Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Should college degrees and passports be requisites for the presidency?

I say yes, but some say no.  Chris Cillizza, WaPo:

In the wake of Dave Fahrenthold's great piece about Scott Walker's college years, Democrats have begun to openly question the Wisconsin governor's ability and readiness to be president, given that he doesn't have a college degree.


This seems to me to be a MAJOR strategic mistake that could badly backfire on Democrats if Walker happened to become the Republican nominee in 2016. Here's why...

He lists three reasons.  No More Mister Nice Blog even thinks it's a trap.

Jim Newell argues at Salon that it's a bad idea for Democrats to attack Scott Walker for not having a college degree. As I said last week, I agree -- it comes off as elitist and condescending, in a country where most people don't have a boatload of degrees from fancy schools and aren't quite sure what they think about people who do. I think many voters who hear attacks like this will feel they're being personally insulted. It's a bad move.

And now we have this, from Olivia Nuzzi at the Daily Beast, and I really hope no Democrat tries to follow up...

The story smells like opposition research fed to a journalist -- but by whom? It could be the Clinton campaign, but it could just as easily be the campaign of a better-traveled Republican, or it could be an organization on the right that's determined to prevent the insufficiently hawkish Paul from winning the nomination. Nuzzi's story certainly lists a lot of travel by a number of Paul's likely primary competitors:

Go ahead and click over; there's lots to take in at all those links.

Sorry, Cillizza and Mister, but this is Texas, and if we weren't allowed to ridicule stupid Republicans, then we wouldn't have much of anything to blog about.  Hell, Juanita Jean would have to close down the beauty salon if the topic of ignorant conservatives was embargoed.  I've also never been keen on politicians whose appeal is to the lowest common denominator.  Bill Clinton said it nicer: "when people think, we (Democrats) win".

I agree with NMMrNB about Rand Paul's humanitarian missions; I can give him a pass on the passport thing.  But Paul has straight up lied about holding an undergraduate degree, and the reason that matters, as David Knowles at Bloomberg pointed out, can be summed up in two words: Brian Williams.  Paul is also adept at trolling the critics of his malaprops, especially those in the media  -- thanks to this guy -- but it strikes me as a little paranoid that a right-wing conspiracy of  "elitist contempt" is active as a loose caucus among the GOP.  Pretty sure that ground is well covered by the TeaBaggers, and while they may succeed in nominating the candidate, I hold some degree of confidence that an ignorant and arrogant conservative cannot get elected president... again.

Yes, GWB barely traveled outside the US before the Supreme Court selected him to the White House.  And he will likely will never again leave the country, for fear of arrest for his war crimes.  But I don't think it's accurate to say that 'the public didn't care' about that in 2000.  Yes, there was a majority of swing voters in 2004 -- some I knew personally, even -- who said they'd like to have a beer with a recovering alcoholic in denial and probably a dry drunk.  (Although I remain unconvinced, personally, that he ever stopped drinking.)  And all that disregards the curious case of those 250,000 registered Florida Democrats who voted for W, who deserve far more of the blame for Al Gore losing than Ralph Nader, a stubborn myth about which I have also written.  Al Gore should have been able to handily defeat W Bush,  but his own errors, many of them unforced, and Murphy's Law (Theresa LePore's butterfly ballot in Palm Beach County, for one) conspired with a few bad apples -- Katherine Harris, Clay Roberts, Choicepoint, etc. --  to spoil 2000 for him.  It is not an accurate statement, then and to this day, that Bush won the presidency in 2000, IMHO.  For the sake of expediency, I'll ignore the shenanigans around Cuyahoga and other Ohio counties in 2004 that helped John Kerry lose in 2004, because like Gore he was his own worst enemy in too many ways well before election day.

But as to the counterpoints to sheepskins and the lack thereof, let's check in first with Susan Newell at US News and World Report (no bastion of liberal media).

We need to take the stigma away from those who choose not to go to college, and we also need to emphasize community college for those who need more education, but not a four-year program. But it’s also not unreasonable to expect that our political elite -- and there’s nothing more elite than being president of the United States -- have a semi-elite level of formal education.

Now let's roll with Rude Pundit's rejoinder, which is closer to where I am (warning: cursing).

See, to conservatives, "college" is itself a signifier of "indoctrinated into leftist beliefs." And, of course, "college" only means the Ivy League. Says (Instapundit's Glenn) Reynolds, after listing the Harvard, Yale, et al credentials of President Obama and the Supreme Court, "All this credentialism means that we should have the best, most efficiently and intelligently run government ever, right? Well, just look around. Anyone who has ever attended a faculty meeting should recognize that more education doesn't produce better decision makers, and our educated mandarinate doesn't seem to have done much for the country." Serious question: Is Reynolds a total cock at his own faculty meetings? And the Rude Pundit has long believed that Ivy League incest has harmed the nation. But the solution is not to say, "Well, obviously, college makes people dumb." It's to say, "Hey, how about some leaders who came from state schools?"

There's much more of this righteous rant, but let's close with this.

As the Rude Pundit has said before, if you believe that colleges are merely bastions of bolshevik liberalism, spend some time with professors in the business majors or, really, the STEM profs. Oh, wait. They believe in science, so maybe not.

As for Scott Walker, let's dismiss his inability to answer a question about evolution as craven political expedience. What does matter is, as governor, he has bought into the right-wing attack on higher education and he wants to fuck the universities of his state with huge budget cuts, just like Bobby Jindal in Louisiana. That shit looks sketchy, especially when you don't have a degree.

If you can be successful at something without a diploma, good on you, future  Bill Gates or Louis CK or Oprah. Obviously, people can be just like you. Except for the almost everyone who can't.

If our American Idiots have devolved enough to fool me twice and elect George W Bush 2.0 -- and I'm not talking about Jeb -- I'll be searching retirement properties in Costa Rica.  Not everyone has that privilege, of course, but everybody we leave behind will mostly be the ones responsible for their own fate.  That would be the people who elect Scott Walker -- or Mike Huckabee or Ben Carson, or Rick Perry or Ted Cruz or Lindsey Graham, or even Jefferson Beauregard Sessions.  And of course the Democrats who couldn't be motivated to vote against any of them.

You're all fending for yourselves if Hillary Clinton screws up so badly she loses like Al Gore.  I'm out.

Update: As if on cue, Walker plays the E card, and Dirty Jobs dude joins the chorus.

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