We all know that George W. Bush was a moron. And we all know that Obama is a genius. We have been told by Valerie Jarrett, by his media lapdogs and even by the great man himself that he is just too smart to do his job. And it’s reasonable that a genius would be bored by the tedious tasks involved in running the most powerful nation on earth.
But what is “smart” anyway? What makes Obama a genius? It’s not his IQ. It’s probably not his grades or we would have seen them already. It’s that he makes his supporters feel smart. The perception of intelligence is really a reflection.
Smart once used to be an unreachable quality. Einstein was proclaimed a genius, because it was said that no one understood his theories. Those were undemocratic times when it was assumed that the eggheads playing with the atom had to be a lot smarter than us or we were in big trouble.
Intelligence has since been democratized. Smart has been redistributed. Anyone can get an A for effort. And the impulse of manufactured intelligence is not smart people, but people who make us feel smart. That is why Neil deGrasse Tyson, another obsessively self-promoting mediocrity like Carl Sagan, is now the new face of science. Sagan made science-illiterate liberals feel smart while pandering to their biases. Tyson does the same thing for the Twitter generation.
Self-esteem is the new intelligence. Obama’s intelligence was manufactured by pandering to the biases and tastes of his supporters. The more he shared their biases and tastes, the smarter he seemed to be and the smarter they felt by having so much in common with such a smart man.
Everyone who encountered him thought that he was smart because he made them feel smart. And that is the supreme duty of the modern liberal intellectual, not to be smart, but to make others feel smart. Genuine intelligence is threatening. Manufactured intelligence is soothing. And those intellectually superior progressives who need to believe that Obama is smart in order to believe that they are smart cannot stop believing in his brains without confronting the illusion of their own intelligence.
Intelligence to a modern liberal isn’t depth; it’s appearance. It isn’t even an intellectual quality, but a spiritual quality. Compassionate people who care about others are always “smarter”, no matter how stupid they might be, because they care about the world around them.
That’s not just the DNA of every other New York Times column, TED talk and important book by an equally important thought leader. It’s also the DNA of Obama Inc which exploits the assumption of intelligence through compassionate self-involvement and the sanctification of the spiritual power of the Other to transcend the rational. It is upscale Oprah; egotism masquerading as enlightenment, condescension as compassion and soothing quotes as religion.
Marxists thought that Marxism was smart. Progressives measure intelligence in progressivism. Its only two qualities are “world awareness” and “progressive future adaptation”.
Obama hit both these qualities perfectly with his Third Culture background and the appearance of modern technocratic polish. Not just a politician, but a thought leader, he had the pseudo-celebrity quality of their kind, able to move smoothly from a celebrity panel about Third World microfinance, to a Jay-Z concert to a banquet for a political hack.
Obama and his supporters mistake their orgy of mutual flattery for intelligence and depth. The thought never rises within this bubble of manufactured intelligence that all of them might really be idiots who have convinced themselves that they are geniuses because they read the right books (or pretend to read them), watch the right movies and shows (or pretend to) and have the right values (or pretend to).
Smart is surplus when you have Gladwell sitting under a full DVD set of The Wire prominently displayed on your bookshelf right alongside a signed copy of The Audacity of Hope.
But manufactured intelligence isn’t smart. It’s stupid. It’s as stupid as building windmills for sustainable energy in places where the wind hardly blows, as stupid as calling inflated budgets “investments” and as stupid as believing that a man is smart because he can reference poverty in the Third World.
Manufactured intelligence is a consensus, not a debate. It’s correct because everyone says so. It mistakes feeling for thinking. It deals not with how things are or even how we would like them to be, but how we feel about the way things are and what our feelings about the way things are say about what kind of people we are.
Liberal intelligence is largely concerned with the latter. It is a self-esteem project for mediocre elites, the sons and daughters of the formerly accomplished who are constantly diving into the shallow pools of their own minds to explore how their privilege and entitlement makes them view the world and how they can be good people by challenging everyone’s paradigms and how they can think outside the box by climbing into it and pulling the flaps shut behind them.
Perpetual self-involvement isn’t intelligence regardless of how many of the linguistic tricks of memoir fiction it borrows to endow its liberal self-help section with the appearance of nobility. Liberalism isn’t really about making the world a better place. It’s about reassuring the elites that they are good people for wanting to rule over it.
That is why Obama received the Nobel Peace Prize for having good intentions. His actual foreign policy mattered less than the appearance of a new transformative foreign policy.
Liberal intelligence exists on the illusion of its self-worth. The magical thinking that guides it in every other area from economics to diplomacy also convinces it that if it believes it is smart, that it will be. The impenetrable liberal consensus in every area is based on this delusion of intelligence. Every policy is right because it’s smart and it’s smart because it’s progressive and it’s progressive because smart progressives say that it is.
Progressives manufacture the consensus of their own intelligence and insist that it proves them right.
Imagine a million people walking in a circle and shouting, “WE’RE SMART AND WE’RE RIGHT. WE’RE RIGHT BECAUSE WE’RE SMART. WE’RE SMART BECAUSE WE’RE RIGHT.” Now imagine that they dominate academia and the entertainment industry allowing them to spend billions yelling their idiot message until it outshouts everyone else while ignoring the disasters in their wake because they are too smart to fail.
That is progressivism. That is why Obama is too smart to fail.
Freedom Center pamphlets now available on Kindle: Click here.