[It]was a complex speech. It was a, kind of a speech that could be taught in a college course on just war and America's role in the world.Reading the comments of some our chittering anonymice in the prior post put me in mind of the good Mister Smith's post, linked above. Liberal credentialism is really his beat, not mine, so I will only pause to note that one of liberal America's most pitiable traits is its abject fawning at the feet of our Ivy-League gate-keepers and their unimpeachable issue. Unimpeachable, that is, as long as they issue one of us.
-Katarina van den Heuvel on The Obama's Nobel chat
Wow! It "could be taught in a college course"! Say no more! The man is one of us.
Being President may make you stupid; but liking the President gives you a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy. Katrina is probably not a born fool, but deep commitment and hard work have made her a virtuoso of fatuous gaga
-The inimitable Mister Smith on Katarina van den Heuvel
Actually, Barry O's Maimonidean perspicacity may be the last liberal sacred cow, at least judging by the reactions of my own liberal acquaintances and the few progressive types we've yet to fumigate from our own subterranean comments section. It is now acceptable, if not accepted, to propose that The Obama is a coporate-hack warmonger busy bloodying the world and fucking over the workers in the names, variously, of GE, Exxon, Lockheed Martin, Jesus Christ, Pharma, Big Insurance, and Goldman Sachs, but heaven and all the choirs of angry angels forfend that you suggest he's a moron to boot. The arguments for his preternatural intelligence seem to me to have all the weight of the argument for paying Citibankers their trillion dollar bonuses, i.e. that they must be worth it, else they wouldn't be worth it. It is, in other words, basically an argument by question begging, although I suppose in Obama's case there is also the . . . . evidence of . . . the . . . thoughtful . . . pause.
Oddly enough, the liberal QED for the proposition that Obama must be named to the national honor roll, though it yet remains uncertain whether he will attain to the true heights of human genius, seems to be that he edited Harvard Law and then taught at the University of Chicago, which might make one pause to consider replacing this whole representative democracy business with something more closely resembling the tenure committee.
Or maybe that's already been accomplished.
The great Institutions of American higher ed are not designed to produce intelligence, after all, nor even to reward it. They are designed to produce and perpetuate an Establishment. Intelligence is irrascible, iconoclastic, prickly, argumentative, and reactionary. It resembles a gaggle of Frenchmen at a dinner party, not a Cabinet meeting. It rankles; it doesn't conciliate. It certainly doesn't become the President of the United States. Good Lord, here is Bill Clinton, Rhodes scholar, surely the most . . . supple-minded of recent presidents, calling Tom Friedman "our most gifted journalist at actually looking at what is happening in the world and figuring out its relevance to tomorrow" and praising Malcolm Fucking Gladwell as one of our most "penetrating" thinkers. Which is to say, a smart guy by the lights of the Times book review, but not exactly a mind for the ages, eh?
The point here being: what exactly is the evidence of Obama's mental acumen? Granted, the guy speaks at least as well as your average VP of Marketing; he does not slur his words; he appears to have mastered what we might have called fourth-grade geography before they stopped teaching geography. As evidence of depth of intellect, breadth of consideration, sagacity and wisdom, however, is his output not lacking? His celebrated speech on race was callow when he gave it and seems ever more so in retrospect, the sort of blacks-see-it-this-way, whites-see-it-that way that, repackaged and repurposed, might reasonably make an opening act at your local Funny Bone. His innaugural was like a teleconference pep talk with a few bowdlerized Kennedyisms (and what was JFK but another Harvard mediocrity?) thrown in. His Nobel speech would have been morally monstrous were it not so utterly incoherent. He is probably a fine spokesmodel, but insisting on his brains because of his Harvard pedigree is dusting off a just-so story and calling it truth.