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MedMech 06-07-2005 12:23 PM

Who's the dummy?
Yale grades portray Kerry as a lackluster student
His 4-year average on par with Bush's

By Michael Kranish, Globe Staff | June 7, 2005

WASHINGTON -- During last year's presidential campaign, John F. Kerry was the candidate often portrayed as intellectual and complex, while George W. Bush was the populist who mangled his sentences.

But newly released records show that Bush and Kerry had a virtually identical grade average at Yale University four decades ago.

In 1999, The New Yorker published a transcript indicating that Bush had received a cumulative score of 77 for his first three years at Yale and a roughly similar average under a non-numerical rating system during his senior year.

Kerry, who graduated two years before Bush, got a cumulative 76 for his four years, according to a transcript that Kerry sent to the Navy when he was applying for officer training school. He received four D's in his freshman year out of 10 courses, but improved his average in later years.

The grade transcript, which Kerry has always declined to release, was included in his Navy record. During the campaign the Globe sought Kerry's naval records, but he refused to waive privacy restrictions for the full file. Late last month, Kerry gave the Navy permission to send the documents to the Globe.

Kerry appeared to be responding to critics who suspected that there might be damaging information in the file about his activities in Vietnam. The military and medical records, however, appear identical to what Kerry has already released. This marks the first time Kerry's grades have been publicly reported.

The transcript shows that Kerry's freshman-year average was 71. He scored a 61 in geology, a 63 and 68 in two history classes, and a 69 in political science. His top score was a 79, in another political science course. Another of his strongest efforts, a 77, came in French class.

Under Yale's grading system in effect at the time, grades between 90 and 100 equaled an A, 80-89 a B, 70-79 a C, 60 to 69 a D, and anything below that was a failing grade. In addition to Kerry's four D's in his freshman year, he received one D in his sophomore year. He did not fail any courses.

''I always told my Dad that D stood for distinction," Kerry said yesterday in a written response to questions, noting that he has previously acknowledged that he spent a lot of time learning to fly instead of focusing on his studies.

Kerry's weak grades came despite years of education at some of the world's most elite prep schools, ranging from Fessenden School in Massachusetts to St. Paul's School in New Hampshire.

It is noteworthy, however, that Kerry received a high honor at Yale despite his mediocre grades: He was chosen to deliver his senior class oration, a testament to his reputation as a public speaker. He delivered a speech questioning the wisdom of the Vietnam War, in which he would soon see combat.

Kerry gradually improved his grades, averaging 81 in his senior year. His highest single grade was an 89, for a political science class in his senior year. Despite his slow start, he went on to be a top student at Naval Candidate School, command a patrol boat in Vietnam, graduate from law school, and become a prosecutor, lieutenant governor, US senator, and presidential candidate.

In his Navy application, Kerry made clear that he spent much of his college time on extracurricular activities, including the Yale Political Union, the Debating Association, soccer, hockey, fencing, and membership in the elite Skull and Bones Society. Asked to describe nonschool training that qualified him for the Navy, Kerry wrote: ''A great deal of sailing -- ocean and otherwise, including some navigation. Scuba diving. Rifle. Beginning of life saving." He said his special interests were ''filming," writing, and politics, noting that the latter subject occupied 15 hours per week.

Gaddis Smith, a retired Yale history professor who taught both Kerry and Bush, said in a telephone interview that he vividly remembers Kerry as a student during the 1964-1965 school year, when Kerry would have been a junior. However, Smith said he doesn't have a specific memory about Bush.

Based on what Smith recalls teaching that year, Kerry scored a 71 and 79 in two of Smith's courses. When Smith was told those scores, he responded: ''Uh, oh. I thought he was good student. Those aren't very good grades." To put the grades in perspective, Smith said that he had a well-earned reputation for being tough, and noted that such grades would probably be about 10 points higher in a similar class today because of the impact of what he called ''grade inflation."

Bush went to Yale from 1964 to 1968; his highest grades were 88s in anthropology, history, and philosophy, according to The New Yorker article. He received one D in his four years, a 69 in astronomy. Bush has said he was a C student.

Like Kerry, Bush reportedly suffered through a difficult freshman year and then pulled his grades up.

Michael Kranish can be reached at

BusyBenz 06-07-2005 12:46 PM

Bush cheated! :eek:

GermanStar 06-07-2005 01:07 PM

I know lots of really bright people who did poorly in school for one reason or another. I also know people of seemingly modest intelligence who did quite well. In any case, it was a long time ago -- would you rate one's physical condition based on a 30 - 40 year old performance or on something more recent? Would you rate relative intelligence based on a 30 - 40 year old performance or on the recent first Kerry/Bush debate? :D

Hogweed 06-07-2005 01:08 PM

Who's the dummy?
bush still gets my vote there. he probably takes more heat for his lack of intelligence because, well, he sounds like an idiot a lot of the time. i remember being told in grade school that if you were in the top of your class you could strive to president someday; now i guess all it takes is a "c" average...and a father who has a massive bank account and political pull. the worst part is that the democratic party is soooo weak that they couldn't keep this guy out of office...twice. ugh!

koop 06-07-2005 01:38 PM

and Einstein failed grade school, while Bush did not

which makes Bush


MedMech 06-07-2005 01:44 PM

I remember a certain person that is posting in this thread who has said on several occasions that Bush "barely" made it through Yale. I'm not going to make the stupid statement that better grades = intelligence.... you did! Now it seems as if the tune has changed.

Why didn't Kerry release these grades during the election?

Lebenz 06-07-2005 01:56 PM

The significant detail is that one party minion is like another. The only difference is the party, which isn't much of a difference....

GermanStar 06-07-2005 02:00 PM


Originally Posted by MedMech
I remember a certain person that is posting in this thread who has said on several occasions that Bush "barely" made it through Yale. I'm not going to make the stupid statement that better grades = intelligence.... you did! Now it seems as if the tune has changed.

Why didn't Kerry release these grades during the election?

If you are referring to me (perhaps not), you are mistaken -- I have never said such a thing, though I have read it posted by others on this very forum. In fact, I actually posted an article here that claimed Bush had a barely higher IQ than Kerry -- again that was from his college years.

Kerry does seem like a much brighter boy than Bush, and I'm definitely from the "whadda ya done for me lately?" camp. I don't much care where people come from, and found all of digs on both candidates from their respective pasts a load of crap meant to deflect from the relevant issues of today. In that vein, I'll fervently condemn the Dems for starting all that BS by placing way too much emphasis on Kerry's war record. It was worth a brief mention like the rest of this crap, but had little to do with who the candidates were at the time, which is all that mattered to me.

Botnst 06-07-2005 02:06 PM

Lots of really smart people look "dumber than a sack of hammers" when they're in public. I'll bet that each of us had prof's like that in school. I know I did. Heck, maybe they were dumb, in which case they fool people on a daily basis in their lives and work. For example, when I present something controversial or tenuous before a committee or at a professional meeting, my throat dries and it feels like my tongue turns into a large dry sponge. Then I stammer sometimes. That certainly isn't unique to me. Some people get over it and some do not. During the Q&A after the presentation I make a point of waiting several seconds before I reply during which time I'm sure that my face conveys some unusual expressions--hopefully not the patented Dubyuh, "Deer in headlights" look.

In contrast, you can find any number of actors who can project deep intelligence and waves of confidence gush from them. But if they don't have script they are useless. You see them occasionally on Leno, for example. I'm thinking the various Baldwin brothers, in particular. Also Tom Cruise. I wonder who ties their shoelaces.

It's a gift, communication. That's why some actors get big bucks and others deliver pizza. It isn't intelligence that is selected for, it is empathy and sympathy and delivery.

Dubyuh may be dumb, too. But remember that he graduated from Yale then got a Harvard MBA. The assumption that he's dumb doesn't square with the education. That assumption on the part of others has resulted in underestimation of him since his successful run for gov. Ann Richards assumed he was just a dumb rich kid who wanted to play at governor. Too bad for Ann Richards. By loosing, she gave him the boost he needed to run for president.

I don't think either candidate in the recent presidential election won or lost on their pasts, contrived, manipulated, hidden or public. People generally voted for the candidate they thought could best lead us through perilous times. Most of them voted for Dubyuh. The Democrats would do well to take the message home and study it. The winner of the next election will be the one they think can do the job most effectively, not whether they graduated from college with a "C" average or speaks with unusual and sometimes funny malapropisms. Remember what Lincoln said.

GermanStar 06-07-2005 02:18 PM

You're right of course, people who are uncomfortable in such situations often seem stiff, arrogant, clumsy -- just different reactions to handling their own discomfort. But I have to wonder if discomfort could cause GW to claim that we attacked Iraq because Saddam was responsible for 9/11 -- this is a claim he made during the first debate, and one which Kerry quickly corrected. In response, GW found it necessary to inform the American public that he actually was aware of who Osama Bin Laden was. If that was from nerves, it was one helluva case of nerves. :D

boneheaddoctor 06-07-2005 02:20 PM


Originally Posted by Hogweed
bush still gets my vote there. he probably takes more heat for his lack of intelligence because, well, he sounds like an idiot a lot of the time. i remember being told in grade school that if you were in the top of your class you could strive to president someday; now i guess all it takes is a "c" average...and a father who has a massive bank account and political pull. the worst part is that the democratic party is soooo weak that they couldn't keep this guy out of office...twice. ugh!

So con artists deserve to be in public office becasue they are smooth talkers and not particularly bright?.......OH wait thats right...Bill Clinton did con enough people to pull that off.

Botnst 06-07-2005 02:27 PM


Originally Posted by boneheaddoctor
So con artists deserve to be in public office becasue they are smooth talkers and not particularly bright?.......OH wait thats right...Bill Clinton did con enough people to pull that off.

It has happened. Warren Harding, for example.

Then there's my personal favorite, Tricky Dick.

If asked to bet, I'd bet on the side of cupidity everytime. People can't help doing strange things when power is in their hands.

MedMech 06-07-2005 02:27 PM

OMG a shining day for ex-presidents to be.

Five Words of Wisdom Each From the Web's Winning Sites

One of the more charming idiosyncrasies of the Webby Awards, the annual awards for achievement in Web creation, is that recipients get five words, and five words only, to make their acceptance speeches.

So after a night full of award innuendos and one-line haiku at Gotham Hall in Manhattan, the 550 people in attendance were wondering how Al Gore, the former vice president, would respond to his lifetime achievement award.

He did not disappoint.

"Please don't recount this vote," he said. The place went nuts.

Mr. Gore, who was politically savaged during the 2000 presidential campaign for a remark that seemed to imply that he had created the Internet, was introduced by Vinton Cerf, a man who has a more legitimate purchase on that claim. Mr. Cerf, one of the scientists credited with having built the Internet, had his own five-word speech - "We all invented the Internet" - before pointing out that Mr. Gore had been responsible for spearheading critical legislation and providing much-needed political support, which is not exactly creating a paradigm shifting piece of technology, but is not bad for a politician.

Mr. Gore, by virtue of his résumé, was dragged back to the dais to say a few more words.

"It is time to reinvent the Internet for all of us to make it more robust and much more accessible and use it to reinvigorate our democracy," he said, again to thunderous applause.

It was an awards banquet where hype and self-congratulation were mixed with bracing messages about the cultural and civic good that can come from the Internet. Once a raucous celebration of the World Wide Web's potential to change everything, the awards slimmed down along with the digital economy after the bust, forgoing a huge party for an online event in the last two years. But the Web is no longer a bad word among business people, and it has left the hermetic, homey confines of San Francisco for New York, the first time in its nine-year history.

The decision to present the awards in New York is less a recognition of the city's growing role in digital culture than its longer-running one as the media capital of the Western hemisphere. It is also an indication that the Web does not live exclusively in Silicon Valley; its ubiquity has rendered it transparent and free-floating.

"Every year we have done something different to reflect the pulse of the Web, and tonight we are in New York because the Web has been dispersed," said Tiffany Shlain, one of the founders of the ceremony. "Great Web sites are being created and accessed everywhere."

Including Amarillo, Tex. Tyler Morgan, 19, was getting all of a dozen hits a day on the personal Web site he built in his bedroom - - until Yahoo named it as a site of the day and he was listed as a nominee for the Webby. In May he had 1.2 million hits.

After he learned he had won the Webby, there was the problem of getting to New York.

"I put a personal plea on my Web site, and people sent in something like $1,700 and here I am," he said, wearing one of the red corsages that identified the winners. His five-word speech was to the point: "Desperate - need money for college."

Mr. Morgan took his place in a line that included the likes of Pfizer, the C.I.A. and Geico Insurance, but also The Paly Voice, the Web site of Palo Alto High School, and RatherGood, a compendium of weirdly wonderful things. The broad range of winners was a reminder of the Web's fungibility, an elastic nature that allows the medium to trumpet mass and granular manifestations of what people are thinking about.

Because the Webby sculpture is shaped like a large spring, it invited short-form, salacious annotations, with many speeches that drew hoots from the crowd but might draw flags from the editor of a family newspaper. One of the more demure, low-tech speeches came from a staff member at, who stepped up to get her award in a gorgeous white frock.

"Do you like my dress?" she said. Yes, they did, and her speech as well.

The event was businesslike, as businesslike as an awards ceremony whose central icon is a cartoonishly large spring can be. The host was Ron Corddry, one of the funny guys on "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart," who brought an air of knowing befuddlement to the events at hand.

To the extent that any awards serve as a mood ring on the industry they celebrate - not all that farfetched, if you deconstruct the average year for the Tonys and the Oscars - the Web has become a sandbox where anarchy and commerce have business in common. While these may not be the heady, freaky days of 2000 and 2001, when old-media luminaries presented awards and thousands of people fought for tickets, the Web is still making noise after the boom.

The Webby for Person of the Year went to Craig Newmark of, whose once-tiny community bulletin board now attracts more than eight million people in 120 cities, including Sydney, Australia, and Bangalore, India. Mr. Newmark's various sites have given fits to the classified ad business of both daily and weekly papers.

Innovators in both music and images, two hot buttons of Internet culture, were cited as well. The Kleptones, a band from Britain, received an award for their music site, which uses the music of others, most recently Freddy Mercury of Queen, to mash together new versions of old motifs. The band's "Night at the Hip-Hopera" became a viral sensation after they plopped it out on the Web for mashing and downloading. And, a photo management site that uses elements of community and Web "tagging" and RSS feeds, made a trip to the podium to be honored for its groundbreaking approach to image sharing.

Whimsy always gets a front-row seat at the Webby's, and this year , a San Francisco Web site, picked up the community award for its creation of a virtual dog run for pets and their owners., whose idiosyncratic approach to what constitutes information worth sharing - robot bands, charts on disappearing oil, or an Osama Bin Laden cigarette lighter replete with World Trade Center towers - received top blogging honors.

As was only fitting, there was a significant populist element to the awards, with 200,000 people voting for "The People's Voice Award," one of more than 60 categories in the program, which drew entries from all 50 states and 40 countries. Comedy Central's "Indecision 2004" on "The Daily show," won both a Webby and the People's Voice Award.

(A complete list of the winners is at .)

The Webbys got off to a wobbly but impressive start in 1997. Ms. Shlain, an independent filmmaker and designer who was then designing the Web site for a print magazine called The Web put out by IDG, cobbled $30,000 and in-kind donations from 11 companies to gin up the first annual awards, which drew 700 people to Bimbo's 365 Club in San Francisco. Willie Brown, then the city's mayor, was at the event, which was sponsored by The Web. The following year, the company closed down The Web, but the Webby Awards lived on, with the second show featuring the likes of Scott Adams, the creator of the comic strip "Dilbert," and the well-known Web savant Dennis Rodman - well, he was well known, anyway. The show, feeding off the growing hype surrounding the Web, attracted significant media attention, and Rudolph Giuliani, then mayor of New York City, made an offer in 1998 to bring the Webbys to Radio City Music Hall. Mayor Brown countered and the awards stayed on the West Coast, but this year the Webby Awards decided to come east.

Also in 1998, Ms. Shlain and a partner, Maya Draisin, helped form the International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences to oversee the awards, enrolling luminaries like the rock star David Bowie, the filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola and the digital thinker Esther Dyson, and securing PricewaterhouseCoopers to oversee the judging process. After the crash, the Webbys were strictly a virtual event, with live Webcasts in 2003 and 2004, but they have since returned to an awards show format, always featuring the now-trademark short acceptance speech. The winning winner on Monday night? It may have been the man from, the People's Voice winner in the travel category:

"Love your country. Leave it."

Honus 06-07-2005 02:28 PM

I don't know who's the dummy, but if I had to guess, I would say it is the one that said this the other day:

"People that had been trained in some instances to disassemble - that means not tell the truth."

If you missed the news reports on it, it was our wonderful President G.W.B. who gave us that gem.

boneheaddoctor 06-07-2005 02:46 PM

Having a silver tounge has absolutely no relivance to intelligence...

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