What does it mean, “He’s smart” or “He’s very intelligent?” Largely on the left, we see citations of “that candidate” is very smart or the other one is not so much (typically oddly enough the “smart” ones lean left in the view of the left leaning commentators. Whether that is an attempt at validating their own left leaning predilections or explaining reasons why they admire that particular candidate I will not guess.) What I fail to understand is how they come up with their estimation that a given candidate is smart. I know how I figure that a programmer, physicist, or mathmetician is smart. By looking at their work and asking is it clean? Is it beautiful?

If one was to ask whether an artist was talented. One would ask another performer (or artist in the same field) or perhaps a critic (to be distinguished from a “reviewer”).  However, talent at art is not exactly the same as smart.

Currently, Mr Obama is the politician most often touted as “smart” by the left. Some months ago, blog neighbor David Schraub declaimed that both Mr Obama and Ms Clinton were both “very smart.” What I fail to understand is on what basis he might make such a claim. For the two examples above, one has to look at some sort of body of work to estimate whether a person is smart. There is, of course, another time honored means of deciding if a person is smart, which is to interact personally with that person for an extended period of time. That method of determination by the average citizen with respect to a national candidate is unlikely or impossible so as to be discounted. That pretty much leaves, their corpus of work, which in the case of lawyers like Mr Obama and Ms Clinton would be their body of written opinions.

Rhetoric is of course another key people use to decide whether a person is intelligent. However, in this age of the teleprompter and speechwriters the facility at oration is a actors skill.  However, it is a stretch to thing that those claiming these people are intelligent is based on facility at reading from a teleprompter and calling it oration.

Yet strangely it seems such offerings are absent in the case of these individuals. There are no publicly available opinions written by either of these candidates. Odd that, no? Mr Obama was, for a time, an academic lawyer. To be an academic in the publish or perish environment, yet not to publish seems more than a little strange. If this is a case of lawyers who have read his and her work, deciding that it is good, but that it is to “technical” or abstract or otherwise unfit for general consumption … that seems elitest and very likely to be concealing of a lie.

I would guess that the likeliest reason that these people think, in this case, that Mr Obama is highly intelligent is because they’ve heard it second hand. It is a “meme” if you will, spread by his supporters (and the press) that Mr Obama is very bright. But the question is, why is this to be given credence?
So, if you think, the candidate of the hour, Mr Obama is smart. Why do you think that? On what do you base your appraisal? How does that compare with how you decide or would decide if a candidate is smart?
(disclaimer: I should note, I have no opinion at all on the matter of whether Mr Obama is “smart” or not. I feel I’m not qualified (I’ve read nothing he’s written (or had ghost written)) nor do I have the contact with him. Furthermore, I’m a little disinclined to think “smartness” is a qualification for President. Of our the 19th century Presidents the smartest arguably was John Quincy Adams. Was he the “best” President? Obviously not. Woodrow Wilson was alleged to be very bright … consider the League of Nations and the stellar treaty of Versailles. Clearly intelligence is not what it is cracked up to be in the political arena)

Filed under: DemocratsGovernmentLiberalMark O.Politics

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