drinks beer and goes golfing and picks his March Madness brackets? A regular not really Joe the not really a Plumber.

      His cabinet dislikes America? Ghost written books? Won what? Where do you get this stuff?

      • wnd

        Bereave you me, Jeremiah Wright and Van Jones soitanly like your stylus, nobp!

      • Steve Plunk

        I didn’t expect 10 million jobs to be restored but I did expect some progress. If you include those now dropped off the unemployment rolls and those underemployed we are no better off at all. A better job could have been done.

        Gulf drilling permits were suspended despite the scientific panel saying it was unnecessary. Recently a court held the Administration in contempt for failing to restart the permitting. That’s partisan nonsense and far from brilliant by any measure.

        I get my information from an unbiased reading of multiple sources. If you don’t understand what I’m talking about then get back to MSNBC and NPR when you only get part of the news. If you like him politically that’s fine as well but the idea he is brilliant in any way is nonsense. That’s Larry’s point, he just not all that. If there is one outstanding attribute it’s the fact he not anything like the rest of us. From his childhood influences to his adult mentors the guy is about as different from the average American as you can get.

        • valley person

          Well, then you should be happy. We have gained back about 1.5 million private sector jobs over the last 18 months, the stock market has recovered, corporate profits are at record highs, and even Oregon is gaining jobs. Saying we are no better off is ignoring reality.

          Sure, a better job could have been done. But your party voted against every measure Obama attempted, so they were not much help. He did what he could.

          Disagreeing with scientists should not be considered a flaw. Don’t you and your party disagree with scientists on global warming? Why then, bash Obama for disagreeing with one little science panel in the middle of a crisis, oil still spewing uncontrolled. Why should he risk a 2nd blowout? I wouldn’t have.

          I don’t have a way to measure Obama’s intellect other than to observe him, read his writings, and look at his resume. I’m satisfied with his intellectual level. Its as high or higher than any president in my lifetime in my opinion.

          He isn’t anything like the rest of us? You mean he isn’t anything like you? There are a lot of others of us out there Steve, and he is like a lot of us in many ways. I do agree he is unlike the statistically average American, who is white, is not a college grad, does not have a passport, and earns about $35K a year at some thankless job. But then, was George Bush anything like an Average American other than being white? His dad was President, his Grandad was a senator, he went to private schools, he was rich and pampered. Did you or anyone on the right say he therefore was not like the rest of us average Joes?

          • Steve Plunk

            Cherry pick data all you want but the unemployment rate is unacceptable and even misleading as far as the chronically unemployed. The stock market is not Main Street or small business. We are no better off and most Oregonians would agree.

            The Republicans voted against every wrong proposal put forth by the Dems. I wouldn’t expect them to support more wasteful stimulus.

            We conservatives believe in the scientific method and find that modern climate science is nothing less than hack academics chasing easy grant money. Climate-gate (I assume you know what that is) has proven us right and the last decade of temperature data does not support the doomsday scenarios that Al Gore makes his millions off of.

            I’ve heard the excuse that Obama is like many Americans and I understand that but the important measures of how he is not like us matters. Growing up overseas removes him from the American experience. His college days were spent with modern Marxists and anti establishment hippies. His early political career was formed in the Chicago system of bullying and shady deals (learn about his home purchase and later sell back of property). I’ll stick with my assessment that he is not like us and doesn’t share the same value set as most Americans.

            George Bush grew up in America and was instilled with American values by his family. His military service further exposed him to the common traits and values that our country represents. Wealthy? Sure, but it’s not about money but about cultural influences. His political influences came from his father rather than from bomb making terrorist. His business influences came from the people in baseball and other ventures. He knows America like Obama never will.

            Like I said he is smart but far from brilliant unless we are lowering the bar just for him.

          • Valley person

            If you conservatives believed in the scientific method you would accept global warming as scientifically validated. Every major science body on the planet has told you its a fact, yet you doubt them. If they are all hacks, well that means all of science is a fraud. Yes, I know about climate-gate. A lot of hot air.

            Obama did not “grow up” overseas. He “grew up” in Hawaii, which while technically over a sea, is one of the 57 states. Marxism is part of America and part of being at a university. The Chicago political system is as American as apple pie. A real melting pot.

            He may or may not share the value set of “most Americans,” but most voters did elect him. As for George Bush, can you spell gullible? But I do agree that Bush knows America differently than Obama, who spent a lot of time with poor people.

            Smart…brilliant. Is there some sort of meter?

          • wnd

            “Book nobt, Dano!” Better yet, consign him to pay full attention to a Chuck Wiese seminar on “Scientific Method 101” and then put him in a longboat to floatilla off All-vin Gore’s CA mansion.

            As for BHO, put him in a Cash Cab with Van Jones as his only fanfare – OK, Jeremiah Wright, too!

      • Rupert in Springfield

        >and their regulators were up to the task, which they clearly were not despite assurances to the contrary

        Oh good Lord – not even you believe this one.

        Look – Its simple. BP was a huge contributor to the Obama campaign and got some really special treatment as far as drilling and leases go.

        They paid, Obama let them play. I mean honestly, there are maybe two people in Berkley who maintain the naivete that you are showing here and thats it. The rest of us get it.

        >Gulf drilling was not “shut down.”

        Um, yep, right.

        I can see why you aren’t a betting person. After all, if you can’t tell the difference between a horse race and a roulette wheel, better to keep your SSI money in your pocket.

        Seriously, turn on the news or go check a website or something, this is a little ridiculous.

  • Nofan

    He must be brilliant if he can convince so many people that he is.

    • eaop

      And in convolution, blokes: “”Man prefers to believe what he prefers to be true.”
      — Francis Bacon

      • 3H

        Does that include you WND?

        • wnd

          wnd believes the Tea Party is right and what’s left of US ply is open to contustion

          • wnd

            contusion

          • 3H

            Didn’t quite answer the question, did you?

          • wnd

            I believe in fiscal conservatism.

            As for Francis Bacon, you might try https://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/50964.Francis_Bacon

          • 3H

            And you believe that because you prefer it to be true?

          • wnd

            Methinks Francis Bacon has more insight than your incite, Bub!

        • wnd

          wnd believes the Tea Party is right and what’s left of US ply is open to contustion

  • “Obama did not graduate with honors from Columbia, which means that his academic achievement was a GPA of less than 3.3”

    Try a little basic research before jumping to such silly conclusions.

    The Columbia School of General Studies (which Obama attended) only grants honors to those students who have completed over half the units needed to graduate at the School of General Studies.

    https://www.gs.columbia.edu/academic-honors

    Which means that few transfer students – including Obama – would qualify for honors no matter their GPA.