Ivy certainly looks nice, but you wouldn’t want to stroll through it. Here in Southern California, it’s common knowledge that most of our rodents hang out in the stuff. If bubonic plague ever breaks out in L.A., the source will be found lurking in the shrubbery.
What has me dwelling on ivy is my recent realization that much of what I don’t like about American politics — namely, American politicians — can be traced back to Ivy League schools. It can’t just be a coincidence that four or five universities keep spitting out presidential candidates and their spouses with the sort of regularity that Notre Dame used to turn out All American football players.
What’s more, it’s not a sudden development and it’s not limited to just one party. William Howard Taft, for crying out loud, went to Yale. Theodore Roosevelt went to Harvard, and so did his fifth cousin, Franklin Roosevelt. Woodrow Wilson graduated from Princeton.
George Herbert Walker Bush went to Yale. His son, not willing to leave bad enough alone, went to both Yale and Harvard. Bill Clinton, Hillary Rodham Clinton and John Kerry, all went to Yale. Al Gore and Michael Dukakis went to Harvard. Ted Kennedy went to Harvard. Twice. The first time, they booted him out for cheating on a Spanish exam.
Barack Obama went to Columbia and his wife, Michelle, went to Princeton. With such a terrible football team it’s really no wonder she was never proud to be an American.
Considering the politicians the schools have let loose on us, perhaps they should rename it the Poison Ivy League.
It’s enough to make me wonder if the reason I liked Harry Truman was because he’s the only president since 1896 who didn’t have a college degree. Ronald Reagan had one, but it was from Eureka College, which probably didn’t even have ivy on its walls.
It is worth noting that, although Harvard has been around since 1636, Yale since 1701 and Princeton since 1746, none of them can claim Washington, Jefferson or Lincoln, as an alumnus. George Washington was home-schooled. Thomas Jefferson attended William and Mary and graduated in two years. Abraham Lincoln was also home-schooled, but he was both teacher and student, a true autodidact who read the Bible, Shakespeare and his law books, by candlelight.
Dwight Eisenhower attended West Point and John McCain graduated from the Naval Academy. So it’s no surprise that Ike was able to lead the fight against Nazi barbarians and that McCain was able to stand up to Viet Cong sadism for five long years. Which, come to think of it, is longer than Barack Obama has spent garnering leadership experience listening to the likes of Ted Kennedy and Robert Byrd spewing forth on the floor of the U.S. Senate.
The only thing that prevents me from giving whole-hearted endorsement to a military education is that one of our former presidents also graduated from the Naval Academy: Jimmy Carter.
Television writer Burt Prelutsky is the author of Conservatives Are From Mars, Liberals Are From San Francisco (101 Reasons Why I’m Happy I Left the Left).