How Smart Are Our Leaders?

Jim Hightower recently wrote a characteristically intresting column asking readers to question just how smart Ted Cruz really is. He makes some good points about the dumb things Cruz does calling into question just how smart he is. It got me thinking, though…

How much do we really know about how clever these folks are? How much of what we see is just marketing and campaign posturing? Jimmy Carter played the hayseed reasonably well when he was called on to do it, but most accounts suggest he was a terrifyingly bright fellow.  How down to earth  and folksy was Bill Clinton, really, when the cameras were off? I don’t think we really know.

This, of course, inevitably leads me to W. I’m going to risk being kicked out of the club when I suggest that W was and is a very clever gent. He played stupid on the campaign trail and during debates, but how much of that was just pandering to a base that was suspicious of anyone with an education and any hint of intellectual curiosity. I don’t think W was dumb; I think that he was playing to the “dumb” crowd.

Let me turn it around a little while I’m at it. How important is it to have a genius in the White House? I want the President to be smart, but also to know his or her limits and to be humble enough to call on good advisers. Not that these traits can’t be found in the MENSA set. I’m just suggesting that maybe there are qualities other than raw intelligence required for the job.

So, maybe Ted Cruz really is very, very smart. But, given the demographic he’s trying to appeal to, maybe being smart isn’t smart.

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