There are usual caveats: Of course Obama isn’t illiterate or Bush-dumb because as Jesse Louis Jackson once said, “God doesn’t make junk,” and the intelligence-challenged just aren’t allowed near Harvard, much less become editor of that university’s Law Review. And man, he sure can deliver (teleprompter notwithstanding) an inspiring speech! Let’s get this out the way now: in my view, without meeting either man, it’s silly to call either Obama or Perry “dumb.” Obama’s first three years in the White House have been, depending upon your views, disappointing, lackluster or just plain disastrous. But, unlike The Wall Street Journal’s excellent op-ed columnist Bret Stephens, who argued, “Stupid is as stupid does, said the great philosopher Forrest Gump. The presidency of Barack Obama is a case study in stupid does,” it’s hard to believe the President is lacking in intelligence.
Nevertheless, in modern times, no man has been elected president without demonstrating considerable cunning, a flair for cut-throat attacks on the competition and a firm grasp on the mood of the country. And no one can ever take away the brilliance of Obama’s 2008 campaign, his ability to beat the Clinton machine and correctly realize that he’d never have another opportunity so ripe to exploit for an historical election. Really, in 2007, if the question were posed about who’d ascend to Oval Office first, a woman or a black man, the overwhelming majority would’ve picked the former. Similarly, pundits make vicious jokes about Perry’s supposed low-wattage, and while it’s true he’s probably never recited lines from Yeats or Browning in conversation at a collegiate cocktail party, the man has won three gubernatorial elections in Texas, defying the Republican establishment in that state again and again, so there’s something going on above his neck.