UPDATE (12.07.13) at bottom.
BO’s street creds as an intellectual are based in part on these facts: he graduated from Harvard Law School, magna cum laude; and he was the first black President of the Harvard Law Review. But as you will see, this doesn’t mean he is smart.
The Student Law Review
The Harvard Law Review is a student-run organization, formally independent of the Harvard Law School. Its primary purpose is to publish a journal of legal scholarship. Student editors make all editorial and organizational decisions and, together with a professional business staff of three, carry out day-to-day operations.
Here’s how editors are chosen for the Harvard Law Review. Fourteen editors (two from each 1L section) are selected based on a combination of their first-year grades and their competition scores. Twenty editors are selected based solely on their competition scores. The remaining editors are selected on a discretionary basis. Some of these discretionary slots may be used to implement the Review’s affirmative action policy.
According to the NYT, here’s how BO was chosen to head the Review.
Mr. Obama was elected after a meeting of the review’s 80 editors that convened Sunday and lasted until early this morning, a participant said.
Until the 1970’s the editors were picked on the basis of grades, and the president of the Law Review was the student with the highest academic rank. Among these were Elliot L. Richardson, the former Attorney General, and Irwin Griswold, a dean of the Harvard Law School and Solicitor General under Presidents Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard M. Nixon.
That system came under attack in the 1970’s and was replaced by a program in which about half the editors are chosen for their grades and the other half are chosen by fellow students after a special writing competition. The new system, disputed when it began, was meant to help insure that minority students became editors of The Law Review.
The first female editor of the Harvard Law Review was Susan Estrich, in 1977.
According to his campaign, after being elected its President, BO never published anything in the Harvard Law Review.
However, recently, Politico unearthed an unsigned and previously unattributed 1990 “case comment” in which BO affirms his support of abortion rights.
(For a good discussion of the difference between a case comment and an actual Review Article, see
Charles Hamilton Houston was the first black editor of the Harvard Law Review in 1920, based on a record of grades that were “mostly A’s and a scattering of B’s.” http://www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/trialheroes/charleshoustonessayF.html
Just because he graduated from Harvard Law School magna cum laude doesn’t mean BO had a high GPA. It just means that after subtracting the students who graduated summa cum laude, of the remaining students, he graduated in the top 10% of his class. Theoretically, he could have had a C average. http://www.law.harvard.edu/ocs/employers/HLS_Grading_System.htm
And Harvard has a well-documented history of inflating grades.
So, If He Isn’t Smart, How Did He Get Into Harvard In The First Place?
Attorney Percy Sutton, who has represented such controversial figures as Malcolm X, explained he received a letter from Dr. Khalid al Mansour, of Texas, whom he describes as the “principal advisor to one of the world’s richest men,” asking him to use his Harvard connections to help out an applicant to Harvard Law named Barack Obama. According to Attorney Sutton, per Dr. al Mansour’s request, he wrote to friends at Harvard, describing Obama, whom he had never met, as a “genius” they would want to help out any way they could.
In sum, given that BO was admitted into Harvard Law School based on the recommendation of a well-connected friend; that he became the president of the student law review based on all-night balloting that finally gave him the majority vote in the morning; that he failed to publish any scholarly articles in the review; and that he graduated with honors from this school famous for inflating grades; without seeing his academic transcripts from Harvard Law School, there is no basis to conclude he is intelligent considering only these associations with that institution.
UPDATE (12.07.13): This was the first article I wrote for my brand new blog in 2008. It has remained one of the most popular postings. Back then, I printed nearly all replies, usually without adding my personal comments. Over the years, I have decided for reality’s sake, not to alter the original presentation. However, I came across this article on grade inflation at Harvard, which I think can add to the readers’ knowledge on the subject. Can Harvard stop awarding so many As