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  • Just Unbelievable

    Posted by David Foster on May 3rd, 2010 (All posts by )

    Obama advisor and confidante Valerie Jarrett, speaking about the President:

    He knows exactly how smart he is…He’s been bored to death his whole life. He’s just too talented to do what ordinary people do.

    Strangely, it would appear that Jarrett believes that the above statement reflects positively on Obama.

    In reality, individuals who are exceptionally intelligent–at least those who are possessed of any degree of creativity–are rarely bored. Rather, boredom is the domain of the spoiled brat, the overprivileged aristocrat, and the person with the flat and empty interior landscape.

    And many individuals who are exceptionally intelligent–especially those who have leadership aspirations and abilities–have in fact spent a considerable amount of time “doing what ordinary people do,” and have learned a great deal from the experience.

    The people now running the White House are a very strange crew indeed.

     

    22 Responses to “Just Unbelievable”

    1. Tatyana Says:

      David, I think if you can find the book translated, you’ll appreciate Evgeny Shvarts’s play “To kill the dragon”.
      (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evgeny_Shvarts)

    2. Dan from Madison Says:

      “doing what ordinary people do,” – Even though I am a business owner, I still make myself spend time working in my warehouse, putting parts away, working the counter, making sales calls and doing every possible job I can in my business so I can see what is going right, wrong or in-between. Of course a guy like Obama never has had what I would consider a real job before this one and it says a lot about his performance thus far.

    3. Tatyana Says:

      Also, a quote from his other play:
      From “The Snow Queen:

      Female head of the gang of robbers: “Children should be spoiled, only then do they grow into true robbers.”

    4. zenpundit Says:

      If that is the level of sycophancy that prevails in the West Wing, it’s scary.

      If Jarrett is being entirely sincere, that’s scarier.

    5. Mrs. Davis Says:

      I find it even scarier That they would think the average Joe would be impressed. It says something about their contempt for the average American as well as the average smart, talented person. Bored and thinking themselves extraordinary is not something smart, talented people do in my experience. I’m sure there’s some psychologist who has a one word description for that type of person.

    6. renminbi Says:

      My mother said: Conceit is God’s gift to small men.

    7. Michael Kennedy Says:

      Some years ago, a study was made of the use of amphetamine in performance. It was with pilots, who still often use these stimulants to keep awake on long missions. The study was done back in the 1950s when these matters were very unsettled. What they found was that pilots on stimulants, like amphetamines, when training in simulators, had the impression that their performance was enhanced while outside observers noted deterioration in performance. Thus, the stimulant increases the user’s impression of accomplishment while, in fact, it undermines it.

      I think we have something like this effect in the White House. I don’t say they are on stimulants, although I wouldn’t be surprised to find a number who are, but they do seem to be responding to power and the adulation toward Obama during the campaign, as a stimulant. Who ever heard of these people until 2008 ? They do not seem to be handling fame, and the rush of endorphins that brings, very well.

    8. Ginny Says:

      Yes, I always told my children that boredom was a sign of a lack of intelligence and of imagination. But, then, much as I liked to pontificate I seldom got the chance – they weren’t bored.

      I know the type – I’ve seen it this semester. They think they are clever and so don’t have to do the major work (the term paper which requires research, argumentation and writing). They are going to be lucky if they get D’s. They think they are smart when they get a D because their goal is to put in as little effort as possible and pass the course. That a D is seldom transferrable and means getting into a research university is now impossible does not bother them. These are a special kind of dumb student.

      They have managed to bore themselves, bore me, sneer at the class around them – most of whom are demonstrably more intelligent, better writers than they. This is not just the sign of a snot; it is the sign of a person who thinks they are so smart they don’t have to work but are really so insecure they are afraid of minimal risk. To put something out there woudl be to demonstrate they aren’t so bright – as bright, indeed, as their fellow students, some of whom haven’t been in this country a year. (And perhaps never to actually write anything for Law Review.)

      And it is amazing how often it slowly comes out that they have failed the course before, dropped the course late in the semester, been throw out of a 4 year college. Instead of taking this as a signal they need to shape up and become engaged with life, they draw back and sneer at others. After all, they were accepted – they really belong at the research school.

      Patterns recur in the kinds of students this describes – sports heroes, girls who appear artsy but are less intellectual than precious, students who have developed an obsession with the decadents of the nineties. One recurring pattern are students who developed obsessions with Jonathan Edwards. But, I doubt that obsession ensnared Obama. I suspect he was the victim of a vocabulary gleaned from theory that wasn’t clear because the writer – Foucault, Derrida, Marcuse – wanted to appear original and wise and suspected that wasn’t going to happen if anyone could understand what they said.

      Yes, I’ve seen that thinking and I’m not sure it is any more of a sign of brilliance at Harvard than at an open admissions junior college.

    9. RK Says:

      It has been widely noted that Mr. Obama was bored as an IL senator, and even later (briefly) as a US Senator. I assume that the 2 years of running for Prez was more entertaining for him.

      So ADD is a possibility, immaturity is a possibility, the need to be under the Klieg Lights and it front of a crowd is strong a possibility.

      Intelligence by itself…not so much.

    10. Robert Schwartz Says:

      Dad, I’m bored.

      OK, come into the kitchen and help with the dishes.

      I’m not that bored.

    11. Robert Schwartz Says:

      The Emperor Ming: Klytus, I’m bored. What play thing can you offer me today?
      Klytus: An obscure body in the S-K System, your majesty. The inhabitants refer to it as the planet Earth.

      http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0080745/

    12. LFMayor Says:

      LOL… Well said, Mister Schwartz!

    13. Bill Waddell Says:

      If, in the words of Forest Gump, “stupid is as stupid does” then the corrolary would be that “genius is as genius does”. By the measure of what has been done with this vast intellect, Mr Obama may not be quite the genius he and Ms Jarrett believe.

    14. setbit Says:

      Mrs. Davis,

      I’m sure there’s some psychologist who has a one word description for that type of person.

      Narcissism, possibly even to the level of narcissistic personality disorder (NPD). It’s endemic in the political and media classes, but some have it worse than others.

      From the above-linked Wikipedia article:

      [Sandy] Hotchkiss identified what she called the seven deadly sins of narcissism:

      1. Shamelessness – Shame is the feeling that lurks beneath all unhealthy narcissism, and the inability to process shame in healthy ways.

      2. Magical thinking – Narcissists see themselves as perfect using distortion and illusion known as magical thinking. They also use projection to dump shame onto others.

      3. Arrogance – A narcissist who is feeling deflated may reinflate by diminishing, debasing, or degrading somebody else.

      4. Envy – A narcissist may secure a sense of superiority in the face of another person’s ability by using contempt to minimize the other person.

      5. Entitlement – Narcissists hold unreasonable expectations of particularly favorable treatment and automatic compliance because they consider themselves special. Any failure to comply will be considered an attack on their superiority and the perpetrator is considered to be an “awkward” or “difficult” person. Defiance of their will is a narcissistic injury that can trigger narcissistic rage.

      6. Exploitation – can take many forms but always involves the exploitation of others without regard for their feelings or interests. Often the other is in a subservient position where resistance would be difficult or even impossible. Sometimes the subservience is not so much real as assumed.

      7. Bad Boundaries – narcissists do not recognize that they have boundaries and that others are separate and are not extensions of themselves. Others either exist to meet their needs or may as well not exist at all. Those who provide narcissistic supply to the narcissist will be treated as if they are part of the narcissist and be expected to live up to those expectations. In the mind of a narcissist, there is no boundary between self and other.

      Sound like anyone we know?

      —————-

      General Note: I would gladly contribute to a PayPal or other donation account to go towards adding a comment preview feature

    15. Anonymous Says:

      I was never permitted to use the word “bored” during my childhood. And, as it happens, I’m one of those people who have a certifiably high IQ and my little brain was always buzzing in overdrive. It’s why I got into so much trouble in school – always thinking ahead to what’s NEXT!

    16. emdfl Says:

      I have always understood that people who get bored easily are people who aren’t smart enough to know how to entertain themselves.

    17. sol vason Says:

      I have watched grass grow. Others find that boring. Knowledge is where you find it.

    18. SukieTawdry Says:

      Has he tried whistling, singing and dancing?

      What is it, I wonder, that Valerie thinks we “ordinary people” do to forestall our own ennui? Perhaps she regards the simple folk too dull of mind for the complicated thought processes boredom entails. But seriously, folks, how anyone can be bored in the age of the Internet where there’s an entire world at your fingertips is quite beyond me. Perhaps if Obama could disengage from his self-absorbed navel gazing…

    19. SukieTawdry Says:

      Okay, so I followed the link to Taylor Marsh and then to the review of Remnick’s book. I wonder if the book is as dull as the review. I must confess I was quite bored the entire time I was reading it.

    20. david foster Says:

      Sukie…that clearly proves your superior intelligence!

    21. ElamBend Says:

      Given the life he lived before becoming president, I wonder that he will not become bored of that also, particularly if things don’t go his way next fall. What does he expect from the world? This country faces some very difficult choices, how do we cope if our chief executive becomes bored with a job when things don’t go exactly his way.
      Even if he manages two terms, he is in for a long excruciating retirement.

      I had only seen him speak once and it was a boring policy speech in the run up to his announcement of his candidacy (but at a point when most people expected him to run). I have to wonder at the amount of sycophancy that seems to oozed from his closest advisers, is he really that charismatic?

      —-

    22. Marty Says:

      I was raised to believe that if you’re both intelligent and curious you need never be bored. I have seen that proven time and again, by many people.

      There is no doubt Obama is, like most liberals in my personal experience and certainly what I have observed in the political, academic and media spheres, incredibly parochial and incurious.

      Which leaves the matter of how intelligent he is. On the evidence, not stupid but nothing special either.