Degrees of separation: Why education backgrounds of candidates matter for 2016

Recently, the media has become fascinated with the educational backgrounds of prospective Presidential Candidates. First came the in-depth by The Washington Post probing the circumstances behind Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s career at Marquette, which seemed to miss the original point of it’s premise by not discovering anything that Walker hasn’t said before about his reason to leave during his Senior Year. From Walker’s 2013 State of the State Address:

Nearly a quarter of all adults in this state have some college credit without a degree.  For many, time and money are the barriers to finishing that degree. I can relate.  During my senior year at Marquette University, I was offered a full-time job at the American Red Cross.  I thought I would squeeze in a course here or there and finish things off in a year or two, but then Tonette and I got married.  Then we had Matt.  And then came Alex. Next thing you know, you’re putting all your extra time and money into your kids.

While the tone of the original Washington Post piece seemed to be accurate if only just a tad bit condescending, others took the idea to the next level including former DNC Chairman Howard Dean calling Walker “unknowledgeable” and Eric Boehlert of Media Matters for America said Walker’s dropping out showed “lack of initiative”.

Walker, for his part, was able to turn the negativity into landing a points-scoring jab at President Obama while being interviewed by Megyn Kelly on Fox News:

“We’ve had an Ivy-trained lawyer in the White House for six years who’s pretty good at reading off the teleprompter, but has done a pretty lousy job leading this country. I’d rather have a fighter who’s proven he can take on the big government special interests and win. We have people who helped found Microsoft, Apple, Facebook, plenty of other successful businesses and enterprises across this country who did the exact same sort of thing I did.”

Further illustrating how The Left has drafted College Education into being a sort of cudgel with which to bludgeon their competitors, Bloomberg was on the front line of trying to take a statement made by Senator Rand Paul about his training in Biology out of context and instead assert that Paul had claimed to have an undergraduate degree in Biology–and that the apparent slip of the tongue was very important.  The Washington Post’s Fact Checker column was not giving Paul-who has a Medical Degree from Duke University School of Medicine-the benefit of the doubt, concluding, “Paul studied biology (and English) at Baylor, but he didn’t earn a degree. There’s no excuse for resume-inflation, even when it’s jocular.”

I wonder if there has ever been anyone else who had a murky, mysterious college education with a resume that has been claimed by some to be inflated?

As it turns out only about 29% of the US population age 25 or older have a college degree, and as University of Tennessee law professor Glenn Harlan Reynolds stated in a recent USA Today Op-Ed piece, “A college degree isn’t essential to getting ahead…a college degree isn’t the be-all and end-all, and that accomplishments and practical skills are, in the end, more important than credentials.”


[Washington Post] [] [Fox News] [Bloomberg] [USA Today] [ABC News]


  1. Florian Sohnke

    The concept of a college degree guaranteeing a higher-paying career is utter nonsense. This notion has left hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, saddled in debt, taxpayers footing the bill and colleges and universities increasing tuition rates.

    Ivy League schools have become stand-ins for institutes of education by granting “As” to students for simply showing up; the pathology of grade inflation is absurd in the schools. The Ivy league has also produced numerous occupants of the Oval Office and many leave with mediocre records.

    If a Democrat was the front runner and, by extension, a prohibitive favorite in 2016, the so-called “questions” about qualified candidates for the White House would be non-existent. With Howard Dean, the Left’s “attack dog” leading the cabal of elitists and their media enablers howling about education as a prerequisite for the White House, look for Scott Walker to be on the defensive for the time being.

  2. Michael Bernard
    Michael Bernard

    Strategically, I think the longer the opposition harps on this the more it will work against them. I don’t think 71% of the population will take too kindly to being called stupid.

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