Is Donald Trump one of the smartest presidents in US history?

Is Donald Trump one of the smartest presidents in US history?
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As I write this, the No. 1 book on Amazon is titled “A Very Stable Genius: Donald J. Trump’s Testing of America.” It was written by two reporters from the Trump-averse Washington Post, who, as publicity for the book tells us, are both Pulitzer Prize winners. 

That same publicity does not acknowledge that only liberals now typically win Pulitzers, Nobel Prizes, Oscars or Emmys. But then, that would detract from the purpose of the book — which is to weaken, belittle and even smear the president.

Ironically but not surprisingly, the title of this umpteenth book attacking Trump came about because of a series of tweets by the president two years ago when he was defending himself against — wait for it — another book from another liberal writer filled with personal attacks on the president.


That particular effort was Michael Wolff's “Fire and Fury,” a book that many Trump supporters and even liberal media personalities believe is filled with multiple inaccuracies or outright flights of imagination. As the media gave that book and its author saturation coverage, Trump seemingly felt he had no option but to defend himself against its charges. So he tweeted, in his own style.

Said the president, in part, two years ago, “Now that Russian collusion, after one year of intense study, has proven to be a total hoax on the American public, the Democrats and their lapdogs, the Fake News Mainstream Media, are taking out the old Ronald Reagan playbook and screaming mental stability and intelligence. Actually, throughout my life, my two greatest assets have been mental stability and being, like, really smart. ... I went from VERY successful businessman, to top T.V. Star ... to President of the United States (on my first try). I think that would qualify as not smart, but genius ... and a very stable genius at that!”

Anyone who has followed Trump’s career knows that he likes to use hyperbole to push buttons and elicit responses that he often is trying to create for his own purposes down the line.

No doubt the reporters from The Washington Post knew this but still chose to use “A Very Stable Genius” in its most literal sense to paint the president as an egotist and create clicks and book sales.

That said, the president’s tweet and this subsequent book title raise a legitimate question that will create a very loud, rage-filled debate: Is Donald J. Trump one of the smartest presidents in U.S. history?


The answer depends upon the criteria used — and here you can cue the predictable outrage. Liberals will scream out the names of Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, Roosevelt, Kennedy, Clinton and Obama.

To be sure, Thomas Jefferson and Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonObama calls on governments to 'do their part' in increasing global vaccine supply China's emissions now eclipse the developed world — preventing climate protection Trump endorses Glenn Youngkin in Virginia governors race MORE are among the presidents estimated to have had tremendous intellectual horsepower. Speaking to Jefferson’s true “genius,” President John F. Kennedy remarked at a 1962 dinner honoring that year’s Nobel Prize winners, “I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, that has ever been gathered together at The White House, with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone.”

Almost 200 years after Jefferson’s death, his genius continues to pass the test of time. Not so with other presidents.

If the definition of “smart,” at least for this purpose, folds in raw intelligence, street smarts, intuition, real-world experience, business success, job creation, wealth creation, a fighter’s instinct, and knowing when to roll the dice or to bluff, then Trump might stand relatively high on the presidential “smarts” pyramid.

Just the fact that he got himself elected president of the United States on his “first try,” as he says — on his own, against all odds, as an outsider with zero political experience, amid ridicule and attacks by both political parties, the mainstream media, Hollywood and academia — should get Trump honorable mention for top billing.

For nearly five decades, reporters and rivals have been writing the “End of Trump’s 15 Minutes of Fame” obituary. Except that, on Jan. 20, 2017, this purported failure and human asterisk to fame, business success and history was sworn in as the 45th president of the United States.

This “Very Stable Genius” is up for reelection in November. Most likely, those who dislike the man who has continually beaten the odds and the predictions of failure will have to try to beat him at the ballot box and not with doomed-to-failure political tricks.

Douglas MacKinnon, a political and communications consultant, was a writer in the White House for Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, and former special assistant for policy and communications at the Pentagon during the last three years of the Bush administration.