One of the oddities of Presidential races is that so little actual information about the candidates is generated by the press. Reporters seem to envision their role not as digging up facts, but as rather like that of theater critics. Their job is to evaluate how well the campaigns mount their little fantasies, and that's about it.
One of the things the press fails to do is to get together and demand facts. For example, consider the candidates' health. The leading news-gathering institutions should pool their money and make it a tradition to offer to pay for each candidate to visit during the dog days of summer the Mayo Clinic for a full check-up to be then published.
Similarly, the press should push to make it traditional to release academic records and test scores. Otherwise, we're at the mercy of campaign spin and conventional wisdom. In 2004, we heard all the time about how bright Kerry was, but then it turned out the year after that we learned he had an even lower GPA than Bush at Yale two years earlier, taking similar courses.
I suspect McCain isn't the kind of guy to remember what he got on the SAT 55 years ago. But Obama is exactly the kind of guy to remember what he got. (Joe ''I think I have a much higher I.Q. than you do" Biden is the kind of guy who has been trying to forget his SAT scores for 50 years. Anybody want to guess who would score higher if they took a test today, unadjusted for age: Biden or Palin?)
Now, here's my guess about how Obama did on the verbal half of the SAT and on the LSAT:
He aced them.
I bet that's Obama's SAT score secret: standardized testing, that politically incorrect bogeyman, worked perfectly for him.
Some kind of entrance exam got him into Punahou prep school from Nowheresville in Indonesia, then a high verbal SAT score propelled this dope-smoking Hawaiian slacker with mediocre grades first to Occidental, then to Columbia. The LSAT took him to Harvard Law, where he finally buckled down and earned grades in line with his scores.
Sure, affirmative action helped make up for his nothing-special grades in high school and undergrad college, but test scores are what showed the world his potential. That's what got him in to the cool schools' affirmative action slots ahead of the hardworking true African-American kids with 1050 SAT scores who were valedictorians of their all-black high schools.
Of course, he can't come out and say that, in own his experience, standardized testing is reasonably accurate and that all this Bell Curve stuff makes sense. Think of what poor Michelle, who is still publicly tormented by her mediocre test scores, would do to him!
That's my guess.