Another thing I noticed about that Fox News poll was question #11:
Which candidate do you think is smarter?
Barack Obama 42%
Mitt Romney 33%
(Both are) 6%
Putting aside the question of just how smart Barack Obama is, this shows me that a lot of people aren’t really familiar with Romney. Because he’s really smart. And his smartness includes the dimensions on which Obama is usually considered smart by his admirers (again, the point isn’t whether you agree with them): articulateness and academic credentials.
Romney is very well-spoken, and he seems to perform just as well without a teleprompter. What’s more, even though we don’t know Obama’s grades but only his degrees, Romney’s got the same top degree, only more so. Romney is a graduate of Harvard Law who earned a simultaneous MBA from Harvard Business School, a tricky and difficult feat that not many accomplish or even attempt.
Unlike with Obama, we even know quite a bit about Romney’s grades. Take a look:
Romney graduated in 1971 [from Brigham Young] with a 3.97 grade-point average. Because he ranked at the top of his class in the College of Humanities, he was chosen to speak on graduation day…Mitt decided to attend Harvard Business School, but his father thought he should obtain a law degree, so he enrolled in a joint program at Harvard Law School. In 1975, he graduated from Harvard Law cum laude and from Harvard Business School, where he was named a Baker Scholar and was in the top 5 percent of his class.
Back in December of 2011, the NY Times spotlighted Romney’s years at Harvard Business School:
Mr. Romney recruited a murderers’ row of some of the most distinguished students in the class. “He and I said, hey, let’s handpick some superstars,” said Howard Serkin, a classmate…
Mr. Romney served as a kind of team captain, the other members said, pushing and motivating the others.
“He wanted to make straight A’s,” Mr. Serkin said. “He wanted our study group to be No. 1.” Sometimes Mr. Romney arrived early to run his numbers a few extra times. And if his partners were not prepared, “he was not afraid of saying: ‘You’re letting us down. We want to be the best,’ ” Mr. Serkin added…
Mr. Romney was in his element. His class performances were outstanding; his peers described him as precise, convincing and charismatic. He won the high grades he craved…If Mr. Romney melded with the school intellectually, he kept some distance from it socially. He was married and a parent. In the liberal precincts of Cambridge, he and his wife, Ann Romney — pictured wearing matching sweaters at a fall 1973 business school clambake, with their two sons on their laps — seemed like they were from “out on the prairies,” Mr. Brownstein said.
The future governor abstained from things many other students were doing: drinking coffee or alcohol, swearing, smoking…
I especially note this, in contrast to Obama:
Today, Mr. Romney does not speak much about his business school degree. But he remains quite attached to the star study group he put together all those years ago, faithfully attending dinners the men hold every five years…[H]e does not miss a chance to return to that setting. Mr. Romney even showed up the year he was put in charge of cleaning up the troubled 2002 Olympic games, stopping by for an hour before flying to Athens for a meeting of the International Olympic Committee…
The men gathered most recently in 2009, after Mr. Romney’s unsuccessful presidential bid. His old friends asked him about the experience, and he pointed out how much simpler decisions are in business than in politics. “You end up taking into consideration things that wouldn’t be important in a business decision,” Ronald J. Naples remembers him saying.
Not an unsmart man. Not at all.
[ADDENDUM: By the way, here’s that photo that appeared in the NY Times.
Almost hippies! Except for Ann’s collar and earrings. Otherwise, she’s got a bit of a Patty Hearst vibe going. And those matching fisherman knit sweaters are a little much. But that particular fashion was protean: it worked for preppies and it worked for the hip, depending on how neat or how raggedy the sweater was.]