Paul Jacob

They say Bush is dumb.

I don't want to foster disunity in our country by disputing the merry consensus about this. Certainly our president has been rubber-lipped on occasion, giving at least the appearance of intelligence deficit disorder. He once said, "More and more of our imports are coming from overseas." (I guess that's analogous to how so many of our exports are now originating domestically.) Another time he said he hoped that politically ambitious people would "realize that they are more likely to succeed with success as opposed to failure." And there were other times when other such things were said.

Clinton was glibber than Bush, that's for sure. Of course, Clinton could be a real dummy when it came to public policy or his personal life.

Bush can be dumb on policy too. If he's supposed to be pro-free-market, his approach is often less than genius level. I don't want socialist-lite in my capitalist presidents, and I don't want a "compassionate conservative" (if that means robbing people with a smile instead of a frown). What I want is a full-bore gung-ho free-marketeer who, when he does compromise out of political need, does so from a start-out position of advocating the right thing, not 80% of the wrong thing as opposed to 90% of the wrong thing--yielding a "compromise" that is 85% of the wrong thing.

Granted, President Bush does essay a few nudges toward greater freedom in his various domestic policy initiatives--even as he plumps for drug subsidies for seniors, protective tariffs for a rusty steel industry, and mammoth expansion of federal control over public-school brainwashing of our kids (I firmly believe that such brainwashing should be handled at the local level). Any time the president wants to lower taxes you'll find me whooping for joy right there in the front row. I could always use that extra couple of bucks on something. But the guy needs to stop doing so much heavy lifting for bad policy in the name of corking even worse policy. That cork is a sieve.

Still, our easily misunderestimated president is probably not as dumb as the Democratic presidential candidates often suggest. In any case, they tend to regard him as dumb for the wrong reasons. Furthermore, their own capacity to judge the depths of dumbness is highly suspect given the frequency with which they themselves say dumb stuff. There is, indeed, ever-mounting evidence of their own dumbness and, so far, it seems they may be even dumberer than Bush.

Paul Jacob

Paul Jacob is President of Citizens in Charge Foundation and Citizens in Charge. His daily Common Sense commentary appears on the Web and via e-mail.