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How Brilliant is Obama?

leonardoHow brilliant is Obama? (H/T to dakinikat, for sharing this with me) Is he a genius or is he a beneficiary of affirmative action placement? Frankly, apart from hyperbole, there is not much information to go on. Furthermore, the ways he’s chosen to govern his life, outside of his academic endeavors, do not lend to easy associations with intelligence. For example, his sensible choice to be physically active says little about intellectual acuity. Accordingly, it is hard to judge what his high end might be. Notwithstanding, I think his low end is relatively easy to discern. It is a good place to start. (NOTE: This topic is necessarily subjective.  This post is nowhere close to being definitive. It is an attempt to come to a reasonable judgment.)  [IQ is not under consideration because its’ standards for the high end are too low.]

We do not need access to Obama’s grades at Harvard to know he has intellectual chops. It is true that he was not in the top tier of Harvard Law students as he did not graduate summa cum laude, but magna cum laude is the next highest standing, and it appears this places him in at least the top 30% of the class, if not the top 10%.

Maria_Gaetana_AgnesiIt is true that an affirmative action push, due to a heated political climate at the time, played a role in his selection as president of the Harvard Law Review, but the fact that he was not in the top tier does not alter the counterfact that many of his editorial peers also graduated magna cum laude.

Unfortunately, if Obama did write for the law review, his work was unsigned. His choice to avoid publication is odd because the purpose of the position is to “peacock” one’s chops. It is unfortunate, for the purpose of this exercise, that he left this void. If he had written, his peers would be able to tell us where he ranks. It is best to infer nothing about his intellect from this void.  Notwithstanding, academic selection committees would take the lack of publications to indicate some type of academic weakness.

What does his Harvard performance say about his base level intelligence? My sense is that a law degree is similar to a Masters Degree in one of the more rigorous social science disciplines. It certainly does not touch a Ph.D. It stands slightly lower than an M.A. in Philosophy, but it likely ranks higher than sociology, and it destroys an M.B.A., which is essentially a compilation of undergraduate courses.

Harvard’s law students are top tier. Lawrence Tribe appreciated his mind, though they did not co-author. Obama must be bright to have performed as he did.

Is Obama brilliant? Brilliant people make waves in their discipline. Obama did not. He was known for his ability to see both sides of an argument, which is a good quality, not for his ability to create transcendent arguments. Were he brilliant, his classmates and his professors would have said so.

aristotlIs Obama a genius? If claimed, the point would be laughable. Generally-speaking, genii are polymaths like Aristotle, Da Vinci, Hypatia, and Tesla. They excel across disciplinary boundaries. In what fields does Obama excel?

hypatiaNon-polymathic genii, such as Mozart, create revolutionary spaces in their discipline. What space has he opened? Obama is neither polymath, nor savant.

Why does this matter? As an analysis it’s sorely lacking data points and it’s hardly helpful.

spockThat it lacks data points is actually very helpful because it explains why so many of us were baffled by claims about Obama’s brilliance. Where was the evidence? It was easy to understand how undergraduates, or people with undergraduate degrees, would be impressed by the intelligence of a bright, charismatic figure, especially as a comparative to Bush. What they saw in Obama proved the meme that Obama was brilliant.

On the flip side, it was difficult for them to understand why we were not impressed by Obama’s intellectual prowess. We weren’t particularly impressed because many of us hold post-graduate degrees and are published in international refereed journals. We interact with bright people frequently, brilliant people occasionally, and, if we are very fortunate, a genius in our lifetime. Bright people are somewhat commonplace to us, and as academically-oriented people, we are trained to judge their prowess. He did not stand out. They thought his brilliance was undeniable, therefore, they thought our denials were based on ignorance or prejudice.

Obama is bright. His task as president is daunting. His performance as POTUS thus far, with respect to his intellectual shine, lacks lustre.

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129 Responses

  1. I vote for cunning, not brilliant.

    • And I vote for a mad rush to award Obama undeserved points for intelligence in great part simply because he’s black. He is at bottom the perpetual affirmative action candidate, automatically advanced without due merit and without due scrutiny. Bill Clinton was and is brilliant. How often have you heard him described as such? Practically never. Hillary is far better spoken than Obama, far quicker on her feet, and has far more facility with the written word. How often has she received credit for these qualities?

      It’s fair to say that, without a teleprompter Obama is at best a stumbling speaker. His first (self plumping) “autobiography” is of questionable authorship. His second book, as I understand things, was a literary thud and probably was written by him. Obama became editor of the Harvard Law Review not because of observed brilliance, but because he was a compromise candidate in a messy situation (can’t remember where, but I read about this at length during the primaries). Obama is another Reagan As Great Communicator, an image built of sand, handy for blinding a willingly gullible public, a public eager to pat itself on the back for its righteous ways.

      This is not to say Obama’s stupid. He isn’t, not by any stretch. But as Mike observes, he is deeply, deeply cunning, and that has made all the difference. Obama knows exactly why he is where he is. He has played his racial make-up for all its worth.

  2. We’ve all seen what Obama can achieve just by putting the people around him ill at ease if they don’t give him what he wants. Who says his positioning in his graduating classes was the result of work? There’s a huge void in teachers coming out to claim they saw a diamond in their student.

    I find his common sense and logic to be below average. I agree with Mr Mike, and go with cunning.

  3. MM and m,

    My analysis was not moral in intent so cunning was not a category for me. I understand how he can be seen that way.

    I think the written aspect of the competition for president of the law review, which is demanding, indicates he is adept at logic and applying principles to situations.


    • They threw out the competition based on writing in 1990. He didn’t have to meet that criteria. There’s a link to my research on that in October sitting just below your piece.

  4. He was known for his ability to see both sides of an argument

    That is a skill that is specifically taught in law school. In Moot Court you are graded for your ability to argue both sides of a case.

    • He wasn’t known for *arguing* both side of a case, was he? What I heard was that he *listened* to both sides and said little.

      • BB,

        We’ve read similar sources. Furthermore, it was said that his position was hard to discern, though he was known to be liberal.


      • This was also true for his time at Univ of Chicago; conservative colleagues have contended that Obama refused to engage in debate with them, which they thought odd given his designation as a “constitutional scholar”. As a self-identified constitutional scholar, it is very odd that he would fail to publish anything in re to a constitutional issue — there have been too many “hot button” constitutional issues that have been heard during his career to remain silent on.

        I go with bright, but intellectual brilliance — I just don’t see it.

        • The other thing that struck me is odd (since my uncle got to be editor of the Harvard Law Review the old fashioned way: he was first in his class) is that usually you want a clerkship someplace prestigious like a district court at worst or the your choice of a justice on the supreme court if you’re good. He didn’t do EITHER of these, HIGHLY irregular.

        • dakinikat,

          Good points.

          Not a grinder and highly irregular behaviour suggest he has two things in common with myiq.


        • I’ve got a lot in common with him. (Kansas roots, raised elsewhere by a single mom, didn’t know my father growing up, had a step-father, grandma a major influence)

          But I’m not leader of the free world.

          I’m not even in charge of this blog.

        • Oh, I almost forgot:

          Almost the same age, did “a little blow” when I was younger and I’m a lousy dancer.

          • OMG, are YOU the one I’ve been waiting for? *gasp*

            You’re the guy coming to fix the dishwasher?

        • LOL

        • Sounds to me like he was already plotting his career as a politician and didn’t want to leave a record that could hurt him. Always hunting for that next job.

  5. I think the written aspect of the competition for president of the law review

    IIRC they changed the rules when he was there so that LR did not require written competition.

    • he is adept at logic and applying principles to situations

      Law school is equal parts learning the law and learning to apply the law to given situations.

      • Yes.

      • I think a determiner of his logic skills would also be his LSAT scores.

        • The LSAT does not test knowledge. It tests certain skills.

          You can take classes to improve LSAT scores – for instance one part of the test involves logical puzzles (John is next to mary, bob is sitting across from jim . . . who is sitting next to bob?) and you can boost your score significantly just by practicing those kind of puzzles.

    • myiq,

      I’ll try to dig up the article that implied that the written component was used as part of the means of assessment that the editors used to determine their votes. Obviously, he won.


      • Who were the judges? Who put in a good word? Who made a strong suggestion that BHO was the right choice? Who pulled the strings?

        • iw,

          The judges were the other editors. I can’t speak to the dynamic of the selection, but his academic standing speaks for itself. He was one of their best students at the time..


        • The editors met together and chose a president. There is no indication what criteria were used or whether they all used the same criteria.

        • We seem to be teetering on the edge of a regress that goes back at least to Columbia University. From inauspicious beginnings Obama appears on the scene, is mentored by Brzezinski, backed financially by Saudi millionaires, receives a sinecure at Harvard Law review, and is somehow allowed to be an instructor at the University of Chicago. There’s something strange about all this.

        • The “Saudi millionaire” stuff is LaRouchist propaganda.

          Obama’s charmed life started in Chicago – he started making powerful friends.

          But around 2002-2003 he made some VERY powerful friends – they hooked him up with David Axelrod.

          The rest is history.

        • myiq2xu, see lorac at 3:17 pm below for a reference to Saudi financial support.

      • Like he won the primary? Having seen what the man is capable of, I’m guessing the life leading up to this latest campaign was all practice for what he did last year.

        • I was just thinking about that, too – we’re attempting to look objectively at his past to determine his intellectual capacity, but who is to say that the way he manipulates people’s emotions only started during his political career? Plus, there is evidence that Saudi Arabia financed his schooling and trip in his 20s abroad, which suggests to me another force which propelled him forward – not his acumen.

          I agree with the “cunning” label – I think that people who are intellectually smart like to challenge themselves, like to put themselves out there – they are willing to be criticized, because the intellectual back and forth is challenging and interesting to them, and they are secure enough in their own knowledge to deal with it, and to acknowledge if they are wrong. In contrast, Obama seems to be all about hiding his true beliefs – or of maybe not having many firm beliefs (blank slate, voting “present”, “seeing both sides’ without taking a stand, etc.).

          And I wonder – the people who are saying he was one of their best students – did they say it at the time, or is this in hindsight?

        • A clarification – I think being able to see both sides is very important, but I think it needs to be a step in the process, not the end in itself.

        • No, they didn’t say it at the time. They said he was intelligent enough, but didn’t do his homework (so what’s new).

          But they were always willing to help him in getting college places and stuff like that.

      • They way I read it, they wanted an AA President that year. They had the first woman a few years before, and the previous year they had the first Asian. They needed an AA. There were two AA’s in the running.

    • This article about his selection to the law review was written in 1990, but it reads like a lot of it was fed to the author by Obama. Much of it has been reprinted almost verbatim ad nauseum since.


      • Most of Obama’s bio is based on what Obama says.

        Very little corroboration and independent sources usually dispute his version.

        • Sounds like Masud Khan. A fascinating character, but not someone I’d want in a position of considerable political power.

      • cinie,

        TY for this very good link.


  6. myiq,

    Given the comments of his peers at the time (a few who have commented), he was particularly skilled at parsing these out.


    • Then his grades should reflect that (but they don’t)

      • myiq,

        I imagine that he could be well known for parsing arguments, without standing out in other aspects of adjudication.

        What’s the difference between magna and summa in terms of GPA? Am I wrong to think it’s the difference between “A”s or “A-“s and star alphas?



        • Magna and Summa are determined on the basis of top percentiles of the class, not on the basis of GPA numerically.

        • Law school exams present you with a set of facts and then you have to apply the law to those facts. The given facts will be ambiguous on key points, so you have to figure out what those points are and argue “If this then ______ but if that then ______

          If he was especially skilled at applying the law then he must have been weak on learning/remembering the law.

        • I’m hoping someone who actually knows will respond to your question – but I just wanted to add that I read a post on another thread in which it was said that the Harvard law school gives summa to half the class, because their students are “too big to fail”.

        • The top students are invariably grinders who spend every waking moment studying. The are not necessarily the most intelligent.

          • Good point Myiq – also as a “legacy” (his dad went to Harvard) getting in is not nearly as competitive.

            But as you said, SM, Where was the evidence? One would expect that if he was so brilliant he’d be happy to share the evidence. 😕

        • ss,

          I appreciate your point. I was merely trying to note the important slivers of GPA that separate the best from the next in line.


          It could well be. Unfortunately, we can only go on the available data/testimony.


        • myiq,

          All of your points are apt.

          My sense is that Obama was not a grinder. It’s something that he and I share.


        • Me too – I’m a slacker

        • To get Summa, he would have had to have a 4.0. Magna means he got some A-‘s or B’s.

        • Harvard is famous for grade inflation. Plus it’s not so hard to get A’s in grad school, since a C is failure. He should have gotten all A’s.

          I had a 4.0 throughout my undergrad and grad careers and I wasn’t a grind who studied 24/7. I always found the key was to write well.

        • Dr. BB,

          Perhaps you did not need to grind because you are brilliant.

          dakinikat and I also considered the grad school grade thing. It’s a good point to raise because it is not well known outside of grad school.

          I think grade inflation is more relevant today than in 1991, because the cult of accountability has caused grade inflation as a response to the increased need to acquire outside funding.


  7. Your analysis is interesting, as usual, Steven. I think you may be right that some of us here have a higher standard for “brilliance” than the general population.

  8. My take on Obama is that he has a natural talent for reflecting back what people say in a way that impresses people without them realizing he is merely agreeing with them. He is intelligent and educated enough to fake his way through most topics but hasn’t shown expertise on any subject.

    Watch his debate perforrmances – he keeps agreeing with Hillary and McCain and then adding something pithy but minor.

    • He is like Will Smith’s character in Six Degrees of Separation . He is a good con artist and a very luck person. He has always found people who just want to help him climb that political ladder. Managing to take credit for someone else’s accomplishments because your boss wants to make you into a senator. Having people like Howard Dean, Nancy Pelosi willing to break the rules and principles of their own party just for you. He is very lucky man. Somehow things always work out well for him.

    • You are so right. And that is typical of narcissists.

  9. ” [IQ is not under consideration because its’ standards for the high end are too low.]”

    What does this mean? Psychometrics are certainly an imperfect science, but I really don’t get what you’re saying here.

    • ss,

      I am not discounting psychometry. I think the standard that is set for brilliant and genius is too generous.

      I have a genius level IQ, depending on the test. I stand as evidence that they award the accolade too easily.



  10. Thanks Steven. If you want my opinion, I think Obama is smart, but not “bright” or “brilliant.”
    I remember LR saying that he seems to mostly just have “street smarts” and I tend to agree.
    I have met a lot of people, like my best friend for example, who don’t necessarily seem to put much priority in books smarts, but who are good at getting what they want.
    I have always told her that of the two of us, she has the “street smarts” and I have the “book smarts.”
    Geniuses and brilliant people don’t tend to have a lot of “street smarts” usually it just seems to be how their minds work.
    Just my opinion, anyway.

    • Obama is definitely above average in intelligence. But I would guess he has an IQ of about 120-130 – smart but not genius.

    • I would consider him above average intelligence, but I’ve seen nothing to suggest anything more than that. The biggest indicator for me was during the democratic debates, he really didn’t have anything original to say. He mostly riffed off of some one else’s answers. As a long time teacher, I recognize that behavior. He doesn’t appear to be able to speak off the cuff on any topic that he hasn’t been recently briefed on.

      • dakinikat,

        I thought his debate performances nullified the arguments about his oratory skills, because I see oratory as tied to rhetorical skill, as opposed to the ability to read a script.


        • I come from an incredibly long line of lawyers and barristers. If you couldn’t debate adequately and come up with the references you were deader meat than the dinner around the family dinner tables. No one cared if you were ten, thirty, or sixty, you suffered!

          • I think LI is right and you all are being overly generous. Above average should mean that he is able to string two sentences together coherently without a teleprompter. That is not the case.

        • dakinikat,

          You’ve got to be cruel to be kind, in just the right measure, kat. I look forward to further suffering in your digital presence.



  11. Obama reminds me a lot of Reagan during his similarly inevitable media sponsored journey to the white house. The whole time he would speak and interact I would say, wow, he’s not very bright and not a very good communicator. The media clearly enamored would say the opposite. I scratched my head and wondered if I were loosing it. Then I found there were many like me who thought the same. I think in that case there was a similar lack of understand of what a really good communicator was like and what intellect was about. At least to those of us with brains. But there was definitely some sort of skill at the same time. Just because I could see the emperor had no clothes on, didn’t mean the emperor didn’t have some skill at fooling others.

    I think Obama is very similar in this regard. He just doesn’t seem that bright. And to me he doesn’t seem like a particularly good speaker. He is yet another emperor without cloths. But a lot of people think otherwise, so there is some skill and intellect there. Come to think of it, he is also similar to Bush 2 in those regards. Some of our very same fauxgressives that helped push Obama in office were for Bush 2 when he first ran. Bill Maher comes to mind.

    Very nice, clean analysis. I agree with it. And it’s about as far as we can go with past data points which are few and far between. A more complete analysis might be possible with more time in office.

    • “Just because I could see the emperor had no clothes on, didn’t mean the emperor didn’t have some skill at fooling others”

      Perhaps any analysis of Obama’s level of intelligence isn’t truly complete without an analysis of the population which thinks he is wearing clothing. Even more than Obama scares me, the reaction of the public (and MSM) scares me. Where are the critical thinking skills? What does it mean that so many of us are so easily manipulated by emotions? I think Obama’s election suggests that as a people, we’re missing something, and are looking externally to fill the void.

      And that means that Obama may not be the end – unless the population changes, we’ll continue to be manipulated. As a matter of fact, perhaps “we’re” more responsible than Obama – if we didn’t “need” an Obama (someone to make us feel better, style over substance), he wouldn’t even be a contender.

    • I don’t think I’ve ever heard Obama say anything even approaching original. In fact, I’m often stunned by his embrace of conventional interpretation and explanations.

      • Along those same lines, I’ve seen many posts online saying that Obama didn’t say anything anyone hasn’t already said in his recent speeches abroad. They said that even Bush went there and read from the Koran.

  12. Within psychometrics, genius is determined by a number (as an expression of significant deviation from the mean). Is this what you mean by having standards that are too low? Because I accept your premise that Obama is no DaVinci, but the suggestion that only historical paragons qualify as brilliant seems a bit much. Hillary is brilliant without being a polymath. What Obama is, is socially skilled and reasonably bright. He’s also a narcissist (he meets sufficient criteria for Narcissistic Personality Disorder).

    • ss,

      Yes and yes. Standard deviation versus relative position. My standards are high and perhaps unfairly so. Your point on Hillary cashes out its turn.

      Thanks for the thoughts.


      • “Cashes out its turn” isn’t a turn of phrase I’m familiar with. Can you explain? Sorry, maybe it’s a regional thing?

        I would argue that your standards are too high, and yet, the psychometric standards may be too low. Psychometrically speaking, about 1 in 400 people is a “genius”. I’d argue that that’s about right, but perhaps my idea of genius is different than yours. Many more people simply lie about their IQ scores.

        • ss,

          Sorry for being obscure, The point upon which your argument turns is cashed out in your example of Hillary, whose brightness takes on some brilliance because of her breadth and depth of knowledge. I take this to be quasi-polymathic because her skills traverse many subject areas. She’s a wonk!

          1 in 400 is too generous, for my use of the term.

          Thanks for the thoughts.


    • But I think the overriding thing about Hillary is that while she demonstrates intellectual prowess, there isn’t this “she’s so friggin’ brilliant meme” out there. She went to Ivy league schools right? She got in the conventional way–grades and hard work. She wasn’t a legacy like the two last presidents were.

      Bill definitely is a political genius. My guess is she’s up there too but smart women aren’t recognized so much for their intellect but for their ability to threaten men. They’re just seen as threatening period. The memes about her were about being overly ambitious, aggressive, not dressed right, etc. We never really saw a big push for her obvious intellectual ability or her political savvy. As Obama said, “You’re likable enough, Hillary”.

      • dakinikat,

        Yes. My mom is momma bear so I don’t suffer from a fear of bright, powerful women. I think it is unequivocal that women suffer the bias you note and that the only way to overcome the bias is to break the myth by changing the lived experience, i.e., by enacting things like the 30% solution.


      • No, absolutely. I was simply positing that she was an example of contemporary brilliance, without being a DaVini-esque historical paragon. Certainly intelligent women are intimidating. Even our compliment of Hillary’s intelligence was that she was “scary-smart”, despite the fact that we held her in very high regard and did not find her frightening.

        As a bright, but certainly not genius woman (using Steven’s definition, at any rate), I seem not so much to intimidate people as to piss them off or to be ignored when I make points. I don’t know if it’s that they can’t follow my ideas or if it’s that they simply don’t want to engage me.

        In the case of Hill and Bill, neither was really held up as this brilliant person (despite it obviously being the case), because they were seen as these rural hick outsiders instead of being proper east coast intellectuals. Hillary got the added kick in the teeth for being a woman.

  13. If you buy multiple intelligence theory, I think Obama’s intelligence is his ability to intuit what he needs to do to “win” others to him in whatever situation he finds himself. A kind of “street smarts” carried to the ultimate end. His popularity as a person clearly goes well beyond the popularity of his performance (poll data). That intelligence is peculiarly central to getting elected. My only caveat is that I remember very well his inability to center himself with workers and common folks on the campaign trail. But in the end that did not matter because he was brilliant, even a genius, in capturing the fealty of those who had the money to ensure his win and the media intellectuals (self-proclaimed) who could create a persona for him that was and is beyond, beyond.

    The absence of any scholarly work from his college days is a gaping chasm. All of us know that if you have no body of work from those college years to show or you have it and choose not to show it— then something is amiss.

    • J,

      Your description reminds me of those who said he was cunning. Given that it takes knowledge and understanding to manipulate, it’s hard to argue against the notion that he and his campaign were talented at doing so.


    • This is the list in that theory of areas of ‘multiple intelligence’. It does provide an interesting reference point.

      -words (linguistic intelligence)
      -numbers or logic (logical-mathematical intelligence)
      -pictures (spatial intelligence)
      -music (musical intelligence)
      -self-reflection (intrapersonal intelligence)
      -a physical experience (bodily-kinesthetic intelligence)
      -a social experience (interpersonal intelligence), and/or
      -an experience in the natural world. (naturalist intelligence)

    • Actually, his campaign was forced to cheat to accomplish taking the primary and gaining the nomination. Even his over-the-top spending and nasty sexist tactics couldn’t manage to intuit or anything else well enough to win fair. It doesn’t take brilliance to figure out how to cheat. They did it openly, too. So, if there was any intuition in play, it was knowing the public would do nothing.

  14. Obama reminds me of the snotty grad student at the bar in Good Will Hunting that embarrasses Ben Affleck but then gets pwn’d by Matt Damon.

  15. Steven, thanks for bringing this up again.

    I read another thing yesterday that really makes me question Obama’s intellectual chops. From the Times UK

    “Mr Obama’s irritation with his French counterpart began when Mr Sarkozy tried to grab the limelight at the G20 summit in London in April and talked condescendingly of the US President in private. Mr Sarkozy told colleagues that he found Mr Obama to be inexperienced and unbriefed, especially on climate change. Mr Obama hit back last month, telling a visiting French minister: “Please tell Nicolas that I shall do my homework, and in two months I’ll know all about climate change.””

    If Obama indeed made this retort, I find this deeply disconcerting. What intellectual in their right mind would ever say that they could have all the knowledge about a particular subject? Even the most arrogant professors wouldn’t proclaim they could know every thing if just given the right amount of time. They usually use self-references like ‘being an authority’ and/or ‘the most knowledgeable in their field.’

    • Often a part of narcissism is a need to get retribution for any perceived slight. I think that’s part of what’s going on here – Obama’s sarcasm was a means of hitting back, IMO.

      • I agree that this was retribution, but I still feel It wasn’t real sarcasm rather Obama means he could get all that knowledge, when all Sarkozy said was he “wasn’t well briefed.” Obama’s constant “I know it too” attitude reveals an underlying sense of intellectual insecurity.

        just my two cents

        • No, I agree with you – I just meant that I thought *part* of it was the retribution.

          I’m not surprised he thought he could get all the info in two months, because he doesn’t have a history of learning any depth about anything – he learns the talking points. So he’s just going to make sure he’s got a superficial knowledge, enough to “pass”, and someone else will write a soaring narrative for him to speak of it. The scary thing is, I don’t know to what extent he is conscious of not knowing things in depth (like the policy wonk Hillary). I believe that subconsciously he is *very* aware of his lack of knowledge, but I wonder if he believes his own hype on a conscious level.

          • And so we, once again we are the ugly Americans, as he gets even by declining an invitation to dine with the Sarkozys while in Paris.

  16. I also see him as a con man. I don’t believe his books are autobiological I believe them to be pure fiction but the Media covers this up.
    The Media favored Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush and covered for both of these men. They are protecting Obama in the same way.
    I would say Obama is of above average intelligence but he is more of a con man then a scholor.

  17. Attending Harvard doesn’t mean you’re intelligent.

  18. 0zero is NOT brilliant — he does have an above average ability to MEMORIZE words in order to pass tests.

    There are different kinds of intelligence — some individuals can take and pass tests but can’t synthesize the information and take it to the next level. 0zero can’t synthesize, re-evaluate information and formulate a new policy or see a different solution to a problem.

    Proof of this is that 0zero has never come up with original proposals –he has a tract record of plagiarism of ideas, policy, words and stories.

    0zero doesn’t have a unique clear vision — because his mind doesn’t work that way. He reads words other people write — we know this because when his teleprompter fails he can’t carry on in a coherent manner.

    We don’t have his school records, nor test scores — so it is false to call HIM brilliant.

    He is and will go down in history as an average con man who swindled millions of people. He knows how to use hate and the vile behavior & actions of others to further his own means — and he has a lot of company as an evil manipulator.

  19. I agree with flower, attending Harvard doesn’t mean you’re intelligent. Harvard is known for its grade inflation to keep its stats impressive.

    • That is public information. We also know he graduated without any honors at Columbia. I’ve read it in numerous articles. Honors are announced in public at your graduation so he wouldn’t have any way to conceal that.

  20. I see no evidence of brilliance. I don’t want to diss him. My application to Harvard Law was practically handed back to me at the mailbox. But I did graduate from Duke Law and it reminded me more of high school than graduate school. It was a lot of memorization, the entire grade for nearly every class was based on one final exam, and class participation or performance counted for nothing. Grading is anonymous, though, so presumably he wasn’t getting “affirmative action” grades. But he also didn’t get placed in a tenure track job like some of the people I know who wanted to be law professors. If Tribe thought he was that good, it would have taken a simple phone call.

    It doesn’t matter if he’s a genius or not. What matters is that he is a liar.

  21. Smart people earn advanced degrees. However, brilliant people often don’t earn advanced degrees. I am not an Obama supporter. However, I say, so what about what you’re using to measure brilliance. Frankly, I find it slightly elitist.

    • I agree w/ ANMHE.
      Brilliant and/or successful people don’t have to have advanced degrees. On that note, the below link is pretty interesting to comb through.


      Several former presidents are included in the list (check out Abraham Lincoln’s description *!*)

      Obama has (interpersonal) intelligence & power-dynamics intelligence that he uses manipulatively and deceptively to maximize in assending the hierarchy and creating a conduit for financial & political elites to repress democracy. He is also self-serving and adicted to power.

      There is nothing brilliant about him other than the same old-fashioned power intelligence used in high school cliques, closed-door board rooms, and mob deals. The dark corrupt corridors of Chicago’s political machine was a appropriate place for him to fully evolve into his pod perfection. Ughh!

      Now we have the ultimate HR representative to market & buy consumer loyalty for “White Elitists USA Inc.”
      I do agree that the OP is useful in that it points out the dishonesty of those in the MSM labeling him brilliant.

      Also, I think an alternative OP title could have been called:

      “Dissembling the Meme of Obama’s So-called Brilliance”
      but otherwise, as Chimera pointed out:
      “It doesn’t matter if he’s a genius or not. what matters is that he is a liar.”


      • oops, should have said “Disassembling”

        Ha! New OP: How to Disassemble Obama’s Dissemblance”

        ok, off to bed (I am not brilliant and my brain gets tired easily)


        • ANMHE + M,

          I did not make the ridiculous claim that people without schooling can not be intelligent. I merely used an academic scale for judging his level of intelligence.


          • Steven,

            My post never made any assertion that *you* claimed that people can not be intelligent without higher education.

            I apologize if you took it that way.

            I was only agreeing w/ a -general concept- (not attributed to you or the OP), so slightly off-topic in a philosophical way but I still think it is relative —

            I also believe that Obama feels that Big Schools, Big Degrees and Big Titles are what makes someone better/and or smarter than people with none of the above.

            I don’t think he has respect for working-class people (of ANY race) whether they are “edumacated” or not.

            I thought the OP was an interesting topic & I also thought Dikinkat’s earlier work sussing through his “so-called” past academic achievements was also very informative.

            Obama is a hypocrite-
            and a good example that under some Academic social-status markers, one can be rather intellectually-challenged.
            (He has gotten where he is by connections & being savvy… not through real academic rigor)

            However, I DO have quite a lot of respect for people at the top of their fields of study who have gotten there by hard work. I believe in the merit system.

          • M,

            I apologize for conflating the two posts.

            May your harmonies meet your name.


          • Steven,


    • Since Obama chose a somewhat academic road, that’s how he has to be judged. If he was a brilliant inventor or painter or something else not requiring higher education or schooling, then we’d have to talk about his accomplishments in a different way. How many patents does he hold? How successful are his businesses? Where in his writing or painting does his work display that something special?

      He took the academic path. I’ve also got a problem with using the word elitist these days in a snobby way. I mean, isn’t one’s goal to be come part of an elite if one has ambition? Don’t you work very hard to become elite?

      I really hate the way the Republican party has turned the ideas of cultural elite or liberal elite into something they spit out of their mouths with contempt. One becomes an elite in their field of endeavor with a lot of hard work and practice.

      • TY.

        dakinikat captures my sense of it.

      • We could discuss Obama’s books. I’ve read Audacity of Hope, and I found it mediocre at best. It is a rather boring book, because Obama doesn’t take any princpled stands or argue passionately for any causes. His other book, a memoir, I’ve read parts of. The writing is a little better than in Audacity, and there are suggestions that Obama had some help with the writing and editing. I would have to read the whole thing to really evaluate the book. Maybe I will at some point. I did try to read it, but found it also was a little boring, frankly.

        • That would be evidence. However, I’m not sure just talking about yourself when you really haven’t done anything shows brilliance. Maybe 10 years from now, something more interesting would show up in his autobiography. We’ll have to see if the writing style morphs at all.

      • Dakinikat, I understand what you are saying here. That tracking his University record is important when he has chosen a some-what academic road to politics & touted his prestigious titles as reasons he was a superior candidate.

        While I still feel fine using the word Elitist to describe snobs & a concept of Hegemony-by-superiority status (which I never picked up from Republicans but more from very radical liberal writers, activists, & academics), I DON’T think that this thread topic or the posters here represent an Elitist attitude.

        I hope my post did not convey that sense and greatly admire people (including my own friends & many people here) who have worked long and hard to earn their place of respect within a field of study (something I mentioned to Steven earlier).

        This is a great thread (including the work you did earlier with looking into Obama’s previous resume) and I think ALL of Obama’s record (be it academic, public, religious, business, and political) is relative & important to know about.

    • Of course brilliant people don’t have to have degrees! But what else do we have to judge him on than his past performances in the arenas that he has chosen? He has spend his adult life in academia and politics. What has he achieved in either of these fields?

      • well, I’d have to say Obama’s had a brilliant career in politics and seems to be able to attract people to his staff that are very good and strategical and tactical maneuvering.

        That he’s had a million differing positions and not much of a record, and still people give him the benefit of a doubt shows he has some kind of political aptitude. Despite the obvious talents of Rove and Axelrod, I still think Bill Clinton is the Master of Modern Politics.

        • I agree with your comments about Obama. I’m withholding meaningful judgment on Obama’s mastery until I see how he deals with the first term, though I think he’s squandering his good will (like Bush on 9/11) and frittering the power of his majorities; majorities Bill did not have.

          • I know, with those kinds of majorities we should be seeing a lot more change and a lot less renewal of Bush policies. I find that extraordinarily appalling!

        • Obama’s “brilliant” career in politics seems due more to the efforts of other people than his own.

          Did he attract THEM or did they find HIM? Who is using who?

          • I believe it all started with an introduction from his grandfather to Frank Marshall Davis, who then passed him on to the Chicago group that mentored him up the ladder.

            Obama’s grandfather and mother both felt quite the disdain for their own race and country.

          • When Obama graduated from law school he returned to Chicago and began ingratiating himself with the Daley machine.

            He tried to run for Congress in 2000 against Bobby Rush and got his clock cleaned. Two years later Emil Jones was bragging he was gonna make Obama a Senator – and in 2004 he did.

            So who did Obama become friends with in 2002? Obama leapfrogged over a lot of other people – that takes family connections or friends, and Davis didn’t have that much pull.

          • Maybe not, but Davis had a hand in getting him to Chicago to begin with…a network starts somewhere.

  22. “Do you realize we know more about Bristol Palin’s school performance and activities at school than we do about Barack Obama? We still do not know what grades he earned in college and whether he even graduated with honors. As I have said before I have not met a single person who graduated Cum Laude (or better) and did not list those accomplishments in their resume or bio. But that is chump change compared to the disaster now unfolding with Barack Obama. He is putting the country at jeopardy.”


    Did BO “pretend” graduate? He’s never practiced law. He was a “lecturer” not a “professor”…
    MO and Hill did really graduate and there is evidence to support the claim.

  23. .

    Harvard’s law students are top tier

    I take it this can be said because W was not a law student there?
    I remember Bill Clinton telling people not to underestimate W – and he didn’t quite use the word cunning – but I think it’s what he meant. I always thought that, without his birth circumstances, W would have gotten himself the biggest bottle out of the other hobos under the bridge.
    Obama – who was never underprivileged himself, learned – just like W – to take advantage of everything – and in this respect, they are both equally intelligent. Obama is also somewhat more articulate than W, but then again, so is my yorkiepoo. Beyond that, it’s all propaganda.

  24. I think , again, like Bush 2 , what Barry knows what Bush 2 knew. He knows in his bones that money talks and bullshit walks….and that’s all he has to know . The smirk of knowing that was rarely, if ever wiped off Bush’s face. Right now, the money wants Barry…and in the past , when the money wanted Barry , he advanced accordingly…regardless of other factors.

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