Juan Williams: Sarah Palin Not On Same Intellectual Stage As Obama

Well, this is likely to end the conservative love affair with Juan Williams that started after he was fired by NPR:

Fox News contributor Juan Williams said Sunday that Sarah Palin “can’t stand on the intellectual stage” with President Obama.

Williams, in his role as an analyst on Fox News Sunday, was breaking down the Republican presidential field, which he saw as weak.

“There’s nobody out there, except for Sarah Palin, who can absolutely dominate the stage, and she can’t stand on the intellectual stage with Obama,” Williams said.

That’s gonna leave a mark.

FILED UNDER: Politicians, Quick Takes, Sarah Palin, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Let the outrage begin!

  2. anjin-san says:

    Well yea, but she probably can’t stand on the same intellectual stage as Bevis and Butthead either, and that has not held her back.

  3. An Interested Party says:

    Here we go again…you just know that this will drag out all the usual suspects…

  4. Chad S says:

    Cue the outrage about how Juan Williams is a secret liberal, citing his ties to NPR.

  5. John says:

    What anjin-san said

  6. Steve Plunk says:

    I love it when the resident liberals start speaking for the conservatives. They know us so well don’t cha know.

    First, she’s not on the same intellectual level. Fine. So far Obama’s intellect has done us no good so I don’t see the benefit of having an intellect above a certain level. Second, we don’t choose our leaders based upon who is the smartest.

    Now I don’t support Palin as a presidential candidate but I do support her as a populist voice speaking for a segment of Americans. The kind of people these same Palin haters seem to hold themselves above. I’m not talking about Juan Williams but rather a few here who love to dig up these stories like they really matter. They are obsessed with Palin.

  7. anjin-san says:

    >> Obama’s intellect has done us no good

    Well, coming from someone who actually seems to believe that Obama is “anti-business by his own admission” that statement qualifies for “Fractured fairy tails’. Oh, wait, those are clever. Sorry you don’t qualify.

    Plunk why are you obsessed with Obama?

  8. Michael says:

    Second, we don’t choose our leaders based upon who is the smartest.

    Because that might, you know, make sense. Instead we vilify intellectuals and view Joe the freaking Plumber as a pillar of political wisdom.

  9. wr says:

    Probably won’t leave a mark. These are people who worship Palin because she IS stupid. They love the fact that this idiot is able to go up against “the elite.” They loved Bush for the same reason — a large section of this country distrusts intelligence and wants to be led by dumb people.

  10. JKB says:

    Must be sweeps week for the chattering class. Need ratings, dis Palin. But it is funny he brings up the illusionary intellectual ability of Obama. I realize, that that meme must be defended to justify supporting Obama. Obama reads well. Well, at least teleprompters, I didn’t see how he did reading his book to the children. But there is no evidence of his ability to speak outside of progressive talking points extemporaneously. More than once he has demonstrated a lack of depth on issues. Even with his extensive credentials in law, including as a lecturer on Constitutional law, Obama has repeatedly promoted misinterpretations of constitutional issues. Although, that could simply be purposeful lies for political gain.

  11. anjin-san says:

    > Joe the freaking Plumber as a pillar of political wisdom.

    Joe the Plumber is the perfect metaphor for the modern conservative.

    A plumber who was not really a plumber. A guy making 40K a year. Years before the conversation with Obama that made him famous, he had talked to his boss about possibly buying the business, that might (or might not) make him 250k a year.

    So we have a guy who makes 40K a year, who once upon a time talked about buying a business that could possibly make him more. He never did anything about it, and it might well have not worked out even if he had. But he is incensed about the taxes he might have to pay on his fantasy income.

  12. michael reynolds says:


    Oh, and I suppose you like paying pretend taxes on income you don’t really have, right?

    Why don’t you and your liberal friends just agree voluntarily to pay your fantasy taxes if you care so much about the needy? I know not what course others may take but as for me, give me a tax cut on the amount I don’t owe on money I don’t make, or give me death!

  13. anjin-san says:

    > anjin-san is rocking out to an old Yes record. In a state of nirvana and temporarily immune to right wing stupidity 🙂

    I am thinking about using some of my fantasy income to upgrade to Pathos TT amp, an Ayre CD player & some Harbeth speakers…

  14. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Anjin, Palin cannot stand on the same intellectual stage as Bevis and Butthead, but you can and do. All you mini-intellectuals who disparage Palin have accomplished what in comparison? The only thing Obama is good at is delivering a speech written for him and placed before him on a teleprompter. His speech without one is laughable. But then most of you here are impressed with BS anyway. When someone like Palin tells you the truth your not able to recognize it because you bought the BS your communist masters have brainwashed you with. Go suck and egg Reynolds.

  15. tom p says:

    >”But there is no evidence of his ability to speak outside of progressive talking points extemporaneously. More than once he has demonstrated a lack of depth on issues. ”

    I remember a time not so long ago when the Republican members of Congress invited Obama to a retreat of theirs (a veritable lions den of “Free market” wisdom) and Obama basically handed them their heads on a platter. (“HE AMBUSHED US!” they said)

    Not only did he know the answers to their questions, he knew their questions better than they.

  16. JKB says:

    Glenn Reynolds pulled up a talk with Richard Epstein, who has actually had in depth conversations with Obama but who will not say Obama is an intellectual. I watched the whole segment, his views have turned out to be quite on the money about Obama’s actions and failure to put forth legislation that would have helped the economy. Also, prophetic in how Obama is acting now that his back is against the wall with the new congress.

    Very prophetic interview into this guy Obama

    I like Obama but I reject the suggestion that he is an intellectual. He is an activist merely mimicking the mannerisms of an intellectual.

  17. An Interested Party says:

    “Go suck and [sic] egg Reynolds.”

    Well, I guess he told you…

    “He is an activist merely mimicking the mannerisms of an intellectual.”

    Epstein, a libertarian who believes in minimal legal regulation and that market incentives should be used to fight discrimination as opposed to laws, is hardly an unbiased source when it comes to the president…even if he is correct in his assessment, one would think that would cause so many around here who loathe the president to actually like him, as their heroine from Wasilla is the furtherest thing possible from an intellectual and actually seems to show disdain for them in many of the things she says/writes…

  18. anjin-san says:


    Some guy talked to Obama, but will not say he is an intellectual.

    Sounds like iron clad proof to me.

    I men, is this really the best you can do?

  19. tom p says:

    >”All you mini-intellectuals who disparage Palin have accomplished what in comparison? ”

    I make an honest days wages for an honest days work. Not sure what you call a 5 figure payout for a 2 1/2 hour speech (whether her or Billy boy giving it) but I call that a pretty good scam if you can get away with it (you go Sarah!!!)(You too, Bill!!!!)

    Over the years explored a fair portion of the subterranean world (many miles of virgin cave in the Ozarks, New Mexico, and Mexico)(there by adding at least a little bit to the scientific knowledge of this earth)

    I raised 2 sons thru a very difficult divorce and was forced to take them from their mother when the violence in her home became too much (a lot of legal fees, too many threatening phone calls, guns, etc)(schooling? did I mention the private school tuitions?)

    Not saying I did everything right, but they are now 22 and 24, both gainfully employed in these hardest of times and making it on their own.

    And I am not saying my accomplishments measure up to hers: Quadrupled (?) the debt level of her town while mayor. Lost an election as the VP nominee for the GOP, and quit her job as Gov of Alaska so she could begin collecting the aforementioned 5 figure speaking fees….

    You know what? I am glad my accomplishments don’t measure up to hers.

  20. Smooth Jazz says:

    “That’s gonna leave a mark.””

    LOL, The mark it leaves is that you are a left wing blogger with a serious case of Palin Derangement Syndrome, who needs the constant reinforcement to reconfirm your own internal bias – even if it comes from other Liberals like PPP, Juan Williams, Oprah Winfrey, et al.

    Cue up the next DailyKOS/PPP Poll: Palin trails Obama by (fill in the blank depending on how much DailyKOS/PPP jiggers their poll to get their desired result.) Doug will be at the ready to tell us Palin cannot possibly win. Don’t forget to include your obligatory snarky, elistist put down of her when you do your next hit job.

  21. An Interested Party says:

    “Don’t forget to include your obligatory snarky, elistist put down of her when you do your next hit job.”

    Oh, I’m sure he won’t…just to make you happy, ya know…

  22. john personna says:

    Don’t worry. As i predicted, Christine O’Donnell was the shark-jumping moment.

    She took the Sarah Palin thing just as far as it could go, and broke it.

    Now, some still might not accept that, but hey, some people watched Happy Days in season 10!

  23. JKB says:

    @anjin-san – so you don’t like someone who’s had personal contact with Obama and is an actual intellectual passing judgement.

    Perhaps you could link to some examples of Obama’s intellectual accomplishments? One caveat, no teleprompter speeches since while reading is fundamental it doesn’t demonstrate ones intellect. Acolytes saying he’s smart doesn’t carry much weight. Show some objective work that can be independently assessed.

  24. anjin-san says:

    > @anjin-san – so you don’t like someone who’s had personal contact with Obama and is an actual intellectual passing judgement.

    He can pass judgement till the cows come home for all I care. Obama has had personal contact with thousands of people. You are simply listening to the one who is telling you what you want to hear.

    At any rate, he was smart enough to enact a substantial portion of his agenda during the lame duck session. I am going on results at the moment.

  25. reid says:

    JKB: And as tom p already mentioned, the meeting Obama had with Republican congressmen over health care was about as conclusive proof as you could get that Obama is a very bright, knowledgeable person. But you go on harping about teleprompters and 57 states and whatever else. (By the way, did you attack Bush’s intelligence this much? I’ve never seen an interview with him that made me think he was anything more than an average intellect.)

  26. michael reynolds says:

    All you mini-intellectuals who disparage Palin have accomplished what in comparison?

    Well, despite coming from a somewhat disturbing background, dropping out of high school and wasting a solid decade doing dead-end jobs, I went on to forge a (so far) 33 year marriage and have two kids.

    I’ve also authored or co-authored 150 or so books for kids crossing all genres and age groups. Ballpark estimate we’ve sold 40 million books.

    Also spawned a TV show. (Short-lived, which is a good thing because it sucked.)

    During a brief retirement I created a series of reprogrammable campaign ads, and despite having zero political connections I waltzed into DC, was taken on by the DLCC as their exclusive provider, and won a Polly award.

    I also produced and wrote one documentary; produced, wrote and appeared in another; and grabbed a “story by” credit for a third.

    Then I went back to work, sold a 6 book series that hit the NYT list and drew praise from Stephen King as well as starred reviews. Simultaneously wrote a 4 book series that has (so far) earned two starred reviews.

    I just sold a third concurrent series and in the process invented a new business model for publishing by assembling my own team of producer, legal, digital creative, and publisher. Now adding sponsors. Which will result in a series that grows simultaneously as an enhanced e-book (a concept I pioneered) and an app and a robust web presence and a paper book.

    Currently I am under contract for nine — count ’em nine — books (not counting the re-release of a previous hit book series) all of which I am to write in the next 16 months, round numbers.

    That said, I have never won a beauty contest, or quit halfway through a term as governor. Oh, and by the way? I actually know how to shoot and have even made my own ammo.

  27. michael reynolds says:

    Also: can answer tough questions like, “What newspapers do you read?”

  28. Neil Hudelson says:


    That’s great. But do you have a twitter follower population that numbers in the millions? And do your books feature your mug on the cover? If not, I think we both know who has accomplished more in their lifetime.

    Actually scratch the book comparison. We both know if featured your face on your books you’d be bankrupt in a week. 😉

  29. Michael says:

    Actually scratch the book comparison. We both know if featured your face on your books you’d be bankrupt in a week. 😉

    I was sure your post was sarcastic, until I read that last part, now I’m not so sure.

  30. Neil Hudelson says:

    Sarcasm, I assure you.

  31. Neil Hudelson says:

    Just meant to be good natured ribbing.

  32. Jay Tea says:

    Doug’s publishing another Palin-bashing piece? Must be Monday.

    Obama the intellectual? Please. Intellectuals do intellectual things. They say thoughtful things without benefit of teleprompter. They write and publish thoughtful things.

    What Obama is, is credentialed. He has an impressive resume’, unbesmirched with actual accomplishments and deeds other than getting elected to progressively higher office.

    And anjin-san is still playing the same old game over the Joe The Plumber story. He wants to make Joe the focus of the exchange, when the key point was Obama’s answer to the question — that unguarded, un-Telepromptered moment when he committed the classic political gaffe and accidentally spoke the truth:

    “It’s not that I want to punish your success. I just want to make sure that everybody who is behind you, that they’ve got a chance at success, too… My attitude is that if the economy’s good for folks from the bottom up, it’s gonna be good for everybody. If you’ve got a plumbing business, you’re gonna be better off […] if you’ve got a whole bunch of customers who can afford to hire you, and right now everybody’s so pinched that business is bad for everybody and I think when you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody.”

    Spreading the wealth around. More specifically, spreading other people’s wealth around. Those who — unlike Obama — have actually worked and been successful in the private sector.

    In one sense, I have no problem with tagging Obama with the “intellectual” label. Because his expertise in any kind of executive or management position (prior to his present job) has been purely theoretical, utterly untainted with the corrupting influence of real-world experience.

    As the old saying goes, not just any fool could be this bad. It takes a high degree of intelligence to do things that dumb…


  33. JKB says:

    @anjin-san, @reid – let us presume you are correct in your examples of Obama’s intellect. Could you elaborate on how those examples demonstrate that Obama is on an intellectual stage above Palin’s? Please contrast Obama’s “accomplishments” with those of Governor Palin, who accomplished many things during her tenure as governor against a hostile legislature, her own party and an entrenched oil and gas industry.

    And no, I did not “attack” Bush’s intellect. If you’ll remember back without fantasy, you’ll remember that Bush was not represented as being smartest guy in the room. In fact, due to his Texas speech patterns, many of the DC elite liked to denigrate him much to their later regret.

  34. anjin-san says:

    > he committed the classic political gaffe

    And went on to pretty much crush McCain/Palin. If you want to hold on to your little moment, have at it.

    > Governor Palin, who accomplished many things

    That must have been right before she cut and run.

    > Could you elaborate on how those examples demonstrate that Obama is on an intellectual stage above Palin’s?

    Sorry dude. Its up to you to prove your girl is not an idiot. Its a daunting task.

  35. Jay Tea says:

    Fine, anjin. How about this: cite a couple examples of Obama’s intellectualism WITHOUT comparing them to Palin’s accomplishments?

    We’ve already established that when it comes to character and integrity over political allegiance, she kicks his ass. She made her name by taking on — and taking out — corruption in her own party. Obama came out of the Chicago Democratic machine, and never ONCE said or did anything about the rampant corruption and other despicable things there — until dragged to. Rezko, Ayers, Blagojevich, Jackson Jr., Burris, Daley… all fine, upstanding folks until they became a drag on Obama. Then it was under the bus they went.


  36. reid says:

    JKB: You and others like to portray Obama as some sort of empty suit, good at reading from a teleprompter but not especially bright otherwise. Any unbiased person who has listened to his interviews, or, for example, the session with the Republicans, can plainly see that he is very sharp. End of story. The whole teleprompter meme is nearly as transparently stupid as the birther claims. It certainly makes it plain that you’re a partisan hack.

    Trying to now contrast with Palin is just a dodge.

  37. michael reynolds says:


    If my face were on my books I’d have singlehandedly created thousands of jobs as traumatized children fled to the comfort of child psychologists, therapists, grief counselors . . .

  38. anjin-san says:

    > How about this: cite a couple examples of Obama’s intellectualism

    Sorry, not playing the game. People who don’t lip read from foxnews.com tend to be satisfied that Obama is a pretty bright guy. I can understand why you might be desperate to take the focus off of Palin’s brainpower or lack therof, but you are on your own.

    > We’ve already established that when it comes to character and integrity over political allegiance, she kicks his ass

    Yes. Very impressive how she betrayed the people of Alaska to get rich quick in the private sector. Inspiring.

  39. Jay Tea says:

    Don’t wanna play the game, anjin? Not surprised. It’s cuz you got nothing.

    And I didn’t say he wasn’t pretty bright. I’d even go so far as to call him an African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy.

    And “betrayed the people of Alaska to get rich quick” — that bullshit’s been shredded a zillion times. But I’m not surprised that you still spout it — you don’t strike me as the type to let reality interfere with your prejudices.


  40. Jay Tea says:

    Forgot a clause there. I didn’t say he wasn’t bright — I challenge the description of him as an “intellectual.”


  41. JKB says:

    @anjin-san – “Sorry dude. Its up to you to prove your girl is not an idiot. ”

    Actually it isn’t. I grew up old school where all men (and women) are created equal. Any belief that someone is better than another must be based on objective actions and accomplishments that withstand scrutiny. So Palin and Obama are on an equal intellectual level unless you can provide objective examples that demonstrate Obama’s superiority in this trait.

    Note, attendance and graduation from one university compared to another does not prove superior intellect or knowledge. only opportunity and privilege. Please, use examples that demonstrate innate ability and not prepared remarks that cannot be solely attributed to the speaker’s intellect. Extemporaneous remarks are more representative of intellect, especially those that are made in response to unexpected questioning. In Obama’s case, sudden provoked responses tend to reveal a mind that is unable to maintain the mask and exposes deeply held beliefs that are not based on objective reasoning rather than a reasoned intellectual response to surprise questions. As well, when a situation provokes an angry response, the real intellect and belief system are exposed. In Obama’s case, this has provoked name calling and threats rather than a reasoned intellectual response to the challenge.

  42. reid says:

    JKB: Gee, if only a few people had given you a good example of Obama speaking extemporaneously in this thread. I guess all we do is keep citing his degrees and ability to deliver a speech, stupid us!


  43. Jay Tea says:

    Reid, I accept your challenge!

    My fellow Americans in all 57 states, the time has changed for come. With our country founded more than 20 centuries ago, we have much to celebrate – from the FBI’s 100 days to the reforms that bring greater inefficiencies to our health care system. We know that countries like Europe are willing to stand with us in our fight to halt the rise of privacy, and Israel is a strong friend of Israel’s. And let’s face it, everybody knows that it makes no sense that you send a kid to the emergency room for a treatable illness like asthma and they end up taking up a hospital bed. It costs, when, if you, they just gave, you gave them treatment early, and they got some treatment, and ah, a breathalyzer, or an inhalator. I mean, not a breathalyzer, ah, I don’t know what the term is in Austrian for that…


    Leave it to that idiot Sarah Palin to say things like that…


  44. Jay Tea says:

    Dagnabit, I Obama’ed the blockquote there… the quoting ends just before the Facebook link.


  45. anjin-san says:

    Sorry J & JKB, if you want to try to equate a failed governor, professional celebrity and reality tv actress to the President of the United States, well, its your time to waste. Some of us have lives 🙂

  46. Jay Tea says:

    Life… don’t talk to me about life.

    Anjin, it’s hardly my fault that Doug keeps bringing Palin up. You oughta talk to him, maybe even perform an intervention.

    Personally, I enjoy it. It’s fun refudiating the spin and BS and hatred that are the most prominent symptoms of Palin Derangement Syndrome.


  47. anjin-san says:

    > It’s fun refudiating the spin and BS

    Well, I am sure it’s fund to pretend you are doing so, though perhaps you don’t realize that is all you are doing.

  48. michael reynolds says:

    Why is it the Palin idiopologists (copywritten word, but feel free,) are the ones who hate articles about Palin? I don’t get it. We Democrats love reading about Palin. We love us some Palin. More Palin, we cry.

    Mmm, daddy, give us some more of that sweet, sweet Sarah love.

  49. Michael says:

    Personally, I enjoy it. It’s fun refudiating the spin and BS and hatred that are the most prominent symptoms of Palin Derangement Syndrome.

    Still not a word.

  50. Michael says:

    Palin idiopologists (copywritten word, but feel free,)

    I still like Palin-drones better.

  51. anjin-san says:

    > Life… don’t talk to me about life.

    I can see why it might be a painful subject for you.

  52. michael reynolds says:


    Fine, but you still owe me a nickel.

  53. Jay Tea says:

    Michael Reynolds: you can copyright all the made up words you want, but only if you make them up yourself. So no, you don’t get to copyright “copywritten.” It’s “copyrighted.” As in, “right to make a copy.”

    And how much does the left owe Sarah Palin for their use of “refudiate?” Copyright exists at the moment of creation, regardless of whether it is expressly declared or not.


  54. Jay Tea says:

    Well, anjin might be a fan of James Clavell, but he’s utterly ignorant of Douglas Adams. Here I am, brain the size of a planet, and he’s just… I might as well go stick my head in a bucket.


  55. Michael says:

    Mr. Reynolds, if you send me a self-addressed stamped envelope, I will be happy to mail you your nickel.

  56. michael reynolds says:


    God, I just love the spectacle of the undeserved ego. Little strutting ninny so sure he’s clever.

    Hey, genius: think I might have been playing around a bit? What with the fact that I actually own something on the order of 100 copyrights? That I earn 100% of my income from writing? That I’m one of the most prolific authors in business today?

  57. Jay Tea says:

    Congratulations, Michael. I own a lot of copyrights, too. They’re not as profitable as yours, but I own ’em. Creative works are copyrighted at the moment of creation — they don’t require any kind of positive action to come into being. And I’ve done a lot of creating.

    Then what’s your excuse for not knowing the difference between “copyrighted” and “copywritten?”


  58. michael reynolds says:

    Yes, Jay, it’s very cute that you own copyrights. Congratulations.

    You see how I resisted the urge to put quotes around “copyrights?” I think I deserve some maturity points for that.

  59. Jay Tea says:

    Definitely, Michael. Have a dozen. They’re cheap.

    And while “copywritten” is a pet peeve of mine, I usually just sigh and ignore it. But your “resort to authority” irritated me enough to bring it up as a way to poke a little air out of your balloon.

    Still does, a little.

    But also intrigued me enough to go poking around Amazon and see just what you’ve published…