Smart presidents

Matthew Hoy
By Matthew Hoy on October 3, 2011

As I was doing some traveling this past weekend I had the opportunity to listen to the audiobook of Candice Millard's "Destiny of the Republic," on President James A. Garfield and his assassination. Though I have not yet finished it, it is an excellent, gripping story.

What prompts this comment on the book is a couple of items that have come up again recently in the news regarding President Obama. First, from the day after Obama's election in 2008 was this from presidential historian Michael Beschloss comparing the president-elect to the 43 presidents to come before him:

I would say it’s probably – he’s probably the smartest guy ever to become President.

Second, was this comment today from Obama:

President Barack Obama said Monday he does not regret a $528 million loan to a solar energy company that later collapsed, saying officials always knew a clean energy loan program would not back winners 100 percent of the time.

"There are going to be some failures, and Solyndra's an example," Obama said in a television interview, referring to a California solar panel maker that declared bankruptcy last month and laid off its 1,100 workers. The company's failure has become a rallying cry for critics of Obama's clean energy program who say the government should not try to predict winners and losers in the volatile renewable energy market.

This is the smartest guy ever to become president? Beschloss isn't much of historian if he believes that. He certainly hasn't studied Garfield at all if he believes that. First, there's the obvious one. As a member of Congress, Garfield came up with an original proof of the Pythagorean Theorem. Does anyone really believe that Obama has the brainpower to pull off something similar?

Obama's famously boasted that he's a "better speechwriter than his speechwriters," but compare the best of Obama's speeches (you'll have to use the Internet to search, because you likely can't come up with any off the top of your head) with Garfield's and you'll quickly come to the realization that Obama is the Saturday morning cartoons to Garfield's Shakespeare.


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October 2011



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