WSJ: The Stupid President Is Stupid

Blog ››› ››› SIMON MALOY

Bret Stephens of The Wall Street Journal is a smart guy. At least, I assume he is. After all, only someone with extreme confidence in his intellectual capability would make this the thesis sentence of a print op-ed:

I just think the president isn't very bright.

Yep. Stephens inked an entire column on how President Obama is stupid, and he brought horrible analogies to bear in supporting his argument:

The aircraft was large, modern and considered among the world's safest. But that night it was flying straight into a huge thunderstorm. Turbulence was extreme, and airspeed indicators may not have been functioning properly. Worse, the pilots were incompetent. As the plane threatened to stall they panicked by pointing the nose up, losing speed when they ought to have done the opposite. It was all over in minutes.

Was this the fate of Flight 447, the Air France jet that plunged mysteriously into the Atlantic a couple of years ago? Could be. What I'm talking about here is the Obama presidency.

Yeah! Those dead pilots were total morons, too!

Anyway, Stephens' evidence that the president is not intelligent is that Obama says and does things with which Stephens disagrees. And, since Stephens already demonstrated that he's among the brighter bulbs in the box, ipso facto, President Jughead:

Then there is Mr. Obama as political tactician. He makes predictions that prove false. He makes promises he cannot honor. He raises expectations he cannot meet. He reneges on commitments made in private. He surrenders positions staked in public. He is absent from issues in which he has a duty to be involved. He is overbearing when he ought to be absent. At the height of the financial panic of 1907, Teddy Roosevelt, who had done much to bring the panic about by inveighing against big business, at least had the good sense to stick to his bear hunt and let J.P. Morgan sort things out. Not so this president, who puts a new twist on an old put-down: Every time he opens his mouth, he subtracts from the sum total of financial capital.

Then there's his habit of never trimming his sails, much less tacking to the prevailing wind. When Bill Clinton got hammered on health care, he reverted to centrist course and passed welfare reform. When it looked like the Iraq war was going to be lost, George Bush fired Don Rumsfeld and ordered the surge.

Mr. Obama, by contrast, appears to consider himself immune from error. Perhaps this explains why he has now doubled down on Heckuva Job Geithner. It also explains his insulting and politically inept habit of suggesting--whether the issue is health care, or Arab-Israeli peace, or change we can believe in at some point in God's good time--that the fault always lies in the failure of his audiences to listen attentively. It doesn't. In politics, a failure of communication is always the fault of the communicator.

If Obama had done everything Stephens' wanted him to do, that would have been smart. It may not seem convincing to you, but, again, you forget how bright Bret Stephens is. After all, he name-dropped Socrates, Aristotle, Plutarch, and Forrest Gump in repackaging many-years stale right-wing talking points and condensing them into one hackish exercise in sophistry.

That takes real smarts. The kind you don't get at President School.

Wall Street Journal
Bret Stephens
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