Helen Whalen Cohen

In case you missed it, the Huffington Post got a hold of Rick Perry's college transcript last week, and released his none too impressive academic record.

The Huffington Post published a copy of Rick Perry’s college transcript today — and it's fair to say the governor barely made the grade. 

Perry originally attended Texas A&M University to pursue a pre-veterinary major but switched to animal sciences, reportedly because of his low GPA. In his freshman and sophomore year, Perry struggled with core science classes, earning D’s in several organic chemistry classes and C’s in general chemistry and physics.

But after Perry switched his major at the beginning of his fall semester in 1970, his grades didn’t improve. Perry got a C in Reproduction in Farm Animals, a C in genetics, a D in Feeds & Feeding, a C in Sheep & Angora Goat Production and two C’s in animal breeding classes.

Many of Perry’s other classes involved military education. Perry has previously credited his time in the A&M Corps of Cadets with giving him the necessary discipline to complete school. 

Combine this with his prayer rally that took place yesterday, and you have a perfect set of lefty talking points: not only is Rick Perry not smart enough for office, but he's a scary Christian, too! AllahPundit summarizes it well:

Needless to say, this is a bit of early meme-building by the left in case Perry catches fire and emerges from the field. Obama needs something to run on next year, and by “something” I mean “anything but his record.” As one Democratic pollster told the LA Times, “It’s not going to be 2008 ‘Yes, we can’ anymore. I think it’s going to be slash-and-burn.” What you’re seeing here is a partial preview of their two-pronged line of attack if Perry wins the nomination: One, he's a religious fanatic, and two, he’s a dumb hick. In other words, he’s what the left always thought Bush was but even more so. And of course he’s a terrorist, but that goes without saying.

Of course, HuffPo isn't interested in applying the same level of scutiny to our president's academic record. Behold:

 

The broader question is how meaningful or predictive is early academic performance. While there is generally a high correlation between early academic success with later academic performance and success in some aspects of life, there are notable exceptions. And these should make us wary of statistical analyses that apply to large groups but tell us little about individual cases. That's why it's better to evaluate the merits of present performance than to look at the past. Certainly, in Obama's case, regardless of what his early records show, his achievements in higher education and in political office testify to his superior intellect. You don't graduate magna cum laude or become editor of the Harvard Law Review because you're a nice guy.

At the moment we have only Obama's statements, in his own writings, about what sort of student he was. We do know that he attended a high-ranking elite private school in Hawaii, where the demands on students were considerable. But even if he was not at the top of his class, it's important to recognize that many students who do poorly early on excel later, often making significant contributions. Should we demonize them and Obama for their early school standings?

...

What can we learn from all this? Mr. Obama: Don't show us your school transcripts. Whether outstanding or not they don't matter. Let's focus on the now!


Helen Whalen Cohen

Helen Whalen Cohen is Associate Editor and Community Manager at Townhall.com.