I wonder if this opinion of H.L. Mencken’s, about the worthiness of President Grant’s intelligence, would be something like what he would’ve written about Bush:
“Intelligence has been commoner among American Presidents than high character, but Grant ran against the stream by having a sort of character without any visible intelligence whatever…dogged, devoted and dumb. In the White House he displayed an almost inconceivable stupidity. Whatever was palpably untrue convinced him instantly, and whatever was crooked seemed to him to be noble. If the American people could have kept him out of the presidency by prolonging the Civil War until 1877, it would have been an excellent investment…bad whiskey had transformed his cortex into a sort of soup.” Baltimore Evening Sun, 9/30/1931, quoted from A Second Mencken Chrestomathy.
About nine or ten years ago I was in a used book shop near Rutger’s University (over in New Brunswick, NJ) and came across an old green cloth two-volume set of The Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant, probably from the late 19th century. I read them over the next couple of weeks in my spare time. Grant’s generalship was appalling, at least as I remember it. He used men as canon fodder. I don’t remember much in particular but it seemed in every battle he just threw men into the slaughter. It reminded me of when my brothers and I used to play army soldiers outside in the dirt. We had maybe a thousand plastic soldiers and hundreds of artillery pieces and tanks and stuff. We’d set them up in their positions and then throw stones at each other’s forces. They died by the hundreds. Sometimes we’d fire across each other’s lines with bb or cork guns; one time we even used cherry bombs. We threw burning wood onto the battle field. We ignited cans of hair spray like flame throwers. Fires engulfed the plastic pieces. Once, after a battle, one of our bike tires caught fire but, as the smoke cleared, I still had all of two or three figures standing; the other side was completely down;–100% annihilated. Canons were turned upside down; many of the tanks were mere globs. A lot of the toy soldiers were melted from the intense heat. The whole yard smelled of plastic. So OK, mine was a Pyrrhic victory, granted, but it was still a victory . While I was reading I thought back to these wars we had. They reminded me of Grant’s generalship.