Applied intelligence is far more useful than abstract intelligence. It’s the difference between an eight foot basketball player who never bothers to learn the game and the six footer who spends every waking hour practicing and strategizing. The former has a genetic gift combined with some good nurturing and no useful skills beyond that. The latter has cultivated and applied his talents to the task.
Work isn’t glamorous. Not even the kind of work that most people think is glamorous. Being a movie star is about walking along a taped line and reciting the same lines again and again. Running a company is about knowing how the sausage gets made and seeing that it gets made on time. And being president is about doing both of those things a whole lot.
If Obama were a sports star, he wouldn’t be a basketball player, to the disappointment of so many white liberals. He would be a wrestler. You could easily see him playing a character, running around the ring, winning over the crowd, feeding off the drama and then staying around for a rigged match; the only kind he could win. It’s the easy glamorous stuff that he likes. Not the hard work.
And it’s why the dot com idea that you can have genius without hard work is so seductive to him. What he doesn’t understand is that the guy sitting opposite him at some Silicon Valley event isn’t building his company. He’s a boy who had one good idea, worked hard to implement it and is now in charge of being a “genius” and having a vision for the company. Meanwhile a thousand like him sit around doing the actual hard work of maintaining his core business and wasting time trying to implement all his new visions while working on their own big idea that will eat his for lunch.
Obama kept comparing Healthcare.gov to dot com companies because he assumed that building it would be some childishly simple act of genius. And he had every reason to think it would be easy. For the lifecycle of a mediocre internet company, he has lived a charmed life in which he only has to snap his fingers to get things done. There’s an extensive infrastructure of websites built around him that transcribe his speeches and inserts references to him into the biographies of American presidents.
But Healthcare.gov was actually supposed to a bunch of things, most of them more complicated than just delivering another dose of Obamaganda do the masses. And it had to be done, not by engineers waiting around for their stock options to (hopefully) make them millionaires, but by government contractors who spend all their money on lobbyists, not on talent, because that’s where their payday comes from. If you have to choose between working for CGI or the next Facebook, why would you choose to spend your days poring over charts from some clueless government idiot at CMS?
Now Obama has run into the end of his own political lifecycle. The billionaires who invested in him, no longer need him. The Democratic Party needs to convince voters that Hillary will fix his messes. And he stupidly made the mistake of actually trying to implement one of his ideas in a way that will directly affect people. Obama is no longer Google. Now he’s been reduced to being a Yahoo.
If you’re pretending to be a genius, the one thing you can’t do is screw up. You can smash all the plates while screaming obscenities. You can deliver tedious lectures on 18th century writers that no one but you has ever heard of. You can loudly declare that Einstein was wrong. And you can waste billions buying incompatible companies in pursuit of some vague vision about the future. Until the whole thing fails and the investors realize you’re not a genius and start demanding you bring in a professional CEO to secure the value of the company, even as they start thinking about carving it up.
Obama’s real crime was to make it obvious that he isn’t a genius. Just a guy in flipflops and a hoodie. Not an eccentric genius who wears a hoodie and flipflops because he’s an original thinker, but a guy who wears them because kids half his age wear them and he’s too lazy and deluded to grow up.