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Joe Scarborough Headshot

Is Bush an idiot?

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The greatest political gift a politician can receive from enemies is the gift of being underestimated.

Democrats have always played into Republican presidents' hands by dismissing them as dimwitted dunces who somehow stumbled their way into the most powerful position on Earth.

Eisenhower was supposedly a dope who frittered away his time on golf courses.

Chevy Chase portrayed Gerald Ford as a bumbling, accident-prone commander-in-chief in countless SNL skits.

Ronald Reagan was branded a lightweight for years and described as a confused old fool in Tip O'Neill's autobiography.

For the past six years George W. Bush has been the target of ridicule from liberal circles. But now, instead of laughing at Democrats' ill-directed arrogance, Republicans are quietly joining the left in questioning the President's intellectual prowess.

The biggest knock on Bush's brain is his lack of intellectual curiosity. Former administration officials still close to the White House will tell you Mr. Bush detests dissent, embraces a narrow world view and is intellectually incurious.

Worse for this White House is the fact that George W. Bush has daily smackdowns with the English language and the English language usually wins.

His gaffes are funnier than most SNL skits. But more disturbing are his rambling, disjointed press conferences like the one he held earlier this week.

Friends and foes alike agree that George W. Bush is one political figure who gets worse with age. Look back at his performance as Texas governor and you will see a funny, self-assured public figure who inspires confidence. But these days, the mere opening of Mr. Bush's mouth makes many GOP loyalists shake in their tasseled loafers.

So does it matter in the end whether our president is articulate and intelligent?

You bet your life, it does. I'm not saying we need to elect a dork like Michael Dukakis, who famously spent vacations at the beach reading books on Swedish land use or was so overwhelmed with the details of the old SALT treaties that he would sulk off to bed depressed.

But when America is fighting a global war on terror where the battle is for hearts and minds instead of beachheads and landing strips, we need a leader who can explain to friend and foe alike why America is in Iraq, why we keep sending arms to Israel and why liberal democracy really is preferable to Islamic fascism.

Right now, George W. Bush is not that leader.

-- Regular Joe