Most of the other hypotheses don't seem to make much sense, so I'm starting to approach the conclusion that Barack Obama is just not that smart. It should hardly come as a surprise. He undoubtedly has an IQ slightly higher than normal or he wouldn't have made it through college and law school (though it might be interesting to see his transcripts, which to my knowledge he hasn't released yet). But in retrospect what he seems to have displayed throughout his career is more cunning or what some would call sagacity rather than real learning. He has obviously been extremely ambitious for a long time; perhaps he has had the presidency in mind since early college days. So he has been alert to the main chance, aware of the kinds of alliances he ought to make, aware that a sensitive autobiography would make him look special in the eyes of the easily duped intellectuals of our fading empire, aware of how to present himself as a multicultural black man. But his reputation for being really smart is belied by so many of his actions.
What has me going this time is not health care, though there's plenty of evidence there, but Afghanistan. His visit there earlier this week cemented this war as "his" war. But the war makes so little sense that you would think almost any reasonably intelligent person -- I suspect he didn't take any international relations classes in college and he certainly has not shown any special interest in that field heretofore, so maybe that's a mitigating factor -- would have been able to figure it out. The official line about keeping al-Qaida out of Afghanistan is obviously absurd -- al-Qaida hasn't been there since 2002. He has to know the Taliban is an indigenous Afghan outfit without international ambitions, so while a takeover would be sad for many Afghans it would have few if any international repercussions. He is obviously aware enough that Karzai is a corrupt tool and uncooperative to boot that it annoys him. So why does he insist on maintaining a U.S. presence in the Graveyard of Empire? Does he really want to preside over the fall of the American Empire? Is he so deluded as to think we can bring a semblance of democracy, stability or semi-decent governance in the next 15 months or so? Is he just cunning enough to realize that historians tend to rank American presidents who have presided over wars as "greater" than those who presided over peaceful periods?
Maybe he's just not that smart.