Good Leaders Begin as Good Students

Adolph Hitler: Talentless, but Lazy

Although Hitler's family invested in his schooling, he never did well. He dreamed of being an artist, not an accountant.

Adolph's father died when he was young. Then, halfway through his teens, he lost his mother, too. Anyone familiar with the saga of Anakin Skywalker knows that this will turn a main character into a complete asshole during the remainder of his adolescence, and then later into a really evil guy who dresses in black, kills people by the planetload and can crush someone's windpipe with his mind.

Adolph was not, however, sent to learn a mystical martial art from a green muppet, and therefore never learned the throat-crushing thing.

Instead, he ended up living with his Aunt. For several carefree years, he had neither academic nor vocational responsibilities.

Ich Habst Angste

It was a lot harder to be a bored, idle, petulent teenager in the early 1900s. Sitting in your room doing bong hits and listening to Dark Side of the Moon hadn't been invented yet. Pop music all sounded like Tiny Tim. There was nothing on TV — and if you could even get cable, nothing on that either.

Every now and then, your see a science fiction story about someone who invents a time machine and goes back to stop Hitler. First of all, Hitler isn't necessarily the worst person in history. What about Stalin? Secondly, instead of stopping Hitler, why doesn't the time traveller teach Hitler to be a successful artist?

Kinda makes you rethink the whole NEA debate. Maybe someone who thinks that bodily fluids and human bones make for great art, needs to be kept safely occupied in the art world.

Hitler applied himself to the pursuit of an art career by improving his painting techniques. His aunt encouraged his progress, fawning over each painting and saying, "this definitely belongs up on the fridge where people could see it — as soon as fridges are invented I'll get one."

When Hitler had practiced painting for several years, he put together a portfolio of his most fridge-worthy pieces and sent it to the Vienna School of Art, along with check for 5 marks and an essay about why he wanted to be an artist. It read, "Let me in your school or I'll kill half the people in Europe. No shit."

Days later, Hitler received a curt reply thanking him for his application, and regretting that the school was unable to admit him for the upcoming term. The note explained that they had already filled the zero openings they had for students with his level of talent. A handwritten addendum at the bottom said: You suck, Adolph. Whatever you decide, do yourself and the world a favor and don't be an artist.

Interestingly, a young Saddam Hussein was unable to get into his secondary school of choice due to missing pre-requisites.

According to Hitler's Mein Kampf, he was told by the art school that he should be an architect, not a painter. He didn't, however, have enough of the schooling required for the architecture course.

George W. Bush: Harvard MBA. Really.

I've seen people cite the fact that George W. Bush has degrees from Yale and Harvard as evidence that he is really quite intelligent. I might even find this argument compelling were there any other evidence.

Available observations indicate that the 43rd president of the United States is — if not the least intelligent man to occupy the position — certainly intellectually under-qualified to be the leader of the most powerful country on the planet Earth.

A lot of people focus on Bush's fractured English as sufficient proof of his substandard cognitive skills. This is ignorant — certain noted, and highly intelligent, people have been famous for their malapropisms; The substantive difference is that when you realize what the intelligent people are trying to say, you can see that they are trying to express something intelligent.

With Bush, after you untangle the twisted grammar, decipher the humorously misused words, and strip out the hyperbolic slogans, you are left with a collection of statements — and in a greater sense, a worldview — that could belong to a precocious seven-year-old.

That George W. Bush holds degrees from Harvard and Yale, is damning confirmation that these two institutions would matriculate a brain-stem in a jar of nutrient solution if it was sired by one of their multi-millionaire alumni.

Although his family invested in his schooling, George never did well. He attended exclusive private schools, earning a bachelor's degree in something at Yale and an MBA from the elite Harvard Business School.

Although he himself admits to lackluster merits as a scholar, he was accepted by a prep school and two Universities with highly competitive and demanding admissions processes. I couldn't find out much about this mysterious success, except for an unattributed comment — apparently from a Harvard classmate — describing the Harvard admissions process as "inexplicable."

George W. Bush at Harvard in 1975, sporting the tan typical of people who live in Cambridge Massachusetts.

George W. Bush was rejected from Air Force flight school, having scored the bare minimum of 25% percentile on his entrance exam. He was also rejected from University of Texas Law School — the rejection came right after George Sr. lost political power when Lloyd Bensten usurped his Senate seat in the 1972 election.

But he got into Yale and Harvard. It's a puzzler, it is.

He graduated from Yale with a C average, which showed they had some academic integrity, but that George's dad wasn't going to accept a D for the kind of money he put out. While he may not have gotten a traditional education, George W. Bush did learn how to drink a lot and also that hard work and achievement are for suckers.

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