One of the low points of the 2012 presidential campaign came from a spate of news stories about Mitt Romney’s alleged bullying of a college roommate. The Left would not allow the allegation to die, and Romney was finally forced to issue a public apology for what he rightly termed “high school pranks that may have hurt others,” as though this had any relevance or bearing on his fitness to serve as president of the United States.
At least in Romney’s case, they waited until there was actually a campaign.
It is now February of 2015. No one is officially a candidate for the highest office in the land, but Scott Walker has made no secret that he is seriously considering the run. He has been visiting early caucus and primary states, and has already leased office space in Iowa, preparatory to running in the Iowa caucus. Worse, from the point of view of his opponents, polls in Iowa and New Hampshire, as well as Drudge’s admittedly unscientific online poll, all show him doing quite well against the putative field of Republican hopefuls.
So the knives have been unsheathed, and one of the earliest has appeared in the hands of a reporter for the Washington Post, David A. Fahrenthold: “As Scott Walker Mulls White House Bid, Questions Linger over College Exit.” In the article, Fahrenthold reports on Walker’s open admiration for Ronald Reagan on campus (this was the 1980s, after all), his failed bid for president of the student body at Marquette University, the fact that he didn’t do very well in college French, and the fact that he left the university in the spring of his senior year a few credits shy of a bachelor’s degree.
In complete fairness, the article under the (to be charitable) misleading headline contains numerous reminiscences of Walker’s time on campus which paint a very compelling, likable picture. Thus, Mary Riordan, a college friend who did graduate and is now a speech pathologist, is quoted as saying: “Kind, he’s very kind,” as she recalled four medical emergencies in which Walker took her to the hospital. In one case, she tore ligaments in her ankle: “Scott carried me eight blocks to his car and drove me to the hospital.” And there is Stephen Satran, Walker’s roommate at Marquette, who says: “I thought that the guy was too nice to ever be successful in politics. Turns out I was wrong.”
In fact, the only negative comment it seems Fahrenthold could find came from Glen Barry, who said of Walker, “We used to call him Niedermeyer,” referring to a character in the movie Animal House, a power-mad parody of a college ROTC instructor. It is worth noting that, as a student senator, Walker spearheaded an impeachment investigation into misspent student funds, and Barry was one of those investigated. It may reveal something about Barry’s politics then and now to note that he calls himself a “political ecologist” on his blog. There might possibly be just a little residual bitterness there …
By now, the gentle reader has been waiting to hear what mysterious, dark “lingering questions” there might be concerning Walker’s leaving Marquette early. Well, here you have it, in the man’s own words: “I’m someone who went to college, had the opportunity in my senior year to go and take a job full-time job (…) like a lot of folks in America, you know, your family and your job take the time away from you finishing it up.”
So there you have it; as another of Walker’s friends from his Marquette days, Kevin Miller, described Walker’s thinking: “’I’d rather have a full-time job and have the rest of my time to spend on politics.’ … I never got any indication that it was anything other than that. Or anything more than that.”
To quote one of Walker’s likely opponents should he actually decide to run for president, Hillary Rodham Clinton: “What difference, at this point, does it make?” Walker left Marquette in 1990. In 1993, he was recruited by the Republican Party to run for the State Assembly, and since that time he won 11 elections, serving in the Wisconsin State Assembly as county executive of Milwaukee County (the largest county in the state). With his victory in the historic recall effort mounted by the Left, he has now been elected three times in four years as governor of Wisconsin. Surely that résumé trumps whether or not Walker got an A in introductory college French.
In the same interview in which he explained why he left college, Walker joked: “I’ve got a master’s degree in taking on the big government special interests, and I think that is worth more than anything else that anybody can point to.”
The last American president not to have earned a university degree was Harry S. Truman. Though Truman was sufficiently unpopular by 1952 that he decided not to run for a second term, he has been judged fairly well by history as the president who oversaw the successful conclusion of the Second World War and managed the initial confrontations with world Communism when the Cold War was thrust upon him. Not, as the saying goes, too shabby.
Contrast that record with the one amassed by some of the Ivy League graduates who succeeded Truman in office: There are both George Bushes, William Jefferson Clinton, Barack Hussein Obama. If education is any sort of indicator of performance, then perhaps we ought to give Columbia, Harvard, and Yale a rest, and go for someone with Walker’s sort of “master’s degree.”
The most important thing which should be evident from Fahrenthold’s piece is that this is the best “opposition research” can uncover on Walker. The man has been vetted like no other politician running; had there been the slightest actual dirt in his past, it would have been uncovered and flung at him in the last three gubernatorial races. He is truly squeaky-clean.
So, with that out of the way, can we now go on to concentrate on actual issues and a record in office?