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Is Barack Obama an Intellectual?

He reads books!

He reads books!

Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard.

— H. L. Mencken

“As democracy is perfected, the office of President represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.”

— H.L. Mencken

During the election campaign, a number of writers advanced the thesis that Barack Obama is an intellectual. For example, Nicholas Kristof wrote in October, 2008:

If Obama is elected as now seems likely, he’ll be the first real out-of-the-closet intellectual in the White House in many years. Clinton was certainly an intellectual, but he hid that aspect behind folksy Arkansas expressions about greased pigs. Nixon was an intellectual, but a self-hating one (he also despised other intellectuals). Kennedy was more or less an intellectual, and he surrounded himself with academics.

Kristof repeated this claim in another column after the election. CNN published a piece by Julian E. Zelizer asking whether the “intellectual label” would hurt Obama as a candidate.

He has degrees from Columbia University and Harvard Law School, he taught at the University of Chicago, and, yes, he even wrote his own books. In speeches and debates, he has bombarded voters with detailed arguments about public policy. When his character is attacked, his instinct is to respond with facts and figures.

That’s odd. I thought when his character was attacked Obama tended to respond with race baiting and misogyny. But that’s just me.

Writer Jonathan Raban also claims Obama is an intellectual and he doesn’t agree with Kristof about previous modern presidents.

Inevitably, Wednesday’s headlines were all about Obama’s skin colour and the historic milestone of the first black presidency. For the United States and the rest of the world, that is a fact of huge symbolic importance, but it is the least of Obama’s true credentials. What America has succeeded in doing, against all the odds, and why we cried when it happened, is to elect the most intelligent, canny and imaginative candidate to the presidential office in modern times – someone who’ll bring to the White House an extraordinary clarity of thought and temperate judgment.

Every White House has had its intellectuals, but very few presidents have been intellectuals themselves – Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Woodrow Wilson, the list more or less stops there.

I don’t know if Bill Clinton is an intellectual, as Kristof claims, but is Obama really in a class with Clinton when it comes to brains–Bill Clinton, who was a Rhodes Scholar, who is renowned for his knowledge and understanding of public policy, and whoreportedly does the New York Times Crossword puzzle in ink?

Recently there has been another spate of articles as well as TV and radio presentations drawing on this popular notion brilliant intellectual with superior reasoning powers just won’t die. But what is it based on?

In a BBC radio story, Kwame Anthony Appiah calls Obama “the Professor President,” and goes in search of Obama’s intellectual influences. One of those influences, Harvard Professor Lawrence Tribe, described Obama as follows:

“His mind was extraordinary, and its character was somewhat apparent to me from the very first meeting. I met him for the first time when he was a first-year law student, before he had begun to study constitutional law. He came to my office and expressed interest in some of my ideas, some of my writings, and at the end of that meeting I was so impressed by his inquisitiveness, his curiosity, how well-read he was, how thoughtful he was, that I asked him then and there to be my research assistant. And we worked together on two very challenging projects, and on each of them he made a very distinctive imprint, much more than a research assistant would normally do.”

Reading between the lines, I infer that Obama probably skimmed a few of Tribes journal articles and then used his (Obama’s) ability to charm and ingratiate himself with otherwise really smart people to worm his way into Tribe’s affections. But what did Obama actually do on these “very challenging projects?” Here is one of the articles that Tribe produced with Obama’s help, but Obama is not listed as a co-author. Instead, Tribe mentions Obama in a footnote–fifth and last in a list of people who helped with the article. Obama was also given credit for assistance with an article by Harvard Professor David Rosenberg. Again, Obama was not listed as co-author. Normally, anyone who provides a significant amount of help with a journal article would get an authorship credit. During my time in graduate school, I have taught many courses and have also authored several journal articles and a book chapter–and I don’t think that is at all unusual.

Based on his description of Obama in the BBC piece, Appiah doesn’t seem to have noticed that during graduate school and even as president of the Harvard Law Review, Obama never did any serious research or writing. And the story takes no notice of the fact that during his 12 years of teaching at the University of Chicago Law School, according to the BBC story, Obama was repeatedly offered a tenture track position even though he had never published one peer reviewed journal article in graduate school or during his teaching career. Nevertheless, the University provided Obama with office space and the teaching salary in order to work on his books–both autobiographies that could hardly be called scholarly.

Recently New York Times book reviewer Michiko Kakutani wrote an adulatory article about Barack Obama as a reader. The article lists a number of books that have influenced Obama during his life. In adolescence, he remembers reading James Baldwin, Ralph Ellison, Langston Hughes, Richard Wright and W. E. B. Du Bois during his struggle to come to terms with his racial identity. He also recalls an “ascetic phase in college” when he sought spiritual guidance from “thinkers like Nietzsche and St. Augustine.” Other books mentioned in the article and listed in a sidebar are

The Bible
“Parting the Waters,” Taylor Branch
“Self-Reliance,” Ralph Waldo Emerson
Gandhi’s autobiography
“Team of Rivals,” Doris Kearns Goodwin
“The Golden Notebook,” Doris Lessing
Lincoln’s collected writings
“Moby-Dick,” Herman Melville
“Song of Solomon,” Toni Morrison
Works of Reinhold Niebuhr
“Gilead,” Marilynne Robinson
Shakespeare’s tragedies

Okay, so he reads popular novels and biograpies, Shakespeare (I doubt it), Reinhold Niebur, and a few classic authors. Is this an intellectual’s reading list? Not in my mind. In a couple of other NYT articles, Dwight Garner is deeply impressed because Obama was photographed carrying the latest book by Fareez Zacharia, and Motoko Rich oohs and ahhs because Obama mentioned on “60 Minutes” that he had read a book about FDR’s first 100 days.

But what did Obama learn from the books he has read? No one ever seems to ask, or if they do, Obama won’t tell us. In the much discussed interview that Obama gave to the New York Times last Friday, the interview asked President Obama what he reads.

Q: …what are you reading these days? What kind of newspapers do you read, do you read the clips, do you read actual papers, do you watch television?

A: Other than The New York Times?

Q: Other than The New York Times. Do you read Web sites? What Web sites do you look at?

A: I read most of the big national papers.

Q. Do you read them in clips or do you read them in the paper?

A. No, I read the paper. I like the feel of a newspaper. I read most of the weekly newsmagazines. I may not read them from cover to cover but I’ll thumb through them. You know, I spend most of my time these days reading a lot of briefings.

Q: And television? Do you watch? Web sites?

A: I don’t watch much television, I confess.

Q: And Web sites?

Q: No blogs?

A: I rarely read blogs.

Q: No reality shows with your girls?

A: No. They watch them, but I don’t join them. I watch basketball. That’s what I watch.

He doesn’t mention one specific newspaper, magazine, or television program. Does he read The New York Review of Books, Harpers or the Atlantic Monthly? Does he watch PBS? Does he listen to NPR? Why does he sneer at blogs, which to my mind, contain far more serious intellectual questioning than most newspapers and newsmagazines these days? Really, how is Obama’s response to the question about what he reads that much different from Sarah Palin’s response in the infamous Katie Couric interview?

I’ll even stipulate that Barack Obama is probably better read than Sarah Palin. But is he a brilliant intellectual? I hardly think so. Is this meme being pushed by Obama’s permanent campaign staff? Or is it just that upper middle class Americans and even Europeans need to convince themselves that they had a good reason for supporting an utterly unqualified candidate who had never really held a full-time job?

Has the day H.L. Mencken wrote about finally arrived? Is our culture so dumbed down that someone like Barack Obama, who is clearly a smart man, but quite frankly has accomplished very little in his life so far except to promote himself and get himself elected to office, is seen as an intellectual? Maybe it depends on how you define “intellectual.” I think of an intellectual as someone who spends most of his or her time in the life of the mind–doing research or serious writing on science, history, or philosphy perhaps. Is it really that exciting that our new President has read some books and written two about himself?

257 Responses

  1. To answer your question: no, I really cannot find ANYthing to get excited about re: Obamamon. That is….unless you’re talkin’ indigestion and ulcer-producing excitement.

  2. He doesn’t mention one specific newspaper, magazine, or television program. Does he read The New York Review of Books, Harpers or the Atlantic Monthly? Does he watch PBS? Does he listen to NPR?
    Wow, Palin was villified for less…….

  3. I’ve never seen any sign that he’s an intellectual. I might stipulate that he admires intellectuals to the extent that he thinks people should think he’s one.

    But his tendency to mock people is anti-intellectual.

    (ps, this is a great post, BostonBoomer)

    • He’s an elitist snob, not an intellectual.

    • Nor I. Bill Clinton’s mind is dazzling. It’s always working on anything and everything, and the breadth and depth of his interests is apparent every time he opens his mouth. I’ll accept that Obama is very intelligent, but that doesn’t make him an intellectual. I know a lot of people like this through my work in IT. They have the raw cognitive ability, but they’re just not interested in much in intellectual pursuits. There are people with very high IQs who never read and never occupy their minds with trying to understand things.

      • Mr. Soertoro/Obama is an “intellectual” that can regurgitate facts fed to him by others. Original thinking is not his forte. I used to think, like Hillary Clinton, he did have an exceptional memory until his teleprompter broke down. Now I believe if someone didn’t prompt him he would be like a robot and just stand there until he was rebooted.

  4. Honestly I think BO is probably NOT very well read. My guess is that Michelle is the smarter of the two and the more well read /intellectual.

    For all his vaunted “success” as a Harvard Law student, I find it odd that he wasn’t offered a clerkship upon graduation — which is generally what people do who are training to be lawyers.

    He is not an intellectual in the true sense of that word; he is a pseudo-intellectual. Just as he and Michelle display all the gauche sociability of the nouveau riche, so too does he display the pretentiousness of the pseudo-intellectual, just as many in the media do.

    My guess is that G W Bush is better read than he is.

    • Poseur is the word.

    • Have you ever read her thesis? &roll;

      • Yes, and I was truly shocked that such a poor piece of work could pass for a senior thesis at Princeton. Not only badly written, but badly conceived and subjective. It read like a high school paper from a B student.

        • I agree, it was sophomoric. But then I must be a r@cist. Too bad her prof must have felt trapped and vulnerable to accusations of bias if he graded appropriately regardless of skin tone.

    • i mentioned this down thread but I about passed out a few years ago when I heard that Dubya was reading Camus

      • He probably wasn’t up to his class level at Exeter (Andover?) when all of the other teens were reading Camus.

    • GW Bush? Well, I wouldn’t go that far, Elderj.

      • Bush boasted numerous times that he reads several books a week.

        I’m doubting they are books without illustrations, or that he has any reading comprehension skills, and expect they are probably part of the “hooked on phonics” series, of course.

    • elderj — I agree 100% with your assessment — pseudo-intellectual.

      And I’ll add this: I was offered a clerkship at my state’s Supreme Court after I graduated law school & I was a research assistant for 2 years for one of my law school profs. — I was credited as assisting (not as a co-author — what I did was research, not authorship).

      And I say this not to show how “smart” I am (because while I know I’m smarter than Obama, I certainly don’t consider myself an “intellectual”) but to back up your assessment that IF he was as smart as everyone says he is, he should have gotten a clerkship.

      • That is telling he didn’t get offered a clerkship. Bet the word got round that he was such a snob that no one really wanted to work with him!

    • I’d still like to see his transcripts –

  5. I’m looking at that list of books, and they seem to me to be selected to say:

    The Bible – I’m a Christian!
    “Parting the Waters,” Taylor Branch – I’m just like MLK!
    “Self-Reliance,” Ralph Waldo Emerson – I’m an Individualist!
    Gandhi’s autobiography – I’m just like … I can’t say it, sorry
    “Team of Rivals,” Doris Kearns Goodwin – I’m just like Lincoln!
    “The Golden Notebook,” Doris Lessing – I’m a feminist!
    Lincoln’s collected writings – See above
    “Moby-Dick,” Herman Melville – see above
    “Song of Solomon,” Toni Morrison – Oprah made me put this on my shelf
    Works of Reinhold Niebuhr – did I mention I’m a Christian?
    “Gilead,” Marilynne Robinson – Praise the Lord!
    Shakespeare’s tragedies – and I’m so liberal too

    • Bet you anything that Obama hasn’t read a good half of these books, and he likely skimmed most of the others. He’s exactly the type to buy books for display only, in order to craft a certain image. In this case, he’s displaying the titles for wider public consumption. Obama shows none of the hallmarks of a widely read, thoughtful person. Instead, he gives off every appearance of being too lazy and egotistical to pay much attention to the intellectual fruits of others. He’s almost entirely self referential and is likely a terrible bore in person.

    • LMAO — exactly votermom, exactly.

      and btw — if Obama has actually read “The Golden Notebook” I’ll eat my hat.

      • Angie–at my book club last night (yes, I hosted a lively discussiob of Dreams of My Father. I kept my composure and didn’t vomit once! There were a few adoring comments, but not as much swooning over B0 as I expected, and some skepticism. Maybe the bloom is fading….

        Anyway, the conversation veered to The Golden Notebook, and not one woman there had ever managed to read it through. If they couldn’t get through it, no way could B0. So your hat may live for another day!

      • Why didn’t he read the Golden Notebook back when he was in college? If he really read it.

        I actually read it and liked it. Can’t recall much of it now, unfortunately, and so have no idea why someone would find it hard to get through.

    • I’m sorry, but this is not a breathtaking list at all. The fact that people consider this “intellectual” only proves how dumbed down our culture has become. True intellectuals would consider this list very basic, and carefully chosen to impress the public. Big frickin’ deal. Besides, I don’t necessarily want an “intellectual” as president–I want someone who can govern and get something f*ckin done!

  6. One Big A&& Mistake y’All = OBAMA

  7. If Obama is considered an intellectual and Bill Clinton is not, then I have no idea what the word means. I thought I knew, but clearly I was mistaken. I am quite confused. I must put my feet up on my fainting couch. I feel a bit of a swoon coming on.

  8. You really shouldn’t use that cite for Clinton’s IQ. It says at the bottom of the page that the number is a joke and that the whole thing is made up.

  9. Before the election, there was an article in “Chronicle of Higher Education” stating that academia supported Obama because they felt that he was ‘one of their own’.

    He might be an ‘academic’ but I don’t see him as an ‘intellectual’. I know an awful lot of ‘academics’ who are really pretty dumb, except within their own very very narrow field.

    Whatever he is, his ambition and ego take center stage, and push every other personality trait aside. It’s funny to watch him flounder now that he actually has the job — he’s never done anything in his life that required sustained effort. Nothing except campaigning for the next higher position.

    • I work in academia and am amazed at the stupidity of most professors; like you said, they are intelligent in their own field alone. The ones who show more broad based intelligence usually have nothing to prove and are far from arrogant. But those are usually the emeritus profs. The smartest person I know who is truly an intellectual reads science texts adn books by legal scholars (like Posen) for fun! He consumes books and those subjects drip from his mouth as easily if he is sipping a glass of wine. He told me he never wanted to know his IQ because he didn’t want to be typecast. I had a IB history teacher in high school who told us to never get it done unless we wanted to be disappointed (as he had).

      Given what I’ve seen of Obama and in comparison to my brother (who could talk circles around him about everything) — I’d offer, definitely a pseudo-intellectual — The kind of people who spout names about authors they’ve read at dinner parties, not to emphasize a point but to try to baffle people with BS.

  10. That book list is the biggest bunch of BS evah! And what about…”…He also recalls an “ascetic phase in college” when he sought spiritual guidance from “thinkers like Nietzsche and St. Augustine.” …”

    Uh, yeah, I recall that “phase” in college as well. It’s called Philosophy 101. “Ascetic phase” my a$$! I took the same damned class!

    • are you kidding me, i’d read all of shakespeare before I was a teenager … that book list is at best for 5th and 6th graders

      really, let’s get real, he doesn’t speak any languages other than english which is really odd considering his back ground, he can’t paint or draw, he can’t play a musical instrument, the history books he quotes from would be on any typical freshman history reading list, I read the reluctant belligerent as a freshman,hell, by the time I was in 8th grade I was reading chaucer in old english. hell, even I published my first academic textbook at 28 and I didn’t even have the benefit of having gone to ivy leagues … just the university of Nebraska. … he’s done NOTHING to warrant being called an intellectual at all! what a phony! every one sets such a friggin low bar for this idiot, i don’t get it!

      • delurking to clap my hands and say “Hear, Hear”.

      • I love Chaucer , thank you for saying his name 😉 I read some in old english too, and I had Spanish and Latin before I finished High School ….

      • You’d think he would claim to be reading political, legal, or foreign policy journals or at least more weighty historical tomes, but his list is either from the best seller list or classics that everyone has heard of. I wonder if he knows that “Self Reliance” is an essay, not a book? I don’t see any economics there either. One of the best books on the list is Ralph Ellison’s “Invisible Man.” I wonder if he’s really read it? I have. It’s a great book, IMO.

        • LOL BB!! Calling essays books is a pet peeve of mine — I hate when people list plays as books too.

      • When I was a teenager, I was reading Dostoevsky. And I don’t thnk I’m an intellectual either–not by any means.

        • exactly, and most of us got assigned a lot of those books in our classes in high school jr high school …

          my girls brought home heavier books than that in 5th grade

          • Hate to admit this, but as summer fare I read “Atlas Shrugged” and “The Fountainhead” in high school. It wasn’t Ayn Rand’s objectivism philosophy which grabbed me, but rather the image of the studly architect (and whoever the other guy was). A bit farther down the road I read “The Virtue of Selfishness”. Don’t know if it was the absence of studly characters, but that’s when I cooled off on Rand.

        • bb — me too! Dostoevsky is one of my absolute favorites (especially The Brothers Karamazov).

          • and ditto for me. Had to read The Brothers Karamazov in high school for advanced English. Ever read Doctor Zhivago?

            It’s obvious that Obama’s never read any Russian literature — the last thing he’d want to do is try to model Communism after reading Pasternak. The partisans’ battles and atrocities were the worst.

    • Uh oh… “spiritual guidance from Nietzsche…” Hmmm. Superman and all that? Folks above the petty little human morality? Uh oh. Now who else loved Nietzsche? Hint: smarmy little basturd with a mustache.

      And other than the fact that I’m pretty sure O’s comprehension stops at Cliff Notes and Erasmus Law Outlines, the reading list is pretty hysterically funny. Definitely high school and undergraduate required reading. Oddly, some of the best writing I ever read they made us read in seventh and eighth grade.

    • lol! No sh*t. I read Emerson, Thoreau, Camus, , and listened to a lot of Joni Mitchell!

  11. If he was so Brilliant, they would never have locked up all his University records.

    • i’d like to see him pass a comprehensive final for freshman economics, bet he couldn’t do it

    • Very good point. If his transcripts really were impressive, they would have been released and plastered all over the media months ago.

    • We have only one actual piece of undergraduate writing to go by, and it’s not very good–not very good at all.

      • Yeah, I read that awhile back. I thought it needed serious editing–way too wordy.

        • Yeah, that was by far the worst part. But there’s also the veritable smorgasbord of grammatical errors and the misspellings of such commonplace words as definitely (spelled “definately”). I don’t normally criticize poor spelling (people who live in glass houses and all that) but given the elite education that BO received, I found the sheer number of mechanical errors in his essay, which he wrote as a college senior, to be pretty shocking. I can’t imagine such writing emanating from a serious bookworm, which is how Obama portrays his years at Columbia.

  12. Obama is certainly intelligent, but he isn’t a genius or an intellectual.

    He has the ability that all good con men and “mentalists” have – he can read people and make them see what he wants them to see.

    Here’s Obama with a ponytail

  13. Intellectual? He wishes. They wish too.

    “probably better read than Sarah Palin”

    I doubt that. Unless they’re Nutshell books.

    “who is clearly a smart man,”

    And I’d dispute this too. All I see is a mouth spouting someone else’s words. Without his teleprompters and written speeches, he does terribly at answering anything. Hell, at just talking!

    • Hear hear. Total agreement all round. The guy is a doofus.

    • Obama is the king of cliche’s and trite phrases. Intellectual my ass! I have never heard him do anything but state the obvious, and then give two explantions and two separate and divergent solutions. Some might call it nuanced. I call it BS and speaking out both sides of the mouth at the same time. That is the essence of 0bama.

  14. “ascetic phase in college”

    “Can’t afford a social life”

  15. no he is a Leo with moon in Gemini heehhee

    which means he will never ever stop talking about himself

    • you have his chart, Swan? what’s his ascendant?

      • Because there is no reliable actual birth time , the ASC is up for debate , tho I am personally betting on Pisces because he is so nebulous and Pisces rising is not as stron as sun in pisces or Scorpio , because his energy level is so uneven …. and he is so vindictive .

        • Scorpio rising almost always means outward sexuality. Can’t be that!
          I was thinking Virgo rising, since he’s so damned skinny and futzy…

  16. The problem is that most folks are pathetically under-read. You’re lucky if they’ve seen the movie version, let alone the cliff notes of most of the classics. That doesn’t even count the books that really count. Most of the folks that write these articles aren’t well-read, so how can they judge what is a intelligent reading list? Hell, Duyba was reading Camus two years ago !!!!

    • The Shrub reading Camus? Now that’s ironic.
      Can I hope that he tried to read Kafka as well?

      • Yes, I remember this. Didn’t he have a reading contest with someone inside the White House? So he had to read “The Stranger.”

        • That was Turd Blossom himself – the source of that information.

          • True, and I laughed at the idea of Bush reading The Stranger. It had to be Rove’s idea of a joke on his boss as well as us. Talk about looking in the mirror.

    • That’s exactly my point. Our culture is so dumbed down that we don’t even have well read journalists anymore. Can you believe that HL Mencken was a journalist?

  17. A smart person would have known to treat the British P.M. better.

    • I bet I know what Gordon Brown told his wife after his US trip:
      “Just as I thought, dear. EXACTLY like Tony Blair.”

  18. Interesting post. I guess we all have our own idea of an intellectual. My dad was an English professor and the most well-read person I’ve ever known. And he was so down to earth. So I grew up thinking that a true intellectual could never be a snob because they’re too well read, too thoughtful, they know too much to believe that they’re better than everyone else.

    Personally, I doubt Obama’s IQ is very far above average. He can’t even construct a sentence without a teleprompter. IMO, he may be a decent actor (although only when he wants to be!) but he’s not all that bright. I’m seriously starting to think he’s dumber than Bush.

    • always thought bush was probably smarter than he let on just as a matter of a self defense mechanism … it gave him an excuse to screw up without feeling as bad about himself

      • I never thought bush was “dumb.” He just wasn’t very well spoken, but then again neither was his father. Those kinds of things tend to run in families.

        Besides the whole meme of “Democrats are smarty pants elitists and Republicans are ignorant rubes” is a little too boilerplate to me and keeps people from actually thinking about policies.

      • You know, I’m thinking you might be right.

      • While everyone (myself included) laughed at Bush for being dumb – he certain got a lot of things done. The joke turned out to be on us.

    • delurking again because this is a great comment, and I agree completely. Witness all the true intellectuals throughout history who made a difference to the world. Most were not self aggrandizing teleprompter readers, and most were revered because of their accomplishments, not their words.
      Some days it seems as if the dumbing down of civilization is almost at a tipping point. Either we go into the abyss, or there will be a new renaissance after the people finally wake up from their slumber and recognize the danger signals. I fear the former, I’m hoping for the latter.

    • gxm17,

      My dad was an English professor too. And I think real intellectuals are down to earth. They are smart enough to understand how much they don’t know.

      • Bingo big time, BB.

      • Bingo bb — I know everyone thinks their fathers are the smartest, but my father is a real intellectual as well & he is modest just like your dad — smart enough to know how much he doesn’t know.

    • I thought Bush is dyslexic. Did I hear wrong?

  19. i’d like to see him pass a comprehensive final for freshman economics, bet he couldn’t do it

    Neither could Mandos

  20. bush was probably smarter than he let on

    That’s what Molly Ivins said, and she studied him for years.

    • He would have to be.

    • Couldn’t be any dumber, could he?

    • His grades at Yale and iQ were slightly better than Kerry’s. Bush was never a reader, and his family, although educated at the best schools, probably didn’t focus on ideas much. Barbara Bush’s “beautiful mind” being as fragile as a Blanche Dubois.

  21. I bet he hasn’t read Anias Nin , or Lawrence Durrells Alexandria Quartet ..pffft
    . OK it was a bit “overwritten” but it was fun.

    He is no intellectual . He is an educated idiot ….

    • my cat of 17 years, Anais, just died last fall

      • I am so sorry, my kitty Nimue was 17 when she passed as well .. I still get a little misty about her …

        • thx, you know, pets are such special friends, they really are there for you when you need it, I had one cat that I got while at college that saw me through these horrible cancer treatments I had to take when in my mid 30s, he died shortly after that, but he used to lick my bald head like a kitten when I was especially ill from treatments or surgery

      • RIP Anais.

        Of course Obama hasn’t read Anias Nin — she’s a woman. He only pretends to read Toni Morrison to get her to her whole “I didn’t really mean that Bill Clinton was our first AA president” farce.

      • So sorry; 17 years with a wonderful friend is still too short.

        • thx, she was a special little girl, we got her when Emily (now freshman in college) was 2 .

        • oh, and funny story, one of my old girl scouts in my troop, wrote me this last sunday about her … Jo’s like 25 now.

          re: random wonderment…

          Joanna: was your cat named after Anais Nin?

          me:yes … never figured any one in nebraska would figure that one out!


          Joanna: Hmm… it makes me wonder what else slipped past me as a kid.
          Anything else you’d like to share?
          Some hidden meaning behind sushi?

          NOTE: sushi was my dog

          me: nope, that one was pretty straightforward ….

  22. bostonboomer, my 7yr. old just came home from school with tales about one of his Obama-loving classmates who was saying how great Obama’s speeches are. So we were discussing the truth about those speeches (speechwriter, teleprompters, etc.) and I showed him a clip of Obama from August when his teleprompter malfunctioned and he was completely lost. Did you see that one when he was trying to talk about children with asthma and instead of “inhalor” he said “breathalizer” and then “inhalator”??? We were rolling on the floor. Then we clicked back to the TC and were greeted by your post and that great cartoon. Thanks from both of us for the laugh!

    • Yes, that clip is a classic. I actually looked through several of Obama’s speeches yesterday, and I only found one literary quote–a short one from Faulkner. His speeches are all about him. It’s really stunning how self-referential they are.

  23. Bill Clinton is an intellectual. He’s not only incredibly smart, which is only one measure — he has a genuine and profound interest in ideas, and the ability to pull together the threads of various thoughts, ideas, and considerations into a seamless whole. Clinton loved mingling with all kinds of intellectuals: From the arts, from politics, from pop culture, from literature, you name it.

    And that book list if completely made-up to impress people and show what a brain-o he is, not one coming out of a genuine love of reading. As a true Book Head, I can spot the fakery from a mile away. For one thing, nobody who loves Shakespeare just lists a generic “shakespeare’s tragedies’; a true fan of the Bard of Avon will rant glowingly about their favorite plays and passages and probably have whole sections committed to memory.

    A true lover of writing doesn’t read just one book by a favorite writer, they read anything that author writes. And person with a true love of reading tends to have a wildly diverging list of favorite books that areunderappreciated gems, representing every century of history and every genre of literature. His are all mild little non-objectionable, boring predictable best-sellers and religion-themed

    That list reminds me of the time I had to list what magazines I read regularly for a college application. Trying to look all smarty-pants and to show off my ability to read several languages I listed some foreign-language ones including two French ones that I didn’t actually read but just knew the names of. All well and good until a French friend of mine pointed out that one of them was the French equivalent of the National Enquirer. HA!

    If Preznit Obama likes I can suggest some of my own favorite titles so he can bettter fake being an intellectual just like he fakes everything else.

    • We should do a “favorite” or “whats on your bookshelf” post. I’d gamble that almost any poster on TC would easily top BO’s list.

      • A lot of us in fact have posted our bookshelf favourites, either on our own sites or as guests on our friends’ blogs. When I first put up mine, I was going to include a disclamer of sorts to try to explain what DancingOpposum so rightly calls, “a wildly diverging list of favourite books that are underappreciated gems” which even I myself can’t easily categorize, and don’t even want to any more. I’d only end up succumbing to the damn-with-faint-praise label of “quirky”– so I might as well keep my Recommended Reading list along with the “Ecelectic & Eccentric” label that was slapped on my forehead when I was still a kid.

        Moby Dick and the Bible! Shades of Eddie Haskell!

        Anyone can carry a book around and name-drop a famous author or title. High school and college students do that trick every day! Could Obama withstand a real test of his reading comprehension, say, for instance, being locked in a room with a couple of my comparative lit. and lang. professors, and some particular librarians I happen to recall fondly from way-back-when… oh, and four of my bookseller friends… yes, I think they could have a lot of fun, wringing a few droplets of truth outta him.

        • i don’t equate a long book list with being an intellectual. One does not equate with the other. Intellectual-ism (in my view) has to do with how one thinks in addition to what one has read and how one integrates one’s reading and experiences.

          The books I read tend to cluster in only a few categories (theology, history) because those are my interests. But a true intellectual is able to engage even those fields of study or reading that are not of particularly high interest to him or herself.

          • My book lists are stored in Word files, which I take from my list of checkouts online before I return books so that I will have a running record to reference when going back over something or other… I am always getting in way over my head intellectually too but I love it and the University library system that I have unfettered access to… and for the life of me I cannot keep track of most of what I read, or even remember titles. Even with EndNote. I am an admittedly halfast pseudo-intellectual 😉

    • Only one book by a non-Western Civ author – no Eastern, African or Moslem writers.

      No major history, law or econ authors either.

    • Dancing Opossum: “For one thing, nobody who loves Shakespeare just lists a generic “shakespeare’s tragedies’; a true fan of the Bard of Avon will rant glowingly about their favorite plays and passages and probably have whole sections committed to memory.”

      That was my reaction too. That’s why I don’t think he’s a reader of Shakespeare. Maybe he read the plays in high school. I did.

    • Amen, Amen, Amen — that whole “Shakespeare’s tragedies” is what set me off too (although I didn’t express myself as well as you did). I still remember the moment I feel in love with Shakespeare — freshmen year of h.s. when Macduff announced that he was “from his mother’s womb untimely ripped,” causing the third prediction of the 3 weird sisters to come true in Macbeth!! How great was that? You are soooo right re: Shakespeare.
      Also, I was freakishly “in love” with Hamlet my entire senior year of high school. Not the play . . .the character.

      • In my jr. year of college I took a course only on Hamlet. I absolutely loved it! I was an English Lit major, emphasis on American Romantic Writers. But I did dabble into the works of the Bard.

        • I was an English Lit major too (because of that moment in Macbeth!) with an emphasis on playwrights.

          • I loved teaching The Scottish Play. (I taught my students to call it that, too, since there was a small theatre in the English Bldg. Of course, that’s just superstition. The fact that a kid fell off the second story balcony one evening while we were studying the play was purest coincidence. ) Some student always had a new insight. One psych major diagnosed the Dread Scot as manic depressive, and quoted scene and verse to bolster her argument. Another student argued that MacDuff was Duncan’s illegitimate son, and again could show why he thought so. Both of them earned A’s.

      • Also freshmen HS, also Macbeth. But I had an English teacher from Brooklyn who was a bit of a cheesecake. My memory of her sitting on a library table, skirt hiked, legs crossed and swinging, reading in a sing-song Brooklyn accent, eclipses every other performance of Shakespeare’s work I have ever had the privilege to witness.
        What I heard: “whad is dis I see befaw me a dagga wid its hyandel towawd my hyan”.

    • DancingOpposum — Exactly. My brother is the type to read the whole collection of a particular author, and aside from the scholarly tomes devours mysteries.

      And when do you see an intellectual read just one book at a time? They usually have 3-4 books they read in scraggly condition, with papers hanging out of em. Just another couple of friends I have in mind.

  24. religion-themed pulp, I meant to add.

  25. An “imaginative candidate” indeed! His reading list is For DisplayPurposes Only– just like the rest of his imaginary qualifications, from his invisible college transcripts to his unseen birth certificate, and especially his much-touted “community organizing” that no HydePark-Kenwood-Woodlawn area residents ever witnessed, unless we’re counting the fraud and pain inflicted under his “affordable housing” schemes, e.g. Obama’s Grove Parc Plaza and Cottage View Terrace projects.

    Does anybody here believe him, or believe **in** him?

    Can our own intellects and imaginations stand the mere thought of another 4 years, or more, of him at the helm of what used to be our government?

    Sorry, I just can’t. I would like to cast at least one vote that really counts: I say YES to impeaching him (whatever his real name is). I would like to impeach him if only to fully expose the unimpeachable truth about him, to put all denials and doubts to rest.

    free **Impeach Obama** animated web stickers
    Stick-It Gallery’s “Impeachment U.S.A.” area

  26. He likes the “feel of a newspaper” what a freakin idjit
    Hahaha he doesn’r read it he feels it … can YOU IMAGINE the reaction if Sarah Palin had said that ???

  27. Hey, I’ve a question. I need some good writers to read.
    I’m healing up from a broken leg and have to sit around
    (lie around). TV is so bad I can’t take it. I love the classics, but the only thing I’ve got around here is Orlando and I’m now sick of it. I need something good to read. It needs pace to keep my weak concentration involved… not too much angst in order to keep my spirits intact. The last writer I thought was a real writer was a woman named Nicole Griffith. I love Camus, Sartre, Kafka but angst, angst, angst. No Ayn Rand, no gratuitous violence (sorry Ms. Oates). Any ideas?

    • have you ready anything by jhumpa lahiri … she writes collections of short stories mostly based on first/second generation India americans…. i love her!

      • no, dakinkat, I haven’t read her. Thanks very much. I love short stories. I will see if the local library has her.
        I’m in Montana, and the selection can be thin– especially with short stories. But I will definitely check her out.

        • she won a pulitzer prize recently, about 10 years ago, i decided that i would read every pulitzer prize winner and that would also get me to reading a lot other books by those authors … went on a big thing with eudora welty one year. You might try that … it got me started on some great authors.

          • I love Eudora Welty! Her short story “Why I Live at the Post Office” is one of my favorite pieces of writing of all time. I also did the reading of the pulitzers as a strategy to find good writing. But I think I just hit a bad spot in the selections. I didn’t like the three I tried, one of which was “A Confederacy of Dunces” so I ditched that strategy… maybe I should give it another go. Any other favorites?
            For short stories I also like Grace Paley, Tillie Olsen (sp?) and Joy Williams. I also read the Best of American Short Stories and the O’Henry Award Anthologies– so I’ve exhausted the anthologies.
            But I can share a great book of short stories with you:
            “You’ve Got To Read This” is a book of shorts wherein ss authors share their favorites stories from other authors.

        • I’ll second jhumpa lahiri — you’ll love her.

          And while we are “talking” about India, a really good book I read a few years back was “A Fine Balance” by Rohinton Mistry. This is big ole book, but you will read it fast because you will not want to stop. I highly recommend it.

          • ohmg-great book.
            should have come with tissues!

          • Thanks Angie, I’ve put it on my list.

          • More India ink: I’m reading “City of Djinns: A Year In Delhi” by (Brit) Wm. Dalrymple , first published in 1993. It’s a fantastically beguiling insider/outsider journey into contemporary and historical Delhi, and by extension, a commentary on British colonialism. It’s a hard-to-put-downer.

          • Oh, Angie, I LOVED that book. It was recommended to me by a social worker with whom I was working on an international adoption. Another one she recommended, that was good, was “May You Be the Mother of a Hundred Sons,” by Elisabeth Bumiller. I also LOVED “A Suitable Boy,” although the ending made me want to kick the book across the room.

        • How about Annie Proulx? She’s most famous for “Brokeback Mountain” (short story) and the novel “The Shipping News.” But she has a lot of magnificent short stories.

          I also love Cormack McCarthy. Buried beneath the gorgeous if sometimes hard to grasp prose are really exciting stories. I find his books to be poetry-inspired pulp fiction. I’ve had to delay reading “The Road” when Oprah chose it for her book club. But I think enough time has since passed and it’s safe to give it a go.

      • I have. For a couple of years, I was reading a lot of South Asian lit. while I was studying Hindi. I found South Asian literature to be a delight, and surprise. Much of it is as refreshing as it is brilliant. If anyone (appreciating the region, its peoples, and cultures) would like to see inside of the minds of some of the most honest, spiritual, brilliant, and heartbreaking people in the world, then take a peek into this literature.

    • I love Melville’s short stories- they are easier to tolerate and some are humorous- Bartleby the Scrivenor is my favorite. I also love George Bernard Shaws prefaces- even better than his plays- they are intelligent and a humorous pick me up.

      • I mean easier to tolerate than his novels.

      • I remember Bartleby the Scrivenor… all the way from seventh grade. I swear they made us read some of the best writing in junior high. “I would prefer not to.”
        That’s Bartleby, right? And thanks for the heads up to Melville’s short stories, because Bartleby is the only one I’ve read. Also will check out GBS prefaces.

        • That’s the one- around my house we used that as a device to avoid chores- it was pretty hilarious- “I would Prefer not to”

    • Jane Austen. Believe me, you’ll want to keep turning the pages. Dickens is fun to read too.

      • all of the Victorian novels are wonderful- I read them all in high school when I was in a perpetual romantic swoon. I need to re-read them.

      • I read Pride & Prejudice, Sense & Sensibility & Emma once a year.

        • I have read Pride & Prejudice so many times. But somehow I am always happy and amazed when Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy end up together!

          • Me too!! They so obviously belong together & am so relieved when they both realize it at the right time & for the right reasons! LOL

            (I’m was also majorly in love with Mr. Darcy in h.s. — but not as obsessively as with Hamlet)

          • Ditto on Mr. Darcy!

      • I lurve lurve lurve Dickens, BB, along with any and every BBC production of his works.

      • I’ve read some anthologies of Victorian and Edwardian short stories– ghost stories even, and love the writing.
        And recently I re-read Dickens “A Christmas Carol” and was blown away by his skill.

        • I read “A Christmas Carol” every Christmas. It always gets me into the Christmas mood.

        • Oooh, Wilkie Collins’s “The Moonstone” and “The Woman In White” are to die for. Collins is often credited with having written the first modern detective story.

      • If you like Victorian/Regency authors, do you like modern writers who write in that style?
        If you do, I really like Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrel by Susanna Clarke. It’s a strange book, a fantasy, big fat one, with footnotes, but very engrossing, imo.

        • so here’s the weird thing… for some reason I just can’t get into Jane Austen. My best friend is crazy for her writing.
          But I just can’t get into it. I don’t know why. I had a similar problem with Virginia Woolf’s “To the Lighthouse” and “Mrs. Dalloway.” It’s like I’m tone deaf for a certain pace or style of expression for some reason. I like Mary Wollstonecraft’s
          (sp?) Frankenstein. I think it has something to do with pace, but I’m not sure. But the short stories from the time really please me.

          • oh, I know Austen and Woolf weren’t writing at the same time, but I’m wondering if there isn’t a similarity in their narrative style in some of those works. Orlando I like, other Woolf’s are harder for me.

          • If you like Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein you may like gothics more. You need to read Dracula Bram Stoker too.

            Jane Eyre (my favorite), Wuthering Heights
            Lorna Doone?

            Catalina by Markus Orths has a gender-bending subject, and it is non-fiction.

          • “Wuthering Heights” is one of the true masterpieces of world literature, in my humble opinion. I’ve read it probably about 5 times and every time I find myself tearing my hair out at all the crazy things Heathcliff does.

    • angelasmith, I have a basement full of books from my dad’s estate. Let me know what you’d like and I’ll try to dig it out for you. The John Hawkes are already pulled and at hand, if you’d be interested in any of them.

      • hey gxm17, that’s a heck of a nice offer. I wouldn’t even know what to ask for– that’s my dilemma of the moment.

        • Some timeless authors one might find in basements/attics, imo:
          Mary Renault (specially Fire from Heaven)
          Mika Waltari (Sinuhe The Egyptian)
          Frank Yerby (the first best-selling African-American writer, I cut my teeth on his historical romances)
          Georgette Heyer (romances and/or mysteries)
          Dorothy Sayers (mysteries)

        • We plan to move this year and unfortunately I’ll need to get rid of most of them. Unless we find a huge house with an honest to goodness library (not those tiny rooms that pass for libraries these days). I’ll try to remember to check the box I have out and see if anything looks good.

    • Fiction:
      Margaret Attwood – Alias Grace, Blindman’s Assassin, A Handmaid’s Tale for starters, although her poetry is pretty terrific. Second the Rohinton Mistry recommendation, terrific but keep hankies close.
      Michael Ondaatje – In theSkin of the Lion
      Michael Findlay – Not wanted on the Voyage, the Piano Man’s Daughter
      Shauna Singh Baldwin – What the Body Remembers
      Gabriel Garcia Marquez – Chronicle of A Death Foretold, Love in the time of Cholera

      Also, I reread Austen every year as well – love her.
      Non Fiction:
      Gosh, there are too many, too many. If you are into …. oh no, I’ll go on forever., and you wanted something light. Another day.

      • I ‘d like to add “Surfacing” to your Attwood list (I believe she wrote it.) I read it some years back and really liked it. The book made an impression on me.

        • Yes, it is Attwood, and it is good, as is all her works. I haven’t read it for years, so thanks for reminding me. Time to go back and reread!

        • Ooh I *love* this thread

          To add to the great lists:
          AS Byatt : Anything by her is great!

          I absolutely heart Dickens and I am reading “the old Curiosity shoppe” after finishing the “Pickwick papers” and enjoying it so much.
          I read Jane Austen at least once a year .Mr.Darcy – swoon!

          • Whatever you do, please read Dickens’ “Our Mutual Friend.” It’s wonderful!

        • Yes, she wrote it. I think it might have been her first novel, although I’m not sure about that. I read it 30 years ago and was really impressed with her ability to say so much with so few words. Everything in it came alive.

        • Okay, some favorite authors: Robertson Davies, Iris Murdoch, Graham Greene, John Le Carre, Jonathan Raban, Mark Helprin, Dickens, Steinbeck, Thomas Hardy, Henry James (when he’s good and not horrid), Robert Caro, David McCullough, AS Byatt, Patricia Highsmith, Ian Rankin, Paul Theroux, Faulkner, Eudora Welty, John Irving, Evelyn Waugh, Sebastian Faulks, Madeleine L’Engle, Wm. Styron, Bill Bryson, C.P. Snow, Anita Brookner…

          Jeez, this feels like singing.

      • “In The Skin Of A Lion” is really fascinating. Though I think Ondaatje surpassed himself in its sequel “The English Patient.” When I read the latter I remember just re-reading entire pages because I thought the writing was so extraordinary and beautiful.

  28. The title alone of your post has made me LOL!!! And yes, I agree with you wholeheartedly, the term has been dumbed so much that it not only includes Obama, but every person that has a BA, BS, attended Jr. College, graduated H.S., or just did some reading.

    • a lot of people confuse fancy edumacations with being an intellectual … the folks that always blow me away with their minds are the ones that are subtle about showing it … there’s this subtle innuendo that perks your ears right up and eventually you find out they know more than they let on … if you can get them drunk and get them to unwind, then you can just sit there and listen up forever!

      • i guess what i’m saying is gxm17 said about her father, the really intellectually gifted aren’t self promoting …any one that appears self promoting on anything strikes me as being more prone to being a fake … it’s like they have to cover up their shortcomings with stupid marketing tricks

        • When I was a kid I just called me know it alls. Funny thing though, most know it alls actually know nothing.

          • That should be “when I was a kid I just called them know it alls”

            Many many times, my typing skills really suck!

  29. When I was in high school and trying to cram two years of English into one year I ended up in one AP class and one “remedial” class cuz they were the only two left open. In the so-called remedial class we read whatever books we were interested in and then, instead of writing a book report, brought the book in and on a one-on-one with the teacher explained the plot. Well, on the last day of school I had one more “book report” due but I forgot and left the book at home. And I could not convince the teacher that “Erewhon” by Samuel Butler existed. She’d never heard of it. For real.

  30. My cat is more of an intellectual than Obama.

    His “reading list” (while bogus) is pedestrian at best & seems to have been put together with “what would the Village like” in mind. Which explains the lack of James Joyce — I don’t think he’s too popular with the Village as you actually have to had studied the classics to understand him.

    Which leads me to this important point: it is one thing to read something, it is another to understand it.
    Bill Clinton may be “just a hick” but when he reads something, he understands it. Obama would be lucky to be able to say the same.

  31. Hey! I’m in moderation! What did I say?

  32. That recommendation by Tribe sounds like some of the ones I have written for junior doctors who were OK but not fantastic – keep things very general and say good things about their personality.

  33. Has any one heard about the sending of tea bags to congress on April 1st?
    I just read about it. May I add Snapple Ice tea caps have fact written on them.
    May i suggest we send them to backtrack and maybe he could learn to be an intellectual. The facts are short and do not take a long time to read. He would not need a teleprompter to recite them..



  34. The favorite author of the pseudo-intellectual is Foucault

    • And Derrida- I bought “The Gift of Death” once out of curiosity- it was baddd! And my son and husband kept making fun of me.

  35. Intellectualism seems to be one of those unmeasurable or non tangible traits they needed to label Obama with to pump up his non-existent list of real accomplishments (or, should I say accomplishments that benefited anyone other than himself).

    Anyways, sorry for being off topic, but I read something at pajamasmedia that reflected one of the concerns I’ve had. Now, I actually believe most Americans won’t go postal (passivity is breed into through public schooling) and that most pretty much obey the rules. However, I’ve had a fear about isolated incidents of violence, and I wonder if others have the same concerns.


    • every time i read that, again, i feel like i’m in that place in princess bride where i hear, ” you keep using that word. i don’t think it means what you think it means”

      • To me the definition of an Intellectual is like that old definition of porn. I can’t really spell out what it is, but I know it when I see it.

  36. i don’t equate a long book list with being an intellectual

    I agree, but if you’re gonna proclaim that someone is a super-intellectual you should have some objective evidence to support your claim.

    What evidence is there that Obama is an egghead?

    • Zippo! He graduated from Columbia without honors. Nuff said.

    • Never an egghead, just a bad egg.

    • For me, an intellectual can explain concepts in simple terms. That’s because he or she truly understand them. Obama can’t explain anything. He speaks in word fogs. So I would say there is absolutely no evidence that Obama is an egghead.

    • Don’t you remember when Michael Beschloss claimed that “Obama had a higher IQ than any president in history?”

      Don Imus asked: “What is his IQ?”

      Beschloss: “I don’t actually know, but it must be really high, don’t you think?”

      That says it all. Obama himself said it: I am a blank slate, and people project what they want on to me. I project something entirely different, ahem.

      • Then, why isn’t he a Rhodes Scholar? His Harvard Law Review time was sitting idly at a desk. Had to change the title of the editor’s position since he was the first one who published nothing while there. We’ll never hear who escorted him into that prestigious position, either. But, you know he didn’t get there on merit.

        I think he is on par with GW Bush. Just enamoured with himself.

  37. Everyone’s dropping all these names, and I say –

    Terry Pratchett.

    You don’t want angst? No angst whatsoever. Fun and funny, and also, truly clever.

    • I’ll vote for Neil Gaiman “Neverwhere.” That’s my kind of angst.

    • Arkachips,

      I was going to mention Terry Pratchett myself when I saw your post. Count me in as a big fan of the Tiffany Aching/Wee Free Men books in the Discworld series. I thought of him just a couple of days ago, wondering in particular about his battle with an early/fast form of Alzheimer’s, damn it.

    • Love Terry Pratchett, different genre, but well written and truly fun!

      • Fan of Gaiman’s too. I read his blog and he comes across as such an all round good guy.

        Pratchett is just so good at making fun of everything, without being mean about it. His humour is a great escape from grim reality.

        And I’m hoping recent advances in Alzheimer research will help him. Fingers crossed.

        • OMG, didn’t know he was afflicted. What a ruddy shame, and I hope the research will help as well. Was listening to a special on the net, think it was CBC, over a year ago, about drug trial that were slowing the progression significantly, but it was in the testing stage.
          Of course, with R&D the first casulties in any budget….who knows if the tests will ever be finished. Bah, humbug, what a world, what a world.

          • It amuses me no end that New Scientist, and a lot of the scientific community, are slobbering all over O-ass. Amusing as in black humour. Very black. Black as in grim, not colour, before anyone starts screaming r@cism at me.

        • I like Pratchett well enough, but he gets a little too twee for me. I adore Gaiman, especially American Gods. But Pratchett and Gaiman together ? Briiliant. Good Omens was hands down the funniest book I’ve ever read.

          • Gotta agree with that wholeheartedly. It was phenomenal.

          • You’ve gotta take a sip of something else in-between Pratchett works. Which works fine for me as I skip all over the place when it comes to books.

            Good Omens – strangely, I wasn’t too keen on that. I read it over a decade ago though, so maybe I need to re-read and reconsider.

  38. Obama jus’ thank he all that.

  39. Nothing has changed since last year; media and elitist Obama supporters give him credit for 200 lb bench press when he hasn’t lifted a finger. They just know, they’re just so sure that he can.

  40. “In speeches and debates, he has bombarded voters with detailed arguments about public policy”

    I must have missed that.

    • They must have missed the debates with Hillary. She wiped the floor with him.

      • Absolutely. I feel I live in a parallel universe. I never heard ANY details, just biography and platitudes. Oh and …”what she said”

        Can we all pool our money and buy just one journalist? An actual journalist who researches, reports truth etc.

  41. Sorry, o/t, but this report (and I’ve only linked to the summary) seems like it might hold some of the answers to what caused this economic meltdown. Somehow, I get the feeling that some of the players never realized the damage that could result from their actions.

    Click to access executive_summary.pdf

    “Blame Wall Street for the current financial
    crisis. Investment banks, hedge funds and
    commercial banks made reckless bets using
    borrowed money. They created and trafficked
    in exotic investment vehicles that
    even top Wall Street executives — not to
    mention firm directors — did not understand.
    They hid risky investments in offbalance-
    sheet vehicles or capitalized on their
    legal status to cloak investments altogether.
    They engaged in unconscionable predatory
    lending that offered huge profits for a time,
    but led to dire consequences when the loans
    proved unpayable. And they created, maintained
    and justified a housing bubble, the
    bursting of which has thrown the United
    States and the world into a deep recession,
    resulted in a foreclosure epidemic ripping
    apart communities across the country.
    But while Wall Street is culpable for
    the financial crisis and global recession,
    others do share responsibility.

    For the last three decades, financial
    regulators, Congress and the executive
    branch have steadily eroded the regulatory
    system that restrained the financial sector
    from acting on its own worst tendencies.”

  42. Everyone keeps trying to tell me how brilliant Obama is, and I do not see it. I think he somehow fudged that Harvard Law Review (how do we really know since he has conveniently sealed all of his records). I wonder if he got the Harvard Law Review more by affirmative action than brilliance. Or maybe it was by race-baiting and guilt-mongering like he did in the campaign and election. “If you (Harvard) do not pick me to be your next president of the Harvard Law Review, well then all of you are RACISTS!” He cannot give a speech without a teleprompter, seems to cut, copy and paste other’s ideas (Hillary’s mostly) and practically stutters when he dfoes not have the teleprompter with him. Is Barack Obama an intellectual? I am not sure, but what I am sure of is that he is a fraud.

  43. The Dow closed down 80 points today at 6,547

  44. Fans of Fred Astaire or Gene Kelly would define their preference by the lack of pretension. One would say that Astaire was a better dancer because he made it look easy, while Kelly made it seem like real work. Or vice versa.

    Obama supporters drool while Obama preens, but either Clinton can talk on any subject without notes or preparation, and make the most complex policy or situation understandable to Everyman. Obamatrons work way too hard to convince us he’s smart, but if he were we would see it ourselves, even if we disagreed with the content. Obama is a brown-noser to professors or those he wants to impress, and a snob to the rest of us, merely to prevent any in-depth questioning that would disprove the assumption.

    • Spot on.

    • On a superficial level, good analogy, however unlike the current cast of star material, both Astaire and Kelly were consumate professionals (and btw, respected each other immensely).
      Both knew their work (strengths and weaknesses), inside out, both were immensely talented -albeit in different ways – Astaire was the epitome of elegance, Kelly the epitome of working man exhuberance. Both spent inordinate amounts of time researching, developing, practicing and perfecting routines before they went before an audience.
      That is where the analogy falls down. the Prez is nothing like either man, although he loves the celebrity that has been gifted to him (unlike either Astaire or Kelly, who had to slog to become famous). I’m trying to think of a more appropriate analogy.
      Who else has become famous without doing much of anything, has become adored because of speeches written by others, has become a media darling because of corporate interference?

      • HT,

        Your apt analysis of Obama actually is in sync with parentofed’s analogy, which was based on two sets of examples.

        Astaire and Kelly, though different from each other, were offered for an illustrative *contrast to* Obama. Then parentofed named both Bill and Hillary Clinton for their own *similarities to* the two dancers, and by extension, in contrast again to Obama.

      • I didn’t take the comment to mean Obama was either Astaire or Kelly. Rather Obamanots work hard to convince us that Obama is an Astaire.

        • Yes DJ, the four examples are all in sharp contrast to Obama. Though they each are famous for their distinctive styles, the four share in common some valuable traits that he just as clearly lacks: they exhibit substance, grit, willingness to try new solutions, and a strong work ethic, too.

          I know there’s an old saying about U.S. Senators falling into one of two camps– most are just showhorses, but a few are workhorses. HRC was stereotyped unfairly into the run-of-the-mill group, while BHO was mass-marketed as some kind of thoroughbred racehorse, I guess.

          It’s another sickening episode in a topsy-turvy, Green Acres, Kafkaesque, Orwellian, Dickensian universe, where we need and wanted the real workhorse but have gotten saddled with a lame donkey.

          Impeach The Jack*a*s*s* – animated GIF stickers
          “Impeachment U.S.A.” area of my free art gallery

  45. I remember when Brian Williams asked Bush about what he had been recently reading and Bush said, “I read 4 Shakespeares”. I really wanted Williams to follow up and ask which ones, because my gut was telling me Bush was lying. Alas, “journalists” today hardly ever ask follow ups.

    • OMG! I had forgotten all about that. Four Shakespeares. LOL! Obama is Bush with a little bit of polish. But not enough.

  46. o/t but did PBO really give the Prime Minister 25 dvds for a gift? Truly? I like movies as much as the next guy but…..really?

    • Hillbuzz had a list of the dvds a fews days ago, and assuming the list was accurate, they seemed like the type that would sell in a big bin for about $5 each. Additionally, giving dvds to a visually impaired individual shows a complete lack of thoughtfulness.

    • Hi ya, Mawm.

      Not only did Obama give him a “best of..” prepackaged DVD set, but Mechelle gave Sarah Brown’s boys plastic heliocopter models of Marine One that are found in DC gift shops for $19.99. Sarah Brown, otoh, gave lovely designer clothing with matching accessories and first edition British children’s books to the Obama girls.

      • Well I’m sure it was her staff’s fault.

        • Why? Shouldn’t the instructions have been clear when given to the staff? Research what the Brown children are interested in, and find something that is uniquely American that they would know was selected just for them.

          Do you think any company in this country wouldn’t do an overnight shipment, or buy a seat on an airplane to get their merchandise given to the children of Gordon Brown from the Obama’s?

      • Well, the Obama’s would be okay with that…their girls are much more worthy of elegant gifts that were thoughtful.

    • http://www.thehopeforamerica.com/play.php?id=502

      Not sure if this link will work, but it is supposed to be a clip of Glen Beck discussing the Obama gifts. At the end he gives an address for Americans to send their apologies to.

  47. okay this is too funny, you guys may be all over this but I’ve been away from internet and tv this weekend
    just read this:

    “By Patricia on March 7, 2009 10:56 AM
    God, this is so embarrassing and so tacky.
    Gordon Brown’s gift to Obama was richly symbolic, chosen with great care and sensitivity: a penholder carved from the hull of a 19th century British ship that chased down slavers crossing the Atlantic – and a sister ship of the HMS Resolute – the timbers that made the Oval Office desk. And he gets a set of DVDs he won’t even be able to play in the UK (the system is different there) and will be unlikely to use anyway: Gordon Brown is partially blind. I don’t imagine he wastes his sight watching “Raging Bull”.
    I voted for Obama and I am ashamed.”

    • The worst part?

      One of the movies was Lawrence of Arabia

      It’s a British film.

      • No way!

      • I noticed that as well. I wonder if O even knows who’s life the movie is based upon and that the director was SIR David Lean (honorary). With O’Toole (Irish) and Guinness (British) in the leads.

        Not to mention that there seemed to be a couple of Hitchcock films (Another British Director).

        Plus, if i recall, the actually filmed much of the studio based scenes for the original Star Wars (now going by Star Wars IV) in England.

        Sound of Music (stars are British and Canadian).

        And that The Wizard of OZ, I believe is still run every Christmas Day in Britain.

        And at the heart of the matter is not the actual dollar value of the gifts but the lack of thought, taste and so forth. Not to mention that, like them or not, the Browns were representing their nation and were treated as if they were just some random tourists off the street who stopped by unannounced.

    • Oh god, the Obama’s are So Tacky. Ugh Ugh Ugh.

  48. yeah only 80 pts that is a miracle-specially since AP release an article where the headline was:

    “Warren Buffet says economy has dropped off a cliff…”

    I felt that such a no vote by oracle of Omaha would be worth at least a 200-300 point drop.

    To answer the question “Is Oarak “Pampers” Obama an Intellectual?



  49. With the way Hillary is covering the world, she could be President of the World, or at least President for the Women of the World. That’s 3.5 billion women, or roughly 10x the size of the US.

  50. New post up.

  51. Well, they have to cook up something important-sounding about him. How else do you explain such a meager list of actual accomplishments in someone so well schooled, who’s past his mid-forties, than he’s been thinking deep thoughts?

    The guy’s at best an intellectual dilettante. Sadly, that’s enough to fool a lot of people.


  52. He reads anything that has his photo attached to it. No wonder he’s so confused over who he is and how he stands on any issue.

    He’s a walking contradiction. I get the impression he is very much a hands off, minimal effort dad, and not just because he won’t watch reality tv with them.

    My guess is he is spending a lot of his time in the WH writing the draft of his memoirs for when he gets voted out in 2012.

    He is not now, nor has he ever been, an intellectual.

  53. Someone asked for book suggestions up above? I just finished reading Richard Bausch’s “Thanksgiving Night” and was just blown away by his writing. It’s a beautiful story with really engaging characters. I’ve read Bausch’s short stories, which I didn’t like as much, and another book of his, “In the Night Season,” which is one of the most terrifying things I’ve ever read, but you said you weren’t in the mood for gore or violence so maybe you should avoid THAT one. “Thanksgiving Night” is one of those books I want everyone to read, it’s just amazing.

    I’m currently reading Charlottet Chandler’s biography of Mae West, “She Always Knew How,” and it is FANTASTIC. I am also reading a collection of short stories by women writers called “This is Not Chick Lit” and so far I’m loving it.

    You said no Joyce Carol Oates but I just read “Rape, A Love Story” and it was terrific but it is quite violent.

    In nonfiction I’m enjoying Rashid Khalidi’s “Resurrecting Empire” but that doesn’t sound like the kind of light reading you’re looking for 🙂

    angelasmith, don’t fault yourself for not being able to get into Virginia Woolf. She’s unreadable imo. Now I do like Austen, but I think she’s overrated (sorta the chick-lit of her time) but I will probably get flamed for both of these comments!

  54. “I still remember the moment I feel in love with Shakespeare — freshmen year of h.s. when Macduff announced that he was “from his mother’s womb untimely ripped,” causing the third prediction of the 3 weird sisters to come true in Macbeth!! How great was that?”

    In my acting days I got to play one of the witches (yes, typecasting) and got to make that prediction! Awesome.

  55. Barack Obama is not an intelligent life form, much less an intellectual.

  56. If I may indulge some amateur psychological analysis: IMHO he is in fact ruled by the intellect in the Jungian sense. When compared to Bush, who was obviously ruled by the senses — a “man of action”, a doer, and not a thinker — Obama appeares “intellectual” to some. It’s obvious if you study his speech. In the paragraph quoted in dakinkat’s “six sigma probabilities”, he uses the phrase “I think” 7 times. Obama is techincally a “thinker” . (A doer — not so much.) But definately not an intellectual — which is something earned, not an inate tendancy.

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