President Obama is frequently described as highly intelligent. His advisor Valerie Jarrett has described this as a "burden." She announced at the John F. Kennedy School of Government that "[p]art of the burden of being so bright is that he sees his error immediately." Advisor David Axelrod claimed, "He does have an incisive mind. This is someone who in law school worked with [Harvard professor] Larry Tribe on a paper on the legal implications of Einstein's theory of relativity." The president obviously shares this opinion, having told Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid early in his Senate career, "Harry, I have a gift."
The "progressive" media can be counted on to regurgitate this mantra. They have, in fact, surpassed it, and they have often entered the realm of idolatry or even adolescent infatuation. Chris Matthews is perhaps the leading example of this. Following one the president's press conferences, Matthews claimed that "[t]he president showed his analytical mind. He was at his best intellectually. I thought it was a great example of how his mind works. What a mind he has, and I love his ability to do it on television. I love to think with him." Matthews is famous for the frequent "thrill" that goes up his leg. He apparently also suffers from gender confusion. Watching Obama board a helicopter, Matthews gushed, "We agree, we girls agree. I don't mind saying that. I'm excited. I'm thrilled."
Following Obama's speech at the Democratic National Convention, reports on the president became so fawning that even Bill Maher, no right-winger, commented that "the coverage ... that I was watching from MSNBC, I mean these guys were ready to have sex with him."
The commentators at MSNBC were not alone. Judith Warner, who writes for the New York Times, claimed that many women are dreaming of having sex with the new president. How did she know? Well, from personal experience. She shared her fantasy of finding President Obama in her shower. Was this news "fit to print"?
Another New York Times columnist, David Brooks, shared the experience of his first encounter with the President: "I remember distinctly an image of -- we were sitting on his couches, and I was looking at his pant leg and his perfectly creased pant," Brooks reported, "and I'm thinking, a) he's going to be president and b) he'll be a very good president." Evan Thomas, Newsweek editor, provided this analysis: "I mean, in a way Obama's standing above the country, above -- above the world...he's sort of God." Historian Michael Beschloss, who might be considered an expert on American presidents, claimed that the current president's IQ is "off the charts." When pressed to reveal what he thought the President's IQ was, Beschloss could only say, "he's probably the smartest guy ever to become president." Even many of Obama's critics have bought into the intelligence hype. FOX news contributor Fred Barnes of the Weekly Standard claimed that "for all his brainpower," he is a "slow learner."
This adulation may cause a serious problem for supporters of the president. Joe Scarborough pointed this out on his MSNBC program: "I tell you my biggest fear for Barack Obama, he has been sainted. He is Saint Barack. The same mainstream media that tried so desperately to get him elected has engaged in hyperbole, engaged in exaggeration. They have deified this man. ... They have set up such unrealistic expectations that no politician could meet those expectations." Scarborough might blame the media for this hyperbole, but they are only willing accomplices. The president himself has set the bar rather high. On June 3, 2008, he announced that future generations would look back on his primary victory as "the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal."
It would be unfair to elaborate on all of the president's gaffes in order to bolster the argument that he is not as intelligent as his supporters claim. It was unfair of the progressive media to pillory Vice President Dan Quayle for misspelling "potatoe." It was unfair to highlight every instance of Ronald Reagan and George Bush misspeaking. But is it professional for the media to edit a president's remarks in order to correct them? President Obama, speaking of the Somali pirates, stated, "And I want to be very clear that we are resolved to halt the rise of privacy in that region." This was obviously a mistake. However, the major media reported that he vowed to "halt the rise of piracy" off the coast of Africa.
Can an individual who is obviously infatuated with a public figure provide an objective analysis of that figure's policies? It seems unlikely.
John Dietrich is a freelance writer and the author of The Morgenthau Plan: Soviet Influence on American Postwar Policy (Algora Publishing).