The Gist

Do the Best and Brightest Ever Become President?

Elliott Kalan used to be the head writer for The Daily Show. Now, he studies presidents. And guess what: Most of them weren’t very good.

Presidents George H.W. Bush, Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Jimmy Carter in the Oval Office on Jan. 7, 2009.

David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images

Listen to Episode 602 of Slate’s The Gist:

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On The Gist, former Daily Show head writer Elliott Kalan talks about his new Audible series Presidents are People Too! Kalan looks at the reasons so many mediocre candidates make it the White House, and tries to find something to admire in our crappiest commanders-in-chief. Kalan says watching this year’s presidential election while studying American political history has been sobering. Think America has never been more divided? Congressmen used to cane each other in the 1850s.

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