Only one U.S. President has ever released his I.Q. score. That was Jimmy Carter whose brain clocked in at 176, almost enough to win the pole at the Indy 500. Carter’s score, assuming its validity, would make him, by some measures, the smartest man ever to hold the office of President. His intelligence, however, was one of the reasons for the lackluster nature of his presidency. Carter failed, in large part, precisely because of his intellect. When Jimmy couldn’t find anyone who was, nearly, as smart, or smarter, than himself, he gave in to the temptation to micromanage everything. Sadly, no matter how intelligent you are, there is simply too much going on in the universe for any one person, even Stephen Hawking, to handle it all alone.
Richard Nixon, like Carter, was another genius. According to experts who study the topic and evaluate words used in expression, books and papers published, problem solving skills, and levels of achievement, among other quantifiable measures, to determine intelligence, Nixon’s I.Q. was 155. This intelligence didn’t serve him well, either, when he decided not to burn the Oval Office tapes that showed he was a co-conspirator, if not the architect, of a cover-up designed to blame a second rate burglary at the Watergate Hotel on anybody other than his own crowd and CREEP.
Ulysses S. Grant was among the dumbest of all U.S. Presidents with something like a 115 I.Q. He was, also, a drunk and tolerated rampant government corruption during his administration. Grant was credited, however, with winning a war so his thickness was overlooked, that is until history caught up with his multiple deficits. In his defense, drinking kills brain cells at an exponential rate so Grant may have started out smarter, but who knows.
Eisenhower won a war, too, and though far smarter than Grant, he wasn’t considered to be the brightest spotlight at the premiere. Whatever Ike lacked in brains, however, he made up for by being a good, humble, and decent man possessed of great personal dignity and a high degree of rectitude.
Donald Trump, despite speaking to the nation at a 4th grade reading level, is poised to become one of the smartest American Presidents, ever, based on his college admissions and lifetime of success in highly competitive businesses, politics included. Trump’s first college was Fordham University, a Jesuit school in the Bronx. After two years at Fordham, a liberal hotbed, he transferred to the posher Ivy League Penn. Though SAT test scoring has changed several times since Trump was examined, the relationship between high school GPAs and test scores, vis-a-vis college admissions, probably, hasn’t. Both universities require GPAs of between 3.7 and 3.8, on a scale of 4, and SATs ranging between a Fordham low of 1400, and a Penn high of 1590, based on current admission profiles. Both universities are rated as “somewhat selective” and have, approximately, the same acceptance rates, though Penn takes transfer students with as low as a 2.0 GPA. In other words, you need at least a B+ average, more or less, to get into both schools but only a C- to transfer to Penn from somewhere else. Trump graduated from Penn State with a B.S. in Anthropology and Economics. He, also, took business courses while a student even if he isn’t, exactly, a Wharton grad.
Using USNews’ scoring criteria, and they all differ in who’s the brainiest, and on what numeric scale, Trump’s high-side I.Q. of 154, if accurate, would place him in the second place spot behind John Adams’ 168, and just a tad above Thomas Jefferson’s 153. John F. Kennedy closes out the top four at 150. Whatever Trump does in the next four years you can bet it’ll be deliberate, meaning he shouldn’t get any Mulligans. The open question is whether Trump’s empathy will match his intellect. Let’s hope so.