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Biden and Quayle:

It's of interest to me that Dan Quayle was attacked as a lightweight, based in significant part on his poor academic record in college, and rumors that he (a) had been involved in a plagiarism scandal in college, a rumor spread by Indiana Democrats; and (b) that his record at Indiana-Indianapolis Law School--a middling school, that he had to lobby hard to get into--was very poor. [I have a strong recollection that Quayle was said to have been at the very bottom of his class in law school.]

It turns out that despite extensive efforts, no one was able to come up with an evidence that Quayle was involved in plagiarism, and that when he finally released his law school grades, he had a 2.74 GPA, undistinguished but respectable, especially in the days before grade inflation. (Washington Post, Jan. 7, 1992).

Meanwhile, according to the Washington Post of Sept. 18, 1987,

Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr., fighting to salvage his Presidential campaign, today acknowledged "a mistake" in his youth, when he plagiarized a law review article for a paper he wrote in his first year at law school.

Mr. Biden insisted, however, that he had done nothing "malevolent," that he had simply misunderstood the need to cite sources carefully.

And Biden graduated 76th out of 85 students at Syracuse Law School, another middling law school.

Perhaps in his Senate career, Biden has dazzled everyone with his honesty and brilliance, in which case all of this becomes of marginal relevance at best. And Biden certainly has a longer record to stand on today than Quayle had in 1988, which makes his early life inherently less relevant. But it would be fun to contact Democrats who attacked Quayle as a dishonest lightweight based on his academic record and rumors of plagiarism and ask what they think of Biden.

UPDATE: I'm not saying that I care where Biden went to law school, or what his grades were. In fact, I don't.

But it does seem that Republicans are subject to a different standard re intelligence than Democrats. I don't want to get into a debate about Ann Coulter, but she had a very persuasive and amusing chapter on this point in one of her early books [I think it was Slander] (e.g., Gore and [serves me right for not looking this up] Bradley was deemed much smarter than Bush, even thought the latter did better on intelligence-related standardized tests). [Or just consider how dimwitted Reagan was deemed to be.] If Quayle's academic performance was considered by Democratic partisans and their friends in the MSM sound evidence that he was too dumb to be vice-president, well, what's sauce for the goose...

UPDATE: Some commenters claim that Quayle's reputation as "not too bright" was a result of his gaffes, especially the infamous potato incident. In fact, the potato misspelling didn't occur until June 1992, and Quayle was denounced for dimness almost immediately upon being selected as Bush's vice-presidential nominee in mid-1988--look it up on Lexis if you'd like--with his academic record playing a very prominent role in the critique. At the time, there were no Quayle gaffes remotely approaching what Biden has said just within the last year (e.g., Obama being a "clean" black candidate.)

Eric Muller (www):
It would seem to me that the true measure of the comparative worth of Biden and Quayle would be to see which man's legislation has been cited more in the law reviews.
8.23.2008 9:42am
Pashley (mail):
It shouldn't take too much experience with people and life to discern that school grades and mental acuity are not at all the same. (spoken from someone near the bottom of his law school class, I blame my unreadable handwriting, ha!).
8.23.2008 9:45am
marc (mail):
Any body in the media planning on making such contacts to ask the questions? No, excepting perhaps the Enquirer.

How long before some body posts the of course entirely rhetorical and well-nigh obligatory query, 'how did the McCain people get you to post this, Professor?' Not too long, doubtless.
8.23.2008 10:08am
Derrick (mail):
Nice try, but Quayle was considered a lightweight not because of his law school grades. He was a lightweight because he not only didn't demonstrate a superior intelligence that one would associate with a man of his position, but repeatedly appeared to be out of his depth on most topics that one would consider vital to his status. His grades, along with his difficulty spelling, were just used as evidence to back that perception up. Most people consider GW a lightweight, and he seems to have gotten average to above average grades in school. Discipline in school, which I would consider maybe the most important skill to achieve good grades in most pre-PHD subjects, is not the same as intelligence.

Biden has repeatedly demonstrated over time that he has an expertise in the area of policy that he has dedicated himself too. Now knowing his famous lack of discipline and his apparent sever stutter at a younger age, I can easily see why he wasn't a great student. But while no one thinks he's Pat Moynihan, if there's a bar to being taken seriously as an intelligent Senator he's easily passed it.
8.23.2008 10:14am
therut:
I'm glad he picked Biden. Biden is a nobody to most and the Vice-President candidate really does not matter much except to the mouth pieces of the MSM for something to chatter about. But Biden will be a hoot. I can not wait. Although he is very, very liberal in his voting record. Much to much for me. Hold on to your guns cause Obama and Biden are probably the most anti-gun pair to ever run for High office. Biden is the type of guy that makes people want to punch him in the face. Like I said I can not wait. Poor pick.
8.23.2008 10:17am
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):
Heh. My older brother graduated from Syracuse after being turned down from Temple, his first choice and my alma matter (though don't feel sorry for him; he makes a lot more $$ than me today). Though he was, unlike Biden I presume, on Syracuse's Law Review.

It kinda makes me feel good that I have just as strong, if not stronger credentials than a VP choice.

Though, Reagan's academic credentials weren't all that hot and he was one of the most successful Presidents of the past era.
8.23.2008 10:19am
trad and anon:
part

You forgot the e.
8.23.2008 10:23am
frankcross (mail):
Biden certainly has a longer record to stand on today than Quayle had in 1988, which makes his early life inherently less relevant
8.23.2008 10:23am
still recuperating from law school (mail):
This post and these comments scare me. I graduated from law school with just above a 3.0. I was in the very middle of the class in rankings, but unfortunately a little below the line dividing the top from the bottom of the class. That means people can always say of me "He was in the bottom half of his class."
If I had learned to "play the game" earlier, and used commercial outlines despite professors saying not to, and then picked the easiest courses in my 2L and 3L years as many of my colleagues did for the sake of GPA (instead of very difficult courses that I considered more necessary), I would have easily been in the top half, and probably in the top third.
So I'll ask the lawyers and law profs here at the VC, do you mean to tell me that my class ranking will follow me around for the rest of my life and be used to prove I'm just not that intelligent?
8.23.2008 10:28am
taney71:
Biden has always been considered to be the "wonder boy" in the Senate who never lived up to the hype.

I would say he really has done nothing in the Senate other than chairing the Judiciary Committee at a time when a major leak that he was ultimately responsible for occurred against a conservative black Supreme Court nominee.

It took Republican Senators to force Biden to change committee policy on Supreme Court nominees to prevent the circus like hearing on the Anita Hill allegations from occurring again. Now all personal allegations and other like charges are reviewed in an executive hearing of the Judiciary Committee.
8.23.2008 10:47am
Sasha Volokh (mail) (www):
still recuperating: Only if you try out for one of those jobs that puts you under intense and unreasonable scrutiny.
8.23.2008 10:49am
Jon Roland (mail) (www):
Most of this is not really germane to the qualifications for holding office. Better would be to gather writings of the candidates that they wrote by themselves, especially on matters of law. Since as officeholders they had staff write most legal documents, such as bills and speeches on the floor, one might have to go back to briefs they wrote while in private practice.

It is also a weak credential that one taught conlaw in law school, which both Obama and Biden have done. So did Bill Clinton and the reports are he devoted the entire course to study of one case, Roe v. Wade. Might track down and ask some of their students to evaluate their former professors on subject knowledge.

I have yet to hear a constitutional analysis of any issue from Obama. I have heard Biden talk on constitutional issues and his lack of of underestanding of what I consider rudimentary constitutional concepts was appalling. There is such a thing as knowing just enough to be dangerous. I would love to be able to question them on constitutional concepts during a debate.
8.23.2008 10:56am
Shertaugh:
Hmmm, let's see.

John McCain finished 894 out of 899 at the Naval Academy. He was passed over for promotion in 1973.

Why the hell would anyone want to promote this guy now?
8.23.2008 11:00am
ignorant and proud (mail):
Oddly, this post neglects any mention of John McCain's performance at the Naval Academy, graduating nearly at the bottom of his class - and his seeming pride in his lack of achievement.
8.23.2008 11:01am
Pete Guither (mail) (www):
Jon... unlike our current President who has a clear understanding of Constitutional concepts ("it's just a goddamned piece of paper.")

Sure, it would be nice to have Presidential candidates who actually understood the Constitution, but evidence is quite clear that the voters have had no interest in them.
8.23.2008 11:07am
hawkins:
Very weak argument - 35 years in Senate by definition prevents someone from being a "lightweight."
8.23.2008 11:10am
hawkins:
Shouldnt the comparison be made to McCain?
8.23.2008 11:12am
JosephSlater (mail):
Yeah, it's hard for McCain supporters to push the "but he didn't do well in school" point or for that matter, the "isn't John Edwards a bad guy" point because of McCain's own past.
8.23.2008 11:13am
byomtov (mail):
I do think it would be unwise of McCain to push class rank as an issue.
8.23.2008 11:22am
volokh groupie:
@Hawkins

Does that count for John McCain too?

At the very least, this ends the argument about McCain's age (Biden is old too and already has suffered two aneurysms), McCain's status 'inside the beltway' (Biden's 35 yrs is the definition of an insider), McCain's poor performance in the naval academy back in the day (Biden was a poor student in both school and law school and had been caught for plagarism in law school as well), and McCain's closeness to lobbyists (Biden's pretty much owned by credit card company lobbyists).

That said, I'm awaiting McCain to pick either Lieberman (at which point the malkins and foxnews' of the world will implode) or Romney (whose religion is as foreign to most people as Obama's ethnic background is).
8.23.2008 11:22am
byomtov (mail):
So let's see if we can sort this out:

Obama-high class rank means nothing
McCain-low class rank means nothing
Biden-low class rank (though much better than McCain's) raises serious questions.

I think the quality of the argument is pretty clear.
8.23.2008 11:29am
JLC (mail):
Goodness. This blog dropped a bit in my esteem with this post, David. You also forgot to mention that Biden did not pass the bar the first time he took it.

Yet I'm not quite sure what you were trying to get at here with this post. It's one of the more shallow posts I've ever seen for this forum and is better fodder for Above the Law than Volokh.

The comparisons between Biden and Quayle seem way off. Biden has always been more outspoken, articulate, coherent, and respected than Quayle ever was.

Furthermore, there are plenty of success stories from people who (a) graduated from the bottom of their class and (b) went to a "middling law school."

It's a strong ticket. This country of ours is not made up of people only in the 99th percentile.

George Bush went to Yale and Harvard. Hardly "middling schools." And look where it has gotten us.

Attack him on his issues. Not on his academic record.
8.23.2008 11:31am
hawkins:

@Hawkins

Does that count for John McCain too?


Yes (even though McCain has significantly less experience as a Senator). Anyone who claims McCain is a lightweight is a fool.
8.23.2008 11:33am
volokh groupie:
I tend to agree with the idea that Biden's academic performance (minus the plagarism) and what school he went to shouldn't be a big issue w/respect to his preparedness. (like others have said--many, many successful and intelligent people have come from outside the top 25's of collegiate rankings and haven't been top of the class when they were in school)

I will say that there's a large amount of hypocrisy in this thread though regarding quayle---what exactly made up his reputation for 'stupidity' that makes it ok for others to include his school scores in his narrative? Was it his gaffes? Or was it just partisanship? Quayle, if i remember correctly, was mostly admonished for his inexperience---but had been congressman for 12 years before being selected VP. I don't understand why he's suddenly a completely different case from Biden where old school marks can be used against him.

At least we know who Clarence Thomas will be voting for this election cycle.
8.23.2008 11:42am
Michael Drake (mail) (www):
"It's of interest to me"

That makes one of us.
8.23.2008 11:45am
Hoosier:
I don't think it's relevant. But Biden has shown real sensitivity about this matter in the past. He'll have to get that under control to prevent if from BECOMING an issue (E.g., no more comments about his IQ beign higher than that of someone who questions his academic performance.) If he shrugs it off, I suspect--and hope--that his academic record will be a non-issue.

The plagiarism? It happened a long time ago. And the Neil Kinnock speech he "borrowed"? Not a big deal.

I have not been impressed by his questioning of nominees before the Judiciary Committee. This strikes me as a quite fair topic for investigation and discussion. But his transcripts? Nope.
8.23.2008 12:09pm
loki13 (mail):
DB-

How very autoadmit of you! Since you are not at HYS, and, for that matter, not at a T14, can I safely say that you are an unimpressive academic at a middling school? Sheesh. Seriously, this is why your posts come out a little partisan. While I think that Quayle was unfairly caricatured to some extent, to draw the analogies you do (and malign a decent law school while at it) is just wrong.

A better post would have highlighted the issue with plagiarism. For an (occasionally) academic blog, that's a bigger issue. As a LRer myself, I find a "improperly footnoted" LR article a much bigger deal than his final class ranking, or, for that matter, his school's relative rankings in the USNWR.
8.23.2008 12:16pm
Michael B (mail):
GPA per se is of relatively little importance, but no one is attempting to advance, much less substantiate the idea that Biden reflects seriousness, reflects gravitas. A telling elision, that.

Image polishers are plentiful, and they will all, necessarily, be in demand by Obama/Biden promoters and enthusiasts. The supply/demand curve will be off the charts.
8.23.2008 12:21pm
erp:
The Secret Service can't protect Biden from his biggest danger -- his own mouth.

He's the opposite of charismatic, i.e. silly. He's dumb as a post and comes from a dependably liberal state so small as to be statistically insignificant, so what does picking him say about Obama's vaunted brilliant strategizing?

When Biden starts shooting his mouth off, will the Big O toss him under the bus with the rest of his former friends?
8.23.2008 12:30pm
Hoosier:
erp--That was my biggest reason for saying it wouldn't be Biden. The conventional wisdom is that the veep's job is to NOT hurt the campaign. With Biden, we're pretty much guaranteed that some of his off-the-cuff comments will become the story for at least a few days.


His support of the Iraq war can't be gong over well in the leftosphere, can it? Anyone care to check Kos?
8.23.2008 12:37pm
Wings:
This is silly. Biden has shown that he is incredibly intelligent time and time again. His grasp of foreign policy is unparalleled. Also, he teaches law classes, so clearly he has grown from his law school days.

On the other hand, Dan Quayle can't spell potato. He was a complete and total moron in every way imaginable, lest we forget the late 80s and early 90s.
8.23.2008 12:40pm
Alan K. Henderson (mail) (www):
A Quayle comparison never occurred to me. Did Quayle have a record of quotes like these while he was a senator? Did he ever misprepresent a Supreme Court justice's statements?

Those are the reasons I laughed my head off at Obama's veep announcement.
8.23.2008 12:42pm
erp:
Wings, rest easy. Quayle is unlikely to be McCain's pick.
8.23.2008 1:06pm
RSwan (mail):
To be fair to McCain, his Academy rankings include more than just academic performance. Academy rankings include personal conduct as well and from I what have heard his standing more reflected his issues with his personal conduct than from his academic performance.
8.23.2008 1:09pm
volokh groupie:
No it isn't silly--Biden certainly has shown an acute knowledge of certain areas of foreign policy but I suspect having 35 years of experience has something to do with that. He's also far more of a righty w/respect to foreign policy than many of his dem counterparts.

Teaching law school classes--and I'm sure a number of people kind of smirked at your suggestion--doesn't inherently show a better grasp of the law. It will be interesting to ask some of his students in the con law class at Widener how good a teacher he is. This all assumes that Biden was however at some point underqualified because of his academics which is a proposition I think a lot of people will disagree with (and many already have in this thread).

As for quayle--ok so you can list a politically gotcha spelling gaffe. Then you couple it with an unsupported ad hom and a reference to the 80's. How does that make a substantive point? If its a matter of gaffes well then I'm sure republicans can pick out one of Biden's many gaffes, including the at least half dozen or so either incredibly stupid or prejudiced comments he's made about or related to indians/african americans. That type of intellectually shallow spin is what character kerry as a flip flopper.
8.23.2008 1:10pm
prison rodeo (mail):
"...(McCain's) standing more reflected his issues with his personal conduct than from his academic performance."

Oh, right.

That makes me feel much better.
8.23.2008 1:17pm
W.D.:

[David Bernstein, August 23, 2008 at 8:35am] Trackbacks
Biden and Quayle:


Can we see your hit pieces on Bayh and Kaine too? It would be a shame for them to go to waste.
8.23.2008 1:19pm
hawkins:

Gore and Bradley were deemed much smarter than Bush, even thought the latter did better on intelligence-related standardized tests


This is simple. Both Gore and Bradley come across as much more intelligent or "studious" than Bush. I dont think very many people would disagree.
8.23.2008 1:25pm
tarheel:

If Quayle's academic performance was considered by Democratic partisans and their friends in the MSM sound evidence that he was too dumb to be vice-president, well, what's sauce for the goose.

Too bad the liberal MSM would never criticize Biden for his intellect, right Prof. Bernstein? From MSM elite Howard Fineman today:

He is a lawyer, but some of his colleagues think, frankly, that he isn't the sharpest knife in the drawer, at least in the academic sense.

With "friends" like these, who needs enemies? Anywho, don't let reality get in the way of your half-baked theories about what the MSM will or will not do.
8.23.2008 1:26pm
Bruce:
But it does seem that Republicans are subject to a different standard re intelligence than Democrats.

Oh, come on -- your evidence for this is that Biden gets treated differently than Quayle? Is this a subtle, Andy Kaufman-esque joke?

[Editor: Because unlike Quayle, Biden doesn't have a reputation as a lightweight? He certainly used to, I don't follow politics closely enough these days to know if his newfound gravitas is legitimate or a convenient invention.]
8.23.2008 1:27pm
SpenceB:

[" This is silly. Biden has shown that he is incredibly intelligent time and time again.' -- Wings ]


...yes, it is all silly -- and Biden certainly is beyond-belief {incredible}, as are the other major candidates.

Supposedly we're selecting a CEO & vice-CEO to administer the huge executive branch of the U.S., under established corporate directives {Constitution}.

With perhaps 100 Million Americans basically eligible for those two positions... Biden, McCain, Obama, etc. wouldn't make the top 10,000 list of qualified persons for the actual job --- under even a semi-objective analysis of integrity, experience & credentials.

The citizens do not require a "leader", ruler, king, or knight-on-a-white-horse. Electing a random name out of the phone-book is likely preferable to electing any professional politician from the Potomac princes.
8.23.2008 1:32pm
A.W. (mail):
I think this is a bad metric of comparison. to the average american, it was when quayle got clocked by bentson in the debate that the "lightweight" label stuck. and the stupid part is largely because of the stuff that came out of quayle's mouht. I believe in liberal bias, but quayle is a bad example of it, in general.

A better example is to point out that neither bush nor quayle would have gotten a pass saying things like there are 57 states. So the real lightweight here is obama, not biden.
8.23.2008 1:37pm
MQuinn:
Bernstein said:


But it does seem that Republicans are subject to a different standard re intelligence than Democrats.


The proof you offer to support this statement is very weak, and I think that your post is an example of believing something so strongly (that there's an omnipresent "liberal bias") that you see it everywhere, even if it doesn't exist. The intelligence of Quayle and Bush is consistently questioned because they are a constant source of embarrassing gaffes. McCain was at the bottom of his class, but the MSM doesn't question his intelligence regularly (naturally, it has happened on occasion).

If a candidate doesn't put his/her intelligence in issue -- as McCain, a Republican, has not -- then the MSM tends to avoid such attacks. But when intelligence becomes an issue -- as with Bush, also a Republican -- the MSM will ask the appropriate questions pertaining to whether the candidate is dim.

[EDITOR: I didn't "offer proof." I gave an example. Giving one example is just that, not an attempt to PROVE a point. Coulter has tons more examples in her book.]
8.23.2008 1:47pm
Dave N (mail):
It would seem to me that the true measure of the comparative worth of Biden and Quayle would be to see which man's legislation has been cited more in the law reviews.
Might be an interesting way to compare John McCain and Barack Obama, too.
8.23.2008 1:51pm
volokh groupie:
@hawkins

the problem is that every time you state somebody comes across as more 'intelligent' you never question who drove the narrative of that inelligence---if its media driven then your next question of whether the average person buys that characterization means nothing

also..i can assure you a lot of conservatives probably don't think gore comes across as intellectual or intelligent--they seem to think he's a foaming at the mouth egotistical environmental scaremonger (see manbearpig) regardless of whether that's right or wrong

again..saying biden appears or is intelligent doesn't make him so
8.23.2008 1:51pm
volokh groupie:
@MQuinn


Your gaffe explanation for the criticism of Bush/Quayle is as shoddy as this original posts'.

Biden HAS made tons of gaffes--including highly insensitive, borderline racist gaffes.

Similarly, Obama has made a boatload of gaffes too and the media has seemingly just brushed it off even though he's pretty inexperienced too. (What separates Quayle/Obama then? Their performance in school.)
8.23.2008 1:53pm
Bill Poser (mail) (www):

But it does seem that Republicans are subject to a different standard re intelligence than Democrats.

That's because the Democrats have already shown a minimal level of intelligence and decency by being Democrats. Republicans have the burden of proof.
8.23.2008 2:06pm
Stephen C. Carlson (www):
The problem with Quayle's reputation wasn't limited to Democrats. From his biography at the U.S. Senate website as the 44th Vice President:

Although some of Bush's top staff considered Quayle a lightweight, the sixty-four-year-old Bush had compelling reasons for picking the Indiana senator as his running mate.
8.23.2008 2:09pm
Michael Edward McNeil (mail) (www):
I was never a fan of Dan Quayle, but as I understand he was the individual in the Bush I Administration who most keenly realized the evil that George H.W. Bush's policy of allowing Saddam to run rampant over Iraq post Gulf War I was permitting, and prevailed on Bush to take steps (involving creation of the northern No Fly Zone) to protect the Iraqi Kurds against Saddam's assault. Later the southern No Fly Zone was set up to similarly protect the southern Shia in Iraq from Saddam.

Thus, though Quayle may get little respect at home, I suspect that the Kurds, in their prospering mini-state in northern Iraq, think very well of Dan Quayle, and may raise a glass to him now and then.
8.23.2008 2:12pm
Michael B (mail):
"This is silly." Wings

A set of examples, here. Excerpt:

"Crowley's TNR profile concludes with a striking example of Biden's foreign policy sophistication. In the wake of 9/11, in a meeting with his staff, Biden experienced an epiphany:
"Biden launches into a stream-of-consciousness monologue about what his [Senate Foreign Relations] committee should be doing, before he finally admits the obvious: "I'm groping here." Then he hits on an idea: America needs to show the Arab world that we're not bent on its destruction. "Seems to me this would be a good time to send, no strings attached, a check for $200 million to Iran," Biden declares. He surveys the table with raised eyebrows, a How do ya like that? look on his face."
Biden's wings are made of clay, Obama's are manufactured from the wizened confines of BDS and an unbounded egoism; the former has no hope of taking flight, the latter is an Icarus. In that sense, they balance one another out.
8.23.2008 2:26pm
Uthaw:
"...(McCain's) standing more reflected his issues with his personal conduct than from his academic performance."

Oh, right.

That makes me feel much better.


Well hey, if Bill Clinton's personal conduct during his college years "didn't matter" in 1992, then why should McCain's now?
8.23.2008 2:27pm
MQuinn:
@volokh groupie

Every politician makes gaffes. When every word you speak is parsed by scores of reporters and by millions of Americans, you are indubitably going to be heard uttering stupid and insensitive things.

[EDITOR: I was never a big Quayle fan, but the meme that he was a moron started way before he made any embarassing gaffes, including the potatoe gaffe. And in fairness to him, he was relying on printed materials the school gave him, that spelled the tuber that way.]

But Quayle and Bush are famous for their faux pas (what is the plural of "faux pas"?) in a way that neither McCain nor Gore nor Obama are famous. Remember "potatoe" (Quayle)? Remember the bit about gynecologists practicing their "love" on patients all across the country (Bush)? :)

All politicians make mistakes, but Bush and Quayle are especially prone to such gaffes, and I hardly think that is a controversial statement. This propensity to say stupid things is why Bush's and Quayle's intellectual credentials are questioned by the MSM with greater frequency than the others.
8.23.2008 2:30pm
The General:
To the Left, Republicans are either evil, stupid or corrupt, or a combo of all three. It's all a part of their template.

The main reason that Biden's academic record was ever brought up in the first place is because he brought it up. He claimed to be smarter than someone else because he had a distinguished academic record. Well, it turns out that wasn't quite true and it made him look like a fool.

Quayle never brought up his own school record like that. Democrats went digging into it to cast the guy as a lightweight, and the liberal media unthinkingly lapped it up, as they're prone to do because it fits their template of a dumb Republican.
8.23.2008 2:36pm
Ted S. (mail) (www):
Wings wrote:
On the other hand, Dan Quayle can't spell potato.


Wasn't he reading off a card provided by teachers at the school where he was doing a photo op? He should have said the teachers were too stupid to spell potato correctly. I'm sure it would have made the students snigger, but the same people who called Quayle stupid would have been even more ticked off at Quayle for questioning the intelligence of teachers.
8.23.2008 2:47pm
seadrive:
It's all in the game to criticize pols for being lightweight, I suppose, but who are the heavyweights? Not much of anyone who was elected to high office that I can remember looked like a heavyweight before the fact. Americans don't want or vote for heavyweights. Every time Obama makes an argument longer than three sentences he's accused of being an elitist.
8.23.2008 2:53pm
dearieme:
"Sure, it would be nice to have Presidential candidates who actually understood the Constitution"; or, indeed, Justices.
8.23.2008 2:54pm
Pete Freans (mail):
I'm not saying that I care where Biden went to law school, or what his grades were. In fact, I don't.

Nor will the majority of the American people who hate our profession anyway...his low grades may actually help him.
8.23.2008 2:56pm
TJIT (mail):
Regarding GPA and intelligence/ effectiveness I have heard engineers explain it this way.

"The engineers who were A students are managed by the engineers who were B students who work for companies owned by the engineers who were C students"
8.23.2008 3:04pm
erp:
- Charles Krauthammer summed it up well when he said, Republicans think Democrats are wrong; Democrats think Republicans are evil.

- It's telling that the left immediately evoked the specter of Quayle as soon as Biden was announced.

- There probably aren't half a dozen even among political junkies who know that Quayle read the spelling of potato(e) from the card he was handed by the classroom teacher. It cost him his political career when the far more egregious "57 states" gaffe caused Obama no harm at all.
8.23.2008 3:08pm
Angus:

(e.g., Gore and Bradley were deemed much smarter than Bush, even thought the latter did better on intelligence-related standardized tests)

No idea about Bradley, but this is just flat untrue for Gore vs. Bush. Gore tested out with an IQ of 133. Bush never took an IQ test that we know of, but got a 1206 on his SAT exam. Gore got a 1355.
8.23.2008 3:13pm
R. Gould-Saltman (mail):
Sez "The General":

"To the Left, Republicans are either evil, stupid or corrupt, or a combo of all three. It's all a part of their template.".

and D.B.'s post here, in response as with McCain's responses to Obama the last couple of weeks, seems, in substance, to be "I know you are but what am I?!?"
8.23.2008 3:15pm
Angus:

Charles Krauthammer summed it up well when he said, Republicans think Democrats are wrong

You ought to read some popular Republican blogs sometime. The comment sections are full of remarks that Democrats are absolutely evil.
8.23.2008 3:15pm
PersonFromPorlock:
volokh groupie:

...or Romney (whose religion is as foreign to most people as Obama's ethnic background is).

Not really. A lot of us served with Mormons in the military and found them to be serious and dependable people, regardless of how peculiar their beliefs may seem.

That said, I remain remarkably restrained in my enthusiasm for Romney.
8.23.2008 3:19pm
loki13 (mail):
*sigh*

We talk about intelligence, and we get to hear about Obama's 57 states. As in he believes there are 57 states, as opposed to mispeaking when tired. I just love gotcha politics.

http://www.snopes.com/politics/obama/57states.asp

(BTW, I think there is a difference between jumping on someone for a verbal misstatement as opposed to lack of knowledge . . . if McCain says we'll stay in Iran for 100 years at the end of a long day, instead of Iraq, that's just a slip of the tongue, and he should get the same courtesy. As for why Obama's slip wasn't extensively covered, except in the TeH CHOzEN HUSSEIN obAma IZ A MuZLIm who WanTS to RESTOREz the CaliPHATE to the 57 STATeZ. McCain FTW! . . . it's because everyone knows Obama knew how many states there are.)
8.23.2008 3:23pm
John Ryan (mail):
Some say that the only reason that McCain did not finish dead last in his class rankings was because his father was an admiral
8.23.2008 3:30pm
p3731 (mail):
"I don't want to get into a debate about a vicious partisan hack like Ann Coulter, but I'll rely on her for my posts and cite her on substantive issues without fact-checking them."

Nice job - you should be a professor of Rhetoric.
8.23.2008 3:41pm
Arkady:
It's inconceivable to me that Quayle could have said this:

Biden on Giuliani: "There's only three things he mentions in a sentence: a noun, and a verb and 9/11..."

Dan Quayle lacks the wit(s).
8.23.2008 3:42pm
Shertaugh:
DB:

Stick to posts about the DC real estate market. This was the sort of post one would expect from a bottom-of-the-class college grad from a less-than-middling school.
8.23.2008 3:44pm
Michael Edward McNeil (mail) (www):
Once again: McCain continually earned just short of enough demerits to get thrown out, and demerits figure into the class rankings at the academy. Ergo, no surprise that he was close to last in the class rankings.
8.23.2008 3:44pm
fullerene:
Often, the claim that a politician is dumb is coupled with the claim that his success is properly attributable to something outside him. In the case of Bush and Quayle, this would have been his family connections. For Kerry, it was primarily his wives but also his family. For McCain, we hear both about his father and his second wife.

With Biden, there can be no such claim. He did not come from a notable family, and I do not know of any reason to believe that his success is a direct result of either of his marriages (his first wife died, for the record). Without one of these external explanations available to explain his success, I think it is fair for him to get a pass.
8.23.2008 3:53pm
JosephSlater (mail):
Along the lines of what p3731 said, the problem, David, is that since Coulter has a well-earned reputation for inaccuracy and -- oh, let's face it, dishonesty -- you can't simply cite "other examples" from Coulter without inviting the obvious response that Coulter is generally entirely unreliable.
8.23.2008 3:54pm
Obvious (mail):
Well, at least now we can confidently predict the following Biden statement during the vice-presidential debates:

"Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy: I knew Jack Kennedy; Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy. ..."
8.23.2008 3:54pm
volokh groupie:
@MDQuinn

again, you're picking one gaffe for each and then just saying that they were gaffe prone guys (and i'd tread softly before you start looking up bush-isms--because this blog had a catalogue of silly ones by slate for a while).

I can do the same thing--Obama has the 57 states, israel is a friend of israel, and at this point a number of other gaffes.

Same thing w/biden who'd gloated about his state being a slave state, indians working at dunkin donuts, etc.

The narrative, however, about each of these guys is driven by the media and the impression you get that the republican guys were just stupid while these were out of character is why paranoid right winger believe in media bias.

@loki13...

no need to sigh if your going to be disingenuous

first you're not on kos or freep or whatever so cut the stupid charicatures and caps lock epilepsy

second, for someone who's so concerned with gotcha politics what exactly does quayle reading off an incorrect spelling of potato from a index card have to do with his knowledge to be vp aside from a gotcha spelling moment (where he in fact didn't correct the teacher)? Similarly..many of the comments here which are labeling bush/quayle etc stupid are dwelling upon verbal missteps and not substantive things. Sure for obama one could bring up the cling to guns gaffe or the one where he said iran was a tiny threat with respect to the old Soviet one, but i can't see how you can complain abou the other less significant gaffes without repudiating much of the fodder for the 'bush is dumb' media narrative.
8.23.2008 3:59pm
Seamus (mail):

Perhaps in his Senate career, Biden has dazzled everyone with his honesty and brilliance



Well, if you disregard his plagiarism from Neil Kinnock, maybe.
8.23.2008 3:59pm
volokh groupie:
some say john ryan was the lead singer for dexy's midnight runners but i think i'll require proof of that too
8.23.2008 4:01pm
MarkField (mail):

Bush never took an IQ test that we know of, but got a 1206 on his SAT exam. Gore got a 1355.


Assuming these scores are accurate -- I have no idea -- they translate into IQ scores of roughly 140 for Gore and 125-6 for Bush.

Personally, I don't think such scores should be used to evaluate anybody for anything at all in life except their ability to take a standardized test.
8.23.2008 4:18pm
loki13 (mail):
volokh groupie-

As you obviously didn't note, I have made no note of Dan Quayle misspelling potato, or poatoe. In fact, to quote myself, "While I think that Quayle was unfairly caricatured to some extent . . ."

This happens in all campaigns. Gerald Ford and the tamale (and Chevy Chase and the pratfalls). Dukakis and the tank. GHWB and the supermarket scanner (and checking his watch during the debates). Gore and the lockbox (and the sighs).

The battle for all campaigns s whether you let the narrative define you, or whether you define the narrative. I was pointing out that the 57 states never made it to the mainstream meadia because it was recognized for what it was- a tired verbal miscue, not illustrative of any deeper meaning, that all candidates have on the campaign. Its existence only lives on in hack chain emails.
8.23.2008 4:20pm
loki13 (mail):
"poatoe"

heh. Guess I won't be VP.
8.23.2008 4:37pm
loki13 (mail):
Final note-

Note sure what is worse, that Prof. Bernstein thinks it is acceptable to cite to Ann Coulter while still disclaiming her, or that he reads her books.

(BTW, I really hope DB posts again on the legal issues he is working on. While I think he is wrong, he is has interesting substantive arguments I have to think about.)

[EDITOR: So now merely reading an Ann Coulter book is a thought crime? And every single word, no matter how well footnoted, is presumptively inaccurate? This says more about you than about Coulter, much less me.]
8.23.2008 4:40pm
Bob from Ohio (mail):

Biden has shown that he is incredibly intelligent time and time again.


Yes, he said that Obama was not prepared to be president. Very astute. Other than that, it's doubtful. Using 500 words when 25 will do is not really a sign of intelligence.


His grasp of foreign policy is unparalleled.


He did back the Iraq War. So, maybe you are right.


35 years in Senate by definition prevents someone from being a "lightweight."


What has Biden actually done in his 36 years in the Senate?
8.23.2008 4:40pm
KWC (mail):
Double standards are everywhere. Why won't anyone pipe up and say that McCain's Vietnamese propaganda was unpatriotic? Or that leaving his wife after he saw she wasn't hot anymore? Because Republicans are immune from moral scrutiny and they are immune from ever questioning their patriotism.

Apparently, the "leadership experience" in America means being captured as a POW. Sad? Yes. Presidential qualification? No.
8.23.2008 4:50pm
Hoosier:
For what it's worth: This is not the first time I've heard questions about Biden's intellect.

E J Dionne was on our campus a few years ago, giving a talk about the Iraq War, etc. He distinguished between the GOP and Demo "positions" on the war. I asked how one defines a Democratic position, given what Biden--then the ranking member on the SFRC--has said about the war.

MY POINT was not about his brain, but rather that he was a Democratic foreign affairs spokesman who was quite hawkish.

Dionne's first words in response were: "Biden is not stupid."

I found that to be a strikingly odd response given the tone of the question--which, again, was in no way critical of Biden-- but clearly something that Dionne had on his mind.
8.23.2008 5:03pm
pjh:
TJIT: Funny you bring up the ABC joke. I heard Biden himself tell the lawyers' version at a Senate hearing many years ago. As I recall it went: A students become law professors and federal judges, while B students end up working for C students.
8.23.2008 5:05pm
John Moore (mail) (www):
If Academy rankings are any standard, then one must consider that McCain's father and grandfather both graduated in the lower quarter of their class. And both went on to become four star Admirals. I suspect McCain's contrarian temperament was more of an issue, as was high fighter pilot personality.

As for presidential IQs... Bush's 126 is respectable, and higher than either Kerry or (JF) Kennedy. Of course, if we want to go higher, Nixon was around 146. Does that mean IQ is a good metric?

It seems to me that a high IQ, fettered by a mental illness such as Narcissistic Personality Disorder (Clinton), Cognitive Disorder of Progressives, or Bush Derangement Syndrome is not necessarily an asset.

It is indeed a Democrat trope (widely believed in the MSM and academia) that Conservatives are dumber than progressives. Heck, they point to the tremendous majority the left has in universities as an example - mistaking correlation with causality.
8.23.2008 5:11pm
loki13 (mail):
Hey EDITOR-

Wow, a thought crime? Did I write that? I realize that jokes don't come across very well in this medium, but a thought crime? You can read anything you'd like, from the Little Red Book to Michael Savage, and that's your right.

(FWIW, I wouldn't be using Ann Coulter as an authority for anything and hope to get respect from anyone but the most die-hard hackisans. Would you respect a blog citing to, oh, Ward Churchill for authority?)

[EDITOR: She because Coulter is a highly ideological polemicist who often devolves into fits of exaggerated, and at times offensive, rhetoric, doesn't mean she never makes good points. This isn't an argument from authority, you can go and find the chapter for yourself. And Coulter's not the only one to point out the phenomenon.]
8.23.2008 5:17pm
volokh groupie:
@loki13

fair enough..as long as you're consistent
8.23.2008 5:32pm
Grover Gardner (mail):

So now merely reading an Ann Coulter book is a thought crime? And every single word, no matter how well footnoted, is presumptively inaccurate?


Thought crime? No. Ultra-lame? Yes. Ann Coulter's footnotes and "facts" are notoriously inaccurate and sloppy. Just one example of the dozens and dozens of damning parsings available from a simple Google search:

http://mediamatters.org/items/200608070002
8.23.2008 5:53pm
Elliot123 (mail):
<i>"Oddly, this post neglects any mention of John McCain's performance at the Naval Academy, graduating nearly at the bottom of his class - and his seeming pride in his lack of achievement."</i>

1. I think military academy class rank includes more than grades. Does anyone know how it works?

2. Wasn't Einstein a poor student? Bill Gates, Michael Dell, Steve Jobs, Harry Truman? I think they were all college drop outs.

3. <i>"Or that leaving his wife after he saw she wasn't hot anymore?"</i>

At the Saddleback interview McCain piped up and said his first marriage was his greatest moral failing. He didn't mention if she was hot.

4. <i>"Bush never took an IQ test that we know of, but got a 1206 on his SAT exam. Gore got a 1355." </i>

According to the ETS, that would mean Gore had a greater probability of succeeding in college than Bush. But, we don't have to rely on that test. We can see that both of them did about the same as undergraduates, and Bush exceeded Gore in grad school.
8.23.2008 6:00pm
Anon21:
You're kind of stretching here, Prof. Bernstein. Quayle was mocked because he acted stupid and said stupid things in his public life. The grades and such were just ammunition for that line of attack, but by far the most well-known fodder for the "Quayle is an idiot" narrative were the famous gaffes as a candidate and later as Vice President (with "potato" --> "potatoe" being the one that leaps to mind immediately). Biden doesn't have that issue. No one disputes that he has demonstrated that he is a smart, thoughtful politician in the Senate. Thus, his grades and such don't reinforce any compelling narrative about him. Thus, they are of marginal relevance, at best.

But no, you're right. It's probably just liberal media bias. The situations of Quayle and Biden are exactly analogous.
8.23.2008 6:02pm
Grover Gardner (mail):
Even if George W. Bush is smarter than he pretends to be (and there's little doubt that he's canny in certain ways) the very fact that he *acts* like a lazy-minded, illiterate, poorly-educated hick makes a mockery of the notion that Republicans prefer "smarter" politicians.
8.23.2008 6:03pm
erp:
Does anyone actually believe Quayle didn't know how to spell potato, so it was okay that the media destroyed him, but Obama really knew how many states we have, so he must have been tired? Why tired? He's a young man in the peak of health as we've been told.

The president received an undergraduate degree from Yale and an MBA from Harvard. He was national guard pilot with over 500 successful landings and takeoffs to his credit while Gore didn't even make it through divinity school and is rumored to be the model for Tom Hanks' Forrest Gump.

As for family backgrounds, the senior Gore was a noted racist who voted against the civil rights act. This isn't the place to go into chapter and verse, but Gore senior was enamored of the USSR and a partner in Occidental Oil, etc. All brushed under the rug.

-- Gore junior lived the life a prince and was brought up to think he was heir apparent to the White House. His books and film are full of inaccuracies whether deliberate or sloppy doesn't matter -- smart people believe them because it serves the leftoid meme.

The media isn't going to be able to do their usual moral equivalency trope this time round. Biden is a very bad choice for the simple reason that he has no self control. He thinks he died and went to heaven and isn't about to be lectured to by a skinny kid who hasn't paid his dues yet.
8.23.2008 6:03pm
hawkins:

the problem is that every time you state somebody comes across as more 'intelligent' you never question who drove the narrative of that inelligence---if its media driven then your next question of whether the average person buys that characterization means nothing

also..i can assure you a lot of conservatives probably don't think gore comes across as intellectual or intelligent--they seem to think he's a foaming at the mouth egotistical environmental scaremonger (see manbearpig) regardless of whether that's right or wrong


It has nothing to do with the media nor with the topic of what they are discussing. If you listened to 5 minutes of a speech by Bush, Gore, and Bradley, Gore and Bradley come off as much better spoken, and therefore seemingly more intelligent. This does not mean they are more intelligent, but they appear to be. Bush fits the role of a baffoon - hence his intelligence has been much more of an issue.
8.23.2008 6:07pm
volokh groupie:
sorry grover gardner

not gonna fly--all presidential candidates try to act like the guy you'd like to have a beer with

heck hillary was riding around in a pickup truck not more than a couple months ago
8.23.2008 6:07pm
loki13 (mail):
EDITOR-

As volokh groupie granted to me, fair enough. If the argument is made by other sources, though, why not use them? I'm sure Ward Churchill must've written/said something that had value, but I wouldn't cite to him in a political post because I know that anything associated with him is tainted.

IOW, if I have I can make a citation to either a) the Census Bureau or b) the "Free Mumia.com website", which do I choose?

Are you preaching to the choir (which, with Coulter, doesn't even include that many Republicans any more) or are you trying to make a point that will be listened to? If you want the "barack HUSSEIN obama" crowd, you've got them already. Others, not so much.
8.23.2008 6:11pm
hawkins:

[Editor: Because unlike Quayle, Biden doesn't have a reputation as a lightweight? He certainly used to, I don't follow politics closely enough these days to know if his newfound gravitas is legitimate or a convenient invention.]


I dont believe he has a reputation as a lightweight. I think he's one of the more respected Senators when it comes to foreign affairs.
8.23.2008 6:12pm
MQuinn:
EDITOR Bernstein said:


I didn't "offer proof." I gave an example. Giving one example is just that, not an attempt to PROVE a point.


Fair enough. You didn't "offer proof." Instead, you stated a conclusion -- that Republicans are subject to a different standard than Democrats -- and supported it with a single example. This critique is, well, minor.


@volokh groupie:

I must confess, I am surprised! Your contention makes sense only if you are willing to argue that Bush and Quayle are not more prone to gaffes than the average politician. I doubt that there are many people that would make such a contention. The only other politician that I can think of that was as likely to make similar mistakes is Michael Dukakis.

BTW, you stated that my name is "MDQuinn" even though my screen name is MQuinn. Do we know each other, or was that a typo? My actual initials are MDQ!
8.23.2008 6:14pm
hawkins:

We can see that both of them did about the same as undergraduates, and Bush exceeded Gore in grad school.


I have no idea what evidence exists for this claim. But I would be very careful in comparing performance in law school v business school. Many top business schools dont rank students.
8.23.2008 6:34pm
loki13 (mail):
Ah heck, one last attempt-

Given that Coulter is widely known as a partisan hack who likes to make up 'facts' (or, at best, play fast and loose with them to advance her cause), citing to her is nearly useless. It doesn't mean that she can't be right.

But here's the analogy- if you use a stopped clock to tell someone the time, and they call you on it, you can't come back by saying that it's not really an argument ad verecundiam and hey, even a stopped clock is right twice a day, so go check and see if it's right this time.
8.23.2008 6:36pm
Mike Naught Relevant (mail) (www):
I know this is a site geared towards lawyers and those who wish to be, but, I think you are focusing a little too much on academics. I am just a dumb cop with a degree in CJ. But I remember way back when sitting in the Police Academy, with some cop (old or young, doesn't matter) telling us things and imparting knowledge. Then you get out, get on the street, and realize the guy who was telling you war stories and teaching you whatever topic hasn't ever done much policing.

I imagine most Senator's can get teaching gigs whenever they want.

I think this applies here too. No one is going to care if he taught law school, except other law school types. Most people are going to bone up on his record as a Senator. He has a long record of running his mouth and denigrating people at these hearing they like to hold. They speak of McCain's temper, well Biden's is equally bad, but he has a tendnay to take it out on people while gavelling hearings.

Additionally, Biden is from Delaware. A state where many credit card companies have their headquarters. This will be problematic for him.

Also, neither Biden nor Obama have served a day in our military. That matters to people, whether they want to admit it or not. Even W spent a few minutes in the Guard.

Of course, what do I know.
8.23.2008 6:39pm
loki13 (mail):
"Additionally, Biden is from Delaware. A state where many credit card companies have their headquarters."

Ummm... a state where MOST COMPANIES have their headquarters. Why do you hate capitalism?
8.23.2008 6:47pm
loki13 (mail):
(FYI- over 50% of US corporations and 60% of Fortune 500s are incorporated in Delaware)
8.23.2008 6:49pm
Tony Tutins (mail):
Hyperbole is another charitable interpretation of Obama's "57 states." And, there are 56 jurisdictions sending delegates to the Democratic Convention, including American Samoa, Guam, and "the Democrats Abroad," so in an important sense, Obama was only off by one.

I always thought GHW picked Danny Quayle because he reminded GHW so much of GW. Neither set the intellectual world on fire, and both had fathers with enough clout to get their sons into the National Guard during the Vietnam era, allowing them never to miss a tee time. (Quayle, Sr. was a newspaper publisher back when that was a position of power.)

Few prominent politicians went to "name" schools by the way. The governor of Illinois, a Pepperdine LS grad, continues this tradition.
8.23.2008 6:49pm
Tahoe Editor:
McCain graduated 5th from the bottom of his class at the Naval Academy. So what's your point?
8.23.2008 7:05pm
Allen Asch (mail) (www):
David Bernstein wrote:
it does seem that Republicans are subject to a different standard re intelligence than Democrats
Then why was this question you raise about Biden's law school career asked and answered 20 years ago? See Biden addresses this question on C-SPAN in 1988

You'll also see an interesting part at the end where Biden says leadership ability is more important in a US President than experience/policy details.
8.23.2008 7:14pm
Smokey:
Tony Tutins:
I always thought GHW picked Danny Quayle because he reminded GHW so much of GW. Neither set the intellectual world on fire, and both had fathers with enough clout to get their sons into the National Guard during the Vietnam era...
You bring up a good point.

No, not that point; the point that Biden dodged the Viet Nam draft. Like a lot of others did, I know. But they're not running for VP.

I prefer my Commander-in-Chief to have actual military experience. Voting in the senate to send other folks' kids off to war may be necessary. But I'm a little less impressed with someone who personally refused to serve. I note that Biden's refusal to serve still runs in his family. Maybe it's genetics, huh? The chicken gene. Obama's got it, too.

Now Obama says he'll put every kid into his national "force" [Odumbo's own term]. No doubt the Dumbocrat-in-Chief will issue an Executive Order making his national force uniforms P.C. green. Because brown was already taken by another national socialist.

Coercion for your kids, anyone?
8.23.2008 7:17pm
Smokey:
Tony Tutins:
I always thought GHW picked Danny Quayle because he reminded GHW so much of GW. Neither set the intellectual world on fire, and both had fathers with enough clout to get their sons into the National Guard during the Vietnam era...
You bring up a good point.

No, not that point; the point that Biden dodged the Viet Nam draft. Like a lot of others did, I know. But they're not running for VP.

I prefer my Commander-in-Chief to have actual military experience. Voting in the senate to send other folks' kids off to war may be necessary. But I'm a little less impressed with someone who personally refused to serve. I note that Biden's refusal to serve still runs in his family. Maybe it's genetics, huh? The chicken gene. Obama's got it, too.

Now Obama says he'll put every kid into his national "force" [Odumbo's own term]. No doubt the Dumbocrat-in-Chief will issue an Executive Order making his national force uniforms P.C. green. Because brown was already taken by another national socialist.

Coercion for your kids, anyone?
8.23.2008 7:17pm
Smokey:
Sorry for the double click, it was inadvertent. But heck, that probably needed to be said twice anyway.
8.23.2008 7:19pm
Mike Naught Relevant (mail) (www):
I don't hate capitalism. Quite the opposite, before I became a cop, I spent signifiant time in corporate America. I invest, have pension money and deferred compensation money invested. I like it when companies do well.

The fact is, Biden has been doing the bidding of the credit card companies for years. In return, he gets campaign money. It is no different for the other Senators. But, the other senators aren't running for VP. He will be held up to scrutiny by the nation, and not just the little state of Delaware.
8.23.2008 7:23pm
Mike Naught Relevant (mail) (www):
FYI, Biden's son, Beau Biden, is serving or going to serve in Iraq as a member of the Delaware National Guard.
8.23.2008 7:25pm
volokh groupie:
@MQuinn

From what I can tell (and I admittedly was a young'un at the time) Quayle's rep came from the potato episode and the debate question. That seems to have put the dim label on him.

I don't know that he necessarily made many more gaffes than your average politician.

With W, my view is that he was the first president to really be in the middle of the age of new media and heightened political analysis. He had the benefit of 24 hour cable news, partisan bloggers and others looking over his statements much more carefully than before (people seem to forget that gore/kerry and other candidates also seemed to have made more gaffes than previous cycle candidates---drudge was particularly cruel to kerry).

Now I'm not going to suggest that Bush was definitely within the norm in terms of making stupid statements--but I can't say whether or not he was just by comparing him to past politicians---especially considering how many politicians are being exposed for stupid/ridiculous statements nowadays. The biden gaffes aren't unique to him...when McCain picks his VP that guy/girl will inevitably have their own set of stupid statements document on tpm or mediamatters or somewhere (though the extent and content will likely differ).

In any event, I think we'll both agree both Obama and McCain seem like reasonably good guys who also seem somewhat intelligent. Despite that, it'd take a google search to pull up a dozen gaffes by each. Over the next month of heightened coverage, I bet that number will double. Meanwhile, even senate and house candidates seem stupider/more racist/more insensitive etc in this house candidate---whether its because of macaca or making jokes about lesbians chasing us out of iraq the climate has changed.

The issue is getting caught in a useless battle of gaffes like loki articulated--i have tons of substantive criticism of W, Obama, McCain, etc--there's no need to play into the freeper/kos war of gotcha and claims of 'stupidity' based on wide ranging media narratives don't really appeal to me.
8.23.2008 7:28pm
Dave N (mail):
Tony Tutins,

I will grant Loki13's explanation of "57 states" being a verbal miscue for being tired. I will do the same for the Obama comment about dealing with world leaders "for the next eight to ten years."

But please, to argue that Obama was mistaking territories and other constituencies that send delegations to the Democratic National Convention with actual states is not an argument that makes Barack Obama look particularly good.
8.23.2008 7:32pm
volokh groupie:
1. Full discolure - I'm not Dan Quayle brother/lover/lawyer---after a reread of some of my comments I can understand how one might conclude that.

2. Beau is scheduled to go to Iraq in October. No chickenhawk claims this election (though they were always stupid) as both side will have at least one son in Iraq.

3. I've been secretly stalking you MQuinn! Actually I'm not sure...maybe it was a subconcious Dr. Quinn the medicine woman connection (if you're a women this'll get eerie)
8.23.2008 7:34pm
LN (mail):
John McCain was nicknamed "Songbird" by the North Vietnamese. It doesn't matter much to me, but you can look it up.
8.23.2008 7:37pm
tarheel:

I note that Biden's refusal to serve still runs in his family. Maybe it's genetics, huh? The chicken gene.

Highly ironic given the last election, but also totally, spectacularly, hilariously wrong (as MNR pointed out).
8.23.2008 7:46pm
Dave N (mail):
By the way, speaking of verbal miscues, will Democrats acknowledge that McCain's house comment was a verbal miscue made by a tired candidate?

The Politico reports that McCain actually owns zero houses—-that all of the homes the Obama campaign so gleefully talked about are owned by Cindy McCain, her dependent children, and various trusts--and none by John himself.

Now, I won't expect hyperpartisans from the Democratic side to conded any such thing, but will Loki13 concede McCain's quote that "I think — I'll have my staff get to you. "It's condominiums where — I'll have them get to you," could possibly be McCain being tired, particularly since he is not involved in managing his wife's property?
8.23.2008 7:55pm
hawkins:

I prefer my Commander-in-Chief to have actual military experience. Voting in the senate to send other folks' kids off to war may be necessary. But I'm a little less impressed with someone who personally refused to serve.


I wonder how much of a difference such matters actually make. I highly doubt Smokey was stressing the importance of military service in the last election. And I doubt those who cared about it last election will give any weight to the matter this time around.
8.23.2008 8:05pm
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
John McCain was nicknamed "Songbird" by the North Vietnamese. It doesn't matter much to me, but you can look it up.
The nice thing about claims like this is that they cannot be verified or debunked, and so must be true.
8.23.2008 8:08pm
hawkins:

By the way, speaking of verbal miscues, will Democrats acknowledge that McCain's house comment was a verbal miscue made by a tired candidate?

The Politico reports that McCain actually owns zero houses—-that all of the homes the Obama campaign so gleefully talked about are owned by Cindy McCain, her dependent children, and various trusts--and none by John himself.


Dave N - it was clearly a verbal miscue. Yet McCain's staff admitted to owning 4 houses - so Im not sure the distinction in ownership between him and his wife is as significant as you imply.
8.23.2008 8:09pm
punslinger:
Tony Tutins,

Minor corrections:

*President Bush was never in the National Guard. If so, his commission would have been as an Army Lt. Instead, President Bush honorably served in the Texas Air National Guard (TANG). His commission was as an Air Force Lt.

The rep that the National Guard had for requiring pull to get into does not apply to the TANG. There was no major waiting list for the TANG.

I could not get into the Guard. I could not get into the USNR as the waiting list was also too long. I went into the regular Navy. Kerry was in the USNR. Part of the obligation for him was to serve two years active duty.

*Kerry and Bush both did college boards and military aptitude tests. Bush's IQ tested at 126 and Kerry's at 120.

McCain said bad things. So did Kerry.

McCain did them under a lot of torture. Kerry gave them to the enemy for free.

I would like to compare what McCain said under torture to what a lot of Democrats freely say without duress.

Do you think that you would be able to hold out against torture? I think not.
8.23.2008 8:11pm
Pongo Moraviian:
Biden reminds me of Professor Erwin Corey.
8.23.2008 8:22pm
Michael Edward McNeil (mail) (www):
Nobody holds out against torture, and military doctrine acknowledges that now. This kind of bloviating by idiotarians, who to even say that obviously haven't the foggiest idea what real torture is like, is totally absurd.
8.23.2008 8:28pm
Hoosier:
"Would you respect a blog citing to, oh, Ward Churchill for authority?"

Unlikely, given Ward Churchill's penchant for citing, covertly, Ward Churchill. (Not all that relevant. But I rejoice that an academic poseur was actually debunked and turfed.)
8.23.2008 8:31pm
Hoosier:
" John McCain was nicknamed "Songbird" by the North Vietnamese. It doesn't matter much to me, but you can look it up."

I've done some research on POWs in Vietnam, and I've never come across anything indicating that he had a nickname. Let alone that nickname. I suspect it's a lie.
8.23.2008 8:32pm
davod (mail):

"(e.g., Gore and Bradley were deemed much smarter than Bush, even thought the latter did better on intelligence-related standardized tests) No idea about Bradley, but this is just flat untrue for Gore vs. Bush. Gore tested out with an IQ of 133. Bush never took an IQ test that we know of, but got a 1206 on his SAT exam. Gore got a 1355."

Bullshit.
8.23.2008 8:36pm
Floridan:
Dan Quayle? What is that bright boy up to now?

It has always amazed me that someone of his intelligence would be essentially ignored by his fellow Republicans, year after year. By now, you'd think the conservatives would consider him to be one of the elder statesmen that are always consulted for his sage advice.

Very mysterious, indeed.
8.23.2008 8:38pm
One House (mail):
Find cool gear ("One House, One Spouse, Obama/Biden 08") here: http://www.cafepress.com/politics2go
8.23.2008 8:39pm
Seamus (mail):
I have no idea what evidence exists for this claim. But I would be very careful in comparing performance in law school v business school. Many top business schools dont rank students.

Though it's worth noting that GWB was able to get admited to an Ivy League b-school, usually ranked among the top ten, while Kerry went to a second-tier law school.
8.23.2008 8:39pm
davod (mail):
"According to the ETS, that would mean Gore had a greater probability of succeeding in college than Bush. But, we don't have to rely on that test. We can see that both of them did about the same as undergraduates, and Bush exceeded Gore in grad school.
8.23.2008 5:00pm"

Didn't Gore get kicked out of law school and leave divinity school without finishing?
8.23.2008 8:44pm
davod (mail):
"(FYI- over 50% of US corporations and 60% of Fortune 500s are incorporated in Delaware)"

Why they are incorporated in Delaware may well be a problem for a tax and spend Democrat.
8.23.2008 8:47pm
Hoosier:
This claim by Democrats that their candidate is smarter goes back to 1952, from what I can tell. Though there is no reason to consider Stevenson smarter than Ike (who was quite an intelligent man), Ike played down his brains (and ambition). Stevenson supporters overstated their candidate's intellect. (As it turned out, Stevenson was not much of a reader.)


JFK was smart and witty, but was portrayed as more knowledgeable and educated than he actually was. (See, e.g., his "LSE education.")than he was. But no one would have believed that Nixon was stupid. Unprincipled, yes. But not dumb.

Goldwater? Portrayed as a dimwit, though LBJ fared better only by comparison.

Ford was very unfairly portrayed as dim. (He gave his first briefing on the federal budget as president *without notes*.)

Reagan we know had an IQ of 53. I mean, that's how his critics portrayed him. Must have been true. Right?

Bush I was *not* eloquent, and was sometimes compared unfavorably to Dukakis for this reason. But he is in fact a highly intelligent man.

Bush II? We all know his reputation.

There is a double standard on this matter. Democrats can get away with more gaffes, and more "Stooopid" stuff in general. But I think this is largely a result of the "historical narrative." By the same token, a Republican is not going to have to worry too much is he says something that sounds weak or unpatriotic. Since the narrative is that the GOP is the party of strength and the flag.

I frankly never found Kerry to be all that bright. But the "narrative" about him was not that he was dumb. With Bush it was. So in 2004, Kerry could get away with more gaffes. But, by the same token, when he saluted at the convention and reported "for duty," he looked like a fraud. Bush probably could have done the same thing, and no one would even remember.

My only regret: We now have three of the four national contenders. And still no important hair.
8.23.2008 8:49pm
MarkField (mail):

Bullshit.


See here for a discussion of the issue, including what purports to be a copy of Bush's actual transcripts.
8.23.2008 8:51pm
davod (mail):
"Would you respect a blog citing to, oh, Ward Churchill for authority?" Unlikely, given Ward Churchill's penchant for citing, covertly, Ward Churchill. (Not all that relevant. But I rejoice that an academic poseur was actually debunked and turfed.)
8.23.2008 7:31pm"

Interesting that you quote Ward Churchill on a blog discussing Biden, considering Churchill was kicked out of his tenured position not for being a left wing kook, but, in part, for plagarism.
8.23.2008 8:55pm
hawkins:

Why they are incorporated in Delaware may well be a problem for a tax and spend Democrat.


Didnt know US Senators were involved in implementing state laws.
8.23.2008 8:56pm
punslinger:
MarkField

I would like to see the discussion of IQ but the link did not work for me.
8.23.2008 8:59pm
MarkField (mail):
Here's the original WaPo article reporting the scores for Bush and Gore.


I would like to see the discussion of IQ but the link did not work for me.


Sorry, screwed up the link (guess that tells you all you need to know about MY IQ score). This should be the correct link.
8.23.2008 9:02pm
Eli Rabett (www):

So now merely reading an Ann Coulter book is a thought crime?


Thoughtless crime

And every single word, no matter how well footnoted, is presumptively inaccurate?


Including the and and

C'mon, you really think you said anything there.
8.23.2008 9:03pm
MarkField (mail):
FWIW, those who want to convert their SATs into IQ scores can go here.

I figure that link ought to shut down the VC for a while.
8.23.2008 9:04pm
volokh groupie:
to be fair..gerald ford did play center and linebacker at michigan

i doubt he had too many brain cells after all those mlb blitzes and keg stands
8.23.2008 9:04pm
punslinger:
MarkField,

Thanks,

That would put President Bush at or above Sigma 2 and just four pts short of the 98th percentile.
8.23.2008 9:20pm
Overgetter:
I personally don't think there's anything wrong with reading Ann Coulter, and for the most part I think there's nothing wrong with citing to her either. (She's an entertaining writer and a penetrating thinker, and the analytical quality of her work is significantly underestimated by her ideological opponents.) However, I would say that the spectacle of someone who denies that they are a conservative and then cites the work of Ann Coulter to prove a point provides increasingly amusing entertainment.

Once you concede that you are using Ann Coulter as samizdat, David, you may as well give up the charade!
8.23.2008 9:42pm
LM (mail):
MarkField:

FWIW, those who want to convert their SATs into IQ scores can go here.

I figure that link ought to shut down the VC for a while.

That's very funny, but I don't have time to laugh. Posting that link may only give me about 12 hours to burglarize Zarkov's house.
8.23.2008 9:43pm
ERH:
Never met Biden but I did me Quayle once, take my word for it he's dumb.
8.23.2008 9:49pm
volokh groupie:
now i don't think its a good policy to have a blanket ban on claims/cites from a source because of the general reliability/reputation of the source and this holds for coulter or churchill...but entertaining writer and penetrating thinker..please:

coulter quotes:

Liberal soccer moms are precisely as likely to receive anthrax in the mail as to develop a capacity for linear thinking.

We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity. We weren't punctilious about locating and punishing only Hitler and his top officers. We carpet-bombed German cities; we killed civilians. That's war. And this is war.


Whether they are defending the Soviet Union or bleating for Saddam Hussein, liberals are always against America. They are either traitors or idiots, and on the matter of America's self-preservation, the difference is irrelevant.


If we took away women's right to vote, we'd never have to worry about another Democrat president. It's kind of a pipe dream, it's a personal fantasy of mine, but I don't think it's going to happen.

"If I'm going to say anything about John Edwards in the future, I'll just wish he had been killed in a terrorist assassination plot."

"I was going to have a few comments about John Edwards but you have to go into rehab if you use the word faggot."

"Liberals love America like O.J. loved Nicole."

"My only regret with Timothy McVeigh is he did not go to the New York Times Building."
8.23.2008 9:49pm
Dr. Weevil (mail) (www):
To be fair, Gerald Ford's Wolverines were undefeated national champions his sophomore and junior years, so he probably didn't lose a lot of brain cells on the playing field those two years. Then again, they only won one game his senior year.
8.23.2008 9:56pm
Dr. Weevil (mail) (www):
I should mention that I once taught 2nd-year Latin to a quarterback on a national champion college football team, and he was a solid A student. Then again, he was the number 7 quarterback on the team.
8.23.2008 9:57pm
Dave N (mail):
Let's also be fair to Gerald Ford and note that AFTER he completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Michigan he then attended Yale Law School--where he graduated in the top 25% of his class. I think even in 1941 Yale was a pretty decent law school.

I am also one of those who think Ford's major gaffe in 1976 ("liberating" Poland) was due to him commenting on something from a classified intelligence summary of Poland--and not something he could easily repudiate as a consequence.
8.23.2008 10:06pm
MarkField (mail):

Posting that link may only give me about 12 hours to burglarize Zarkov's house.


You win the thread.


That would put President Bush at or above Sigma 2 and just four pts short of the 98th percentile.


Just below sigma 2, I believe. A score of (roughly) 129 would be just below the 130 which is the 2 sig cutoff.
8.23.2008 10:16pm
punslinger:
Mark,

According to Wikipedia, sigma 2 would be 95.4%
...wiki/Normal_distribution

Further info for those interested:

"The term "IQ score" is widely used but poorly defined. There are a large number of tests with different scales. The result on one test of 132 can be the same as a score 148 on another test. Some intelligence tests don't use IQ scores at all. Mensa has set a percentile as cutoff to avoid this confusion. Candidates for membership in Mensa must achieve a score at or above the 98th percentile on a standard test of intelligence (a score that is greater than or equal to that achieved by 98 percent of the general population taking the test)."
www.mensa.org

Tests commonly administered by school districts


California Test of Cognitive Skills

IQ 132


Differential Ability Scales (DAS)

GCA 132

Otis-Lennon Tests

IQ 132

Otis-Gamma Test

IQ 131

Naglieri Nonverbal Ability Test (NNAT)
Individual and Multilevel Forms

Ability Index Score
of 130 or above

Stanford Binet

IQ 132

Stanford Binet 5

IQ 130
Woodcock-Johnson Test of Cognitive Abilities
(not the Woodcock Johnson Achievement Test) IQ 132

www.us.mensa.org/
8.23.2008 10:36pm
GaryC (mail):

Eric Muller:

It would seem to me that the true measure of the comparative worth of Biden and Quayle would be to see which man's legislation has been cited more in the law reviews.


My dissertation advisor has had a prolific and distinguished academic career, but I believe his most cited paper is still the one in which he made a subtle mistake in applying the 3rd Law of Thermodynamics. Every year some one publishes another way to show that he screwed up.

Note, he did not recommend that we try this approach.
8.23.2008 10:42pm
Smokey:
I am a conservative. But I draw the line at Dan Quayle. The guy is a friggin' idiot. But unintentionally, he's very funny!


Eli Rabett:
"C'mon, you really think you said anything there."
Hmm-m. Meaningless jibe. Improper punctuation. I'll bet Eli Rabett teaches at Howard University -- which was rated as the ninth worst out of 569 colleges and universities rated by Forbes in their September 1, 2008 edition. Could 'teachers' like Eli Rabett be the reason?

Eli is making Dan Quayle look smart.
8.23.2008 10:49pm
GaryC (mail):

Obvous:

Well, at least now we can confidently predict the following Biden statement during the vice-presidential debates:

"Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy: I knew Jack Kennedy; Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy. ..."



To neutralize this attack, McCain needs to pick Jack Kennedy as his running mate. Or, if the voodoo doctors fail, at least find somebody who thinks he is Jack Kennedy.
8.23.2008 10:54pm
davod (mail):
"while Kerry went to a second-tier law school."
Quite possibly because his Navy discharge cerificate at the time other than honourable.
8.23.2008 11:05pm
Hoosier:
"McCain needs to pick Jack Kennedy as his running mate. Or, if the voodoo doctors fail, at least find somebody who thinks he is Jack Kennedy."

But the Dems have nominated him for president, so I don't think he's available.
8.23.2008 11:06pm
GaryC (mail):

hawkins:

We can see that both of them did about the same as undergraduates, and Bush exceeded Gore in grad school.

I have no idea what evidence exists for this claim. But I would be very careful in comparing performance in law school v business school. Many top business schools dont rank students.


Gore flunked out of Vanderbilt Divinity School; he had five Incompletes that turned into Fs when he failed to do the missing work.

He withdrew from Vanderbilt Law School to run for Congress. His class rank is not known, but class members have claimed that he was in the lower half. Many of his known grades were Cs, but I have no idea of the grading curve used at Vanderbilt Law School. (Note: I taught one semester of Introduction to Astronomy at Vanderbilt when I was a post-doc there, but was never given an expected grade profile.)
8.23.2008 11:10pm
davod (mail):
GaryC:

Sorry but Senator Biden was to young for your jibe.

Maybe he could use "I knew Jimmy Carter, and you sir are no Jimmy Carter."

The reply to which will be "I also knew Jimmy Carter and I sir, am no JImmy Carter."
8.23.2008 11:13pm
Grover Gardner (mail):

not gonna fly--all presidential candidates try to act like the guy you'd like to have a beer with


The way I see it, there's a difference between pretending to be a "regular guy" and behaving like it's cool to be stupid.
8.23.2008 11:18pm
GaryC (mail):

Mike Naught Relevant:

FYI, Biden's son, Beau Biden, is serving or going to serve in Iraq as a member of the Delaware National Guard.


That is fascinating. According to Wikipedia, his unit will be deployed on October 3, 2008, the day after the vice presidential debate.

As a JAG, I would assume that he will be in no more or less danger than other noncombatants serving in theater.
8.23.2008 11:20pm
Hoosier:
For what it's worth, from Rasmussen:

Re: Biden--“Women are notably less enthusiastic than men—33% of women say Biden was the right choice while 27% disagreed. Men, by a 46% to 24% margin, said that Obama made the right choice.”
8.23.2008 11:23pm
Hoosier:
Subheads from today's Indianapolis Star:

# Obama's pick dispirits Indiana Democrats
# Lugar disappointed Bayh wasn't chosen

We're all just a bit distressed about this. State pride aside, Bayh would have been a much better choice. Plus he has good hair.

If Obama wins, he damned well better choose Lee Hamilton for Sec of State. He owes it to us Hoosiers.

And if McCain wins, Lugar for State.

YAY!
8.23.2008 11:34pm
GaryC (mail):

Hoosier:

This claim by Democrats that their candidate is smarter goes back to 1952, from what I can tell. Though there is no reason to consider Stevenson smarter than Ike (who was quite an intelligent man), Ike played down his brains (and ambition). Stevenson supporters overstated their candidate's intellect. (As it turned out, Stevenson was not much of a reader.)



According to Jean Baker's biography, Adlai Stevenson flunked out of Harvard Law School, and could only have been reinstated by a unanimous vote of the faculty. His final semester of grades included a 51 on agency, a 51 on evidence, a 59 on equity, a 61 on sales, a 62 on property, and a 62 on trusts.
8.23.2008 11:37pm
Hoosier:
GaryC--He finished up at Northwestern, if I remember correctly. I suspect there was some political clout involved in his admission; his grandpa/namesake had been VP, and the family was big in Illinois Democratic circles.
8.23.2008 11:41pm
Smokey:
volokh groupie:
...Coulter quotes:

"Liberal soccer moms are precisely as likely to receive anthrax in the mail as to develop a capacity for linear thinking.

"We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity. We weren't punctilious about locating and punishing only Hitler and his top officers. We carpet-bombed German cities; we killed civilians. That's war. And this is war.

"Whether they are defending the Soviet Union or bleating for Saddam Hussein, liberals are always against America. They are either traitors or idiots, and on the matter of America's self-preservation, the difference is irrelevant.

"If we took away women's right to vote, we'd never have to worry about another Democrat president. It's kind of a pipe dream, it's a personal fantasy of mine, but I don't think it's going to happen.

"If I'm going to say anything about John Edwards in the future, I'll just wish he had been killed in a terrorist assassination plot.

"I was going to have a few comments about John Edwards but you have to go into rehab if you use the word faggot.

"Liberals love America like O.J. loved Nicole.

"My only regret with Timothy McVeigh is he did not go to the New York Times Building."
More! Please! Give me more!!
8.23.2008 11:46pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
fullerene:

Often, the claim that a politician is dumb is coupled with the claim that his success is properly attributable to something outside him. In the case of Bush and Quayle, this would have been his family connections. … For McCain, we hear both about his father and his second wife.

With Biden, there can be no such claim. He did not come from a notable family, and I do not know of any reason to believe that his success is a direct result of either of his marriages … Without one of these external explanations available to explain his success, I think it is fair for him to get a pass.


Good point. Personally, I put a lot of emphasis on whether or not someone is self-made. Some examples: Obama is. McCain is not. Some others in the self-made category: Clinton, John Edwards, Guiliani. Some others in the not-self-made category: Gore, Romney, George Allen, all living Bushes, Kerry, Ted Kennedy. In general, I think the GOP does poorly on this metric, which is ironic.
8.23.2008 11:46pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
grover:

Even if George W. Bush is smarter than he pretends to be (and there's little doubt that he's canny in certain ways) the very fact that he *acts* like a lazy-minded, illiterate, poorly-educated hick makes a mockery of the notion that Republicans prefer "smarter" politicians.


Indeed. One of the many appalling things about the modern GOP is its naked contempt for education. Bush is always delighted to put his rampant anti-intellectualism on display, like when he announced that bad grades lead to success (text, video). And I think the epithet "elitist" is often a codeword for 'highly-educated.'

there's a difference between pretending to be a "regular guy" and behaving like it's cool to be stupid


Exactly. That's an apt description of what Bush does, like in the example I cited.
8.23.2008 11:46pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
mike:

The fact is, Biden has been doing the bidding of the credit card companies for years. In return, he gets campaign money. It is no different for the other Senators. But, the other senators aren't running for VP.


But one those "other senators" who isn't running for VP, but has lots of ties with corporate lobbyists, is running for president. Exhibit A: Charles Keating (video).
8.23.2008 11:47pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
volokh groupie:

Beau is scheduled to go to Iraq in October. No chickenhawk claims this election (though they were always stupid) as both side will have at least one son in Iraq.


Minor correction. It is not necessarily the case that "both side will have at least one son in Iraq." McCain has one son who has been there and back. Will he be sent to Iraq again? Who knows. McCain has another son currently at the Naval Academy. Will he end up in Iraq? Who knows.
8.23.2008 11:47pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
dave n:

The Politico reports that McCain actually owns zero houses


I guess that's technically true, but it's not exactly good news for McCain. His macho image is not helped by telling people the truth, that he's a kept man who signed a pre-nup and doesn't even own his own house. Kerry was called a gigolo with less justification. And the kind of voter likely to be offended by this narrative is the classic GOP voter: an older white male in the South, married and church-going.

It also doesn't help McCain when this is contrasted with Obama, who got rich the old-fashioned way, by creating something that a lot of people decided to buy.
8.23.2008 11:47pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
pun:

what McCain said under torture


According to the Bush definition of "torture," McCain was not tortured.
8.23.2008 11:47pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
hoosier:

I've done some research on POWs in Vietnam, and I've never come across anything indicating that he had a nickname. Let alone that nickname. I suspect it's a lie.


It ("Songbird") was apparently part of a wire-service headline. Read about it in World Net Daily.
8.23.2008 11:47pm
Mike Naught Relevant (mail) (www):

at least find somebody who thinks he is Jack Kennedy."

That would be....Bill Clinton?

Regarding Gore:

GaryC--He finished up at Northwestern, if I remember correctly. I suspect there was some political clout involved in his admission; his grandpa/namesake had been VP, and the family was big in Illinois Democratic circles.

Politics? Nahhhh? Just like I am sure there was no politics involved with all of Gore's kids (Karenna Gore Schiff, Kristin Gore, Sarah Gore, and Al Gore III) all attending Harvard? Certainly no politics there. They were legacies, like Flounder.
8.24.2008 12:10am
MarkField (mail):

According to Wikipedia, sigma 2 would be 95.4%
...wiki/Normal_distribution


That's the total area under the curve, so it leaves 2% above and 2% below. In order to get the top 2% only, it becomes, when rounded, 98% (the Mensa cutoff and also the cutoff in CA for gifted programs).
8.24.2008 12:14am
volokh groupie:
@jukebox

yawn.

Some others in the self made category:

Bob Dole, Jindal, Giuliani, Huckabee etc...your absurd conclusion on the metric is belied by the fact that you listed pretty much an equal number of 'non' self made guys of each party and just thought of dems for the self made ones. It's probably a lot harder to prove either is more dominated by 'self made guys'.

As for the self-made to intelligence correlation...sure it makes some minimal sense--you need some intelligence to become successful, but I doubt it correlates so well once you hit that threshold. For example, I know tons of super intelligent people who work in the hard sciences and love it. They'd never do politics. The people I know who're doing well in politics tend to be somewhat intelligent but also are better with respect to people skills. That theory seems limited at best.

And what's with hating on the people who grew up in the upper middle class or with connections but managed to prove that they are very intelligent and did great things on their own? Romney is a respected businessman who has has self made successes and has gained his reputation largely on his own intelligence (he actually has a great academic pedigree [books don't read themselves]). He doesn't fit your argument like the others.

By the way..your and grover's suggestion that republicans and bush celebrate stupidity is pure partisanship. Even your link which i guess was supposed to support the absurd idea was actually just Bush using self deprecating humor at a commencement speech. He sure as heck wasn't/isn't the only college c student who's a high ranking politician. In fact, he actually is trying to be normal there--he's giving hope to students (the majority of which obviously aren't all top grade getters) that they shouldn't just be limited by their letter grades when they try to succeed in life. I can't imagine anything that would be more everyday american than the idea that hard work and dedication can make a person regardless of their past. But go ahead..keep on making claims you can't support and typing partisan drivel.

By the way..claiming the word 'elitist' is always code for 'highly-educated' is laughably elitist itself.
8.24.2008 12:16am
Mike Naught Relevant (mail) (www):
I phrased the last post incorrectly. I meant to say "Regarding Stevenson" and wanted to use Gore's family legacy as another example of politics guiding admissions. My bad.
8.24.2008 12:17am
MarkField (mail):
For those interested, here's a link explaining IQ scores.
8.24.2008 12:24am
Alan K. Henderson (mail) (www):
McCain could score some PR points by giving one of his wife's houses to George Obama :-)
8.24.2008 12:25am
Eli Rabett (www):
Well, if Smokey wants to play, let us digress, US News and World Reports ranks George Mason as a Tier 3 place and Howard as Tier 1. Howard is 118 in Forbes, but Mason does not make the list. Forbes' criteria are a bad joke. It would be hard to defend USNWR rankings, but the Forbes ones are as the peace of God in that they defy understanding

IEHO both Forbes and USNWP are, like Smokey, full of, well you know what and don't step in it. In the DC area, for example, UMd College Park is by far the best science and engineering school on the undergraduate and graduate level, but it is way down there in both rankings. American is rated way too high. Ms. Rabett went to business school there and Eli had a collaboration with a couple of folk there so it is not that we don't know the place

What does this mean? Probably that both Forbes and USNWR rankings are marginally more useful than anything written by Ann Coulter and don't trust your kid to them or her.
8.24.2008 12:30am
Floridan:
To sum up this thread: "My daddy is smarter than your daddy!"
8.24.2008 12:58am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
groupie:

claiming the word 'elitist' is always code for 'highly-educated' is laughably elitist itself


Suggesting that I said "always" when I actually said "often" is laughably illiterate.

Some others in the self made category: Bob Dole, Jindal, Giuliani, Huckabee


I already mentioned the cross-dresser. Another sign that your reading comprehension needs work. Yes, Dole scores high on the self-made scale, especially compared to lots of other GOP leaders. Likewise on the sense-of-humor scale. Huck is also self-made.

your absurd conclusion on the metric is belied by the fact that you listed pretty much an equal number of 'non' self made guys of each party and just thought of dems for the self made ones


Your absurd comment is belied by the fact that your claim ("just thought of dems for the self made ones") is wrong. I listed Giuliani as self-made. I could have mentioned Huck but I forgot. So sue me. I didn't mention Dole because I was trying to focus on people who are currently a little closer to the front page.

And my "conclusion on the metric" is strongly supported by what we see when we look at recent presidents. Reagan was self-made, but so was Carter. But since 1988, the GOP has given us 12 years of Bushes. Definitely not self-made. And now wants to give us McCain. Not self-made. Compared with Clinton and Obama: self-made.

Let's say Dole had been president for the last 8 years. Let's say the GOP was now running Huck. Let's say the Dems were now running Kerry. Let's say Gore had been president instead of Clinton. Then the metric would tilt the other way. But that's not how it is. The last time the GOP gave us a self-made president was 1980.

As for the self-made to intelligence correlation...sure it makes some minimal sense


More trouble with your reading comprehension. I didn't claim such a correlation. I don't have a strong opinion about that, one way or another.

And what's with hating on the people who grew up in the upper middle class or with connections but managed to prove that they are very intelligent and did great things on their own?


It's not about "hating." It's about realizing that you've contradicted yourself. Virtually by definition, members of that group didn't do "great things on their own."

Romney is a respected businessman


Please don't assume that I respect Romney.

was actually just Bush using self deprecating humor at a commencement speech


It's possible to be self-deprecating without sending the message that bad grades are cool. Bush knows he can get away with sending that message when he wraps it inside a self-deprecating tone. He also knows that the message is very appealing to certain people.

He sure as heck wasn't/isn't the only college c student who's a high ranking politician


Are you really this obtuse? It's not that he got bad grades. It's that he brags about it.

I can't imagine anything that would be more everyday american than the idea that hard work and dedication can make a person regardless of their past.


I can't imagine anything sillier than suggesting that Bush's life proves "that hard work and dedication can make a person regardless of their past." Bush's life proves that you can stay drunk until you're 40 and still be president, provided you pick the right parents.
8.24.2008 1:33am
Grover Gardner (mail):

Romney is a respected businessman who has has self made successes and has gained his reputation largely on his own intelligence...


Oh, I'm sorry, I thought we were talking about politicians Republicans actually vote for.
8.24.2008 1:40am
Roger Schlafly (www):
do you mean to tell me that my class ranking will follow me around for the rest of my life and be used to prove I'm just not that intelligent?
Yes, if you run for President of the USA. It is a tough job. You need to have some impressive credentials.
8.24.2008 1:46am
punslinger:
Recent studies show that a near majority of Democrats are below average in intelligence.

MarkField,

You are almost correct. I neglected to include the bottom 2%. The .4% remaining would be accounted for (.2%)by those from sigma 2 and above.

Quote attributed to Joe Theisman: You don't have to be a genius to play football. A genius is someone like Arnold Einstein.

jukeboxgrad,

Then you guys were not telling the truth when you said torture was not effective?

Sullivan said that beatings were an approved method of interrogation. I am not sure that he is correct. I find some of his previous writings less than rational. My opinion.The interrogation methods that are approved have been approved by Congress. Both parties are involved. Waterboarding was apparently used on three terrorists in 2003 and has not been used since.
8.24.2008 2:06am
neurodoc:
Shertaugh: John McCain finished 894 out of 899 at the Naval Academy. He was passed over for promotion in 1973.
What source do you rely on for the claim that McCain was passed over for promotion in 1973? I read somewhere that after his stint as the Navy liason on Capitol Hill, McCain was offered a star, but declined it, having decided he wanted to pursue a career in politics himself.
8.24.2008 2:15am
neurodoc:
Hoosier, are you touting Hamilton and Lugar as Secretary of State possibilities based on what you believe to be their merits, or is it just Hoosier boosterism of the sort Kurt Vonnegut wrote about speaking?

I, like you, am disappointed that Obama didn't go with Bayh, though not account of his Hoosier background. Someone very close to me was one of Bayh's "bundlers," and "bundled" me. This person whose judgment is as good as that of anyone I have known thinks that Bayh is a truly outstanding person, the sort we want in public office.
8.24.2008 2:27am
Suzy (mail):
Stretching to find something other than shameless partisan nitpicking in this post, one finds the usual disdain for "middling" law schools. Great.
8.24.2008 3:17am
Elliot123 (mail):
I suppose those who lack a record of accomplishments can rely on test scores. Those with a record of accomplishments don't care.
8.24.2008 3:20am
PersonFromPorlock:
FWIW, the IQs of the captured Nazi leaders, starting from the highest:

1 Hjalmar Schacht 143
2 Arthur Seyss-Inquart 141
3 Hermann Goering 138
4 Karl Doenitz 138
5 Franz von Papen 134
6 Eric Raeder 134
7 Dr. Hans Frank 130
8 Hans Fritsche 130
9 Baldur von Schirach 130
10 Joachim von Ribbentrop 129


Source: here
8.24.2008 3:42am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
pun:

Then you guys were not telling the truth when you said torture was not effective?


Torture is indeed effective at getting the prisoner to say exactly what you want him to say, even though the statement is probably false and meaningless (and McCain's experience is a terrific example). Please show us where "[us] guys" ever said something contrary to this.

Sullivan said that beatings were an approved method of interrogation. I am not sure that he is correct.


You're joking, right? In his infamous memo (pdf), Yoo declared that it's not torture unless it's pain at the level of "death, organ failure, or serious impairment of body functions." Please explain how a standard that loose would prohibit simple beatings. Yoo opened the door to beatings, waterboarding, sleep deprivation, stress positions, and exposure to extremes of heat and cold.

These are all techniques we used. There's lots of evidence of this. These are essentially the same techniques that were used on McCain (although I guess he wasn't waterboarded). Please show your evidence that McCain's captors ever did anything that would have violated Yoo's very loose standard.

The interrogation methods that are approved have been approved by Congress. Both parties are involved.


It's indeed possible that Bush had accomplices in congress. This would help explain why congress is doing so little to uphold the law. And this in turn helps explain why their approval ratings are so low.

Waterboarding was apparently used on three terrorists in 2003 and has not been used since.


I'm glad you said "apparently." We don't really know this is true, because it's information from the same government that lied about Pat Tillman and lots of other things.
8.24.2008 3:55am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
neuro:

What source do you rely on for the claim that McCain was passed over for promotion in 1973? I read somewhere that after his stint as the Navy liason on Capitol Hill, McCain was offered a star, but declined it, having decided he wanted to pursue a career in politics himself.


McCain has not signed SF-180. Therefore most of his service records are still secret. Therefore we still know quite little about this period. What seems clear, however, is that he had one executive position in his entire career. It lasted 13 months. Then, instead of staying, or moving up, he became Navy liaison to congress, which is a sort of glorified travel agent, and not an executive position. This seems like an odd transition, but the flaming liberals in the press seem to have no interest in looking into it.

Another oddity is that this executive position is completely omitted from his official campaign bio.
8.24.2008 3:55am
Jon Roland (mail) (www):

Sure, it would be nice to have Presidential candidates who actually understood the Constitution, but evidence is quite clear that the voters have had no interest in them.


Perhaps because constitutional compliance as an issue is never presented to them for their vote. However, the movement supporting Ron Paul should be an indication that there are plenty of voters looking for constitutional compliance despite the efforts of the Establishment to hide that ball from them.
8.24.2008 4:55am
neurodoc:
So jukeboxgrad, I take it that you can cite no support for the claim that McCain was passed over for promotion.

And how, pray tell, did you come to believe that being "Navy liaison to congress (sic)" amounts to being "a sort of glorified travel agent," an assignment for those with no future in the Navy? James Jones, who went on to sport 4 stars as Commandant of the Marine Corps, served at one time as the Marine Corps Liaison Officer to the United States Senate, his boss none other than Captain McCain at the time. These are not positions in which the military services slot losers, to the contrary, they are ones in which rising stars are groomed.
8.24.2008 5:09am
neurodoc:
So jukeboxgrad, I take it that you can cite no support for the claim that McCain was passed over for promotion.

And how, pray tell, did you come to believe that being "Navy liaison to congress (sic)" amounts to being "a sort of glorified travel agent," an assignment for those with no future in the Navy? James Jones, who went on to sport 4 stars as Commandant of the Marine Corps, served at one time as the Marine Corps Liaison Officer to the United States Senate, his boss none other than Captain McCain at the time. These are not positions in which the military services slot losers, to the contrary, they are ones in which rising stars are groomed.

Jukeboxgrad, it sounds like you are trying out for the Democratic version this time around of the Swift Boaters.
8.24.2008 5:12am
iambatman:
The most telling revelation to me here isn't anyone's grades or class rank.

It's that DB apparently reads Ann Coulter.

[Editor: I've read two of her books. I've also seen two Michael Moore movies. So?]
8.24.2008 5:13am
Kirk:
seadrive,
It's all in the game to criticize pols for being lightweight, I suppose, but who are the heavyweights?
That's a fair point. I'll note, with some sadness, that even a genuine heavyweight like Moynihan still voted with his clownish party far too much of the time.
8.24.2008 5:57am
GaryC (mail):

jukeboxgrad:


pun:

what McCain said under torture



According to the Bush definition of "torture," McCain was not tortured.



Wikipedia reports that his teeth were broken off at the gum line and bones broken during beatings inflicted every two hours while he was suspended by ropes. He still can't raise his arms above shoulder level, and it took 9 months of intensive physical therapy to enable him to bend his knees enough to be able to fly again. After barely passing one flight physical, which allowed him to have his flight status reinstated, he then failed a second physical which would have allowed him to have a sea command.

By my standards, he was tortured. Not as badly as some of the other POWs in the Hanoi Hilton, but far worse than we have treated anybody in Guantanamo. Waterboarding in particular isn't even close.

I wish I could remember which pundit pointed out, "If you're willing to undergo it to get an article in Vanity Fair, it isn't torture."

Wikipedia primarily cites John G. Hubbell's book, P.O.W.: A Definitive History of the American Prisoner-Of-War Experience in Vietnam, 1964–1973.
8.24.2008 7:18am
GaryC (mail):

Shergaugh:
Hmmm, let's see.

John McCain finished 894 out of 899 at the Naval Academy. He was passed over for promotion in 1973.

Why the hell would anyone want to promote this guy now?


It seems to have been a family tradition. His grandfather was in the bottom third of his class, yet made 4 stars. His father was in the bottom 5% of his class, yet made 4 stars.

As for his "passed over" promotion in 1973, he was promoted to Commander in July 1973. He then was promoted to Captain in August 1979. The New York Times reported that McCain was told by the Secretary of the Navy that he was about to be selected for promotion to Rear Admiral in 1981, when the Lehman was trying to convince McCain not to resign from the Navy.
8.24.2008 7:37am
Dubsy (mail):
Why are people so fascinated with college grades and standardized tests? We all know plenty of smart people who never achieved much academic success, but are behemoths in business, politics, etc. So, what's the issue? The problem with Dan Quayle wasn't that he had this poor academic record--it was that he came off as an idiot. His incredible number of errors practically began "Gotcha" politics.
8.24.2008 10:12am
DeezRightWingNutz:
"Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy: I knew Jack Kennedy; Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy...."

I always thought Quayle's retort should have been, "Everyone knows Jack Kennedy doesn't have half the brains I do."

As for those who are stating Ann Coulter is inaccurate/deceitful, could you provide links to some of the best sites that debunk her claims? I must admit, I read her books, but realize they're akin to conservative porn, or like watching Lisa Lampanelli roast someone on Comedy Central. I've read Al Franken's work cataloguing her lying lies, and found some of it convincing, but would be interested in reading more.

Oh, and I'd also like to point out that headquarters =/= legal domicle. Are the credit card companies actually headquartered in Delaware or just incorporated there?
8.24.2008 10:58am
punslinger:
jukeboxgrad

pun:


Then you guys were not telling the truth when you said torture was not effective?


Torture is indeed effective at getting the prisoner to say exactly what you want him to say, even though the statement is probably false and meaningless (and McCain's experience is a terrific example). Please show us where "[us] guys" ever said something contrary to this.
........................
The claim is that valuable intelligence was elicited from the mastermind of the 911 attacks. If so, then by your definition of torture applied by our side, it must not have been torture?
8.24.2008 11:49am
MarkField (mail):

The interrogation methods that are approved have been approved by Congress.


Technically speaking, Congress did not approve specific methods, it just approved certain standards which the methods are supposed to meet.

That said, I think Congress is certainly complicit in the Administration's torture of detainees. Not every Member, but many of them.


Why are people so fascinated with college grades and standardized tests? We all know plenty of smart people who never achieved much academic success, but are behemoths in business, politics, etc.


This is a mystery to me as well. It's like the focus on LSAT scores -- why should we care about your score once we know your actual grades? Then again, why should we care about your grades once we see how you actually perform as a lawyer? The whole dispute is silly.
8.24.2008 11:49am
MarkField (mail):

The claim is that valuable intelligence was elicited from the mastermind of the 911 attacks.


The Administration has indeed made this claim. The claim has been denied by others in a number of published articles and books. It's very hard for the public to know who's telling the truth.
8.24.2008 11:51am
Elliot123 (mail):
"Then, instead of staying, or moving up, he became Navy liaison to congress, which is a sort of glorified travel agent, and not an executive position."

How does that compare to being a community organizer?
8.24.2008 1:23pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
neuro:

I take it that you can cite no support for the claim that McCain was passed over for promotion.


I take it that you are inclined to make unwarranted assumptions. There is indeed some "support for the claim that McCain was passed over for promotion." Although the facts are murky, because McCain won't release his records. In a way, the basic question is this: did he fail to advance more in the navy because he was passed over, or because he just wasn't very interested in a navy career, and didn't pursue promotion? The latter theory seems less plausible when we notice that he worked very hard to regain his flying status after his release from prison. Why bother, if his real plan was to walk away from the navy?

"Support for the claim that McCain was passed over for promotion" can be found in the words of two of McCain's closest friends:

… articles written during the current presidential campaign quote McCain's closest friends about McCain's failure to be promoted to admiral before he retired from the Navy. For example, in an April 26, 2008, National Journal cover story, William Cohen (then a Senator, subsequently Secretary of Defense and the best man at McCain's second wedding) recounts that McCain "knew his career in the Navy was limited." Former Senator Gary Hart, who served as a groomsman at McCain's 1980 wedding, says in the National Journal story that he had been told "that [McCain] was not going to receive a star and not going to become an admiral. I think that was the deciding point for him to retire from the Navy."


Support ("for the claim that McCain was passed over for promotion") can also be found in McCain's own words:

That aspiration [to become an admiral like my ancestors] was well beyond my reach by the time I made my decision [to leave the navy]


That's in his book, and is quoted in the article I cited above.

Speaking of finding 'support' for claims, earlier you said this:

I read somewhere that after his stint as the Navy liason on Capitol Hill, McCain was offered a star, but declined it


"I take it that you can cite no support" for that claim, outside of a puff piece written by those pesky liberals at NYT. Who made that claim even though it's contrary to other evidence, such as McCain's own words, which I cited.

how, pray tell, did you come to believe that being "Navy liaison to congress (sic)" amounts to being "a sort of glorified travel agent"


By paying attention to the words found here:

What came next was an assignment that a warrior such as McCain could have found tedious and, at times, demeaning: The brass sent him to Washington to be the Navy’s liaison to the Senate. McCain describes the post as “the Navy’s lobbyist,” even though, technically, the military is not permitted to lobby. William Bader, then staff director for the Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, described the job as that of “a glorified concierge and bag carrier, and soother of senatorial egos and demands.” The liaison’s primary responsibility was to manage travel logistics and deal with senators’ military constituents who had problems with pay or pensions.


(By the way, that 'sic' is pretty gratuitous. If you're going to make a fuss about the fact that I said "congress" instead of 'the Senate,' it would be good for you to first learn that "liason" [sic] is not proper spelling.)

McCain did this job immediately after running the Navy's largest squadron, the only executive position he has ever held, and a job that lasted only 13 months. It seems pretty self-evident that his next move was a step down, not a step up.

These are not positions in which the military services slot losers, to the contrary, they are ones in which rising stars are groomed.


I agree that someone in this job could rise to a higher rank, and some have done so (like Jones). Trouble is, McCain did not. He himself said "that aspiration [higher rank] was well beyond my reach." Why? No one knows. He should release his records so we can find out.

Aside from that, the job appears to have been a demotion from his previous job. The last thing he had done was run the navy's largest squadron, which means he had over a thousand people working for him. Compare this to the career of James Jones, whom you mentioned. His prior job was company commander, which means he was running a much smaller unit, compared with McCain's prior job.

it sounds like you are trying out for the Democratic version this time around of the Swift Boaters


Here is one of several fundamental differences: I'm making statements that happen to be true. Here's another one: I'm not questioning or trivializing McCain's fundamental heroism and service. Nothing I'm doing is remotely the equivalent of putting on a purple band-aid.
8.24.2008 1:49pm
byomtov (mail):
I don't want to get into a debate about Ann Coulter, but she had a very persuasive and amusing chapter

Oh come on David. You can't cite someone and at the same time refuse to acknowledge that there are very serious questions about the accuracy of what she writes, not to mention her character. The presence of footnotes proves nothing except that she knows how to use "Insert Footnote."

[EDITOR: I didn't know that mentioning that someone wrote a chapter on something means I'm vouching for her character! I'll have to keep that in mind. I am vouching that this particular chapter was persuasive and amusing. So far, no one who froths at the mouth at the mere mention of Coulter has explained why the relevant chapter was not persuasive or amusing, but instead have engaged in ad hominems. I could instead just cite the various quotes she pulls up, but I don't actually own the book.]
8.24.2008 1:49pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
gary:

Wikipedia reports that his teeth were broken off at the gum line.


There's lots of bloggery about McCain's teeth. It all seems to trace back to this:

McCain seldom talks about the details of his torture by the North Vietnamese, but he has written about them in clinical depth. Despite the injuries he had already suffered, upon capture he was promptly bayoneted in the ankle and then beaten senseless. The North Vietnamese never set either of his broken arms. The only treatment of his broken knee involved cutting all the ligaments and cartilage, so that he never had more than 5 to 10 percent flexion during the entire time he was in prison. In 1968 he was offered early release, and when he refused, because others had been there longer, his captors went at him again; he suffered cracked ribs, teeth broken off at the gum line, and torture with ropes that lashed his arms behind his back and that were progressively tightened all through the night. Ultimately he taped a coerced confession.


That mostly corresponds to what McCain himself wrote, although the details are a little different. McCain covered the subject pretty thoroughly in Faith of My Fathers. The book is browsable at Amazon. A long and presumably careful adaptation of the same material is here. As far as I can tell, all he ever actually said about his teeth is this:

They cracked several of my ribs and broke a couple of teeth.


Is that the equivalent of saying "his teeth were broken off at the gum line?" Probably not, because you're implying that more than "a couple of teeth [were] cracked." More importantly, you said "he was suspended by ropes." Trouble is, that's worse than what Purdum said: "ropes that lashed his arms behind his back and that were progressively tightened all through the night." This corresponds to what McCain said in his book.

Also, it's a little misleading for Purdum to imply that McCain was "bayoneted in the ankle" by his jailers. That was done by the crowd that dragged him out of the lake.

bones broken during beatings inflicted every two hours


What McCain wrote is this:

For almost two months, nothing happened. Then the punishment sessions began. I was hauled into an empty room and kept there for four days. At intervals, the guards returned to administer beatings. One guard held me while the others pounded away. They cracked several of my ribs and broke a couple of teeth. Weakened by beatings and dysentery, with my right leg again nearly useless, I found it impossible to stand. On the third night I lay in my own blood and waste, so tired and hurt that I could not move. Three guards lifted me to my feet and gave me the worst beating yet. They left me lying on the floor moaning from the stabbing pain in my re-fractured arm.


So as far as "bones broken during beatings," yes, they cracked his ribs, and re-fractured his arm, which had been broken during ejection.

He still can't raise his arms above shoulder level, and it took 9 months of intensive physical therapy to enable him to bend his knees enough to be able to fly again.


That's because he broke both arms and his knee during his ejection. It's not correct to imply, as some do, that this occurred during his imprisonment. This is what he wrote:

I struck part of the airplane, breaking my left arm, my right arm in three places and my right knee, and was briefly knocked unconscious by the force of the ejection. … A crowd of several hundred Vietnamese gathered around me, stripping my clothes off, spitting on me and kicking and striking me. … Someone smashed a rifle butt into my shoulder, breaking it. Someone else stuck a bayonet in my ankle and groin.…


It's relevant to differentiate between what the airplane did to him, as compared with what the crowd did to him, as compared with what his jailers did to him.

Here are some other things McCain wrote that are relevant to this discussion:

My interrogators accused me of being a war criminal and demanded military information … they knocked me around a little to force my cooperation, and I began to feel sharp pains in my fractured limbs. I blacked out after the first few blows. …

I was occasionally beaten when I declined to give more information. The beatings were of short duration, because I let out a hair-raising scream whenever they occurred. My interrogators appears concerned that hospital personnel might object. I also suspected that my treatment was less harsh than might be accorded other prisoners. This I attributed to my father's position …

The Vietnamese never seemed to mind hurting us, but they usually took care not to put our lives in danger. …

By the end of 1969, routine beatings had almost stopped. We occasionally received extra rations. Our circumstances would never be as dire as they had been in those early years.

… even during these difficult encounters my captors were more careful not to permanently injure or disfigure me than they were with other prisoners. When they tied me in the ropes, they rolled my sleeves up so that my shirt served as padding between my arms and the ropes, a courtesy they seldom granted their other victims. The Vietnamese also never put me in ankle stocks or leg irons, a punishment they inflicted on many POWs. With the exception of a rough time I would experience in the summer of 1968, and a few other occasions when a guard or interrogator acted impulsively out of anger, I always sensed that they refrained from doing their worst to me.


He also said this:

I would remain in solitary confinement for over two years…


Just like his torture falls short of the Bush definition of torture, likewise for his "solitary confinement." According to the Bush definition of that term, McCain was not in solitary confinement. I explained that here.

By my standards, he was tortured.


By my standards, too. I am not claiming that McCain was not tortured. Of course he was. I'm simply pointing out that his captors did nothing that would qualify for the Bush-Yoo definition of torture. If you can show otherwise, please do so. There also seems to be a lot of evidence that his jailers did nothing that is not the equivalent of what we've done.

far worse than we have treated anybody in Guantanamo


Really? There are many credible reports of beatings at Gitmo. Like this one:

Guards at Guantanamo Bay bragged about beating detainees and described it as common practice, a Marine sergeant said in a sworn statement


It's also a proven fact that we have beaten people to death (although not necessarily at Gitmo).

he then failed a second physical which would have allowed him to have a sea command


Yes. I think that claim is sourced back to this:

According to Cindy McCain, John McCain failed a critical flight physical that would have precluded him from getting a carrier command assignment, the obvious next step in his ascension in the military. In retrospect, McCain said, he thinks he might have made admiral if he had stayed in the Navy. But his friends at the time said he was certain he would not.


The fact that he "failed a critical flight physical" seems to be at odds with the claim discussed above, that he was allegedly offered a star.

If you're willing to undergo it to get an article in Vanity Fair, it isn't torture


If you're willing to compare a voluntary procedure to a coerced procedure, you're being silly. And there's a long history of US courts treating waterboarding as a form of torture (pdf).

Wikipedia primarily cites John G. Hubbell's book, P.O.W


Yes, I've seen places where that book is mentioned. But I haven't seen quoted passages, and I can't find a place where the book is browsable online. And I can't imagine why anything in that book should be considered more authoritative than McCain's own writings.

The New York Times reported that McCain was told by the Secretary of the Navy that he was about to be selected for promotion to Rear Admiral in 1981


Yes, I discussed this above. Please note, again, that this report is at odds with something else you said: that McCain "failed a second physical which would have allowed him to have a sea command." There are lots of mysterious aspects to his service history that could be resolved if he released his records.
8.24.2008 1:49pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
deez:

would be interested in reading more [about Coulter's lying lies]


grover already cited such a link, in his comment here.
8.24.2008 1:49pm
MarkField (mail):

How does that compare to being a community organizer?


Community organizer doesn't pay as well.
8.24.2008 2:00pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
elliott:

How does that compare to being a community organizer?


I respect the fact that McCain served our country heroically. I also respect the fact that Obama decided to not chase after big money. Unlike many or most of his classmates, and unlike McCain. Obama obviously could have picked any number of jobs at a much higher salary. (I see Mark already gave you a smarter answer than mine.)

But since you like comparisons, how does having one spouse and one house compare with having multiple affairs and multiple marriages and so many houses you can't keep track of them?

Anyway, it's nice to see the new GOP fascination with the value of heroic military service. It's not that long ago that we were expected to believe that defending the skies of Texas was more heroic than being shot at in Vietnam.
8.24.2008 2:03pm
Hoosier:
PersonFromPorlock:

I am really surprised to see Ribbentrop's IQ that high. He was the dimmest-wit of the lot.
8.24.2008 2:26pm
Golda:
"But it does seem that Republicans are subject to a different standard re intelligence than Democrats."

This is some of the most absurd kind of victim mentality, I have ever seen a professor of law utter. Disgraceful.

[Editor: Except I'm not a Republican (or a Democrat]. Pointing out the obvious doesn't make me one. But thanks for playing.]
8.24.2008 3:07pm
T.M.J.:
Besides, didn't Quayle's less than great mind crystalize in the public imagination when he corrected a grade school class spelling bee participant. He told her she was WRONG for spelling the word "potato." It should be "potatoe," according to him. And then he made the student spell it back to him with the wrong spelling!

http://www.capitalcentury.com/1992.html
8.24.2008 3:55pm
MarkField (mail):

I am really surprised to see Ribbentrop's IQ that high. He was the dimmest-wit of the lot.


Don't be too surprised. IQ scores are not comparable over time. Ribbentrop has the same score as Bush's imputed score, but Bush's is actually higher. The reason is that IQ scores generally have increased over the 20th C at the rate of roughly .3 point per year. This means that a test given in 1945 has to be adjusted downwards by 18 points relative to today (6 points down compared to Bush's test in the mid 60s). This is called the Flynn Effect.

Consider what this means for Streicher.
8.24.2008 4:16pm
loki13 (mail):
deezrightwingnutz-

What the other poster, in touching on the credit card issue, didn't realize is that in his own way, Biden is a standing up for Federalism. The reason that corporations are incorporated in Delaware has to do with their Court of Chancery and the predictability of their Corporate law due to the large number of corporate decisions on the books (the pro-corporate decisions are actually less important than the predictability, but a great bonus). As for the HQs- Texas followed by NY have the most HQs. The CC companies are, for the most part, HQd in NY.

However, here is where federalism comes into play. States set their usury laws. South Dakota and Delaware have, um, lax ones. Ergo, you mail your bills to processing centers in those states so the CC companies can gouge... um, receive a market price for their services. Regulations are constantly proposed to federalize the usury rates, which the CC oppose and give money to Senators to block. Go Federalism!
8.24.2008 4:29pm
Hoosier:
MarkField:

I didn't know that about IQ scores over time. Thanks for the info.!

As for Streicher: He at least did what he did reasonably well (Sort of a "community organizer," as well as publisher). Ribbentrop was just totally incompetent at the tasks given to him. I've always been amazed that he was able to move in diplomatic circles without accidentally stabbing himself in the brain with one of those toothpicks that they stick in the cheese-squares at embassy receptions.

That Schacht was the brightest of the lot doesn't surprise me. But I would have thought he'd be well above the pack. This was all very interesting to me; and I claim to know something about modern German history.

It raised the issue of "brilliance," which I consider to be overrated as a characteristic in our elected leaders. And in our academics. (How many of you professors out there can name more than a couple faculty colleagues who are legitimate "geniuses"?) "Bright" is good enough in both callings. Someone about said the Biden is no George Marshall. Well, Marshall is my yardstick for statesmen too. He was certainly no scholar or towering intellect. But he was bright, experienced, and wise. Better than brilliant.

So, with that said . . . when do I get to vote for Dwight Eisenhower?
8.24.2008 4:46pm
Hoosier:
"Someone above" . . .
8.24.2008 4:47pm
MarkField (mail):

It raised the issue of "brilliance," which I consider to be overrated as a characteristic in our elected leaders. And in our academics. (How many of you professors out there can name more than a couple faculty colleagues who are legitimate "geniuses"?) "Bright" is good enough in both callings. Someone about said the Biden is no George Marshall. Well, Marshall is my yardstick for statesmen too. He was certainly no scholar or towering intellect. But he was bright, experienced, and wise. Better than brilliant.

So, with that said . . . when do I get to vote for Dwight Eisenhower?


I agree with you about "brilliance". There's far more that goes into being successful than "brilliance", even assuming we take IQ tests at face value (and I don't).

As for Eisenhower, he was a very smart man, as well as a mature and wise one. But as you know, at the time he was widely (and wrongly) derided as not the sharpest knife in the drawer. So was Lincoln.

Bill James (are you a baseball fan?) once said that the difference between geniuses and crazy people is that the geniuses eventually convince us that they were right. That's a better definition than an IQ score.
8.24.2008 6:17pm
NickM (mail) (www):
There are 4 separate types of gaffes, which most people here are conflating.

Type 1: misuse of the English language (think Quayle and G.W. Bush)
Type 2: commonly recognized factually incorrect and/or silly statements, often due to changing topics midstream (e.g., fifty-seven states)
Type 2: puffery that crosses the line into falsity
Type 4: "He said what?" statements (usually insensitive or offensive, although sometimes just bizarre opinions or beliefs)

If you have to take the statement out of context to make it Type 3, it's not a gaffe.

Type 1 gaffes mark you as uneducated and/or stupid.

Everyone makes Type 2 gaffes. Some end up a lot funnier than others. If you make a lot (especially if they're funny ones, so that people remember them), you get marked as uneducated and/or stupid too.

Type 3 gaffes don't mark you as stupid, but they can hurt you as untrustworthy. Biden had a big one of this type in his 1988 campaign. Had Richardson's campaign gone anywhere
this year, his claim that he was drafted by a Major League Baseball team would have qualified. These happen a lot at the lower campaign level (it's surprising how many people claim college degrees they don't have), but normally get caught somewhere along the line and end any further hope of political advancement.

Type 4 gaffes hurt if they create or reinforce an image that a candidate is out of the mainstream. If they mark you as a bigot, you're probably in your last term in office (e.g., macaca).

Biden makes a lot more Type 4 gaffes than most politicians, but few Type 1 gaffes or memorable Type 2 gaffes.


Nick
8.24.2008 6:30pm
loki13 (mail):
NickM,

Interesting. I like your breakdown. I think there are differences in the type 2 gaffes however; take McCain's "houses" remark (I'm sure he'd love it if you'd take it).

On the one hand, it's the type of comment that can be chalked up to a simple "gotcha" moment, or not knowing something and promising to get the information (which is reasonable).

OTOH, since McCain has expended so much political and actual capital attacking Obama as elitist, it became a telling moment. Moreso because the last Republican campaign narrative had been to attack Kerry as man who had married into wealth and was out of touch with normal concerns. The issue isn't a much the comment (other than reinforcing that McCain is forgetful, aka old, which is a campaign narrative the Obama camp has been trying to sell), but rather forces attention on McCain's wealth and "kept man" status, while also bringing renewed attention to the unsavory details of how he married into his wealth, which doesn't pay well with his base.

In short, if you keep attackng your opponent as an "out of touch elitist", you had better have a pithy answer ready to the number of homes you have (example... I have one home in Arizona, a place I need to stay in Washington, and several investment properties that we take care of. This experience makes me acutely aware of how the AMERICAN PEOPLE are suffering because of the real estate meltdown etc. etc.)
8.24.2008 6:41pm
Kirk:
jukeboxgrad,
I also respect the fact that Obama decided to not chase after big money.

Maybe you could try again, but this time without the implied slur against all those who work at private-sector jobs*?
8.24.2008 7:11pm
MarkField (mail):

There are 4 separate types of gaffes, which most people here are conflating.

Type 1: misuse of the English language (think Quayle and G.W. Bush)
Type 2: commonly recognized factually incorrect and/or silly statements, often due to changing topics midstream (e.g., fifty-seven states)
Type 2: puffery that crosses the line into falsity


I'm guessing we're looking at a type 1 here, but maybe it's a type 2 of some kind or another.
8.24.2008 7:25pm
GaryC (mail):
jukeboxgrad:


he then failed a second physical which would have allowed him to have a sea command



Yes. I think that claim is sourced back to this:


According to Cindy McCain, John McCain failed a critical flight physical that would have precluded him from getting a carrier command assignment, the obvious next step in his ascension in the military. In retrospect, McCain said, he thinks he might have made admiral if he had stayed in the Navy. But his friends at the time said he was certain he would not.



The fact that he "failed a critical flight physical" seems to be at odds with the claim discussed above, that he was allegedly offered a star.



Without a sea command, McCain might have gotten his first star, and possibly a second, but had no chance of matching his father and grandfather with 4.

My copy of the May issue of Proceedings isn't handy, and I don't remember the exact numbers now, but Wikipedia says that there cannot legally be more than 216 flag officers in the Navy, with no more than 16.3% having more than 2 stars and no more than 25% of those having 4 stars.

That implies:

9 Admirals (O10, 4 stars)
26 Vice Admirals (O9, 3 stars)
171 Rear Admirals (O7 or O8, 1 or 2 stars)

Promotion to the higher ranks is tough under the best conditions, and John McCain recognized that without a sea command it wasn't going to happen.
8.24.2008 9:54pm
GaryC (mail):

jukeboxgrad:

He still can't raise his arms above shoulder level, and it took 9 months of intensive physical therapy to enable him to bend his knees enough to be able to fly again.

That's because he broke both arms and his knee during his ejection. It's not correct to imply, as some do, that this occurred during his imprisonment.

Broken arms do not affect shoulder motion, damage to shoulder joints does. Damage like that experienced by many other POWs in North Vietnam who were also suspended by ropes.
8.24.2008 9:59pm
byomtov (mail):
[EDITOR: I didn't know that mentioning that someone wrote a chapter on something means I'm vouching for her character! I'll have to keep that in mind.

Do that.

When I find someone persuasive it means, among other things, that I believe the facts they use to support their argument. So those who have no interest in accuracy (be clear: anyone can make a mistake - I'm talking about people like Coulter who don't let facts get in the way) are not particularly persuasive.


I am vouching that this particular chapter was persuasive and amusing. So far, no one who froths at the mouth at the mere mention of Coulter has explained why the relevant chapter was not persuasive or amusing, but instead have engaged in ad hominems. I could instead just cite the various quotes she pulls up, but I don't actually own the book.]

I haven't read the relevant chapter. Does she have a good point? What's that saying about blind hogs? The reason I doubt that it's persuasive (what's amusing is obviously subjective) is that I don't think she has the slightest respect for things like facts and logic. That Coulter enjoys a considerable regard among conservatives is evidence of just how anti-intellectual modern American conservatism is.
8.24.2008 11:01pm
Hoosier:
Gary C.: Yes. He was tortured by (among other things) being hanged by broken arms, tied behind him, and then strung over a hook high in the wall. Absolutely excruciating, even if your arms are not broken. This is all described in Robert Timberg's book "The Nightingale's Song."

Re: The original post:

"He still can't raise his arms above shoulder level, and it took 9 months of intensive physical therapy to enable him to bend his knees enough to be able to fly again.

That's because he broke both arms and his knee during his ejection. It's not correct to imply, as some do, that this occurred during his imprisonment."

People who break limbs don't generally suffer that sort of permanent disability. He was repeatedly beaten on his broken bones. He was hanged by his arms in the style explained above. The conditions of imprisonment led to many POW's developing severe arthritis in their knees: dampness, cramped quarters in which they could not walk, being forced to kneel hour after hour.

Did I mention the beatings?

And, yes, one can--MUST--blame some broken bones on his captors, and not his ejection, since they beat him so severely the re-broke an arms and, most likely, his leg.

If one wants to know about character, here's a story:

The Viet Minh tortured McCain. They then decided to use his release as a propaganda tool to undermine the morale of American forces: His dad was CINCPAC, and letting his son go home before all the others would look very bad, Hanoi reasoned.

So they told him they were sending him home. He refused. "First in, first out." As a result, he was tortured horrifically. Again, let me emphasize, he endured torture INSTEAD OF ALLOWING THE ENEMY TO RELEASE HIM, and thus undermine US morale. He willingly underwent brutal beatings a dozen times a day rather than break faith with his fellow POWs.

Interpret this as you will. But this is what in fact happened.
8.24.2008 11:33pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
Just for the heck of it, I looked up a couple of sites that claim to document the errors in Slander. There are a few medium errors, a few minor errors, a few cases of imprecise language, especially with passive voice, that could be interpreted to mean things that would be wrong or ridiculous, but only if read uncharitably, and a few things that aren't really errors but just matters of opinion on which the authors disagree with Coulter. I don't know about her later books, but this is pretty thin gruel for claiming that this means that not a single footnote of hers in Slander is to be trusted.
8.24.2008 11:45pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
That Coulter enjoys a considerable regard among conservatives is evidence of just how anti-intellectual modern American conservatism is.
Coulter is enjoyed as a polemicist. Victor Navasky, who never backed down from his claim that Alger Hiss was innocent, was editor of the left's leading intellectual/policy magazine. Navasky also wrote that attempts to correct the history of American Communism in the 1950s involved an attempt to make the USSR “an evil caricature of itself,” (as if Stalinism were not in fact evil). So much for the left's intellectualism. If people like Navasky didn't exist, neither would Ann Coulter.
8.24.2008 11:54pm
Hoosier:
Navasky and Tony Hiss still insist on Alger's innocence.

I think that's the full list.
8.25.2008 12:02am
LM (mail):
Does anyone know whether violating the Code of Conduct by accepting early release would have been a punishable offense? If not, what would the consequences have been? Administrative? Stigma? None?
8.25.2008 12:28am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
kirk:

but this time without the implied slur against all those who work at private-sector jobs


Sorry, but that's silly. Imagine that my friend gives up his job and his earthly possessions so he can spend the rest of his life helping Mother Teresa in an orphanage. Imagine that I publicly express my deep respect and admiration for him. Is that an "implied slur against all those" people I know who didn't do what he did? I don't think so. Do you?

At the same time, I don't mind explicitly condemning people who put undue emphasis on chasing after money. Like, say, someone who leaves behind his kids and his disfigured wife in order to run off with someone not just young and beautiful but also extremely rich. Our society suffers from too much of that sort of thing. Our real religion isn't Jesus, it's money.

And it's also not particularly a public/private sector thing anymore, thanks to the very effective revolving door between those two worlds. Before Cheney helped run a war that earned billions for Halliburton, they paid him millions. And before that, he was in the government, setting the stage for those future achievements. So he's crossed that fence a few times, and he's probably not done crossing it. We have the best government money can buy.
8.25.2008 12:52am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
gary:

Without a sea command, McCain might have gotten his first star


Probably you understand some of these details better than I do, so maybe you can explain it to me. The statement you made seems at odds with this statement:

According to Cindy McCain, John McCain failed a critical flight physical that would have precluded him from getting a carrier command assignment, the obvious next step in his ascension in the military.


According to you, his next step would have been to "have gotten his first star … without a sea command." According to the passage I cited, "the obvious next step in his ascension in the military" would have been "a carrier command assignment." Which is obviously a sea command, right?

So was his obvious next step a sea command, or was his next step a star without a sea command? You are claiming the latter, but I see another source that claims the former. Which is it?

And if you're correct, what got in the way of him collecting his star?

Broken arms do not affect shoulder motion, damage to shoulder joints does.


I already cited the following text, written by McCain:

A crowd of several hundred Vietnamese gathered around me … Someone smashed a rifle butt into my shoulder, breaking it.


His shoulder was broken, but not by his jailers.

Damage like that experienced by many other POWs in North Vietnam who were also suspended by ropes.


You are claiming, again, that he was "suspended by ropes." Trouble is, he never made that claim himself, as far as I can tell. How is it that you came to know more about his experience than he does?

And we are still waiting for you to show anything remotely resembling evidence to support your claim that he was treated "far worse than we have treated anybody in Guantanamo." I have presented evidence which seems to indicate that this claim is false.
8.25.2008 12:52am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
hoosier:

He was tortured by … being hanged by broken arms, tied behind him, and then strung over a hook high in the wall. … This is all described in Robert Timberg's book "The Nightingale's Song."


Really? Are you sure? That book is searchable and browsable at Amazon, here. I haven't read the whole thing, but I've looked around pretty carefully and the closest thing I can find is this (p. 135):

The ropes came next. McCain had never been in torture ropes, but he had heard about them from Bud Day and others. He was moved to another cell where his arms, battered, broken, and bruised in one way or another since the day he was shot down, were lashed behind his back, then cinched tightly together to intensify the pain. He was left on a stool.


That's exactly the same procedure that I've already cited via a couple of other sources. Obviously being "left on a stool" is not the same thing as being "strung over a hook high in the wall."

Then again, maybe the anecdote you described is elsewhere in the book. I hope you can tell us where. Please note that this anecdote is also pointedly missing from McCain's own book, where he seemed to be giving a very detailed account of what he experienced.

People who break limbs don't generally suffer that sort of permanent disability.


Most people we know "who break limbs" enjoy the benefit of quick and thorough medical treatment, which meets first-world standards, not third-world standards. McCain received some medical care, but it was not enough to present some "sort of permanent disability." It's not obvious that the medical care he received was much worse than the care that was generally available to a typical North Vietnamese civilian, in that time and place. McCain himself said that his captors seemed to be making some effort "not to permanently injure or disfigure" him.

being forced to kneel hour after hour


That's what we euphemistically call "stress positions" and "enhanced interrogation techniques." In this pdf you can see Rumsfeld's personal notation where he says this (p. 1):

I stand for 8-10 hours a day. Why is standing limited to 4 hours?


By the way, I can find no indication in the two books I've been discussing that McCain was ever forced to "kneel." That word appears a total of this many times in both books: zero.

they beat him so severely the re-broke an arms and, most likely, his leg


McCain said they re-fractured one arm. Please tell us why you think they re-fractured his leg.

So they told him they were sending him home. He refused.


Yes, we hear a lot about that. I encourage you to pay attention to the words of Phillip Butler ("a 1961 graduate of the United States Naval Academy and a former light-attack carrier pilot. In 1965 he was shot down over North Vietnam where he spent eight years as a prisoner of war. He is a highly decorated combat veteran who was awarded two Silver Stars, two Legion of Merits, two Bronze Stars and two Purple Heart medals"):

Why I Will Not Vote for John McCain …

As some of you might know, John McCain is a long-time acquaintance of mine that goes way back to our time together at the U.S. Naval Academy and as Prisoners of War in Vietnam. …

When I was a Plebe (4th classman, or freshman) at the Naval Academy in 1957-58 … John, a First Classman (senior) and his room mate lived directly across the hall from me … he barely managed to graduate, standing 5th from the bottom of his 800 man graduating class. I and many others have speculated that the main reason he did graduate was because his father was an Admiral, and also his grandfather, both U.S. Naval Academy graduates. …

People often ask if I was a Prisoner of War with John McCain. My answer is always "No - John McCain was a POW with me." The reason is I was there for 8 years and John got there 2 ½ years later, so he was a POW for 5 ½ years. …

John was offered, and refused, "early release." Many of us were given this offer. It meant speaking out against your country and lying about your treatment to the press. You had to "admit" that the U.S. was criminal and that our treatment was "lenient and humane." So I, like numerous others, refused the offer. This was obviously something none of us could accept. Besides, we were bound by our service regulations, Geneva Conventions and loyalties to refuse early release until all the POW's were released, with the sick and wounded going first.


Yes, McCain turned down a chance to go home. But so did many others. And while it was a courageous act to turn down the offer, there would have been major repercussions if he had accepted it, because it would have been such a serious violation of regulations. He probably would have been disowned by his father.

The key point is still being ducked. What was done to him is the equivalent of what we do now. And nothing that was done to him would be considered torture under the Bush-Yoo standard.
8.25.2008 12:52am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
lm:

Does anyone know whether violating the Code of Conduct by accepting early release would have been a punishable offense? If not, what would the consequences have been? Administrative? Stigma? None?


Good question, I wish I knew the exact answer. But I think the stigma inside his family, at the very least, would have been extreme.
8.25.2008 12:53am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
db:

I looked up a couple of sites that claim to document the errors in Slander


I wonder if you saw this and this. Sorry if you already did.

There are a few medium errors


I guess calling a given error "medium" is in the eye of the beholder. I think maybe your standards are too low. And when a bunch of false statements all tilt in the same partisan direction, they look more like lies than innocent "errors."
8.25.2008 12:53am
byomtov (mail):
How many best-sellers has Victor Navasky written lately? What's the circulation of The Nation? How many people have even heard of him?

When was the last time he was treated like a rock star at a major gathering of liberals?

How many newspapers carry his column?

What major liberal web sites feature his thinking?

Give me a f***ing break, David.

If people like Navasky didn't exist, neither would Ann Coulter.

Come on. If Navasky's such a fool, why do you need Coulter to refute him? You don't.

Coulter helps poison American politics, and you and others leap to her defense. At least you didn't actually buy her book. Did you buy the one by Jonah Goldberg, you know, the great intellectual who doesn't think Mussolini was a Fascist?
8.25.2008 12:55am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
Typo alert. I said this:

McCain received some medical care, but it was not enough to present some "sort of permanent disability."


I obviously meant to say "prevent."
8.25.2008 12:56am
hawkins:

there were no Quayle gaffes remotely approaching what Biden has said just within the last year (e.g., Obama being a "clean" black candidate.)


Certainly a gaffe. But not one that would imply Biden's dimness.
8.25.2008 12:58am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
byomtov:

When was the last time he was treated like a rock star at a major gathering of liberals?


Video here, jump to 6:06. Romney proudly introducing Coulter at CPAC 2007.
8.25.2008 1:07am
DavidBernstein (mail):
If memory serves, The Nation has a circulation of something like 250K, and publishes, and did publish, a who's who of the left. In other words, it's been among the few most influential "ideas" magazines in the country. Can you imagine a similarly influential "right-wing" magazine whose editor similarly defended Nazi Germany, through the 2000s?

As for Goldberg, his book is a polemic (I read it because I'm actually reading up on the Progressive era, but I must say that he didn't tell me anything I didn't already know), and must be read in that light. But he certainly brings up many FACTS (like the affinity some New Dealers had for Italian fascism, or the love affair "progressives" had with eugenics) that most educated people don't know about, because they don't fit the mainstream historical narrative about how "the left" has always been on the right side of everything, judged by current standards.
8.25.2008 1:31am
DavidBernstein (mail):
From Wikipedia:
The circulation of The Nation is rising and was last placed at 184,296 (2004)[when Navasky was still editor], more than double the center-left The New Republic, and larger than the neoconservative The Weekly Standard, and the conservative National Review. The Nation has lost money in all but three or four years of operation and is sustained in part by a group of more than 30,000 donors called The Nation Associates who donate funds to the periodical above and beyond their annual subscription fees.

The publisher and editor is Katrina vanden Heuvel. Former editors include Victor Navasky, Norman Thomas (associate editor), Carey McWilliams, and Freda Kirchwey. Notable contributors have included Albert Einstein, Franz Boas, Martin Luther King, Jr., Bertrand Russell, Barbara Garson, H. L. Mencken, Gore Vidal, Edward Said, Christopher Hitchens, Hunter S. Thompson, Langston Hughes, Ralph Nader, James Baldwin, Clement Greenberg, Tom Hayden, Daniel Singer, I.F. Stone, Leon Trotsky, Franklin D. Roosevelt, James K. Galbraith, John Steinbeck, Frank Lloyd Wright, Jean-Paul Sartre and John Beecher.
Sure, you don't need Coulter to debunk Navasky. But the fact that people like him can be so influential in "intellectual" circles and receive so little "mainstream" criticism gives her plenty of ammunition.
8.25.2008 1:36am
courtwatcher:
David Bernstein,
You seem dead set on fighting this criticism of your use of Coulter, but I'm not sure why. If you cite a polemicist, you will not be likely to persuade anyone who doesn't already agree with the polemicist's ideology. If I were to cite Victor Navasky or Noam Chomsky's research to support a point, I would be likely not to persuade anyone to the right of the left, much less to the right of the center, even if the citation were to a provable factual assertion.

Why fight this obvious truth? These commenters are trying to do you a favor. Take their hint, unless you have given up on trying to be persuasive to anyone who doesn't take Coulter seriously (which is an awful lot of us, left, center, and right).
8.25.2008 2:06am
Hoosier:
"The Nation has lost money in all but three or four years of operation and is sustained in part by a group of more than 30,000 donors called The Nation Associates who donate funds to the periodical above and beyond their annual subscription fees."


It helps when your publisher has more money than God.
8.25.2008 2:12am
DavidBernstein (mail):
I'm not trying to persuade anyone by citing Coulter. I found the chapter itself persuasive, but beyond that it's hardly a secret that the media traditionally treats conservatives as dumber than liberals. I merely refer the reader to the chapter if they want examples. If anyone wants to volunteer a source that has documented the phenomenon better than Coulter, feel free.
8.25.2008 6:38am
PersonFromPorlock:
LM:

Does anyone know whether violating the Code of Conduct by accepting early release would have been a punishable offense? If not, what would the consequences have been? Administrative? Stigma? None?


US Code of Conduct Section IIIa reads in part:

a. ...I will accept neither parole nor special favors from the enemy.

While 'parole' seems to involve agreeing not to fight against the holding power again as a condition of early release (which was not the case with the offer made to McCain), early release itself must certainly be a 'special favor' and therefore against the Code. At the very least, that would support a charge of 'Conduct Unbecoming' under the UCMJ.
8.25.2008 7:33am
Smokey:
McCain didn't reject early release because it was against a particular rule. He rejected it because he had something called "character."

Can anyone possibly imagine anyone who greedily sucks up Affirmative Action benefits at the expense of those more qualified, turning down such an early release??

If Obama had been captured by the NVA, he would have been a collaborator within about sixty seconds. Is there any doubt?

Character is the issue. Not a rule that was never enforced in Viet Nam. McCain has character; Obama is a rank opportunist. Who would you trust when the chips are down?
8.25.2008 8:40am
byomtov (mail):
David,

Does The Nation say stupid things sometimes? Sure. Checked out National Review lately?

Besides, Navasky represents a relatively small segment of "the left." Many, probably most, liberals don't consider him representative of their views. To the extent I'm familiar with him I certainly don't.

The Coulters, Goldbergs, Hannitys, Limbaughs etc. reach a vastly larger audience. The defense is always the same: they're polemicists, comedians, etc. Does that mean the things they say aren't influential among the mass of American conservatives?

Incidentally, I doubt that Goldberg, at least, would consider himself a polemicist. He seems to regard himself as a serious historian, daringly breaking new ground - Hitler was a vegetarian!!, and so on.

Here's your authority Coulter - just one example:

"While the form of treachery varies slightly from case to case, liberals always manage to take the position that most undermines American security."

Lovely, David.
8.25.2008 9:08am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
db:

Navasky also wrote that attempts to correct the history of American Communism in the 1950s involved an attempt to make the USSR “an evil caricature of itself,” (as if Stalinism were not in fact evil).


What he wrote is here:

For me, the political scientist Michael Rogin captured the essence of the McCarthy era when he wrote of the notion that "some kind of alien external force had entered the body politic and threatens to destroy it from within." During the 1940s and '50s the alien force was Communism, and the countersubversive tradition expressed itself by demonizing the American Communist Party (and by extension fellow travelers and pinkos and eventually liberals), making Communism an evil caricature of itself.


His phrase ("an evil caricature of itself") was not a reference to "the USSR," as you expressly stated. Neither was it a reference to Stalinism (as you implied). It was a reference to Communism, generally, and in particular, Communism as embodied in the American Communist Party. He seems to be saying that McCarthyism demonized liberals by making the American Communist Party "an evil caricature of itself." Not that McCarthyism made the USSR or Stalinism "an evil caricature of itself."

In my book, "Communism," "American Communist Party," "USSR" and "Stalinism" aren't synonyms. And even if you think they are, it's not fair for you to assume your readers think the same thing. They might not. You shouldn't claim that Navasky said something he didn't say.

I hardly ever read the Nation, and I've barely heard of Navasky. But the way you've quoted him strikes me as Coulteresque. I suppose someone interested in defending you the way you defend Coulter might gloss over your behavior by calling it a "medium error."

It's easy to find horrifying quotes from Coulter. And it doesn't require misquoting her. Your attempt to place Navasky at Coulter's level are "pretty thin gruel."

Can you imagine a similarly influential "right-wing" magazine whose editor similarly defended Nazi Germany, through the 2000s?


Given what you did with your other 'fact,' I'm inclined to take this one with a big grain of salt. And I notice that in this instance you don't even make a pretense of backing your claim with his own words.
8.25.2008 9:34am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
smokey:

he had something called "character."


Indeed. Only a real "character" would leave his kids and disfigured wife to run off with a beer heiress barely half his age.

If Obama had been captured by the NVA, he would have been a collaborator within about sixty seconds.


I'm sure it took more than sixty seconds, but McCain did indeed write a false confession, under torture. And he admitted that he gave them more information than he should have, also under torture.

Obama is a rank opportunist


Funny you should say that. Here's what Ross Perot said about McCain:

McCain is the classic opportunist. He’s always reaching for attention and glory … After he came home, Carol walked with a limp. So he threw her over for a poster girl with big money from Arizona. And the rest is history.
8.25.2008 9:47am
byomtov (mail):
One final point.

A big part of Coulter's "work" consists of calling liberals traitors. For this conservatives have made her wealthy.

Think about that the next time you don't understand why liberals think conservatives are questioning their patriotism.
8.25.2008 11:20am
DavidBernstein (mail):
As is no longer in reasonable dispute, the American Communist Party was under the direct control of the Soviet Union, and thus Stalin, and was, in fact, Stalinist in ideology. So, regardless of whether Navasky meant "American Communism" or "Communism" more generally, he is saying that people are trying to make Stalinism an evil caricature of itself. The American Communist Party was an evil institution. The fact that some of the lower level people in it didn't realize what they had gotten themselves into doesn't change that. But you're right that I misparaphrased, it should have been "Stalinism an evil caricature of itself," not the USSR. Apologies.
8.25.2008 11:47am
Golda:
""But it does seem that Republicans are subject to a different standard re intelligence than Democrats."

This is some of the most absurd kind of victim mentality, I have ever seen a professor of law utter. Disgraceful.

[Editor: Except I'm not a Republican (or a Democrat]. Pointing out the obvious doesn't make me one. But thanks for playing.]"

followed by . . .

"I'm not trying to persuade anyone by citing Coulter. I found the chapter itself persuasive, but beyond that it's hardly a secret that the media traditionally treats conservatives as dumber than liberals."

Next you'll be telling me you're not a conservative, when the only support for your persecution argument is Colter. And your unserious, unreflective 'everybody knows.' Disgraceful for a law professor.

By the way, you're welcome. Thanks for losing.
8.25.2008 11:50am
MarkField (mail):

For me, the political scientist Michael Rogin captured the essence of the McCarthy era when he wrote of the notion that "some kind of alien external force had entered the body politic and threatens to destroy it from within." During the 1940s and '50s the alien force was Communism, and the countersubversive tradition expressed itself by demonizing the American Communist Party (and by extension fellow travelers and pinkos and eventually liberals), making Communism an evil caricature of itself.


Interesting. I read this passage differently than both jbg and Prof. Bernstein. As I understand it, Navasky is saying that the "countersubversive tradition" (by which I assume he means McCarthy) treated Communism as an evil caricature of itself, that is, that the "countersubversives" attributed to Communism their own worst faults. The key word is "itself", which I understand to refer to "the countersubversives" both times it's used.
8.25.2008 11:58am
DavidBernstein (mail):
Golda, so if I write a post pointing out that black people are often unfairly assumed to be dumber than white people, that would mean I have a "victim mentality," and that, moreover, I'm black?
8.25.2008 12:13pm
hawkins:
DB -

Do you really believe Republicans are assumed to be less intelligent solely for the reason they are Republicans?

It seems there are many more likely explanations for individual Republican politicians being branded as stupid - such as their open contempt for education and being less than well spoken (often a political ploy to appeal to the average Joe - see Bush and Allen as prime examples).
8.25.2008 12:24pm
loki13 (mail):
This, I think. is why the other conspirators so rarely particapate in the comments boards. Better to keep your mouth closed and have others think you a fool than open your mouth and remove all doubt.

I think DB's great Coulter defense of Aug. '08 is when he officially nuked the fridge . . . um, made a medium error.
8.25.2008 12:32pm
01123:
(1) This silly obsession with college grades and standardized test scores in the face of the ready availability of actual real-world performance data is easily explained: standardized test scores are a more objective measure of pure intellectual prowess than are grades, which in turn are more objective than real-world performance data. Those who find that their standardized test scores overpredict their grades, or that their grades overpredict their real-world performance, naturally cling, as a self-defense mechanism, to the comforting notion that the overpredicting metric is the "true" measure of their worth and that the disappointing results (whether they be grades or real-world performance) are somehow the result of "unfair" subjective evaluation and that the overpredicting metric would be proven valid if only they could be subjected to "fair" evaluation. That real life is not lived through filling out bubbles with a number two pencil nor through writing papers to please a single individual is an idea that is naturally suppressed by such individuals.

(2) At the risk of starting (another) flame war, I would proffer an opinion regarding the law school versus business school discussion above. At schools of similar stature, the law students are, on average, significantly (but not overwhelmingly) more intelligent than the business students. At my law school, there was a program where law students and business students could take classes together. Some of these were law-focused and were taught by law professors, some were business-focused and were taught by business professors, and some were evenly mixed and taught by a law professor and a business professor. All indications suggested that the program attracted 33-67 percentile types (that is, the broad middle of the class), at least from the law school. Though no comprehensive comparison between the two student populations was ever disclosed by any of the professors, every bit of evidence I saw, from classroom performance, to the quality of written work, to interactions in small groups, to anecdotal evidence from peers, strongly suggested that the law students, on average, significantly outperformed the business students in all three class types, including business-focused classes taught by business professors. My impression was reinforced after working for a Fortune 100 corporation, where I noticed a startling disparity between the vocabulary, breadth of knowledge, quickness of wit and analytical skills of, on the one hand, lawyers, engineers, computer scientists and PhDs, and on the other, MBAs, accountants and the like.
8.25.2008 12:33pm
Golda:
"Golda, so if I write a post pointing out that black people are often unfairly assumed to be dumber than white people, that would mean I have a "victim mentality," and that, moreover, I'm black?"

Well, first, I never said you were Republican. Second, I note that you do not deny being Conservative. And as your comments make clear you're the one who, in fact, conflated perceived persecution of Republicans with perceived persecution of Conservatives.

Most egregiously, and again disgracefully, we are not talking about race but political ideology -- ideas, get it, thus the discussion of mental capacity -- next you'll be making some equally absurd Hitler and Nazi analogy.
8.25.2008 12:47pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
Golda, I'm not going to waste time explaining the simple logical analogy I presented. But I never said conservatives, or Republicans, or anyone else are "persecuted." Indeed, the fact that the MSM treated conservatives in such a biased fashion over the years likely helped some of them get elected, e.g, the bumper sticker "Vote for Reagan, Annoy the Media."

Anyone who has spent time at a liberal northeast or midwestern college will have met people who think of conservatives as slackjaws driving pickup trucks with a houndog in the back.

And I haven't "defended" Ann Coulter; I've just made it clear that I don't blacklist her, so that if she makes a persuasive point, I'll cite her like I'd cite anyone else. Heck, I've actually linked to many bozos over the years who happen to have something interesting to say in a particular instance. But if you'd like to point out where I "defended" her, feel free.
8.25.2008 1:57pm
Smokey:
Goldasays: "...next you'll be making some equally absurd Hitler and Nazi analogy."

No, Golda, you just did that.

Strike three.
8.25.2008 2:26pm
NickM (mail) (www):
loki - I see it as a Type 4, if anything. He wasn't factually wrong and this isn't something, under the circumstances (i.e., his wife owns investment properties on her own), that he would necessarily know. It's also not that bad an effort to punt or evade a "gotcha" question.

MarkField - typed documents fall under Muphry's law :-D

Nick
8.25.2008 2:38pm
ejo:
Republicans are dumb, not smart like Democrats? is that like the generality that conservatives are less caring than liberals despite higher donations to charities? it's what you say, not what you do with what's yours? I can't see the controversy in pointing out that the backbone of the Democratic party consists of groups that are the most educationally challenged and least accomplished. As a group, urban poor (black and hispanic) do quite poorly by any measure of educational achievement, have the worst social pathologies but can be counted on to vote consistently Democratic-if the shoe fits, wear it.
8.25.2008 2:55pm
GaryC (mail):

gary:


Without a sea command, McCain might have gotten his first star


Probably you understand some of these details better than I do, so maybe you can explain it to me. The statement you made seems at odds with this statement:


According to Cindy McCain, John McCain failed a critical flight physical that would have precluded him from getting a carrier command assignment, the obvious next step in his ascension in the military.


According to you, his next step would have been to "have gotten his first star … without a sea command." According to the passage I cited, "the obvious next step in his ascension in the military" would have been "a carrier command assignment." Which is obviously a sea command, right?

So was his obvious next step a sea command, or was his next step a star without a sea command? You are claiming the latter, but I see another source that claims the former. Which is it?

And if you're correct, what got in the way of him collecting his star?


Both his father and grandfather had reached the top of the Navy hierarchy. Not CNO, but O10 (Admiral), with major command responsibility. John McCain's inability to qualify for a sea command meant that he was on a track that would never lead to that level. If we believe the Lehman quote in the NYT, then he was promised a promotion to O7, but he had to know that was likely to be the end of his Navy career. He would have one or two jobs in the Pentagon, which might have been interesting and might not, with the possibility of getting one more star before he retired.

This would not constitute "ascension in the military" in his mind, since he would have fallen so far short of his ancestors rank.

One alternative was to get into politics, in Arizona, using his new wife's family ties, influence, and money. His time as Navy Liaison to the Senate apparently convinced him that he would enjoy that career path, so he took it, first winning a race for Congress in 1982 and then for the Senate in 1986. (By the way, I find it amusing and possibly important that he was preceded in the House by John Jacob Rhodes Jr. and followed by John Jacob Rhodes, III.)

Accepting promotion in the Navy would have delayed his entry into politics, and I assume that he was aware that Rep. Rhodes was considering retirement in 1981, when McCain had to make his decision, opening up a Republican-leaning seat.
8.25.2008 9:32pm
Smokey:
A couple of questions for GaryC:

As you state, "Both his father and grandfather had reached the top of the Navy hierarchy. Not CNO, but O10 (Admiral), with major command responsibility. John McCain's inability to qualify for a sea command meant that he was on a track that would never lead to that level."

Could John McCain's POW-inflicted injuries be the medical reason he couldn't qualify for a critical flight physical? As a result of those beatings, McCain is still unable to raise his hands high enough to comb his hair. I'm just asking, since you raise the issue.

Next question, GaryC: which unit did you serve in?
8.25.2008 11:31pm
Eli Rabett (www):
Above a certain point (which we can refer to as super high IQ, maybe 150 or more if you want a number) it becomes hard to relate to other folk. Think of how you would feel if everyone else was a three year olds. I've known a couple of such people (they are VERY rare and not necessarily blessed), and as my wife once described the wife of one, she was his ambassador to humanity.
8.25.2008 11:48pm
GaryC (mail):

Smokey:
A couple of questions for GaryC:

As you state, "Both his father and grandfather had reached the top of the Navy hierarchy. Not CNO, but O10 (Admiral), with major command responsibility. John McCain's inability to qualify for a sea command meant that he was on a track that would never lead to that level."

Could John McCain's POW-inflicted injuries be the medical reason he couldn't qualify for a critical flight physical? As a result of those beatings, McCain is still unable to raise his hands high enough to comb his hair. I'm just asking, since you raise the issue.

Next question, GaryC: which unit did you serve in?

I don't think there is any doubt that his injuries from being shot down, having those injuries go untreated, and then his subsequent torture in the Hanoi Hilton are the reason that he was unable to pass that flight physical. I find it amazing that he was able to pass the earlier one, which allowed him to take his assignment in Jacksonville commanding the VA-174 Replacement Air Group.

I didn't serve. In the first draft lottery, my number was 354. Then I discovered that, since I was only 17, it didn't count. My real draft lottery number was 12, so I was expecting to be drafted as soon as I graduated from college. The draft ended shortly before my graduation in 1973, with only 646 men drafted in that year.

On a -10 to +10 scale of national service, I would rank myself at a 0, Bill Clinton at a -6, Dan Quayle at a +1, John Kerry at a +2, George Walker Bush at a +3, George Herbert Walker Bush at a +8, Bob Dole at a +8, Bud Day at a +10, James Stockdale at a +10, and John McCain at a +9.

(Kerry would be a +6 but he gets -4 demerits for his testimony to Congress, the whole Winter Soldier debacle, throwing his ribbons/medals over the White House fence, his trips to "negotiate" with the North Vietnamese in Paris, and his gaming of the Purple Hearts. George Walker Bush would be a +5 but he gets -1 demerits for coasting his last year or so of Reserve duty.)

(The Medal of Honor defines the top end of the scale, and the bottom end is defined by join the military so they can throw live grenades into tents occupied by US forces.)
8.26.2008 2:53am
GaryC (mail):

Smokey:
A couple of questions for GaryC:

As you state, "Both his father and grandfather had reached the top of the Navy hierarchy. Not CNO, but O10 (Admiral), with major command responsibility. John McCain's inability to qualify for a sea command meant that he was on a track that would never lead to that level."

Could John McCain's POW-inflicted injuries be the medical reason he couldn't qualify for a critical flight physical? As a result of those beatings, McCain is still unable to raise his hands high enough to comb his hair. I'm just asking, since you raise the issue.

Next question, GaryC: which unit did you serve in?

By the way, Smokey, the top half of my post was a comment by jukeboxgrad to which I was responding. I failed to insert his name in the block quote.
8.26.2008 2:57am
Happyshooter:
now i don't think its a good policy to have a blanket ban on claims/cites from a source because of the general reliability/reputation of the source and this holds for coulter or churchill...but entertaining writer and penetrating thinker..please:

coulter quotes:


This is THE exact argument style taught at the University of Michigan Law School. The reason it looks weird is that liberal policy makers always use it and the right usually doesn't. Ann paid attention and is a master of the style.

The style is eye rolling, sarcastic voice, and calling out the person in a vile way for real or made up failings somewhere in their lives.

As an aside, when I was there it was important to dis Scalia and Thomas--but if any openly black students were in class then the class had to defer to the black to start a hiss at Thomas' name or otherwise dog him, then it was game on.
8.26.2008 11:00am
Brian Macker (mail) (www):
Jukeboxgrad,

Your analysis of McCain's torture is pretty repulsive. I mean, I'm repulsed by you. Mere refusal of medical treatment is a form of torture. Imagine the mental anguish of knowing your body is never going to be right again because some inhuman jerk, apparently like you, thinks that it's not torture. Not that his captors gave a damn about the definition of torture.

That didn't cover all the reasons your analysis repulsed me either.

I don't think any of the candidates are qualified run the country, but I also think they are no worse qualified than what we have experienced over the past eighty years or better either. So perhaps they are qualified to be president.
8.26.2008 11:56pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
db:

you're right that I misparaphrased, it should have been "Stalinism an evil caricature of itself," not the USSR. Apologies.


Thanks for the apology, but I don't get why think this new misquote is better than your original misquote. You're free to give us your opinion of what you think Navasky meant, but you're not free to mislead us with regard to what he actually said. He said this:

… the countersubversive tradition expressed itself by demonizing the American Communist Party …, making Communism an evil caricature of itself


He didn't mention Stalinism. You did.

As is no longer in reasonable dispute, the American Communist Party … was, in fact, Stalinist in ideology


With all due respect, I don't trust you to make sweeping statements about what is allegedly "no longer in reasonable dispute."

In my opinion, an honest way for you to have made your point would have been something like this: "Navasky said something about people who were 'making Communism an evil caricature of itself;' I interpret this as a defense of Stalinism, because he was talking about the American Communist Party, which I claim was Stalinist in ideology."

That way you're telling us what he actually said, and you're telling us your interpretation of that he said (and a reader might regard your interpretation as correct or incorrect, for all sorts of reasons). It's not OK to take your interpretation and substitute it for his actual words without letting us know you're doing this.
8.27.2008 12:59am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
mark:

I read this passage differently than both jbg and Prof. Bernstein.


I didn't think of this. I think yours is the more plausible interpretation. I do feel comfortable accusing Navasky of this: writing a sentence that could have been clearer.

I want to note that my criticism of Bernstein stands. I think it's not his fault that he didn't think of your interpretation (I didn't either), but I think it is his fault that he thinks it's OK to freely exchange the terms "Communism" and "Stalinism." Especially in this context, where Navasky was talking about the American Communist Party, not the USSR.
8.27.2008 12:59am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
hawkins:

being less than well spoken (often a political ploy to appeal to the average Joe - see Bush and Allen as prime examples).


Good point. I think there are videos of Governor Bush where he sounds smarter then he sounds now.

In this context I think it's interesting to note that one of the groups that picked Kerry over Bush was people with higher education. I think the polling is similar with Obama vs. McCain.
8.27.2008 12:59am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
01123:

I noticed a startling disparity between the vocabulary, breadth of knowledge, quickness of wit and analytical skills of, on the one hand, lawyers, engineers, computer scientists and PhDs, and on the other, MBAs, accountants and the like


Some evidence to support your observation can be found in the performance of America's first MBA president.
8.27.2008 12:59am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
db:

Anyone who has spent time at a liberal northeast or midwestern college will have met people who think of conservatives as slackjaws driving pickup trucks with a houndog in the back


Anyone who has spent time at a place like Power Line forum will have met
more than a trivial number of so-called conservatives who are indeed fairly described as essentially "slackjaws driving pickup trucks with a houndog in the back." And the GOP has put more than a trivial amount of effort into locking up the slackjaw vote, and in fact has done well at this.

If you don't want to wake up with fleas, don't lie down with dogs.
8.27.2008 12:59am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
ejo:

I can't see the controversy in pointing out that the backbone of the Democratic party consists of groups that are the most educationally challenged and least accomplished


Naturally. Take Jews, for example. They overwhelmingly vote D, and are an important source of financial support for the party. But everyone knows they are one of the "groups that are the most educationally challenged and least accomplished." Right?

By the way, please note what I said above about people with graduate degrees picking Kerry over Bush.

As a group, urban poor (black and hispanic) do quite poorly by any measure of educational achievement, have the worst social pathologies but can be counted on to vote consistently Democratic-if the shoe fits, wear it.


Right. And please pay no attention to the rural white poor in the South who vote R. They've got lots of "educational achievement" and are free of "social pathologies," right?

And speaking of where "social pathologies" can be found, you'll find this interesting:

In red states in 2001, there were 572,000 divorces … Blue states recorded 340,000 … In the same year, 11 red states had higher rates of divorce than any blue state … In each of the red states of Louisiana, Mississippi, and New Mexico, 46.3 percent of all births were to unwed mothers … In blue states, on average, that percentage was 31.7 … Delaware has the highest rate of births to teenage mothers among all blue states, yet 17 red states have a higher rate … Of those red states, 15 have at least twice the rate as that of Massachusetts … There were more than 100 teen pregnancies per 1,000 women aged 15 to 19 in 5 red states in 2002 … None of the blue states had rates that high … The rate of teen births declined in 46 states from 1988 to 2000 … It climbed in 3 red states and saw no change in another … The per capita rate of violent crime in red states is 421 per 100,000 … In blue states, it's 372 per 100,000 … The per capita rate of murder and non-negligent manslaughter in Louisiana is 13 per 100,000 … In Maine, it's 1.2 per 100,000 … As of 2000, 37 states had statewide policies or procedures to address domestic violence … All 13 that didn't were red states … The 5 states with the highest rates of alcohol dependence or abuse are red states … The 5 states with the highest rates of alcohol dependence or abuse among 12- to 17-year-olds are also red states … The per capita rate of methamphetamine-lab seizures in California is 2 per 100,000 … In Arkansas, it's 20 per 100,000 … The number of meth-lab seizures in red states increased by 38 percent from 1999 to 2003 … In the same time frame, it decreased by 38 percent in blue states … Residents of the all-red Mountain States are the most likely to have had 3 or more sexual partners in the previous year … Residents of all-blue New England are the least likely to have had more than 1 partner in that span … Residents of the mid-Atlantic region of New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey were the most likely to be sexually abstinent … Residents of the all-red West South Central region (Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana) were the least likely … Five red states reported more than 400 cases of chlamydia per 100,000 residents in 2002 … No blue state had a rate that high … The per capita rate of gonorrhea in red states was 140 per 100,000 … In blue states, it was 99 per 100,000.


More on teen pregnancy here.

Sorry to confuse you with the facts.
8.27.2008 1:00am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
gary:

This would not constitute "ascension in the military" in his mind, since he would have fallen so far short of his ancestors rank.


You're mixing up different statements from different people, and you're not addressing the issue that was raised. I understand that McCain felt he would not reach "his ancestors rank." But I wasn't asking about that. I was asking about Cindy, who said that (paraphrase) "a carrier command assignment [was] the obvious next step in his ascension in the military." This is at odds with what you claimed, that his next step would have been to "have gotten his first star … without a sea command." These two claims are mutually exclusive, and I asked you to reconcile them, and you have not.

If we believe the Lehman quote in the NYT


I hope you'll tell us what "quote" you're talking about. There is no actual "quote" from Lehman claiming that McCain was about to become an admiral. The article claims that Lehman said that, but it doesn't offer a quote to back up that claim.

Anyway, there are good reasons not to believe that NYT report, according to multiple named experts who are cited here.
8.27.2008 1:00am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
smokey:

Could John McCain's POW-inflicted injuries be the medical reason he couldn't qualify for a critical flight physical?


As I have already said, it's relevant to differentiate between what the airplane did to him, as compared with what the crowd did to him, as compared with what his jailers did to him. Before he reached the ground he had already broken both arms and a knee.

These problems were compounded by poor medical treatment (certainly by US standards). Some of this was probably because treatment was intentionally withheld, but some was probably just a result of generally low standards in that country, during that war. I think it's hard to know exactly where to draw this line. I don't think it's fair to claim that North Vietnam should have given him better medical care than they were currently able to give their own citizens and soldiers.

As a result of those beatings, McCain is still unable to raise his hands high enough to comb his hair


This has already been discussed extensively, above. It seems to be the case that the problem with raising his arm is a result of a broken shoulder. The shoulder was not broken by his jailers. His shoulder was broken by the crowd that dragged him out of the lake. I've already cited McCain's words describing this event.

And we're still waiting for a couple of people to explain why they claimed that McCain was hung by his arms. According to hoosier, this is in Timberg's book. Trouble is, I can't find it in Timberg's book, and I think it's not in there.
8.27.2008 1:00am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
brian:

…because some inhuman jerk, apparently like you, thinks that it's not torture


The jerk is you. You need to work on your reading comprehension. I'll be waiting patiently while you find an example of me claiming that McCain wasn't tortured. I've made that claim this many times: zero. In fact, I have specifically said he was tortured. For example, notice what I said here:

I am not claiming that McCain was not tortured. Of course he was. I'm simply pointing out that his captors did nothing that would qualify for the Bush-Yoo definition of torture. If you can show otherwise, please do so. There also seems to be a lot of evidence that his jailers did nothing that is not the equivalent of what we've done.


Next time try to respond to what I've actually said, instead of your fantasy of what I said.
8.27.2008 1:00am
Brian Macker (mail) (www):
Jukeboxgrad,

"I'll be waiting patiently while you find an example of me claiming that McCain wasn't tortured."

Here you go:

According to the Bush definition of "torture," McCain was not tortured.

"Yoo declared that it's not torture unless it's pain at the level of "death, organ failure, or serious impairment of body functions."

"Please show your evidence that McCain's captors ever did anything that would have violated Yoo's very loose standard."

You went out of your way to paint McCain as not being tortured to the level of "serious impairment of body functions" when it is clear he currently has them. Withholding medical treatment for broken bones and the like obviously crosses the threshold of such a standard.

Meanwhile, you link to instances of rogue soldiers who are brought up on criminal charges by our military as if that were approved behavior. People who withheld medical treatment to death. You then again try to argue that in YOUR MIND this does not meet a standard of torture that rises to "serious imparment of body functions".

The workings of you mind is what disgusts me. You claimed that your mind had processed the standard and was operating within it when making these judgment calls. You did that and came up with totally disgusting judgement calls, just like those rogue US soldiers, who probably didn't even read Yoo's memo.

Why should anyone trust you to interpret what Yoo's memo allows or doesn't allow? Even if we accept what you claim is in there. You can’t even seem to understand that withholding medical treatement for broken bones meets the criteria you are claiming.

Obviously withholding medical treatment to the point of death violates that obligation. Yet you are here on this thread claiming that it is US policy to torture people to death.

During this whole process you have no moral concern over what that does to our collective reputation. Sure I think Bush and Co. did some stupid stuff, and crossed some boundaries they should not have, but ... you are painting every incident as if it was a premeditated goal or policy.

So, in summary, you go out of your way to interpret our enemies’ actions of not crossing a high standard for torture which they obviously did as a matter of policy at the highest levels. You do so at the expense of the victim, McCain. In the meantime when talking about the US you do your very best to take the least charitable interpretation of every event.

All the while arguing that McCain was not tortured to levels he clearly was. Including dismissing the notion he had his teeth broken off at the gum line. Last time I checked we don't say "He broke off a couple of tooth". It's teeth and it's plural when you go beyond one.

What kind of mind goes into such obviously incorrect minutia in order to paint his political enemies as monsters?

I think water boarding is torture. I think it violates domestic laws that apply to all US citizens internationally. Thus I think somebody in the Bush administration is guilty of violating some serious criminal law. I don’t however think it rises near the level of what was done to McCain.
8.27.2008 10:02am
Brian Macker (mail) (www):
Jukeboxgrad,

So if you don't want people to interpret you as the crazed nut you appear to be in this comment section I suggest you tone it down at least 5 notches.
8.27.2008 10:04am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
brian:

You went out of your way to paint McCain as not being tortured to the level of "serious impairment of body functions" when it is clear he currently has them.


You are going out of your way to claim that McCain was tortured to the level of "serious impairment of body functions" even though:

A) it is not clear that McCain has "serious impairment of body functions," and,

B) it is not clear that his impairments were caused by his jailers.

Some information regarding A. Courts have generally defined "serious impairment of body functions" as this (pdf):

an objectively manifested impairment of an important body function that affects the person’s general ability to lead his or her normal life


Some further detail on this (pdf):

A serious impairment of body function is “an objectively manifested impairment of an important body function that affects the person’s general ability to lead his or her normal life.” MCL 500.3135(7). For an impairment to be objectively manifested, there must be a medically identifiable injury or a condition that has a physical basis. Jackson v Nelson, 252 Mich App 643, 652-653; 654 NW2d 604 (2002). The injury must be capable of objective verification by qualified medical personnel either as visually apparent or as detectable by medical testing. Netter v Bowman, 272 Mich App 289, 305; 725 NW2d 353 (2006). Whether a person has suffered a serious impairment of body function is a question of law for the court if there is no factual dispute concerning the nature and extent of the injuries, or if there is a factual dispute concerning the nature and extent of the injuries but the dispute is not material to whether the plaintiff has suffered a serious impairment of body function. MCL 500.3135(2)(a).

Determining whether a person is generally able to lead his or her normal life requires considering whether the objectively manifested impairment has affected the course and trajectory of the person’s life. The court must examine how, to what extent, and for how long the plaintiff’s life has been affected by the impairment. The court must examine the plaintiff’s life before and after the accident, and consider the significance of the affected aspects on the course of the plaintiff’s life. In order to determine whether the plaintiff’s general ability to lead his or her normal life has been affected by the objective impairment, the court may consider factors such as the nature and extent of the impairment, the type and length of treatment required, the duration of the impairment, the extent of any residual impairment, and the prognosis for eventual recovery. Kreiner v Fischer, 471 Mich 109, 131-134; 683 NW2d 611 (2004).


You are apparently claiming that McCain's impairments are so serious that they significantly effect his ability to lead his normal life. Really? The following information is from his web site:

At the present time, Senator McCain enjoys excellent health and displays extraordinary energy.  While it is impossible to predict any person's future health, today I can find no medical reason or problems that would preclude Senator McCain from fulfilling all the duties and obligations of President of the United States.…

4)  Orthopedic Status:

• He was a Navy pilot in Vietnam , and his plane was shot down in October of 1967.  He broke both arms and a leg after ejecting from his plane.  He was a prisoner of war in Hanoi for 5.5 years. 

• As a POW, he was beaten and tortured repeatedly, and suffered fractures of both shoulders.  Because he received no treatment for his fractures, all fractures healed with significantly reduced range of motion of his shoulders, arms and right knee. 

• He does not complain of bone or joint pain and does not take pain medication.


So while there is "significantly reduced range of motion of his shoulders, arms and right knee," he does not take pain medication, and there is "no medical reason or problems that would preclude Senator McCain from fulfilling all the duties and obligations of President of the United States." So what's your basis for claiming that his impairments are so serious that they significantly effect his ability to lead his normal life?

By the way, the statement that "he received no treatment for his fractures" is contradicted by what he wrote in his book ("Faith of My Fathers," p. 196 and p. 199):

I was rolled into a treatment room, where a doctor tried to set my broken right arm…In early December, they operated on my leg.


Those procedures were primitive and unsuccessful, but how is it accurate to claim that "he received no treatment for his fractures?"

Now let's talk about B. You are claiming his impairments were caused by his jailers. Trouble is, he was already injured before he arrived in jail. During ejection, he broke both arms and his knee. While being pulled from the lake, someone in the crowd broke his shoulder. These injuries are not the responsibility of his jailers. And while they are to be blamed to the extent that they withheld treatment, they are not to be blamed for the fact that the treatment they were able to provide was not up to Western standards. And it is not clear where to draw the line in this exact instance.

One more thing about what it says on his web site: "he was beaten and tortured repeatedly, and suffered fractures of both shoulders." This is quite misleading, because one of this shoulders was broken before he arrived in jail. And there is also no reference in his book to the idea that his other shoulder was ever broken. Also, he describes his beatings in detail, and does not claim that the beating broke bones, with the following exceptions (p. 243):

For almost two months, nothing happened. Then the punishment sessions began. I was hauled into an empty room and kept there for four days. At intervals, the guards returned to administer beatings. One guard held me while the others pounded away. They cracked several of my ribs and broke a couple of teeth. Weakened by beatings and dysentery, with my right leg again nearly useless, I found it impossible to stand. On the third night I lay in my own blood and waste, so tired and hurt that I could not move. Three guards lifted me to my feet and gave me the worst beating yet. They left me lying on the floor moaning from the stabbing pain in my re-fractured arm.


In other words, his beating broke bones as follows: they "broke a couple of teeth," they "cracked several" of his ribs, and they "re-fractured" his arm. As far as I can tell, he makes no other claim about his jailers breaking his bones.

As far as I can tell, in his book he does not claim that the other shoulder was ever broken. And he does not claim that beatings re-fractured the shoulder that was broken by the crowd that pulled him from the lake. In other words, his book leads one to believe that his jailers broke this many shoulders: zero. But his web site leads one to believe that his jailers broke this many shoulders: two. Why the discrepancy?

Given all these facts, please explain how McCain's jailers violated the Bush-Yoo torture standard. I know they violated my torture standard, but the facts seem to indicate that they did not violate the Bush-Yoo standard.

Withholding medical treatment for broken bones and the like obviously crosses the threshold of such a standard.


Only if the result of "withholding medical treatment" results in serious impairment. I just explained why McCain's condition is not fairly called a serious impairment.

Aside from that, it's not clear where to draw the line between the effect of withholding treatment deliberately, as compared with the reality of what treatment was realistically available in that country at that time. It's not obvious that the medical care he received was much worse than the care that was generally available to a typical North Vietnamese civilian, in that time and place. I don't think it's fair to claim that North Vietnam should have given him better medical care than they were currently able to give their own citizens and soldiers. McCain himself said that his captors seemed to be making some effort "not to permanently injure or disfigure" him.

you link to instances of rogue soldiers who are brought up on criminal charges by our military as if that were approved behavior


Typical GOP behavior: blame the little guy, and let the big shots off scot-free. Those "rogue soldiers" were the inevitable end result of guidance that started at the very top, with the Yoo memo and other documents, which called for "enhanced interrogation techniques." In this pdf you can see Rumsfeld's personal notation where he says this (p. 1):

I stand for 8-10 hours a day. Why is standing limited to 4 hours?


All this fits right in with what Taguba found: "senior defense officials were involved in directing abusive interrogation policies." More from Taguba is here.

just like those rogue US soldiers, who probably didn't even read Yoo's memo


They didn't have to, because the attitude embodied in that memo was passed down the line to them. Read about Taguba's investigation.

Why should anyone trust you to interpret what Yoo's memo allows or doesn't allow?


I'm not asking anyone to "trust" me. All the facts are readily available, via public sources.

you are here on this thread claiming that it is US policy to torture people to death


Not exactly. But it's true that we've tortured people to death. It's also not clear that all the people who are truly responsible for this have been punished. Also, it is indeed US policy to torture people (if you claim that what was done to McCain is torture, as I do). Also, according the Bush-Yoo standard, McCain wasn't tortured.

Last time I checked we don't say "He broke off a couple of tooth".


I wonder what you've "checked." I cited p. 243 where McCain said they "broke a couple of teeth." Please make sure to not believe your lying eyes when you see those actual words printed with actual ink on the actual pages of McCain's actual book.

What kind of mind goes into such obviously incorrect minutia in order to paint his political enemies as monsters?


What kind of person indulges in various forms of puffery, exaggeration and distortion when the original story is impressive enough with no exaggeration whatsoever?

And what kind of person says that a given act is torture only when someone else does it to us, but not when we do it to them?

I think water boarding is torture. I think it violates domestic laws that apply to all US citizens internationally. Thus I think somebody in the Bush administration is guilty of violating some serious criminal law


Bush has said we don't torture. But you claim waterboarding is torture, and everyone accepts the fact that we've done waterboarding. Are you calling Bush a liar?
8.27.2008 1:19pm
anon252 (mail):
Jukebox,

If you don't know the American Communist Party was Stalinist, you don't have any business commenting on the subject.
8.27.2008 5:18pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
anon:

If you don't know the American Communist Party was Stalinist, you don't have any business commenting on the subject.


I'm not inclined to accept your uncorroborated opinion on that subject. Likewise for Bernstein's uncorroborated opinion. And even if your opinion is correct, it's still not OK to claim that Navasky said something he didn't say. Someone who does this is revealing more about their own credibility than they are about Navasky's credibility.

You're also ignoring what Mark said about the proper way to interpret the sentence.
8.27.2008 6:35pm
anon252 (mail):
I'm not saying you should take my word for it. I'm saying it's a known fact, and if you don't know enough about the topic to know that, then you shouldn't comment. And Mark's comment is not only grammatically implausible, it ignores Navasky's long history as an apologist for the likes of Alger Hiss.
8.27.2008 7:30pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
You have a hard time understanding that just because some guy on the internet says something is a known fact doesn't make it a known fact. You also have a hard time understanding that even if it's a known fact, it's still not OK to claim that Navasky said something he didn't say.
8.27.2008 7:53pm
Brian Macker (mail) (www):
"Typical GOP behavior: blame the little guy, and let the big shots off scot-free."

"Bush has said we don't torture. But you claim waterboarding is torture, and everyone accepts the fact that we've done waterboarding. Are you calling Bush a liar?"

Between these two statements I have to aske, "Are you dense?" What part of my claiming that the Bush administration commited felony torture didn't you understand?
8.27.2008 9:28pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
brian:

What part of my claiming that the Bush administration commited felony torture didn't you understand?


Earlier you said this:

somebody in the Bush administration is guilty of violating some serious criminal law


When you make vague statements about "rogue soldiers," and "somebody in the Bush administration," it sounds to me like you're trying to push the blame downward, and deny that there is responsibility at the top.

You also sound like you're not sure how serious the situation is, when in one breath you talk about "serious criminal law," and then you say this:

Bush and Co. did some stupid stuff, and crossed some boundaries they should not have


Is it "some stupid stuff," or is it "felony torture?" There seems to be a bit of gap there, as if you're having trouble making up your mind.

Anyway, now you're coming up with a statement that's less equivocal: "the Bush administration commited felony torture." That sounds like an acknowledgement that there's responsibility at the top. Maybe that's what you meant all along. In any case, thanks for clarifying.

Speaking of clarifying, you should explain why you claimed that what was done to McCain would be considered torture under the Bush-Yoo standard. I showed proof that your claim is wrong.
8.27.2008 9:58pm
Hoosier:
On the Stalinism of the American Communist Party, see: Klehr, Harvey; John Earl Haynes, Kyrill Anderson . The Soviet World of American Communism. New Haven: Yale University Press. (1998)

Really, if one wants to actually KNOW things like this, it isn't that hard. One just needs to read a book or two.

Of course, if one only wants to claim to be interested in the truth . . .
8.28.2008 7:40am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
hoosier:

One just needs to read a book or two.


You're joking, right? The last time you told me about something I could find in a book, I found that it wasn't actually in the book, after all. And that's not something that happened long ago, and far away. It happened in this thread, recently. And you have studiously avoided taking responsibility for your falsehood.

Your credibility is shot, so you're in an exceptionally poor position to claim that what I need to do is "read a book."

Speaking of ignoring things, you're also ignoring this simple point: even if "the Stalinism of the American Communist Party" is unquestionable, it's still wrong to claim that Navasky referenced the former when he actually referenced the latter. Bernstein misquoted Navasky, and then backpedaled into another misquote.
8.28.2008 9:23am