Intelligence Is As Intelligence Does

Carol Platt Liebau
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Posted: Nov 21, 2008 3:20 PM
David Brooks seems awfully impressed with what he terms the "valedictocracy" filling the ranks of the Obama administration.

But as someone who shares Michelle Obama's almae matres of Princeton and Harvard, let me just say that Brooks' invocation of everyone's academic credentials, without more, is hardly reassuring.  Wasn't it the "best and the brightest" who set up the situation leading to the Vietnam debacle?

Of course, one always hopes that the most intelligent people are the ones who will be leading this country.  Where Brooks and the like go wrong is in necessarily equating intelligence with academic credentials.  Trust me -- there are plenty of Princeton and Harvard summas I wouldn't trust to come in out of the rain without an umbrella.  Book smarts and life smarts (otherwise known as common sense) don't always come in the same package.

And remember:  Jimmy Carter was a graduate of the elite US Naval Academy (Annapolis).  Ronald Reagan was a graduate of Eureka College.  Now you tell me: Who was the smarter man, and the better President?