“George W. Bush is smarter than you”
posted at 4:56 pm on April 25, 2013 by Guy Benson
A fun anecdote and a compelling read by Keith Hennessey:
I teach a class at Stanford Business School titled “Financial Crises in the U.S. and Europe.” During one class session while explaining the events of September 2008, I kept referring to the efforts of the threesome of Hank Paulson, Ben Bernanke, and Tim Geithner, who were joined at the hip in dealing with firm-specific problems as they arose. One of my students asked “How involved was President Bush with what was going on?” I smiled and responded, “What you really mean is, ‘Was President Bush smart enough to understand what was going on,’ right?”
The class went dead silent. Everyone knew that this was the true meaning of the question. Kudos to that student for asking the hard question and for framing it so politely. I had stripped away that decorum and exposed the raw nerve. I looked hard at the 60 MBA students and said “President Bush is smarter than almost every one of you.” More silence.
I could tell they were waiting for me to break the tension, laugh, and admit I was joking. I did not. A few shifted in their seats, then I launched into a longer answer….
Click through for his answer. A personal note: When I served as a communications intern at the White House in 2007, I had the privilege of sitting in on an off-the-record Q&A session between President Bush and a small group of entrepreneurs under 40. It was closed to the press. For nearly an hour, the assembled group peppered the president with questions on myriad subjects — from granular economic policy, to war, to his relationship with his father. I must admit that I was taken aback by Bush’s performance. He was sharp, deeply informed, self-deprecatingly funny, and serious. In short, he was in total command. Even as someone who voted for him and who respected him greatly — despite several disagreements on policy — it instantly dawned on me that I’d never encountered that George W. Bush before. Perhaps I’d doubted he even existed; call it the soft bigotry of (unfairly) low expectations. I wondered why. On that score, Hennessey’s piece is at least partially explanatory.