Why Must They Be Geniuses?

There’s something that genuinely puzzles me. Why do so many Democrats seem to demand that their presidents in particular be geniuses? That’s certainly not my view but I have a peculiarly jaundiced opinion of politicians. My dad was very involved politically, his uncle was sheriff of St. Louis, his grandfather was a party bigwig, the chairman of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen was a close family friend, I went to school and Boy Scouts with Symingtons and Schlaflys, etc..

I don’t believe that Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, or, (heavens help us) Hillary Clinton are great minds. I think they’re politically astute but otherwise perfectly commonplace members of the professional class. I.e. IQs one or two standard deviations above normal; smart enough but no geniuses. I’ve known truly brilliant intellects over the years. They ain’t it.

I don’t expect presidents to be super-intelligent but I do expect them to be hard-working and not to have just fallen off the turnip truck. In that I’ve been gravely disappointed in recent years.

10 comments… add one
  • Mr. Clinton varies from the others in that he has charm. If he’d just left off the cigars…

  • Mr. Clinton varies from the others in that he has charm.

    My wife, who has been in the same room as Mr. Clinton, says that his personal charm is incredible. Magnetic.

  • PD Shaw Link

    I went to school and Boy Scouts with . . . Schlaflys.

    They allowed you to take beers to school and scouting?

  • PD Shaw Link

    Joke explanation: Schlaflys are St. Louis microbrew beers.

  • Icepick Link

    I keep meaning to ask: Schuler, did you know the Limbaughs growing up? It seems at the very least that your father must have know some of the older Limbaughs professionally. (Not asking for any opinions about any of them, just curious.)

  • I didn’t know them but my dad must have known Rush’s father and grandfather. They’re from Cape Girardeau. For a St. Louisan that’s practically like being from the moon.

    Cape Girardeau is sort of the gateway to the Bootheel. The Bootheel is a culturally distinct part of the state. Definitely Southern. Almost entirely agricultural. Last I looked mostly cotton and strawberries grown by sharecroppers.

    I’ve got a story about Cape Girardeau, too. A number of years back an old family friend who lived in Ste. Genevieve (very old French settlement on the River) was going through some papers and found an unpaid house account (her family had owned a general store) that belonged to an extremely prominent Cape Girardeau family. At that point the family owned practically all of the banks in that part of the state. The house account was from the 1830s and what had been purchased on the account was silk underwear.

    She drove down to Cape Girardeau, stormed into the office of the head of the family, bill in hand (these Old Settler families all know each other), and demanded payment. They all had a good laugh.

  • PD Shaw Link

    Cape Giardeua is to St. Louis as
    Tallahassee is to Orlando.

    BTW/ we were in Ste. Genevieve almost a year ago to the day, on our way to a weekend hiking in the Arcadia Valley (Elephant Rocks, Taum Sauk Mountain, & Johnson Shut-ins) and of course where Grant got his general’s commission. We’re about 80 miles from St. Louis and in terms of conveniences, it was like being on the moon. We were looking for a store to buy band-aids and made the mistake of heading away from St. Louis and I suspect we could have driven across the state without finding a convenience store.

  • That’s territory I’m nearly as familiar with as I am with my own backyard. You should have seen it 50 years ago, PD. Between blue laws, small population, and backwardsness you’d be hard put to find a filling station open in some counties after six in the evening. I can vividly recall trying, in vain, to find somewhere to eat on a Friday night in the Ozarks.

  • Icepick Link

    Okay, Orlando to Tallahassee is about 255 miles. Distance from Cape Giardeua to St. Louis is about 105 miles. Distance from Kansas City to St Louis is about 240 miles.

    Florida’s land mass isn’t as big as western states, but it’s one long-assed haul to get from about anywhere to about anywheres else. Even the short drives can be murder. One of the state roads over to the Cocoa area (I forget the number) was notorious for people becoming self-hypnotized and driving off into the scrub or into oncoming traffic and dying. The road was just that damned straight, and flat, and boring.

    I-95 from Daytona to Jacksonville* isn’t that straight, or even flat (thanks to overpasses) but it makes up for it in sheer boredom. I usually want the Universe to end and put me out of my misery somewhere around about St. Augustine. Suicide seems like a viable alternative by the time one nears the end of the stretch. (These are not mis-ordered. The first implies passive acceptance of one’s fate. The second assumes active responsibility for ending it all.) If at all possible, always take A1A coming down the coast. It takes a lot more time, but arrive alive, as they say!

    (Complete humorless literalism and misspellings all intentional.)

    * Going north from Jacksonville gets pretty boring too, but the stench from the paper mills leaves one too revolted (and too concentrated on not hurling all over the upholstery) to allow for fatal levels of boredom.

  • PD Shaw Link

    Icepick, I was thinking more of cultural differences than geographic.

    The last time I was in the Missouri bootheel (about six months ago), my wife ordered the vegetarian plate, which consisted of Fried Potatoes & Onions, Macaroni & Tomatoes, Black-Eyed Peas, Fried Okra, turnip greens, fried apples and rolls & sorghum. That was too healthy for me, so I had that plus half of a fried chicken.

    St. Louis is called the last eastern city (it reminds me of Cincinnati and Louisville) and its dining is more European in origin, with particular pride in the Italian food.

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