Celebrity Then And Now
George W Bush
Famous For: 43rd President of the United StatesCurrently Known For: Former President of the United States
George W Bush
Famous For 43rd President of the United States
Currently Known For Former President of the United States

“People love America. Sometimes they don't like the decisions made by America, but I don't think you want a president who tries to become popular and does the wrong thing.” In the history of United States Presidents, there have only been two men that have served as the country’s leader after their father had done the same. The second was elected in 2000, and it was George Walker Bush, son of George Herbert Walker Bush. The younger Bush, sometimes known simply as W or ‘Dubya’ had an interesting career both before and after the controversial first election of the new millennium.

While he was president, the discussion over Bush’s IQ was quite extended. After all, while speaking in public, Bush did tend to trip over his words a little bit, giving off the impression that he wasn’t the brightest bulb in the chandelier. Even his gaffes were called Bushisms and people compiled lists of the best ones.

These included (but weren’t limited to) “Rarely is the question asked: Is our children learning?” or the infamous “There’s an old saying in Tennessee - I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee - that says, ‘fool me once, shame on - shame on you. Fool me - you can’t get fooled again.’” Quotes like these left a lot of people groaning, with Democrats quick to call the president the dumbest one the country has had to date.

But was Bush really as dumb as some people claimed he was? After all, he did attend both Yale University and the Harvard Business School. Those aren’t exactly safety net schools, even though he did have some connections thanks to his family. While at Yale, Bush was a cheerleader, rugby player and a fraternity member that received his Bachelor of Arts in history.

When he attended Harvard Business School, he became the only president still to this day to have earned his MBA. To get into college, Bush scored just north of 1200, which would’ve converted into about a 27 on the ACT score today. This is certainly an above average score, but not one that would get you into Yale or Harvard today. Even in college, Bush never got a single ‘A’ grade, and his GPA would convert into a ‘C’ average today.

Then, at the beginning of his second term, a supposed study came out that said that Bush was the president that had the lowest IQ, with his father finishing slightly higher for second lowest over the past 50 years. It was found that this wasn’t a real study, as it was quite obvious that the rankings were very skewed by political party.

Since leaving office, we’ve seen a few different estimates of Bush’s IQ, ranging from borderline genius to a man that couldn’t tie his shoes in the morning without stumbling through a wall. Those that called him a dullard said that his limited use of vocabulary was what really held him back, along with his public speaking errors and not having written a book before becoming president like many others have.

Then you have those that want to give Bush the credit that he never got from different experts. These people say that it takes a high IQ to fly jet fighters for the Air National Guard, which Bush actually excelled in doing. You also have Keith Hennessey, who served as the Director of the National Economic Council from November 2007 to January 2009.

Hennessey revealed to reporters that Bush, while in private, showed a lot of signs of high intelligence, and tried to dumb himself down a bit in public to appeal to the common person. Hennessey said that Bush was almost always the smartest person in the room, and that he told a group of 60 MBA students that Bush was smarter than just about all of them.

“President Bush is extremely smart by any traditional standard. He’s highly analytical and was incredibly quick to be able to discern the core question he needed to answer,” Hennessey said. “It was occasionally a little embarrassing when he would jump ahead of one of his cabinet secretaries in a policy discussion and the advisor would struggle to catch up. He would sometimes force us to accelerate through policy presentations because he so quickly grasped what we were presenting.”

Hennessey isn’t the only one that’s shared that same sentiment, either. David Brooks of the New York Times said that Bush “was 60 IQ points smarter in private than he was in public. He doesn’t want anybody to think he’s smarter than they are, so puts on a Texas act. It becomes so deep, it’s part of him now. I’ve rarely seen a person whose off the record manner is so different from his on the record manner.”

When reevaluating the presidents’ IQs in 2006 by Dean Keith Simonton, Bush fared much better than he had with his supposed 91, being given a 137. Certain studies had him listed at a 124, which would be remarkable for any person, though rather low for a president. What held him back at the time was what was called a lack of “creativity,” that he has seemed to resolve in recent years.

Bush spends a lot of his time now oil painting, and has released a book of his portraits. The book was called “Portraits of Courage” and released in 2017, containing nearly 200 pages of his finest work. When talking about his book, he said “I’m just a sensitive artist these days, not a government official, but I would say that education of the arts is really important.” So even if he didn’t seem smart or creative in the public eye, Bush was a lot smarter than he looked.

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