The Dean of Snobs

You don’t have to ponder the polls these days to figure out which Republican presidential possibilites are in the ascendency. All you have to do is see who is being attacked by liberals and the mainstream media. Their latest target is Scott Walker. 

Of course, Governor Walker has been under the gun for four long years by labor unions and their supporters. But since the phony scandals trumped up by the opposition have not affected his popularity with voters, liberals are getting desperate for dirt that might permanently muddy his image. Their presumed “gotcha” moment came with the revelation that Scott Walker dropped out of Marquette University after his junior year, some thirty or so “academic credits” short of graduation. 

For those who have followed Walker’s career, this is not news. The matter was brought up in his gubernatorial campaigns and he never denied it. The facts are that Walker had worked part-time for IBM during two of his college years. At the end of his junior year, the IBM facility relocated to Illinois, and he was offered a good job with one of its local clients, the American Red Cross. Surprisingly, it turned out to be full-time. The very fact that young Walker landed such a position is indicative of his competence and drive. But liberals like Howard Dean are making it seem that Walker simply “disappeared from campus,” and maybe got into some kind of trouble. 

According to Marc Morial, president of the National Urban League, “Education is an economic issue.” Based on data from last year, 46% of college students fail to graduate in six years. Only 37% of African Americans and 42% of Hispanic students graduate college in 6 years.

Yet leave it to the self-proclaimed high-minded Dr. Dean to righteously suggest that, contrary to the Constitution, a college diploma should be a requirement to run for POTUS.  He was quick to pontificate that America has not elected an un-degreed leader  “for generations.” Actually, the last one was Harry Truman, who had some college training, but did not complete a degree. It is no secret that Harvard-educated FDR held in disdain the man sometimes described as the “little haberdasher” from Independence, MO. After all, Harry had been tapped to run as FDR’s last vice president only as a favor to the Pendergast political machine.

During his two years in the position before Roosevelt’s death, Truman was rarely summoned by his boss or taken into his confidence; he was not even made aware of America’s efforts to produce an atomic bomb. If, in the final analysis, a president is said to be judged by history, Harry S. Truman did all right. He demonstrated that book learning hardly measures up the all-important trait of leadership in running a country.

Scott Walker has said many times publicly that he went to college “not just for education’s sake, but to get a job.” Is this not the sentiment of many discouraged college students today? We hear a slew of stats about how much more college graduates can earn above those with only a high school diploma. But last year a research article in the Washington Free Beacon (“2014 College Grads get Diplomas, not Jobs.”) reinforced the reality of today’s dismal job market for those with degrees.  At the time of the article, the effective unemployment rate (U-6) stood at 15.6% for college-educated youths 18-29 years of age. If adjusted for those who had given up looking for work, the U-6 would be 16.4%. Those who went to college may command more money than those who didn’t, but the comparison is meaningless when educated young Americans can’t even find a job!

Still, this administration continues to glorify the vast benefits of attending college, while it ignores issues like the crushing student debt amassed in its pursuit. CNN Money reported that the Class of 2013 held an average of $35,200 in total college-related debt. And how are these student loans to be repaid as stipulated, when graduates cannot find decent-paying jobs? The extent of the problem is further obscured by a failure to disclose the numbers of college graduates forced to accept employment for which they are “overqualified” and to which they can apply little knowledge acquired through higher education. Bartending used to be the last income-earning resort of aspiring actors, artists, and writers. Now a city like Portland, Oregon, admits that it likely has the most highly-educated barristas in America.

It is hard to find humor in such a travesty. Yet for the faculties of graduate schools, the growing numbers of rejected and dejected college graduates provide a breeding ground for feathering their own career nests. Understandably, when the market for applicants with BAs declines, they begin to think along the lines of more schooling: a law degree or a PhD, for example.

The latter used to be facetiously short for “piled higher and deeper.” But for desperate grads, it’s seen as a face-saving alternative to dead-end, low paying jobs or no-paying jobs, such as “internships.” Hard to believe, but there are legions of grads who are ecstatic to be “chosen” as unpaid interns, with the expectation of being hired on if they prove worthy.   

It would seem in such cases that a college degree has little currency other than to get a foot in the door. Maybe Scott Walker was wise to put his own foot in the door that unexpectedly, if prematurely, opened for him.

But liberals would be horrified at such an idea. Years ago, Labor Secretary and Oxford scholar Robert Reich, coined the pejorative term “burger flippers.” Reich could not imagine anyone taking such a job and not loathing it. He probably believes that everyone should have the enlightening collegiate experience of being pelted by professorial pearls of wisdom. Unfortunately, many undergraduate courses are now taught not by distinguished professors, but by their student assistants. 

Not to put down the joy of campus life and learning, but it is possible to be successful, even now, without a college degree. You’ve heard of some of them: Steve Jobs, Ellen DeGeneres, Rachel Ray, Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates. Students without an academic bent should be encouraged to enroll in alternative courses of study that provide them with the  important skills by which to become proud,  productive,  and well-compensated citizens,

There’s an irony in the way Howard Dean -- who prides himself on being the progressive defender of the “little guy” -- can sound so degradingly snobbish.  It’s not so much the fact that he grew up in Long Island’s Hamptons and went to private schools.  One can’t be faulted for the good fortune of having affluent parents.

But training to be a medical doctor can cost in the neighborhood of $300,000 for four years of medical school, residency, etc. And the training institutions invest even more in their prospects.  Yet within a relatively short time of getting his M.D., Dean abandoned the much-needed practice of medicine to spend his scrappy life in politics. After his governorship, most of Dean’s new career path was devoted to raising money for Democrats and smarting over political rejections, like his presidential primary loss to John Kerry and his failure to be offered a job in the Obama administration.

Before hatchet-man Howard criticizes Scott Walker for not staying in college long enough, perhaps he should apologize for staying in college too long, amassing knowledge he barely used and taking the place of a more sincere medical school student   Dean has never come to grips with the bitter fact that he will not become president. Now -- at long last –- he is using his scalpel on Scott Walker, if only to see that he meets a similar fate.