Bush Smarter than Kerry?

Secret Weapon for Bush?

To Bush-bashers, it may be the most infuriating revelation yet from the military records of the two presidential candidates: the young George W. Bush probably had a higher I.Q. than did the young John Kerry. That, at least, is the conclusion of Steve Sailer, a conservative columnist at the Web magazine Vdare.com and a veteran student of presidential I.Q.’s. During the last presidential campaign Mr. Sailer estimated from Mr. Bush’s SAT score (1206) that his I.Q. was in the mid-120’s, about 10 points lower than Al Gore’s. Mr. Kerry’s SAT score is not known, but now Mr. Sailer has done a comparison of the intelligence tests in the candidates’ military records. They are not formal I.Q. tests, but Mr. Sailer says they are similar enough to make reasonable extrapolations. Mr. Bush’s score on the Air Force Officer Qualifying Test at age 22 again suggests that his I.Q was the mid-120’s, putting Mr. Bush in about the 95th percentile of the population, according to Mr. Sailer. Mr. Kerry’s I.Q. was about 120, in the 91st percentile, according to Mr. Sailer’s extrapolation of his score at age 22 on the Navy Officer Qualification Test.

Linda Gottfredson, an I.Q. expert at the University of Delaware, called it a creditable analysis said she was not surprised at the results or that so many people had assumed that Mr. Kerry was smarter. “People will often be misled into thinking someone is brighter if he says something complicated they can’t understand,” Professor Gottfredson said.

Many Americans still believe a report that began circulating on the Internet three years ago, and was quoted in “Doonesbury,” that Mr. Bush’s I.Q. was 91, the lowest of any modern American president. But that report from the non-existent Lovenstein Institute turned out to be a hoax.

Amusing. Given that the numbers are based from extrapolations from tow different tests taken at different times, we shouldn’t make much of this. Furthermore, the difference between an IQ of 120 and “the mid 120’s” is miniscule and irrelevant to who would make a more effective president. It does amaze me, though, that the “Bush is dumb” meme refuses to die. Bush’s oratorical skills are mediocre for a politician, but that’s hardly the most important indicator of brain power.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2004, , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Prudence says:

    Lets not neglect the abuse that Bush has subjected his brain to in the interim.

  2. James, just say “I’m voting for Bush and I need to make as many excuses about it as I can!”

  3. Dan says:

    Sailer points out that after Bush lost his 1978 race for Congress where his opponent made fun of Bush for having degrees from Yale and Harvard, Bush resolved never to get out-dumbed again.

  4. Anjin-San says:

    Iraq a disaster. Deficits a disaster. Gas costs soaring. Health care costs soaring. Billions for Iraq while America’s infrastructure crumbles. I could go on & on.

    The GOP cannot give valid reasons to vote for Bush, so we get nonsense like this, or Mrs. kerry dissed Mrs. Bush, or Kerry took a low-blow at Mary Cheney…

    The more of this I hear, the more confident I am that our long national nightmeare is coming to an end….

  5. Mark J says:

    Haha Prudence, that’s actually a good point.

    Of course, if IQ determined the best leader, Stephen Hawking would be our president.

    I think the most important factor in this election isn’t the IQ of the candidates, it’s the “Lie-Q” of each. Who is more trustworthy?

  6. Rodney Dill says:

    The liberal’s have been trying to claim the IQ high ground since before their attacks on Quayle. The Liberal lies are almost always prefaced with
    Everyone Knows… Its good to see them get some of their own back.

  7. LJD says:

    The Dumbocrats are truly smoking crack if they think their B.S. artist is going to “fix” anything.

    Kerry has got Bush beat on the “Lie-Q” by a long shot.

    How ironic that their own doomsday rhetoric makes it seem as if OUR GREAT COUNTRY is beyond fixing by any means.

  8. NONAME says:


    1. Iraq a disaster – show us the proof of that. You have none. No one does.
    2. Deficits a disaster – again, no proof of any long-term damage here.
    3. Gas costs soaring – blame China for that, not Bush
    4. Health care costs soaring – blame John Edwards for that, not Bush
    5. American’s infrastructure crumbling – again, no proof, purely anecdotal

    So please tell us how John Kerry will fix all these problems. I suppose he has a plan to build a plan to have a chat about a meeting to gather a summit with some foreign leaders who don’t give a rat’s patootie about US interests. Sounds like a solid vision for the future.

    Better go do a gutcheck, Dan. This time, base something on fact.

  9. NONAME says:

    oops, that was meant for Anjin…sorry, Dan. Carry on.

  10. Attila Girl says:


    Good point. After all, artists and writers throughout history have often had long-term dalliances with chemicals that completely decimated their brainpower. People like James Thurber, Ernest Hemingway, Lillian Hellman, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Dashiell Hammett . . . Oh, wait.

  11. Prudence says:

    Good thinking, Attile Girl: list some artists and writers (who apparently share some relevant set of skills with the POTUS) who didn’t have brain damage as a result of drug use and thereby ‘prove’ that alcoholism and drug use couldn’t possibly have caused a deterioration in Bush’s mental facilities.

    How does this hold together? Was the “Oh, wait” at the end you realizing you didn’t have a point?

  12. Bithead says:

    OK, let’s take this apart.
    Even assuming the charges of drug abuse are correct….(And hadn’t been debunked many times over, as they, in fact, have) and even assuming that there was some dain brammage involved from such use….

    I’ve noticed that such abuse and the resultant damage hasn’t dimmed the liberal’s percepton of the brainpower of those rock stars who have decided to support Kerry. They’s soooooo damn smart.. they support the Liberal….(Ralllllph!!)

    A rather odd double standard, don’t you think?

  13. Prudence says:


    “Even assuming the charges of drug abuse are correct….(And hadn’t been debunked many times over, as they, in fact, have) “

    It has been debunked that Bush has taken drugs? Where? When? Bush hasn’t even bothered denying it himself.

    Got a link to the debunking?

    “and even assuming that there was some dain brammage involved from such use….”

    … certainly plausible…

    “I’ve noticed that such abuse and the resultant damage hasn’t dimmed the liberal’s percepton of the brainpower of those rock stars who have decided to support Kerry.”

    So Springsteen, R.E.M. and the Dixie Chicks are supposedly perceived as being super intelligent? Sure, liberals like having them on board and they have decent PR value… but fact of the matter is that people of all levels of intelligence support Kerry — and the same goes for Bush.

    So you think there’s a double standard between what, exactly? Thinking that Bush’s partying days may have had an effect on his brain and… well what exactly? Thinking that someone else who might have blasted a few brain cells supports Kerry? Or that only a genius can support Kerry?

  14. Anjin-San says:

    No proof that Iraq is a disaster? Damn Noname. No wonder you admire bush. He is a lot smarter then you.


  15. LJD says:

    Iraq is a failure- if you watch network news.

    But they don’t tell you fighintg crime in this country is a failure, education is a failure (you’re spelling serves an excellent example)… EVERYTHING, viewed without context, is an utter, complete failure.

    My view is that the media is a failure. They fail to provide raw information without a story or twist. The news has become entertainment, with little value in the real world. Didn’t anybody ever tell you it’s all just make-believe?

  16. smartypants says:

    “you’re spelling serves an excellent example”

    Shouldn’t that be “your spelling serves as an excellent example”?

  17. Prudence says:

    “Iraq is a failure- if you watch network news. But they don’t tell you fighintg crime in this country is a failure, education is a failure…”

    Why do people insist that every news item has to include a veritable almanac of unrelated information? Sure, everything needs to be seen in context, but what makes the alleged failures of fighting crime in this country or the state of education the proper context?

    You’re using other supposed failures to excuse the Bush administration’s failures, but what it tells us instead is that our government is a disaster all around, and they should all be kicked out of office so that someone else can give it their best shot.

    Nothing but apologies instead. Bush is never accountable. In the minds of the right-wingers, we’re going to go straight from “blame Clinton” to “blame Kerry”. It’ll be as if Bush never was in office.

    Iraq is certainly heading toward failure, with a semi-failed state as the best option, and continuing threats of civil war. In the context of the foreign policy goals set by Bush (transforming the Middle East into democracies, with a free and democratic Iraq as an example), that is a disastrous development.

    How can those who agree with Bush’s ultimate foreign policy goals not be dismayed by his failures to achieve strategic goalposts along the way to bring this about?

  18. Bithead says:

    Got a link to the debunking?

    Links are not needed, given that the most credible source for this argument is from Kitty Kelley. who comepletely embarrassed herself on the matter. At least she had hte good sense to hide afterher ‘evdience’ was so completely blowen out of the water.

    Nor are any denials from Mr. Bush needed.
    To wit:
    When did you stop beating your wife?

  19. Prudence says:

    In other words, contrary to your previous claim, there is no debunking.

    Was Kelley’s evidence blown out of the water? Sharon Bush claimed she never said what Kelley said she said. Kelley produced a witness who said she did say that (that Bush snorted coke in Camp David while his father was president). The matter was dropped right about there. Hardly a debunking.

    However, I assume you’re aware the Bush cocaine rumors did not originate with Kitty Kelley. They were there long before.

    If you had never used recreational drugs and I asked you whether you ever had, would you say “No, I never used recreational drugs. Ever.”? Or would you say “I didn’t use recreational drugs in the last ten years. I’d rather not comment on anything before that. Oh and by the way, I was very irresponsible when I was young.”?

    Try and apply some simple logic here, minus the partisan blinders. If politician X of the Democratic party had said something like the above, what conclusion would you draw?