May 11, 2014

The Secretary of State isn't that bright

I rather like John F. Kerry. He strikes me as a fairly cool guy. Personally, I'd rather drink a glass of fine French wine with Kerry than a non-alcoholic beer with George W. Bush.

For example, in the winter of 2004, when the media had derailed Democratic frontrunner Howard Dean with the Dean Scream Meme and Kerry's path to the presidential nomination looked wide open, allegations of adultery suddenly popped up. But, within a day or two, the young lady of interest simply left the country on an extended trip overseas and the scandal vanished along with her. 

But, let me point out, that there's never been that much evidence that Kerry is smart enough to be a good Secretary of State. I recently reread Henry Kissinger's huge volume of memoirs devoted just to the tumultuous years 1973-74. Now, whatever else you want to say about Nixon and Ford's secretary of state, everybody was in agreement that Dr. K was smart enough for the job.

On the other hand, is John F. Kerry smart enough to hold all the pieces of the puzzle in his head and keep track of how each influences the other? And if he ever was, can he still do it now that he's in his 70s? These kind of questions are almost never asked because Kerry is a Democrat, and Democrats, especially upper crust ones, are assumed by the media to have higher IQs than Republicans. (Not that IQ exists, of course, but if it does, everybody knows that Democrats have higher IQs.)

Actually, though, we have a lot of data on how well Kerry performed on various objective tests as a young man, and it's in line with how well he performed as a presidential candidate in 2004: not bad, but nothing special. I spent a huge amount of time in 2004 researching the performance of Kerry and George W. Bush on the Officer Qualifying Tests they took in the 1960s while seniors at Yale to get into the Navy and Air Force Reserve, respectively. 

From the New York Times:
Secret Weapon for Bush? 

Published: October 24, 2004

 To Bush-bashers, it may be the most infuriating revelation yet from the military records of the two presidential candidates: the young George W. Bush probably had a higher I.Q. than did the young John Kerry. 
That, at least, is the conclusion of Steve Sailer, a conservative columnist at the Web magazine and a veteran student of presidential I.Q.'s. During the last presidential campaign Mr. Sailer estimated from Mr. Bush's SAT score (1206) that his I.Q. was in the mid-120's, about 10 points lower than Al Gore's.
Mr. Kerry's SAT score is not known, but now Mr. Sailer has done a comparison of the intelligence tests in the candidates' military records. They are not formal I.Q. tests, but Mr. Sailer says they are similar enough to make reasonable extrapolations. 
Mr. Bush's score on the Air Force Officer Qualifying Test at age 22 again suggests that his I.Q was the mid-120's, putting Mr. Bush in about the 95th percentile of the population, according to Mr. Sailer. Mr. Kerry's I.Q. was about 120, in the 91st percentile, according to Mr. Sailer's extrapolation of his score at age 22 on the Navy Officer Qualification Test. 
Linda Gottfredson, an I.Q. expert at the University of Delaware, called it a creditable analysis said she was not surprised at the results or that so many people had assumed that Mr. Kerry was smarter. "People will often be misled into thinking someone is brighter if he says something complicated they can't understand," Professor Gottfredson said. 
Many Americans still believe a report that began circulating on the Internet three years ago, and was quoted in "Doonesbury," that Mr. Bush's I.Q. was 91, the lowest of any modern American president. But that report from the non-existent Lovenstein Institute turned out to be a hoax.

Here's my enormous 2004 article explaining the methodology.

Tom Brokaw asked Kerry about my study, as I recounted in The American Conservative:
For a moment, I thought Sen. John F. Kerry was the exception to the rule that all liberals are secretly obsessed—even though they tell each other they don’t believe in it—with IQ. 
The Thursday before the election, Tom Brokaw interviewed Kerry on the “NBC Nightly News” and told him, “Someone has analyzed the president’s military aptitude tests and yours and concluded that he has a higher IQ than you do.” 
Kerry instantly dismissed this news with admirable nonchalance, “That’s great. More power.” ...
When Kerry insouciantly replied to Brokaw as if he didn’t care what he scored on a 90-minute exam 38 years ago, as if he believed that all that he had accomplished since then was the proper measure of the man, I was impressed. 
But then Kerry broke the spell by quibbling about my research, “I don’t know how they’ve done it, because my record is not public. So I don’t know where you’re getting that from.” Evidently, IQ mattered to Kerry, too. 
A few days later, Brokaw went on Don Imus’s radio show and revealed just how much it bugged Kerry that I had said Bush probably had a slightly higher IQ. After the cameras had stopped rolling, Kerry had rationalized to Brokaw, “I must have been drinking the night before I took that military aptitude test.”

Kerry's performance in naval officer training programs was good but not exceptional:
During the 3.5 month-long Officer Candidate School, Kerry outperformed his test score, finishing 80th out of his class of 563. 
I found two other class ranks for Kerry. In a ten-week class on damage-control, Kerry ranked 17th out of 33. In a three-week Command and Control course, he ranked 7th of 22.

Then, the year after the election, Michael Kranish broke this story in the Boston Globe:
During last year's presidential campaign, John F. Kerry was the candidate often portrayed as intellectual and complex, while George W. Bush was the populist who mangled his sentences. 
But newly released records show that Bush and Kerry had a virtually identical grade average at Yale University four decades ago. 
In 1999, The New Yorker published a transcript indicating that Bush had received a cumulative score of 77 for his first three years at Yale and a roughly similar average under a non-numerical rating system during his senior year. 
Kerry, who graduated two years before Bush, got a cumulative 76 for his four years, according to a transcript that Kerry sent to the Navy when he was applying for officer training school. He received four D's in his freshman year out of 10 courses, but improved his average in later years.

This shouldn't have come as a surprise after Kerry's dreary performance running for President. Like Romney in 2012, he won the first presidential debate due to an awful performance by the incumbent but then couldn't deliver a knockout in the next two. And Kerry's speeches ...

As Chris Suellentrop of Slate wrote in "Kerry vs. His Script: Why can't the man read a simple speech? Declaring war on declarative sentences," the candidate repeatedly insisted on padding out the well-written speeches his staff gave him with meaningless improvisations:
The campaign gives reporters the text of each of Kerry's speeches "as prepared for delivery," apparently to show how much Kerry diverges from them... 
Kerry proves incapable of reading simple declarative sentences. He inserts dependent clauses and prepositional phrases until every sentence is a watery mess. Kerry couldn't read a Dick and Jane book to schoolchildren without transforming its sentences into complex run-ons worthy of David Foster Wallace. 
Kerry's speechwriters routinely insert the line "We can bring back that mighty dream," near the conclusion of his speeches, presumably as an echo of Ted Kennedy's Shrum-penned "the dream will never die" speech from the 1980 Democratic convention. Kerry saps the line of its power. Here's his version from Monday's speech in Tampa: "We can bring back the mighty dream of this country, that's what's at stake in these next two weeks."... 
Kerry flubs his punch lines, sprinkles in irrelevant anecdotes, and talks himself into holes that he has trouble improvising his way out of. He steps on his applause lines by uttering them prematurely, and then when they roll up on his TelePrompTer later, he's forced to pirouette and throat-clear until he figures out how not to repeat himself. He piles adjective upon adjective until it's like listening to a speech delivered by Roget. 
Kerry's health-care speech Monday in Tampa was a classic of the form. The written text contained a little more than 2,500 words. By the time he was finished, Kerry had spoken nearly 5,300 words—not including his introductory remarks and thank-yous to local politicians—more than doubling the verbiage.

Last year, Kerry flubbed up badly regarding chemical weapons in Syria, but the Russian foreign ministry bailed him out by turning his scoffing words into a constructive solution. But the international situation has turned more perilous since then, and the country needs a first-rate Secretary of State.


Anonymous said...

You can actually make a pretty good case that Kerry overperformed in 2004, given what the economic fundamentals were in summer 2004, the residual post 9/11 goodwill enjoyed by GW Bush and the fact that the Iraq insurgency was only beginning to heat up at that point.

Bert said...

Kerry is a better SOS than Hillary was, but that's not saying much.

His performance during the Ukraine drama has been nothing short of embarrassing.

Anonymous said...

"""""""But the international situation has turned more perilous since then, and the country needs a first-rate Secretary of State.""""""""""""

But you're not actually suggesting that Obama should bring back Hillary? Goodness! Gracious!

The main question remains, however, is Kerry smart enough for Obama? Is Kerry smart enough to be Obama's hand picked SOS?

I mean, as the President remarked once back in the early part of his 08 campaign that he was indeed the smartest man in the room, and if his IQ is about the same as George W Bush's, and Bush's iQ is slightly higher than Kerry's, then that would mean that Obama is smarter than Kerry.

Well, guess Obama remains the smartest man in the cabinet room and of course that includes such a weighty person as Eric Holder.

Clutch cargo cult said...

What is going on with the dude's face? Way too much rat poison. Regardless of their respective IQs it obvious they have swallowed the worst conventional wisdom whole.

dearieme said...

I remember someone saying that Kerry was fluent but not articulate - the words flow but don't mean anything.

Anyway, I love the fact that the young W was brighter than JFK. It's quite a thought, though, that even Kerry might have been brighter than JFK. But Kennedy had far, far better scriptwriters.

Anonymous said...

Kerry can have an IQ of 1000. He still has to serve AIPAC. THAT is the problem.

Kissinger worked at a time when the power was more balanced, thus more things were possible.

Anonymous said...

Unarmed men are trying to stop a tank in Mariupol. Unlike in Tiananmen Square, the US is on the side of the tanks in this conflict. Several dozen people were killed in confrontations like this one in that town on May 9th. Kerry immediately blamed the victims, calling them terrorists and Putin agents.

Steve Sailer said...

Kissinger complained a lot in his 1982 memoir about being doubleteamed by Israel abroad and neocons at home.

helene edwards said...

Somebody at the old TNR once pointed out that before about 1973, i.e. before law began to be viewed as lucrative, the smartest students went into graduate programs in political science and history, and law schools got the half-brights. In any event, I think Steve's premise here is wrong - these days foreign policy doesn't have a right answer to be gleaned from brilliantly fitting "the pieces" together. Once Obama and State made not appearing to be a bully the prime directive and demoted national interest to subsidiary importance, diplomatic talent became irrelevant. Kerry's the kind of guy who would defer to 20-something women nominally subordinate to him, just to appear progressive.

Anonymous said...

Albright wasn't that bright either.

Miguel S. said...

If Dr K. had had his way, the Soviet Union would still exist--trying to take over the world. So we owe the neocons something despite Iraq.

Anonymous said...

"Kissinger complained a lot in his 1982 memoir about being doubleteamed by Israel abroad and neocons at home."

Nothing compared to what we have today where someone like Pollard wouldn't even be caught.

Besides, I don't trust Kissinger because he's so smart. Sure, he complained about being 'double-teamed' but he was 'triple-teaming' with them for Jewish interests.

Interesting man but not to be trusted.

And sometimes too clever for his own good. The Chinese knew all about the triangulation BS. China got much more than the US did.
Kissinger also overestimated the USSR.

John Lukacs read the future better. China would, in the long run, become the bigger worry.

Anonymous said...

That's right. A large part of Obama's pathetic record in foreign policy has to do with the fact that Kerry is not smart enough. That is particularly evident by contrast with smarts like Armenian/Russian Lavrov or Jewish Bibi.

Anonymous said...

I wish you would devote more time to figuring out whether or not Kerry was dishonorably discharged from the military.

When he was running for Prez, someone looked into this & concluded he had. I forget the journo's name.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

A quibble. Dean had already dropped in the polls - didn't do well in Iowa - before the scream. No one dared go negative on him because it would kill their own campaign, but Howard was ripe for the picking. Gephardt finally took one for the team in the last two weeks and went on the attack. He and Dean both plummeted.

This seemed to catch the Vermonter by surprise, and he couldn't accept that the game was over; hence the upbeat cheerleading after Iowa that actually came across as failure to accept reality.

You aren't likely to see a nominee come out of VT. They are the most liberal, but they have a frugal and libertarian streak that won't play with the rest of The Party.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Obama is likely in the range of 700 SATV and 500 SATM. That fits with affirmative action to Occi, then Columbia, then HLS.

Kerry almost certainly had higher SATV than SATM. Ditto Gore and both Clintons, though those latter rank higher than Bush, Kerry, Obama, or McCain.

IQ isn't the biggest qualifier for the job. But the impression that the media has given the public about who is smart has been biased for fifty years. Because think about it: how many journalists did well in math> So which do they think is more important?

Sgt. Joe Friday said...

"I rather like John F. Kerry. He strikes me as a fairly cool guy. Personally, I'd rather drink a glass of fine French wine with Kerry than a non-alcoholic beer with George W. Bush."

Boy, I don't know Steve. Kerry comes across to me as a pompous, self-important blowhard, and those are the sorts of people whose ego I enjoy puncturing. Any guy who marries another politician's widow who just happens to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars (and is also several years older than he is) doesn't exactly scream "normal" in my book.

Anonymous said...

Oh Steve, you keep assuming that the person who the SAT score is assigned is the person that took the test (assuming there weren't other shenanigans).

Anonymous said...

George Shultz and James Baker were also up to the challenge of being Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton and John Kerry? guys like Putin laugh at them. Kissinger on his worst day was 10 times smarter than Hilary and John Kerry on their best. I had a very left wing poly sci professor in college, and he once told the class he tried to debate Kissinger at an academic conference right before Kissinger joined the Nixon Administration and that Kissinger absolutely destroyed him ( his words ) and told him to come back once he learned something about foreign policy. Despite his political leanings you could tell the guy was in awe of Dr. Realpolitik's intellect.

Anonymous said...

Kerry's plastic surgery is horrific. Steve, have you read George Kennan's diaries?

Anonymous said...

Post-Kissinger, James Baker probably gets the nod as the most effective Secretary of State.

Anonymous said...

>>Sgt. Joe Friday said:
"""""""Any guy who marries another politician's widow who just happens to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars (and is also several years older than he is) doesn't exactly scream "normal" in my book.""""""

Technically only about three yrs older.

Oh, I see. Steve, do you think one reason that cinched Kerry's SOS appointment is because he's married to an African-American? Mozambique is in East Africa and toward the direction of

Strange things are happening!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous:"Besides, I don't trust Kissinger because he's so smart. Sure, he complained about being 'double-teamed' but he was 'triple-teaming' with them for Jewish interests."

Actually, neocons and Israelis routinely complained that Kissinger did not seem to care about Jewish issues. Some of them even attributed to Kissinger a German Jewish animus towards Russian Jews (traditionally, German Jews regarded Jews from Russia/Ukraine as semi-civilized Asiatics).

Anonymous said...

Every time I see Kerry or when Hillary was SOS, I could not help thinking that they are a joke compared, say to John Bolton. We have a country basically run by someone like Valery Jarret? We are in Deep Doo Doo!

Anonymous said...

Hi Steve,

How did you estimate iq from tests the military gives? I've always been curious about my iq but I've never taken an actual iq test.

I took the sat but don't remember my score. I do have my afqt/asvab results though, and would be curious to get a general estimate, if you could provide the formula.

Anonymous said...

"Now, whatever else you want to say about Nixon and Ford's secretary of state, everybody was in agreement that Dr. K was smart enough for the job."

Kissinger was smart, no doubt. Not wise though. Big difference.

The Nixon/Kissinger era was a calamity. But yes, they were clever guys and probably could beat anyone at poker.

The Z Blog said...

I've met Kerry several times. I would recommend against having a glass of wine with him. He is an uncommonly dim person. Not stupid, just narrow. He is also peevish and demanding.

Like many of our politicians, he is nothing like the character he plays on television. They are very strange people.

Anonymous said...

Kerry seems like a complete, utter dick. There is no way I would have a drink with him.

W seems like a frat boy, but if I had to, I could hoist a beer with him. Kerry, holy shit, no.

Anonymous said...

"Actually, neocons and Israelis routinely complained that Kissinger did not seem to care about Jewish issues."

Kissinger was the master of acting like not caring.

And I don't believe anything neocons say.

Oh, Obama is throwing Israel under the bus!!!

So they tell us.


Anonymous said...

Boomers make silly leaders.

Their formative years was as anti-establishmentarians.

So, they don't know how to be establishmentarians in any responsible way.

Anonymous said...

I remember reading the NYT article in 2004, long before I knew about VDare or Steve Sailer. Now, I find it shocking that Steve was quoted in the Times.

Anonymous said...

BTW, Steve, what do you think of Obama's IQ? I always assumed he was smarter than conservatives gave him credit for. As far as I understand, he did decently well at HLS his first year, where they have anonymous grading and you cannot take bullshit "Critical Race Studies" classes.

Dan said...

This all rests on the battle with Russia.

Personally I'd prefer it if an American admin said:

It's good that Russia is robust. Let's see what we can do here.

Instead you gets Neo-cons wanting to Nuke Russia and Obamaites who hate the queer bashing Russians.

Wake me up when it is over.

James Hedman said...

He fired his M-16 into a riverbank at point-blank range. How smart is that.

OTOH, he put himself in for a Purple Heart for it and was smart enough to snag himself a zillionaire wife so I guess he isn't all that dumb.

Kaz said...

This makes it even worse..

Bush was consciously aware of everything he was doing to the country and did it anyway.

How horrifying.

Anonymous said...

I would certainly drink a couple of bottles of fine french wine with John Kerry, if he bought them. And who wouldn't enjoy a tall glass of old bourbon while watching G.W. torture the canvas?

Who cares if all viable candidates for President have higher SAT Verbal than Math? We're not hiring a math whiz.

The important skill for leader is to be able to sift through an intimidating volume of information and make a decision that later proves to be wise. This skill is not obviously correlated with either high math or verbal skills.

Probably best to pick the most intelligent, character qualified individual available for the position of Secretary of State, knowing all the while that later you will ignore their advice and disown their activities.

Neil Templeton

Whiskey said...

Bush is as much part of the elite as Kerry. The difference is, Bush saw how his father being an elite and acting like one, a bored aristo, lost to populist good old boy Bill Clinton. Hence the product of Andover and Yale and Harvard acting like a yee-haw cowboy when he was a product of the New England establishment.

Meanwhile Kerry revels in "Do you know who I am" when jumping lines and asserting aristo privilege which is precisely why he lost to Bush: people just did not like him compared to the fake populist Bush presented on TV.

For all that, Bush being at least smart enough to recognize social reality, I figure I'd rather have a non alcoholic beer with Bush than be snubbed by Kerry wanting me to be his waiter. F- Kerry. At least Bush pretends every man is as good as he is, Kerry has to put on aristo airs that his poop doesn't stink and he is above everyone else save Obama on all sorts of levels. Typical arrogant elite aristo.

As for foreign policy, both Bush and Obama's policies suck(ed) because of their innate idiot elite assumptions (PC, Multiculturalism, etc) which both as elites swalled whole, as has Kerry. Bush would at least pretend to pay lip service to populism, Obama does the opposite but he's Black so that in a nation where Black guys are worshipped as living embodiments of all that is good, lets him off the hook.

Better personnel would help. It could avoid the Syrian chemical weapons debacle, in part. But the main problem for both Administrations was the President himself. Obama constantly writes checks with his mouth his behind can't cash. Bush fervently believed in Multi culti nonsense like a good elite. Obama probably does too, but because he's been able as a Black guy to get away with anything thinks Putin, China, Iran, Pakistan, etc. are the same deal when they are not. Obama's biggest mistake is thinking the fawning worship he gets from his staff, media, elites is going to travel to places like Ukraine, Syria, etc.


ben tillman said...

As far as I understand, he did decently well at HLS his first year, where they have anonymous grading....

They *claim* to have anonymous grading. You have know way of knowing that they do.

Anonymous said...

" How did you estimate iq from tests the military gives? I've always been curious about my iq but I've never taken an actual iq test."

The AFQT is an excellent IQ test.

Mr. Anon said...

"I rather like John F. Kerry. He strikes me as a fairly cool guy."

You are very gracious Steve.

Kerry strikes me as a pretentious, arrogant douche.

Mr. Anon said...

"Anonymous said...

Every time I see Kerry or when Hillary was SOS, I could not help thinking that they are a joke compared, say to John Bolton."

Bolton came across like Wilfrid Brimley's character in "The Firm", but without the folksiness. He seemed like a malevolent, bellicose creep.

None of the people in the State Department are any good at representing America, because none of them do represent America. They represent the government/military/foreign policy apparatus and the Hostile Elite.

Whiskey said...

It has been suggested on Belmont Club that Obama tried a reverse Bush strategy: infiltrate the Jihadis with "friendly" guys they made a deal with, kill their rivals with drones to advance them, give them Libya, Syria, force Israel to make a deal with the Palestinians, and out- ISI the ISI.

And that this dream, no military, no expensive wars, secret deals and Chicago style payoffs, died at Benghazi where the Russians, or Iranians, or whoever, arranged a double cross. Hence the massive cover up, the video explanation, the refusal to ever say WHY the Ambassador was there, the refusal to ever retaliate against the jihadis, the firing of Petraeus, the enmity between Clinton and Obama, the isolation and non disclosure requirements for Benghazi survivors, and more.

The theory being that Obama cooked up with his hair-brained Chicago guys and idiot women (Samantha Power, Susan Rice, Valerie Jarrett, Michelle) around him the idea of a "Secret War" (paging Marvel Comics, paging Marvel Comics) waged by drones, various allied jihadis we would advance, secret deals with jihad groups, to buy them off like the Chicago establishment bought off Louis Farrakhan and the Black Panthers.

But the deal had to be made in secret, as it would likely have involved AQ's #2, Ayman Al Zawahari, or at least senior AQ people. Hence the model being zapping bin Laden with a SEAL team not invading a country.

And both Bush (overt military action) and Obama (icky shady secret deals with jihadis) have failed. Disastrously. Bush because this is diverse America which hates itself like most diverse places, not WWII 89% White America, and Obama because secret deals are always vulnerable to double-crossing. And AQ is not Farrakhan. And Chicago didn't deal with Russia or Iran.

Harry Baldwin said...

I could not help thinking that they are a joke compared, say to John Bolton

With that stupid white mustache, John Bolton looks like a "Got Milk?" ad. He reminds me of McCain, always complaining that America isn't getting its way because no one fears our power. I can't imagine how many wars we'd be in if it were up to him. He is the quintessential neocon.

On the plus side, he's a regular guest on "Red Eye" and is surprisingly funny and quick witted.

Anonymous said...

@Anon 9:40,

Thanks for the document. Interesting read.

Anonymous said...

Oh, God, Steve. Okay, you want to talk wine for a few minutes with Kerry, fine. Then what?

You can have your wine or a beer with GW Bush. He'll still have fun w/out the alcohol. You can talk baseball. You can talk golf courses. You can sit and talk to a real human being and laugh.

With Kerry? Laugh? Hell, no.

Anonymous said...

All the liberal pundits/journalists said they actually liked GW Bush. In fact, their line usually went, "You can't help but like him."

Anonymous said...

>> Kissinger complained a lot in his 1982 memoir about being doubleteamed by Israel abroad and neocons at home

if he wanted an easy job where the actors never ad-lib a script.... he should have become a NBA franchise-holder.

Sorry, Henry, that we outsmarted you. We know it hurt your feelings!

Simon in London said...

It's very noticeable that Kerry isn't very bright, yup (not that GW Bush is/was any better). From her performance over the years Hillary Clinton looks to me to be in the ca IQ 135 area, probably around 10 below Bill Clinton (ca 145?) but substantially higher than Kerry. Does that tally with any available test/grade data?

Anonymous said...

This premise of this post if flippant. Do you want a foreign policy based on cleverness?

George Bush got thousands of people killed for no reason. I don't doubt he had the brightest/cleverest of advisors.

The fact that this is a game to you makes me glad I'm not a Republican.

The best and the brightest... Fortunate Sons... Kennedy == Bush. War Pigs.

fondatori said...

When Kerry was made Sec of State, he ran immediately to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, on the assumption that he could 'solve' it. Intelligence aside, what kind of dangerous, delusional lunatic would even bother to try that.

Anonymous said...

Kissinger know this?

Spinosaurus Shawn said...

Steve, any idea what Putin's IQ is?

Anonymous said...

A quick web search will show that Kerry received an honorable discharge from the Navy.

"Boy, I don't know Steve. Kerry comes across to me as a pompous, self-important blowhard" - Michael Medved met him when they were both undergrads at Yale and said the same thing.

Jim Baker seems to have done well at everything he did in life.

Anonymous said...

Were there Neocons in 1982? I don't recall hearing the term until well into the '90s.

David said...

>James Baker probably gets the nod as the most effective Secretary of State.<

Nix. All I remember is his emerging from a meeting with the Iraqis in 1991, a meeting intended to prevent war with Iraq, and opening his press conference with the word "Regrettably..."

Some tough-guy talk was being bruited about at the time concerning reinstituting the military draft, and I was draft age.

Baker will forever be an ignominious failure by my lights.

Sgt. Joe Friday said...

Maybe Steve was channeling Fred Gwynne, who once remarked "and I might as well tell you the truth, I love old Herman Munster. Much as I try not to, I can't stop liking that fellow."

Kerry does bear a passing resemblance to old Herman Munster, doesn't he?

pat said...

The nice thing about reading blogs is that you have instantaneous access to all of human knowledge at your fingertips in the form of Wikipedia and Google. Well, maybe not all of human knowledge - but a lot.

So when I read that Kerry seemed to have overestimated his own smarts, I looked up the research on self estimates of IQ.

Not surprisingly males over estimate their IQs more than females. There also seem to be a number of extreme outliers. Presumably these are guys who think they are much smarter than they really are. But the most cogent factoid is that IQ and self estimated IQ correlate at 0.16.

In other words self assessment of IQ is mostly a delusion of vanity. It's rubbish.

They used to feed the young Cassius Clay a series of stiffs for sparing partners. They also matched him up with 'has beens' and 'never weres' for his first opponents. In this way they implanted the idea in his mind that he was invincible.

Somehow Kerry developed this wildly inappropriate self image. At Yale he won a lot of debates on the debating team but never once got an 'A'. The evidence was all there even then. He could triumph through force of personality but was not really intelligent.

Of course he had the kind of personality that was prone to misinterpret that kind of lesson. He was never short on self regard.

If you read a lot of blogs you will read a lot of commenters who cheerfully report their own IQs. As a rule of thumb I deflate their self reports by about twenty points. Maybe I should apply a bigger correction factor?

Pat Boyle

Anonymous said...

John Kerry is Montgomery Burns without a Smithers to humanize him.

On the other hand, he's a geopolitical Einstein compared to his replacement, the execrable Ed Markey.

Chad Vader said...

"In a ten-week class on damage-control, Kerry ranked 17th out of 33. In a three-week Command and Control course, he ranked 7th of 22."

I've never taken these courses, but I am in the military and know a little about how many of them are run. They contain useful information, but they usually are not designed to week people out and have a low failure rate, if any. Most students attending aren't going to put in the same effort they would while studying for the bar exam.

Anonymous said...

So Steve I've been reading your stuff an noticing for example:

"Bush slid into Yale too. According to a 1999 article in The New Yorker, he had a 566 Verbal – 640 Math, for a 1206 total "

Does W really seem like he was more of a math person than a verbal person? Is there any evidence of his selection of course work that was more mathematical. Or anything mathematical later in his life?

Math + Jock equals which military service? Nuclear, Communications, and Air Force. He chose Air Force, so far so good. But has anyone ever seen him actually solo any aircraft? Did he ever have a pilot's license? He worked scouting oil fields in Texas, which seems like the kind of work that if you could fly a plane, it would give you an immense advantage. If he ever did fly a plane, why did he stop? How many US Air Force jet trained pilots gave up flying other than W?

Some Ting not right here, mon.

Steve Sailer said...

Alcoholism and piloting don't mix well together, especially if you don't have the Right Stuff, which Bush apparently didn't. He was brave to fly those F102s, which were 1950s technology supersonic death traps, but you'll notice that he didn't bother showing up for his last year of Air Force Reserve duty and the Air Force didn't seem to mind all that much.

One biography of Bush recounts a friend's story about Bush a number of years after he left the Reserve insisting upon taking the controls of a small private plane, and almost crashing it, and then not showing any enthusiasm for piloting after that.

Kerry, in contrast, had been an enthusiastic private pilot his last year at Yale. I'm not sure why he then chose the Navy over the Air Force -- perhaps he was too tall to be a pilot?

Steve Sailer said...

Bush did poorly on some of the cognitive tests that are specific to piloting like understanding which way the horizon will be while banking.

He did very well on the test that predicts whether people will think you ought to lead them.

Anonymous said...

I have long thought that most of the politicians have relatively low IQs. How about ranking the only two I like: Ron Paul and pat Buchanan?

One reason I think both have to be pretty high is they can give detailed, specific speeches using zero notes or a TelePrompTer. Most politicians come across as borderline retarded without a TelePrompTer or talking points prepared for their softball questions the media give them.

I have watched who knows how many media appearances and speeches by pat and Ron, and they really do come across as very intelligent. That would be something else the media would have hated about them besides the anti Israel and foreign empire stuff.

countenance said...

John Kerry, Mitt Romney, Michael Dukakis. All recent Presidential campaign losers, all Massachusetts.

That Kerry was the 2004 Democrat nominee was a foregone conclusion when the DNC picked Boston to hold its 2004 convention.

Maxwell Power said...

You ought to distinguish between dense or slow-witted, and plain incurious. Kerry definitely has a studied social finesse and bearing that aren't so useful for chessmaster strategy. I think he gets along by looking the part, much like Hagel. Neither is an intellectual in the grip of some big idea or plan, just the type of guy you'd be comfortable accepting as a general or top minister in a movie about the Cuban missile crisis, or whatever. Kissinger famously did not inspire gemutlichkeit in other politicos.

Also I thought Kerry's keynote at the 2012 DNC was surprisingly good; better anyway than Bill C.'s which just rambled endlessly