Academic success and the White House

It remains an article of faith among leftwing journalists and bloggers that President Bush is stupid. "Faith", you will recall, is believing something you know ain't so. "How," they keep wailing, "can an idiot like this be President?"

Well, if you accept academic success as a useful measure of intelligence - and despite being a university lecturer, I am not sure I do - then the answer is pretty easy. He was lucky enough to be in elections against even bigger idiots. The Democrats have twice managed to nominate a candidate with a distinctly inferior academic record to run against him. Despite the universally acknowledged fact that Bush spent his years at Yale and Harvard either drunk or hung over, he got better degrees than either Kerry or Gore. And it is no good falling back on the "priveleged background" point, as it applies equally to Kerry and more so to Gore.

Bill Clinton's academic record - despite failing to finish his course at Oxford - is presumably fairly impressive. He did go on to be a professor of law. So does that make at least four elections in a row in which the candidate with the best academic credentials won?

In intellectual terms, Hillary Clinton is no Kerry or Gore. She is the real deal. So, in 2008, the Republicans may have to find some major firepower to keep intellectually outgunning the Democrats. One name springs to mind: a lady who fought her way through the segregated schools of Alabama to become the youngest ever Provost of Stanford, before becoming Secretary of State.

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