A Lawyer from Texas writes:
Regarding George W. Bush’s intelligence, here’s an e-mail I sent a friend in June:
Last night Bob Jordan showed up at the post-Bar None gathering. Bob was in Bar None (the Dallas Bar’s annual “follies” type show I have been in for years) a few years back and is someone I know. Bob is the current ambassador to Saudi Arabia, and was back in town from Riyadh for a few weeks recently, and he’s a good guy. I asked Bob whether he imagined, in his wildest dreams, that his job would turn out to be this intense when he was appointed. He said no, and jokingly added that his comment to the President was “Hey: I *thought* you were my friend!” I.e., before September 11 being the ambassador in Riyadh wasn’t exactly a hot spot; now it’s, shall we say, more interesting and important than anticipated.
I asked him how he was coming on his Arabic, and he said he’d taken a few lessons, but unfortunately was too busy to get fluent yet.
Finally, I asked him for a small favor. I said “Bob, I correspond with a number of people on the Internet who clearly believe our current President is a complete dimwit who is entirely in the pocket of the oil companies. What’s your take on that?”
He replied that he has known President Bush for over 11 years and represented him as a lawyer, that George W. Bush was one of the sharpest minds he knew, that he consistently asked penetrating, intelligent questions, and was in complete control of the country. He said he “was in Condi Rice’s office the other day,” and President Bush called up and was more in command of all the facets of the situation than she was — and she knew everything that was going on. He said Bush is a very quick study and has a flexible and perceptive intelligence. And that it is a mistake to think that he is in the pocket of the oil business, as he is doing what *he* believes is best for the country. He also said to me, “you know I wouldn’t be saying this if it wasn’t the case.”
[Yes, I *know* that Bob could just be being a good little soldier and lying through his teeth. Many will believe that, of course, and my sayso won't carry any weight there. I understand that. In my opinion, Bob was being sincere.]
I said that President Bush’s big problem is that he’s just not very good at extemporaneous speaking. Bob acknowledged that, and said that that was due to him not really getting a good foundation for that in junior high school in Midland, Texas.
I said to Bob that even Clinton’s worst detractors — myself included — never thought or said he was stupid
Anyway, I don’t expect this to change anyone’s mind really. But I know Bob, and he knows President Bush. And, although I may not agree with everything the President does, I am now convinced (a) that he’s not an idiot and (b) that he is not a tool.
Oh, yeah: I gather that Riyadh isn’t the funnest place to live in the world, either…
I’ve mentioned before that the chattering classes who dominate the media quite naturally tend to equate “verbal intelligence” with Intelligence. Bush lacks verbal intelligence. But there are lots of other kinds of intelligence and Bush has it in spades. Provincial media types will therefore always tend to underestimate him. That’s good news.