If you were to say that President Bush will be recorded in history as one of America’s greatest Presidents, three out of four people would either laugh, smirk, or break out in a sweat. Are you serious? they would say. Have you ever heard him talk? How could a fumbling talker be called a great President? They’d take your remark as a personal insult.
Somehow these easily insulted people never think of asking this simple question: Who ever proved that fluency in speech has anything to do with intelligence? Only a lack of intelligence would make someone believe there’s a correlation. The “Bushisms” that characterize the president’s mixed-up speech have exposed nothing about Bush. They’ve only exposed and revealed the ignorance of so many Americans. If it were true that a smooth talker is a better thinker, the IQ of a used-car salesman would be ten times higher than Albert Einstein’s. Moreover, the guy on television selling tapes that will enable you to buy up a whole city of real estate even without 10 cents in your pocket would win a Pulitzer Prize in philosophy.
We have all heard the cliché about a man who is a talker not a doer. That is why personnel directors all know that you cannot judge a prospective worker simply by the impression he makes in an interview, because it is not unusual for people to “talk a good game” who can accomplish nothing. That is why the ability to talk is always referred to as the “gift of gab” because it is given freely to people who have achieved nothing to deserve it. If the ability to talk had any connection with the ability to think, why is it that the man on the street who is begging for help talks so much better than Bill Gates? Why does the host of a television show whose only accomplishment in life is the possession of a clear throat talk so much better than his guest who just wrote a best-seller that will cure every disease, except a Jewish woman’s with a headache?
Almost every time you talk to a parent of two children, you hear the same story. He has one child who is a genius, but because he is self-conscious about his other child, who is not quite so bright, he will always try to save the situation with an emotional outburst about what a great talker this other kid is. Grasping for air he will start yelling, “He is not a great scholar (in other words he is still in high school at the age of 38) — but what a talker he is! He could sell you anything whether you want to buy it or not.” You could bet that this parent may even start to believe he’s telling the truth, though in fact he’s not. It is generally true that the better the thinker the worse the talker because he is too busy thinking to waste his time talking.
Watch the most brilliant minds on PBS and try to listen to them talk, you will find that you will not be awake for very long. By the time the first one finishes his first sentence, you will have lost any need for your sleeping pills. However, if you switch to Jerry Springer, you will find that when his guests are not punching each other, they are such great talkers that they make an unbelievable story sound like an epic drama (and they are doing it the hard way because they are also talking through a kilo of cocaine still clogged in their noses). Either way, we have here two more categories of people that are quick to judge a President according to the quickness of his tongue instead of the sharpness of his mind.
But the best category we’ve saved for last.
Ironically, we all know that it probably takes less intelligence to succeed as an actor than at any other profession. Nevertheless, actors have decided to become the chief critics and judges of the Bush presidency. If your mind is hardly working, there is no doubt that you can still succeed as an actor. If you compared the IQ rating of all the professions in the world, the acting professional would probably be identified with a lower number than the job of shoveling snow. At least shoveling snow requires the brains to handle a shovel whereas acting requires no ability to handle anything.
Shoveling snow also requires a man to work alone making his own decisions. An actor is not required to think at all. Before he says a word the director tells him how to say it and since it takes three months to shoot a movie an actor only has to learn how to say a total of one sentence a day and he doesn’t even have to memorize it. A script girl is at his side to repeat the line to him every 90 seconds because the director does not have enough confidence in his ability to remember it. If he gets it wrong, he has an average of three days to correct it, and after spending a month with this kind of intellectual challenge he comes out an expert on foreign policy, the chief architect of what to do with the environment, how to handle North Korea, and, despite his never having read a book unless there was a part for him in the movie, he also becomes an authority on the subject of nuclear proliferation.
Moreover, he attacks the President everyday about the war in Iraq, even though if he were asked to look at a map and identify Iraq he would probably point to Pittsburgh. An actor is the living proof that talking has nothing to do with intelligence. And that a big mouth can work perfectly with a small mind.
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