Obama was the 105th President of the Harvard Law Review.
As such, he is by some measures the most intellectually credentialed president we've ever had.
(Incidentally, I enjoyed one commenter in Will Wilkinson's blog dissing Leiter in a thread as a "credentialist". I'm a bit of a credentialist too, although I do put empiricism above credentialism a heuristic for determing competent leaders.)
So who should come next as presidents after Obama? As I've blogged earlier, I think governor of a large population state is probably the best prior-job credential for President. But how about academic credentials? I like President of Harvard Law Review as part of the portfolio: it shows the highest level of legal literacy combined with the ability to deferred to as a leader by others of the highest level of legal literacy (it's an elected position, and unlike Senate Majority Leader or bar association president, it does tend to go to one of the most talented of the cohort rather than the most nonthreateningly average in ability).
Here's people that the past would indicate would be statistically unlikely to run for president or even governor, but should probably be encouraged to go that direction if we want to improve our public administrative talent:
Post Obama Presidents of Harvard Law Review (106th-122nd Presidents)
1. 106th (1992-1993) ?
2. 107th (1993-1994) ?
3. 108th (1994-1995) ?
4. 109th (1995-1996) ?
5. 110th (1996-1997) ?
6. 111th (1997-1998) ?
7. 112th (1998-1999) Katherine Mayer Christensen, 25, a native of Guymon, Okla., as its 112th president
8. 113th (1999-2000) Michael Leiter, magna cum laude, Class of 2000, former naval flight officer, extensive intelligence experience, in Obama administration
9. 114th (2000-2001) Anne K. Small
10. 115th (2001-2002) Matthew Hellman, Class of 2002, 24 years old when became President (31 years old today, 35 years old in 2012, 39 years old in 2016)
11. 116th (2002-2003) Bert I. Huang
12. 117th (2003-2004) Daniel B. Kirschner, graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law
13. 118th (2004-2005) Thiru Vignarajah
14. 119th (2005-2006) Brian Fletcher, after graduation clerked with Judge Merrick Garland of Court of Appeals, District of Columbia
15. 120th (2006-2007) Aileen McGrath
16. 121st (2007-2008) Andrew Manuel Crespo, from Monroe, New York, Harvard College undergrad, first Hispanic President of Harvard Law Review
17. 122nd (2008-2009) Robert Allen, Sears Prize Winner, High School Debate Champion, "Best Senior Thesis" Prize in college, from Buckhead, Georgia, majored in economics at Emory University, graduated Phi Beta Kappa, graduated from Buckhead Academy for high school
I'm going to try to database more information about these harvard law review presidents, and how more of them can be persuaded or incentivized to pursue career paths leading to the presidency.
Also, what are peer intellectual credentials? I'm thinking they may include valedictorian from Harvard or Princeton's MPA program, and valedictorian from elite large population state law schools such as Boalt (Berkeley), UCLA, UTexas, UFlorida, and since NYC only has elite private law schools, NYU or Columbia.
Same with elite state MPA programs (probably pretty much the same institutions).
I'm going to try to start databasing these individuals.
Also, one can think of a few relatively convenient ways Obama (and these folks) could've improved their resume and training for governing.
1. National guard JAG for a large population state (similar to Joe Biden's son did for the tiny state of Delaware).
2. A pH.D. in (macro)economics (perhaps not so convenient, but I think would've taken about the same effort for Obama as the years he spent at the civil rights firm, and could be done in conjunction with teaching constitutional law serving in the national guard, and interning at the legal or economic departments of a large population state.
3. learning two other widely used international languages from different regions. A relatively cheap way to signal preparedness for the foreign policy aspect of being president.
#2 may be the highest barrier for someone on this list to achieve, but #1 and 3 seem pretty low cost. To help it, it would be nice to see JAG develop an honors program similar to the Justice Dept and the SEC's honors programs, and the White House Fellows program. A program prestigious enough and with interesting enough work to attract elite, ambitious havard law latin honors types.
Bleg, if you can help me fill in gaps on the harvard law review presidents (post-Obama) list, please do so. If you are on the list, feel free to contact me for further (and personally tailored) brainstorming.