A while back, I observed in a footnote
Bush isnâ€™t stupid. Heâ€™s shown himself to be quite sharp in the pursuit of his own short term interests and those of his backers. But heâ€™s ignorant, narrow-minded, intellectually lazy and unwilling to learn from experience, a combination that produces reliably stupid policy decisions.
Google finds quite a few similar judgements, suggesting that the BlogGeist is in tune. Now Salon’s write-off for an interview with Bush’s biographer says “Bush has a surprising intellect but is incapable of curiosity and owning up to mistakes.”
I’m guessing this initial judgement will be confirmed by a historical verdict that will rank Bush among the worst of US Presidents, if not the absolute worst (Among other candidates for this dubious honour, Nixon had many positive achievements, Harding did no real harm, Andrew Johnson was at least trying for reconciliation and Buchanan’s big failure came after his successor had been elected). Harding’s case in particular shows that amiable stupidity is less dangerous than other intellectual flaws.