We all knew this was coming: liberal attacks on Gov. Scott Walker for not having a college degree. In 1990, Walker decided to drop out of Marquette University during the spring semester of his senior year - a decision that’s mystified the political left. But then there’s former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, who–as Dan wrote–basically questioned Walker’s intelligence:
"This is a particular problem for Scott Walker which has not been an issue yet, but it will. Scott Walker, were he to become president, would be the first president in many generations who did not have a college degree. So the issue here is not just the issue of dancing around the question of evolution for political reasons, the issue is, how well educated is this guy?"
This is emblematic of the politics of condescension and elitism that’s fraught within American liberalism; that one is not qualified for any public office lest he be a college graduate (preferably from an elite school) and has acquired a lexicon that shocks the masses. Dean is a Yale alumnus.
So, what do we know about Walker’s years in college? Well, the Washington Post noted that he was active in student government. He won a senate position his freshman year and worked frenetically to combat wasteful spending. He ran for student body president his sophomore year and lost. After the loss, his influence on student politics waned. By the way, as the Media Research Center's Tim Graham wrote, the Post devoted a 2,223-word story about this whole ordeal. Oh, and they never devoted a single piece to Barack Obama’s undergraduate years prior to the 2008 election, but we digress.
The Post mentioned that Walker seemed more concerned about his student government work than his studies, often interrupting French class by arriving late. He also didn’t seem interested in his politics classes either. By the time he hit the spring semester of his senior year, he vanished. Mr. Walker had decided to get a job with the American Red Cross; that’s it! That’s the shocking revelation of why Walker left college. Walker left in good standing with Marquette–and is 34 credits short of earning his Bachelor’s Degree:
Walker’s disappearance from campus became a mystery that his political rivals seized on. As recently as 2013, the state’s Democrats were still alleging that he might have been kicked out for election-related misdeeds. They dropped that after Marquette officials told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that Walker had left “in good standing.”
What friends remember is that Walker got a good job, at the American Red Cross office near campus. Some also remember hearing that one of his parents had a health problem or about financial stress on the family. A spokeswoman for Walker’s political committee declined to comment about those suggestions.
“I think I need to take this opportunity,” [Mary] Riordan [Walker’s college friend] remembered Walker saying. “I don’t think he ever said to me, ‘I’m not going to finish school.’ I don’t think that was his intention.”
At the time, the Journal Sentinel found, Walker was not close to graduating. After four years, he was at least 34 credits short — about one-quarter of the required total away from earning his degree, according to its report. Walker’s political spokeswoman said she would not contest that finding.
He still has not found the time to finish. A spokeswoman for Walker’s state office said he is interested in a new University of Wisconsin program — begun during Walker’s tenure — that lets older students get academic credit for things they’ve learned in life. But he’s not taking courses now.
Walker has won three elections in four years; one of which carries the historical note of him being the first governor to survive a recall election in American history.
The debate about college degrees is ongoing, but certainly it’s not THE prerequisite for public office. We also have to understand that even the highly educated have driven this nation into disastrous situations. Kennedy and Johnson surrounded themselves with the smartest folks in the country when they built their administrations–Johnson mostly kept Kennedy’s people after his assassination–and they got us into Vietnam. A war–regardless of the reasons–that damaged America’s reputation abroad and the military–as an institution–at home. It wasn’t until we won the Gulf War that such issues were resolved.
Relating to the rule of law, we had Robert H. Jackson and Stanley Reed serve as Associate Justices on the U.S. Supreme Court. Both men never graduated from law school, and as far as I can tell; the institution still functions today.
Yet, I think the National Review’s Charles Cooke has a better explanation of why this whole college dropout business is absurd:
This being a democratic republic, it is dangerous in and of itself for our elites to condemn as unsuitable for office those they consider to be “less educated” than themselves. But it is downright repugnant to watch certain members of the journalistic class meditating on the question of whether a man who has been infinitely more successful than themselves should be deemed ineligible for want of their preferred credentials. It is difficult, too, not to divine a touch of caste-system snobbery in the initial inquiry. As higher education becomes increasingly fetishized, those who do not possess the right letters after their names will be increasingly in danger of marginalization — even, it should be said, when they are successful and happy and full of self-assurance. If Scott Walker is the nominee, there is no doubt his detractors will play as subtly but as brutally as they can on his being a “dropout,” nor that the professional class that determines the shape of the debates will mutter in irritation that he is not one of them. If he has any sense about him, he will refuse to entertain the premise. “Sure I didn’t finish college,” he will say. “But look where I am now. This is America, goddamnit.”
This narrative–and his recent punt on a question about evolution–will sadly only confirm such biases within elite media and political circles. Walker was on a trade mission in London when he was asked about his belief in the theory of evolution.
"I'm going to punt on that one as well," Walker said. "I'm here to talk about trade, not to pontificate about other things," he said.
When asked about foreign policy, Gov. Walker rightly stated, “I just don't think you talk about foreign policy while you're on foreign soil…I don't think it's wise to undermine your own president."
The latter response is completely understandable. The former elicited the typical liberal “we’re pro-science, my gosh how dumb are Republicans” response that you’d expect. All of this despite the fact that affluent liberals in California are mostly responsible for the measles outbreak because–wait for it–they didn't get their kids vaccinated. In all, any rational person shouldn't really care about one's personal feelings about evolution or creationism. Then again, we're talking about the liberal media; they love this stuff.
If you want to watch some serious trolling on Twitter about this, just read how The Federalist’s Sean Davis asked Ben White of Politico and Amanda Terkel of the Huffington Post if they knew about the dynamics of evolution when they mocked the Wisconsin Governor for his remarks.
Just once, I'd like a politician to answer the reporter's evolution question with "Why don't you tell me what *you* think that means first."— Sean Davis (@seanmdav) February 11, 2015
Because I can guarantee the reporters playing that game couldn't come close to accurately describing the current "scientific consensus."— Sean Davis (@seanmdav) February 11, 2015
C'mon, @morningmoneyben, tell us the rate of constant change necessary for genetic complexity to have randomly gone from 0 to what it is now— Sean Davis (@seanmdav) February 11, 2015
Tell us, @morningmoneyben, do you believe in punctuated equilibrium, or constant gradualism? Feel free to use math to defend your view.— Sean Davis (@seanmdav) February 11, 2015
.@aterkel Amanda, do you believe in phyletic gradualism or punctuated equilbrium?— Sean Davis (@seanmdav) February 11, 2015
.@aterkel It's okay. I can wait. It's not a difficult question *at all* for someone like yourself who understands evolution, but I can wait.— Sean Davis (@seanmdav) February 11, 2015
Ben Domenech, also of the Federalist, wrote in his Transom email that if Republicans wanted to troll the left on this whole college degree/evolution front:
[T]he appeal of a ticket combining Walker and Bobby Jindal is obvious. There’s the one guy who dropped out and got a job, and the other guy who’s a Rhodes Scholar who passed on Harvard and Yale medical for Oxford. Our always reliable media will insist that both are dumb as bricks. Just wait.
Just as the left “assassinated” Romney with attacks–or odd media pieces– on the war on women, his business career, his wealth, and his religion, they’re going to do the same thing with Walker.
Do you want former U.S. Senator, First Lady, Secretary of State, and Yale Law School graduate Hillary Clinton or some college dropout named Scott Walker as president in 2016? That’s the foundation for their attack–and it’s probably only going to get worse.
Then again, Walker isn’t a wimp, but he surely can’t let any attack on him slide a la Romney in 2012. That was a disastrous decision.