Monday, April 28, 2008

Is He Serious?

One can have rhetorical skills, like Obama, which conceal an intellect that is mediocre, or poor rhetorical skills, like President Bush, and have a superior IQ.
--Gagdad Bob

10 comments:

Scatter said...

Gagdad Bob is a pretentious ass. Why would you even waste your time reading his blog?

Gagthatdad said...

I long ago dismissed his lopsided politics and hatemongering "spirituality" of mockery and exclusion. Now I can dismiss his pretensions of being a psychologist.

Tom said...

While this is true: "One can have rhetorical skills which conceal an intellect that is mediocre, or poor rhetorical skills and have a superior IQ."

THIS is preposterous: "One can have rhetorical skills, like Obama, which conceal an intellect that is mediocre, or poor rhetorical skills, like President Bush, and have a superior IQ."

Obama is brilliant. Bush isn't.

Nagarjuna said...

Tom, I agree completely with your comment. It IS "preposterous." And if Gagdad REALLY means it and isn't just engaging in playful exaggeration, then I may have to agree with much of what a previous commenter said as well.

Van said...

Or... one could have minimal rhetorical skills and a mediocre intellect while pretending to have superior versions of both... but of course that works better if you keep your comments amongst those who most resemble you... oy?

(I'll leave you a big wide opening there so you can have fun retorting - practice makes... it obvious that more practice is needed)

Nagarjuna said...

Van, who is "pretending to have superior versions of both"? Obama, Scatter, Gagthatdad, Tom, or yours truly? More importantly, do you agree with Bob's comment that Bush is smarter than Obama? Or, in your heart of hearts, do you not believe that this is as "preposterous" as the rest of us do?

Van said...

You kind of let that opening go... but ok.

The problem you apparently have, is the inability to distinguish between quickness, intelligence, and wisdom. Is the ability to speak clearly and glibly, the same as intelligence? I've known many people who could present themselves in a sincere and convincing manner, rhetorically sway people towards seeing things their way. Many were con men, some wound up in jail, a couple wound up dead. Does that qualify them as Intelligent? Pursuing a goal for no other reason than it was what they wanted at the time?

My answer is no.

I have also known many people who could grasp an expanse of particulars in their mind, remain aware of all of them, and react to events three steps ahead, on their feet, in their mind in real time, which I'd have, and would be, hard pressed to manage with the aid of book, pen and paper. A couple of them also had a sizable degree of presentable quickness - charm, glibness. One of them is either dead, in a witness protection program or in prison. One is doing very well - financially - in the entertainment business; his personal life however, is a wreck. Of the other three who stand out in my mind, two were the proverbial brains, one in computers, the other a production engineer - neither could complete three consecutive sentences in an unfamiliar social setting and those three would be garbled, and that only in response, initiating a conversation just didn’t happen. The other I've lost track of over the years.

They all certainly had the mechanics of intelligence, they were smart, but being able to grasp a narrow situation, but fail to grasp those situations in the wider context of their lives, does that qualify them as being intelligent?

My answer is no.

If any of you are saying that a person cannot be brilliant and also be socially inept, even inarticulate - then you know a very small slice of humanity. If any of you are saying that having an abundance of charm and social skills alone makes you intelligent in any meaningful way, then you are fools ready to be taken in by slicker fools than you.

I personally know two people, and a third now dead… eh.. as fourth as well, who in my adult knowledge of them, I would say had the whole package, the social graces, intellectual ability and depth and had lives which are (were) rich and fulfilling professionally, personally and in their family life. I would say that they intelligently pursued life, liberty and happiness in a successful manner. They, I would call intelligent and wise.

So with that scenario in mind, lets look at the social graces – warmth, glibness, charm and quickness. I would count social graces as a sizeable component of an intelligent and successful life, but not a dominant measure. Now I’m assuming with Bush you would like to take his tendency to stumble over his own tongue as a disqualifier for intelligence and social graces. If the person had no ability to connect with people, to be unable to show and appreciate humor, to in any significant way be unable to connect and communicate with others - I'd say they'd lose several steps on the intelligent and successful scale.

Are you really trying to say that about Bush? Have you ever watched a full press briefing with him? Heard him joking with the press corps, who are smiling, laughing and chatting back and forth with him? Do you really think David Gregory would intentionally smile, chat and laugh with Bush if he could help it? Nonsense.

Is he stupid? Is he on the level of an inarticulate fool? Have you read or listened to, a long interview with him, such as the level O’Reilly just gave to Hillary? If so and you want to call him stupid, then obviously your biases blind you. If he is a stupid person, then his democrat opposition must be the biggest bunch of boobs ever, because he has parried or out maneuvered them time and again. If you're going to trot out the "Rove is Bush's Brain", or “Cheney controls it all”, then you are nothing more than conspiracists with little capacity for independent thought or intelligence of your own.

He is obviously an intelligent person - if you want to deny that, maybe you should read a book on Bush, not very complimentary but fair in overall presentation, "Dead Certain" - if you come away from that and still think him an unintelligent fool, then you show yourself to be deep in the throws of juvenile BDS - and perhaps worse, you allow cheap shots to prejudice you from taking an honest look at someone you oppose, preferring the comforting world of gossiping prejudice. Good luck wth that.

Now to compare the two, Obama I know little about, but I see very little to indicate that he is not a smart person, law professor, Senator and so on, obviously very charming, and his family life seems fairly sound. Bush, MBA & degrees from Harvard and Yale, Governor, President, etc, seems to have a good relationship with his wife, kids and family, so fair to say they've both got it together on those accounts.

Obama doesn't often have the tongue tripping problem, so I'd probably give him the edge in presentation skills, however that is hardly enough of a disqualifier to make any judgment about whether or not Bush or Obama is the smarter person, if you think it is, then in my estimation your judgment is shallow, trite, juvenile, etc, and generally of no further use.

The final test remains to what ends do they direct their intelligence, do they have judgment and wisdom. I've already noted both seem to have, broadly speaking, mostly successful lives. That leaves their judgment on what to base their lives upon, their policies, their goals and intentions for the country. Bush has a decent grasp of Republican ideals, less so of conservative principles, he seems to understand them, but sees no problem waffling and compromising on them – there he gets a mixed review. His strongest suit has been his judicial appointments, except for the bizarre attempt with Harriet Meyers, he's done very well. Taxes, so so, reigning in gov't spending on improper spending programs, poor. Nat'l defense I'd give good marks, but not high. His ability to identify what he believes in, make a decision and stick to it, I'd give high marks on. His ability to recognize sound principles and apply them, so so.

Since Obama has no record to speak of, we can't compare them there, so I've got to go on their ability to choose sound personal associations and ability to recognize a sound policy, and implement it. Obama has voted, spoken, supported and endorsed policies and actions which are in essence Marxist and socialist, and he wants to take the country down that path. Anybody who actually reads the material, looks at the history, grasps the economic principles and realities of that and thinks through the contradictions, problems and inadequacies of those ideas, is a philosophical lightweight. Period. Obama has made close and questionable associations with crooks (Rezko), terrorists (Ayers), marxist racists (Wright), and spoken at times warmly of them at one time, and then within little space of time, distancing or denouncing them - and particularly with Wright, with all three on the same matters. So at the very least his judgment is unsound and inconsistent. His ability to make and stick to a decision poor.

I'd say the detractions, Bush's occasionally tripping tongue and so so ability to apply his stated belief in free markets, are far outweighed by Obama's poor judgment in personal associations, loyalty in sticking with them, in his poor ability to understand political philosophy and peoples character. Both claim to be Christians, so the typical atheist rants are mutually nullified. Bush grasps the typical conception of the religion and has seemingly held to it consistently for a couple decades. Obama seems to have went with a church which was politically advantageous without carefully examining either the inconsistencies it would have with the common conception of what Christianity means, and either didn’t listen, didn’t understand, or did and didn’t care, what those ‘black liberation Marxist black values’ tenets actually meant. I read a sizable chunk of the articles, sermons and summations of ‘black values’ they still had posted when the current controversy erupted, and It boils down to bigotry, racism and inconsistent, contradictory ‘principles’. That’s a rather big mark against Obama’s overall intelligence and wisdom.

So yes, on balance, I do believe that Bush is more intelligent than Obama. Good night.

Nagarjuna said...

Van, thank you for your dissertation on why you think Bush is "more intelligent" than Obama. I agree with you that there are different kinds of smarts and that just because one isn't a smart talker, it doesn't have to mean that he isn't smart in other ways. I also agree with you that President Bush isn't stupid. But then no one here said he is.

However, it seems to me that you are using the word "intelligence" in a broader sense that what most people, Bob included, mean by "intellect" or "IQ." I suspect that some of the people you say you know or knew ARE intellectually gifted or have high IQ's, even if they've made a mess of their personal lives and therefore don't qualify as "intelligent" in the way you conceive it. But, again, we, or at least I, am talking about a more conventional understanding of "intellect" or "IQ" and not of "intelligence" as wisdom.

By rising from humble beginnings to become president of Harvard Law Review, graduate magna cum laude from Harvard Law School, and teach constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School for over a decade, to say nothing of his later accomplishments in masterfully running senatorial and presidential campaigns against imposing odds and composing and delivering breathtaking speeches of profound insight and eloquence, I think it's more than reasonable to assert that Obama does not have a "mediocre intellect" or IQ, which is what Bob asserted and is, technically speaking, what I most objected to.

As to who is smarter in the intellectual or IQ sense, I don't see how Bush has shown that he is "superior" to Obama. Not only can he not speak as articulately as Obama, but I have listened closely to come of his press conferences and he comes across as appalling ignorant of the world in general and shockingly superficial and reflexive, for the president of the world's lone "superpower," in his embrace of conservative economic and political principles, even if you happen to agree with those principles. I am all but certain that Obama could explain both liberal and conservative political, economic, and religious principles far more capably than Bush could and mount a much more reasoned--i.e., intellectual--defense of his positions than Bush could.

As for using "intelligence" in the sense you do to mean, at least in part, sound judgment or wisdom, Obama's associations with Wright, Rezko, and Ayers are negligibly discrediting compared to Bush's staggering foreign and domestic failures as president.

As for Bush's "superior intelligence" in being able to judge character, I think his comments about looking into Vladimir Putin's eyes and sensing his "straight forward" and "trustworthy" soul renders this appraisal exceedingly dubious at best.

Van said...

"But, again, we, or at least I, am talking about a more conventional understanding of "intellect" or "IQ" and not of "intelligence" as wisdom. "

I probably should have guessed that, personally I don't see intelligence separated from wisdom, as being in any way intelligent, but that's just me.

"I am all but certain that Obama could explain both liberal and conservative political, economic, and religious principles far more capably than Bush could and mount a much more reasoned--i.e., intellectual--defense of his positions than Bush could."

Uh-huh... didja see his eloquence on display when asked to explain his plans for capital gains taxes?

And "…across as appalling ignorant of the world in general " is what I thought of his saying he'd talk to everyone, including Ahmadinejad.

"I think his comments about looking into Vladimir Putin's eyes and sensing his "straight forward" and "trustworthy" soul renders this appraisal exceedingly dubious at best."

Now that one I'll agree with you on!

“…in masterfully running senatorial and presidential campaigns against imposing odds and composing and delivering breathtaking speeches of profound insight and eloquence…”

And you do realize that he isn't running his brilliant campaign, his campaign manager David Plouffe is, right? And didja know the Obama speech’s come largely from people like Jon Favreau, his chief speechwriter? I’m afraid there are no Lincoln’s on either side of the aisle these days. At any rate apparently eloquence and insight are in the ear of the behearer, because I've found nothing of the sort in any of Obama's speeches, and find them to be well delivered vats of emptiness... but I think obviously, here we get into our personal judgment calls, and have no possibility of reaching agreement, and so will have to agree to disagree.

See ya Nag’s

;-)

Nagarjuna said...

Van, we don't appear to disagree on everything. For instance, I strongly agree with you that "intelligence" deserves a broader definition than convention decrees, or it exhibits greater "modularity" than most seem to realize. Where we seem to disagree most strongly is on the issue of whether Bush is more intelligent than Obama in ANY sense. And you're probably right that we're not likely to ever see eye to eye on that one.

However, I'm glad you stopped by and shared your perspective. I'm trying more than ever to hear, read, and consider different perspectives, and I think this is all for the better.