Today in Supreme Court History

Today in Supreme Court History: July 14, 1913

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7/14/1913: President Gerald R. Ford's birthday. He would appoint Justice John Paul Stevens to the Supreme Court.

President Gerald Ford

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  1. The last Republican for whom being “not that bright” was an electoral handicap.

    1. He may not have had grand vision, but he was pretty smart.

      1. Well . . . at least the last Republican for whom the perception of dimness was an electoral handicap. Being ignorant/incompetent certainly did not hurt Reagan, and reached lower and lower levels after that, with GW Bush and (what I hope is the endpoint) Trump, all of whom got to the White House without being able to answer a single question from a standpoint of knowledge.

        1. With this quite intellectual blog increasingly rife with anti-intellectualist takes, I’m not optimistic.

          It’ll get better eventually, but this pendulum ain’t at it’s height yet.

          1. Yes, another failed Ivy indoctrinated, big government, arrogant, tyrannical nitwit, running down our country and seeking its destruction. Led our nation to one of its lowest points after WWII, the 1970’s, economically, militarily, and in everyday life. Gas lines, unemployment, and inflation. We had to wait for Reagan to straighten out the mess of this failed Beltway elitist. This is not an anti-intellectual comment. This is an anti-failure, anti-nitwit comment. His First Lady was deservedly popular, which is to his credit.

            Yale Law scumbag. Reagan, not an Ivy indoctrinated failed scumbag. What does that school have against our nation, perpetually seeking its destruction? Didn’t Volokh go there? He can make himself useful with an analysis of why that school is so toxic. My theory is, they go to Europe for the summers, then serve as a vector for Euro trash, big government ideas to infect our nation. They just copy. The ones I knew have been idiot savants. fast talkers, with no social intelligence or experience.

      2. His statement about the impeachment power is still the gold standard. An impeachable offense is anything the House of Representatives say it is.

        That is completely true.

        1. He walked that back later (he said it in 1970 during his later-regretted attempt to impeach William O. Douglas). Because it’s not true.

          Yes, I can rob a bank and get away with it. But it doesn’t mean robbery isn’t a crime.

  2. When Joe Biden is president, no democrat can complain of “dimness” being bad for presidents.

    1. He is certainly smarter than Trump.

      Admittedly Biden, of mediocre intellect, is an exception among Democratic Presidents (or for that matter, Democratic Presidential nominees) who tend to be very smart people, as well as hardworking, very knowledgeable and often brilliant. Obama, both Clintons, John Kerry, Al Gore, Michael Dukakis, Mondale, Carter — these were highly accomplished people who could speak at length and knowledgeably on policy issues.

      It bears repeating also that we have had three consecutive Republican Presidents who were born rich and never had to work a day in their lives. By contrast, Biden is the fifth straight Democratic President who grew up in modest and sometimes desperate circumstances. You’d have to go back to JFK to find otherwise.

      1. I got humbled during the Trump era. I saw partisan emotion override all the facts, sweeping them out of the way. I came to understand I was doing the same as the intense Trump haters, blinded to reality.

        I came to value professional responsibility as the sole short wall against this tidal wave of emotion. Journalists, judges, educational institutions have an affirmative duty to present all sides of a subject. They made that promise in exchange for all their immunities and privileges. Among all of them, only C-SPAN kept its promise. Professional responsibility went out the window for everyone else.

      2. “He is certainly smarter than Trump.”

        Not based on the available evidence. You can argue they are roughly equal.

        Your last paragraph is a change of subject. Wealth has nothing to do with intelligence or lack of it.

        Its not even accurate. Obama was raised by his wealthy bank executive grandmother. “Carter’s father was a successful local businessman, who ran a general store, and was an investor in farmland.”

        You think John Kerry is smart. QED.

        1. [backs away slowly]

      3. I think Biden is smarter than a lot of people think. He’s smarter than either Bill or Hillary Clinton (though not as smart as Obama).

        I also think W. Bush is smarter than a lot of people think he is.

        In the former case, people confuse educational credentials with intelligence.

        In the latter case, people assume someone who stumbles around with words with unintelligence.

        1. I am actually curious. What would lead you to believe this ? My own ranking would have Bill Clinton clearly having the most cognitive punch, Obama, Hillary and Bush as too close to call without actual interrogation and Biden being the dim bulb of the bunch. Make the case for Biden being higher in the list.

          1. Bill and Hillary’s intellects were grossly overrated. They made a ton of dumb mistakes, both in Arkansas and in the WH. Stuff like burying the Rose Law Firm documents and bombing the Sudanese pharmaceutical plant and overestimating the threat of Saddam Hussein.

            Biden has shown real smarts in being able to keep the Democratic Party together while only throwing the Woke Left symbolic bones. He understands the political situation extremely well.

            1. Wisdom is not intelligence.

              Though honestly thinking of intelligence as a single metric is itself a trap.

              1. I think they are related, and that some of the mistakes of Bill and Hillary were stuff that arose precisely from thinking they were smarter than the really were (a common trait among folks who go to super-elite schools, especially those who get in on test scores).

              2. Though honestly thinking of intelligence as a single metric is itself a trap.

                Yes. It depends on the situation. I’d say Biden likely wouldn’t score as high as the Clintons on some IQ tests, but I think he’s politically smarter – certainly than Hillary.

                I think Trump is a gifted con man.

            2. “Biden has shown real smarts in being able to keep the Democratic Party together while only throwing the Woke Left symbolic bones.”
              I’m pretty sure both parties are kept together mostly by mutual hostility more than the wisdom and charisma of their leaders. Nobody would have considered Trump charismatic before he suddenly came out on top in 2016 and Democrats were dragging Biden and his ilk heavily before and then during the primaries.

              “He understands the political situation extremely well.”
              Every politician has acted the same way except for Trump. Bush gave the Republicans less fond of free trade the steel tariffs and Obama lit up the White House after Obergefell after making almost zero effort on achieving the same result politically. It doesn’t really take smarts to do it when you have large teams telling you how to do it (not that it means Biden isn’t smart). The difference for Trump is that his teams were sycophantic favor-curriers, which is largely his own fault.

            3. Ahhh, we are talking about different things. Bill had a remarkable memory and in interviews you could actually see him listen to a conversation, reduce that conversation to conceptual form and come back with some insightful synthesis based on those concepts. That sort of thing utterly eludes Joe and not just recently.

              I think the things you consider “dumb” mistakes were actually judgement calls and would judge them with a very different metric. Being very, very bright does not preclude piss poor judgement. Just ask Nixon.

              1. Bill Clinton certainly has a good memory. That doesn’t mean he is particularly smart, though.

                And I think judgment is part of intelligence. You actually have to be pretty stupid to think that burying the Rose Law Firm billing records wasn’t going to get you in trouble, even if you didn’t know what trouble it would be.

                Clinton was like that. Don’t be confused by stuff like his good memory. He was a guy who massively overestimated his own skills.

            4. Bill and Hillary’s intellects were grossly overrated. They made a ton of dumb mistakes, both in Arkansas and in the WH. Stuff like burying the Rose Law Firm documents and bombing the Sudanese pharmaceutical plant and overestimating the threat of Saddam Hussein.

              Not only is this a ridiculous argument on its own merits, but the “made a ton of dumb mistakes” standard would not redound in Biden’s favor anyway. Plagiarism in law school. Plagiarism on the campaign trail.

          2. Biden just lucked into the Presidency, and did not earn it. He was the least bad choice to the tech billionaires.

      4. By contrast, Biden is the fifth straight Democratic President who grew up in modest and sometimes desperate circumstances. You’d have to go back to JFK to find otherwise.

        Or, you know, Jimmy Carter.

        Also, you’re simply showing your partisan bias with your assessments of these candidates/presidents. Sure, Trump is genuinely unintelligent and anti-intellectual, but there’s no basis for your other claims.

        1. Carter’s father ran a general store. He was not rich.

          1. And a prosperous peanut farm. He wasn’t rich like Bush or JFK, but he didn’t grow up in a log cabin, either.

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