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November 23, 2011

Predictable: Politico Asks If Newt Gingrich Is Really Smart

They're not calling him dumb because they can't. He's not dumb.

But they go to the next best thing -- Is he as smart as he thinks he is? Is he that smart?

Honestly I'm having trouble throwing a red flag here because, well, I wonder about this myself. I distinguish between cleverness and deep intellect, and I think Gingrich has plenty of fast-firing brain muscle (cleverness), but I don't know if he's a deep intellect.

I don't know that he's not, either. And I'm not really sure we'd want a deep intellect in high office, either way.

But I do know this: The people in the media who are marginally intelligent, and deem themselves geniuses or better, have the same type of intelligence Gingrich does. Quick, facile, idea-connecting, synapse-connecting cleverness.

And when they think about themselves, they think that sort of intelligence is the Gold Standard. Conveniently forgetting that the real intellects do not make surface connections between thoughts, but rather plumb deeply into one thought.

Clinton had that kind of facile, glib intelligence, and was called a genius.

Obama aspires to have that kind of intelligence. I don't really think he has any aspect of intelligence (cunning, cleverness, intellect) in any appreciable quantity, but it seems to me his best suit is cleverness.

So, Gingrich, perhaps, is merely a genius in the cleverness department. The same department the media has some ability in.

But now suddenly that's not a good thing.

Human beings have a strong tendency to champion those virtues and abilities they themselves possess while disparaging those they do not posses. Hence, the standard statement by anyone who's cunning but not actually a deep thinker that intellectuals are merely "book-smart." And a hundred variations, as each person attempts, in his own mind, to put his own ability-set upon the highest plane, and others' abilities on a lower one.

Standard human behavior, really.

The media loves glib speakers -- the sort of people who did well on the verbal part of their SATs -- because that's what they are, by and large. If the media is good at it, well then, in the media's eyes, you'd better best bet that the ability to speak facilely (but not deeply) about various subjects is the most important thing in the universe!

Again, this is standard. I've seen the media do this throughout my entire lifetime.

What's new here is that they're now disparaging Gingrich, who possesses the same type of intelligence they do (he just has more of it).

Gingrich's problem? That damnable (R) after his name.

Suddenly cleverness, which the media adores (as that's their bag, baby), doesn't quite stack up to deep intellect.

Meanwhile, no one at Politico ever asks if Obama's reputation as a scholar is earned or, frankly, contrived by hero-worshipping well-wishers.

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posted by Ace at 06:14 PM

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