Thursday, 19 February 2015

The Degree Business

Howard Dean is one of those foundation-think tank Democratic strategists that you can spend around ten minutes engaged in his discussion.....then come away asking a dozen questions because what he brought to the table.

This week, Dean got all pepped up on Governor Scott Walker, who is in the top-three for the Republican primary season, and the fact that Walker never graduated from college.  To be president, as Dean puts it......you need a degree.

I read through the episode.  Walker finished up three years and somewhere in the midst of the fourth year.....got up and walked away.  He got a full-time job with the Red Cross and got started on a political career.  I admit....most folks who were a semester away from finishing college.....normally finish.  But I admit that some folks get hyped up on college, burn through a significant number of hours of stress, and reach a point where they can't see any logical reason to wrap up the goal.

I worked with some guy years ago who had a daughter in some state university.  She had screwed up on the first year and basically wasn't going to get any credits out of what was done.  Money flushed down the toilet, as my associate described it.  Somehow, the girl emerged in the second year and got wise, and by the end of the third year (two years of college credit), she got a decent job and just walked away.  In her brief explanation to dad....she couldn't see any reason to continue, and the stress of tests was hefty.

As for our need for a President to have a degree?  Well, why would you say that only a lousy four-year degree qualifies a guy?  He'd have to have a Master's Degree or PhD.....if you were so engaged on educational requirements.

What if the guy had a Master's Degree in electrical engineering?  Would you even want a guy like this as President?  He'd be rewiring the White House and talking up schematics constantly.

What if the gal had a PhD in veterinary science?  Would you want her as a President?  She'd have horses out on the west lawn of the White House and be talking up vaccinations and 'wild behavior'.

What if the guy had a degree in library science.....French literature.....Shakespeare studies.....or agricultural business ethics?

Harry Truman is the last President that we had.....without a degree.  Few people realize this....few care.  If you get down to it.....neither Washington or Jefferson attended any college.  Their private instruction and studies?  You could put both up against the brightest of Harvard today.

Scott Walker came back onto the Howard  Dean's comment quickly.  He noted.....America just didn't need another Ivy League guy using a teleprompter to deliver some crafted speech.  In a way, he's right.  The trouble is.....we don't have a requirements list of things a guy ought to be able to do....before coming President.

For example.....a primary candidate ought to have run a business for a couple of years.  A primary candidate should have taken a trip across the US in a car for four weeks and seen the bulk of America from the prospective of locals.  A primary candidate should have read forty American classics (Huck Finn, to White Fang, to Grapes of Wreath, and To Kill a Mockingbird.  A primary candidate should have the ability to balance a checkbook, talk NCAA bowl selection issues, and be able to change a tire.

My fear is that Dean will open up this whole thing of college education and folks start asking about grade point averages.....something that President Obama probably doesn't want to have an open discussion about.

The bottom line?  If the White House was a pretty technical place where the President personally ran the budget business himself and he had to handle all foreign affairs without any Secretary of State....then Dean might be right.  The truth is.....the office of the President has become a position where you simply need to look Presidential.  Beyond that....nothing matters.  Even with a Noble Peace Prize.....a guy could still be stupid enough to bomb the crap out of some country with no real plan or agenda.