For those of you who have just emerged from a three-year long coma or a round-trip to Mars, here is the context, from The New York Times (emphasis mine):
They are two of the smartest men of their generation, both magna cum laude products of Harvard Law School, both cerebral and charming and ambitious. They vaulted to the highest offices in the land after just short stints at the next level down, and each was seen initially as a conciliator only to lead on the strength of his own majority.
One of the two is John Roberts, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. A brilliant jurist with such a long history of legal accomplishment that even 22 Democrats voted for him, leaving only the emotionally and intellectually insecure Democrats in opposition.
The other is Barack Obama, whose major intellectual accomplishment consists of writing semi-fictional books about himself, and giving damn good speeches when reading from a teleprompter.
To include Obama in the twosome depends upon what the definition of “smartest man” and “generation” is.
If by “smartest man” one means “shameless self-promotional overachiever,” and if by “generation” one means “politicians who achieve high office despite never having accomplished anything,” then you’ve got your guy.
Is there a Nobel Prize for being one of the “smartest men in a generation”? He deserves it every bit as much as the Nobel Peace Prize.