Is Bush an idiot?

Joe Scarborough isn’t sure.

Personally, I don’t think so. But former right-wing Congressman and current MS-NBC commentator Joe Scarborough isn’t sure. Scarborough and I agree that Bush’s lack of curiosity (which Scarborough ness-monsters into “curiousness”) is a major failing. What’s even worse is Bush’s profound indifference to the truth, based on his conviction that spin beats reality every time..

If you’ve been in Papua New Guinea since 1998 and doubt that Mr. Bush is a few bricks shy of a load, you can judge for yourself.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

11 thoughts on “Is Bush an idiot?”

  1. Mark: granted, you don't like what Bush does/says. But does it really matter whether he is doing what he does because (a) he's an idiot, (b) he has a completely different view of reality than you do, (c) he thinks he is doing God's will, or (d) he is being manipulated by Rove and Cheney? What matters to me is the substance of what he does; I don't care if his actions are driven by his religion or his non-curiousosity or anything else. Would 3,000 dead Americans in Iraq be any easier to accept if he was more intellectually curious or if he mangled his words a bit less than he does?

  2. From the first words that Bush spoke, I new that he was soft upstairs. By the way, for all of you that don't know, Bush was accepted at Harvard on a "legacy" entrance, and was advised by their admission's office to apply elsewhere because he might not be accepted. There's a new book that was published: "The Chosen" by Jerome Karabel that details admissions at Harvard, Yale and Princeton. Too, Cheney flunked out of Harvard after his first year. The book is terrific.

  3. I've been in PNG twice and can assure you that even there they are very well aware of the fact that W is an idiot.

  4. gecko–Could we fly some of the islanders in to give seminars to the Washington press corps?

  5. Personally I think he *is* an idiot. There are plenty of stupid people who have a reptilian kind of cunning and instinct for weakness in others, and this is how I think of bush.
    He *is* most definitely a lout, whether he's an idiot or not. He revels and swaggers in his ability to mock reporters and everyone else, knowing they they can't respond in kind because of the office he holds.
    And there was that amazing performance at the G8 with his lip-smacking scolding of Blair and his drive-by shoulder rub on Merkel. There I think he was just acting the way he always does in the family compounds because the lush surroundings and exclusion of the public made him feel right at home.
    Loutishness combines in his case with that reptilian sense for weaknesses in his evident belief that he can say any damn thing he wants to, particularly when it's a personal remark in a professional or state setting.

  6. Steve:
    It matters because he's going to be President for two more years and change, and those of us trying to limit the amount of damage he does over that period need a model of his behavior so we can think clearly about how to influence it.

  7. No one could have predicted that GWB would turn out (aganst all evidence to the contrary) to be an idiot. Surprise, Surprise, Surprise!
    Kathleen Reardon has an interesting post on Huffington Post Blogg on the strategy of the cons promoting the CW of Bush the Poor Idiot. After all we should forgive his mistakes because he's just not so bright. Of course these are people who would most likely advocate executing retarded individuals who commit murder.

  8. I'm not sure he's an idiot, but he's certainly a fool. Other men of limited capacity have held high office and not disgraced themselves or their countries – take the Emperor Claudius, Louis XIII of France, Sir Alec Douglas-Home or King George VI, because they accepted their own limitations. Many very clever men, like Kerensky or Napoleon or LBJ or Chiang Kai-Shek, have made disastrous mistakes by overestimating themselves and underestimating their adversaries. Bush has the coward's trick of overestimating his adversaries, Saddam and OBL.

  9. The sad fact is that Bush probably doesn't have the intellectual abilities or curiousity of the average NASCAR fan. If he did, his privileged birth would have allowed him to accomplish something of note by now.
    Bush is the ultimate hollow man. His history degree is a disgrace to Harvard- even an amateur historian is frequently reminded by Bush that Bush has failed to understand the most rudimentary implications of what he may have read. As a husband, he refers to his wife as "lump in the bed". His "home" was purchased as a stage set. His lifetime achievement consists of having been groomed and prepped to replace his father on a publicity pedestal.
    I'm sure that at age six his intelligence would have been rated, as with most of us, slightly "above average". In the years since, most of us have at least built a collection of plastic models, learned to knit afghans, or developed a strong opinion about a brand of automobile.
    Bush, not so much.

  10. In moments of imopatience I am tempted to believe that people who say "Bush isn't stupid," reveal themselves as a bit dim. And I think it might make for a good discriminator in a quick and dirty sort. But really this gets into the epistemological question: what is 'stupid? Bush got something like 1230 on his SAT's so, if (and it's a very big IF)it wasn't a ringer taking the test for him, he clearly, once, was capable of intelligent thought.
    Alas intelligence isn't merely a thing one has like money, or blue eyes or musical talent, intelligence is also a thing one shows or exercises, very like physical fitness or physical courage. It can atrophy very quickly among people who do not challenge themselves.
    Of course it could just be my own cultural prejudice valorizing my own interests and background, but I still wonder: the Bushites know nothing of the physical world (not having worked or built or planted there), they apparently care nothing for science, history, music, philosophy, foreign travel or literature, so, doesn't this make them stupid? AND Don't you have to be stupid to care nothing for these things, and doesn't ignorance of these things make you stupid, in precisely the same way sedentation makes you weak?
    If one has the cunning and drive to advance one's interests, grudges and causes, at any cost to whomever, and yet not the wisdom to forebear, is one stupid? Is there always a moral component to smart?

  11. I am convinced that only as an embarassement to us as a country does it matter whether this man is an idiot. He does seem to display the IQ of an oyster but he is not running the important parts of the show. He is the front man, and an indication of how far we have decended into the mire of ignorance and non-caring inattention that the schools and major informantion purveyors have been aiming us for many years now. We forgot that we ultimately get the government we deserve.

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