Over There, I posted about Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s college career, and whether or not it should be considered in his run for the presidency:

There are a lot of professional positions that do not require a college degree. Ultimately, most don’t, because if they did, they would go unfilled. There is also an argument to be made that a lot of jobs that do require college degrees probably shouldn’t, though no doubt Okeem would disagree with that.

To be sure, there are jobs where college degrees matter a great deal. If I’m going under a scalpel, I probably want the scalpel-wielder to have either an MD or a DO or its equivalent. Engineers should demonstrate formal training in engineering. With rare except, teachers and professors should have their appropriate degrees. There is nothing elitist or snobbish about saying so.

It is perhaps ironic that executive positions are not always among that. He mentions, but dismisses the Bill Gates example. But after becoming an entrepreneur, Bill Gates did represent a gargantuan enterprise. Nobody thought that Microsoft’s Board ought to have replaced him so that their company could be represented by someone with a degree. And if Bill Gates were to want to get back into the business world, he would be (and should be) judged entirely on what he accomplished in business. As far as hiring goes, the importance of a college degree is that it gives employers a greater degree of confidence that you can achieve. If you have already achieved, then it’s beside the point.

I’m honestly a little bit (but only a little bit) surprised by the number of people who really stick to “it matters” and believe that a college degree confers something in accord with experience.

I think it can matter as a brick in the wall of a larger argument, that he is intellectually dim, lacks knowledge really important to the presidency, or doesn’t follow through. To date, I don’t find any such arguments convincing. In large part because of what he has accomplished since college. That’s not an endorsement. You can look at what he’s accomplished and say “There is no way I am ever voting for the guy!” but he’s not a mayor of Wasilla and a governor who has barely gotten their feet wet. There’s a record to look at that, in my view, has to be far more illuminating than the decisions he made twenty years ago with regard to his college education.

There also seem to be people who really believe that Obama’s life and experience equipped him to be president more than Walker, including the part about Obama’s BA and JD but also because the Senate is a better launching pad to the presidency. We’ve had a strong bias towards governors for quite some time, and I think it’s quite possible that the pendulum has swung. I think the argument is actually quite solid that we’ve put too much stock in governorships. But I think four years as governor of a mid-size state is always going to trump two years as a senator, and there is little else in their background to strongly distinguish between the two.

Though this is not an endorsement of Hillary Clinton, I do think we overloop cabinet appointees too often, particularly Secretaries of State and Defense, and maybe Attorney General. I’d add Treasury, but it would probably do a disservice to the position for it to be considered a launching pad to the presidency.

Anyway, lots of comments over there. Feel free to leave your thoughts here.

Category: School, Statehouse

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18 Responses to The Path to the Brass Ring

  1. jhanley says:

    100% agree.

  2. Dr X says:

    Agree. And assuming you didn’t mean to suggest otherwise, Hillary was also a US Senator for 8 years prior to her tenure as Sec. of State.

    • trumwill says:

      Right. I considered HRC reasonably qualified in 2008, but now the most highly qualified nominee since Gore. (I never figured out how much to count her role in her husband’s administration, but now that’s mostly moot.)

  3. superdestroyer says:

    The real questions for the future:

    1. Will anyone ever be elected President who only has an undergraduate degree. Given the rampant credential-ism of the U.S., I doubt it.

    2. Will a graduate of a public university ever be elected president in the future? I doubt it. Given all of the lists of best universities, voters will probably never vote for anyone who could not get into a top 10 university.

    3. Can a graduate of one of the Ivy-likes get elected president. Can someone who graduate from Stanford, Duke, Vanderbilt, or Northwestern ever be elected president. Given the NYC-centric media, I assume that president in the future will be graduates of either Harvard or Yale (and maybe Columbia) but no where else. All presidents in the future will need a law degree, MBA, or graduate degree from Harvard, Yale, Columbia or Princeton.

    What is amazing is how the U.S. is outsourcing the selection of president to the admissions committee at the Ivy Leagues and the Democratic Party caucus goers of Iowa.

    • trumwill says:

      “Ever” is a long time. Even if we go Democrats-only (not going to resuscitate that argument right now), I would need to see having gone to a non-top-10 as being something more openly criticized than it presently is. I think I’ll see it at least once in my lifetime, probably more than once, depending on how many future presidents I live through. Not often, though. I can still see a Martin O’Malley or Elizabeth Warren getting there. (I may not see someone with less than a graduate degree get elected, though)

      I don’t think the election process maps quite the same way as the Supreme Court selection process, where I am more skeptical that we’re going to see someone who didn’t go to the Ivy League (or Stanford or Berkeley) in my lifetime, or maybe my daughter’s.

      • superdestroyer says:

        Being outside the top 10 schools puts the person in an inferior position when it comes to getting the entry level jobs to start the climb and to get funding for running for office sometime in the future. Jimmy Carter was the last president who attended a state school and Walter Mondale was the last Democratic Party Nominee without an Ivy League education. In 2024 that would mean that the Democrats would have gone almost 40 years without an Ivy League graduate.

        Elizabeth Warren in 64 y/o. If she waits until the end of the second Hillary Clinton Administration (2024), Elizabeth Warren will proably be too old to run. In addition, that will give her a ten year record in the Senate and there is bound to be a policy screw up somewhere in those ten years.

        O’Malley has no chance the same as Andrew Cuomo.

        • trumwill says:

          I was referring to a figure like Warren (and the others), not Warren herself. I agree that the Dems are (assuming victory) locked until 2024,by which time there will be a new set of candidates on the Democratic side.

        • superdestroyer says:

          One of the failures of President Obama is there is no one who can be seen as a continuation candidate of the Obama Administration. Thus, the U.S. will probably elected Hillary Clinton as a continuation of the past Clinton Administration. Once again, if you want to think about candidates in 2024, then wait until 2019 and write down the names of all of the Democratic senators and governors who are graduates of Harvard and Yale. The Democratic Party’s nominee in 2024 will come out of that list.

    • trumwill says:

      Also, I think Stanford sits in a different place than the other schools you mention (Duke, Vanderbilt, Northwestern). Going forward, I think it’ll be right there with Harvard and Yale.

      Also, service academies may be a bit of a wildcard, though someone who went to a service academy can go to an Ivy League school later.

      • superdestroyer says:

        Unless the Stanford graduate immediately moves to DC or NYC to get involved in politics, what is the Cardinal going to do? Holding office in California means no national campaign and what Stanford graduate is going to move to fly over country and run for office? The Stanford grade faces the problem is there is no good initial condition for them to start in having a career.

        • trumwill says:

          I’m confused. You don’t think any office holder west of the Appalachians can be elected, going forward?

        • superdestroyer says:

          A graduate of Chicago had get elected to office in Illinois and as long as that person is not involved in courrption can become a presidential candidate. However, being a state wide office holder in California (or Washington) probably pushes a Democrat too far to the left for national consumption. Does anyone think that someone like Kamala Harris or Gavin Newsome could come in first in the Iowa caucuses or New Hampshire primary. Much like being a represenative from a CBC or CHC district keep a candidate from seeking state wide office in virtually all state, being an office holder in a state well to the left of the country means not being president.

          Also, since so many on the Ivy and Ivy like graduates migrate to DC or NYC for jobs, what would be their first office to seek. Rampant credential-ism and careers being concentrated in a few metropolitan areas is probably limiting who will run for president in the future.

        • trumwill says:

          It seems to me if we assume Democratic dominance, a California governor looks more rather than less feasible to me. The “too liberal” side of the spectrum would be smaller.

        • superdestroyer says:

          Too liberal to win in Iowa and New Hampshire. Also, do you really think a California politician would be willing to spend months in Iowa and New Hampshire to win? The Democrats have a firewall in Iowa and New Hampshire that keep the most liberal Democrats from being nominated.

        • James Hanley says:

          “do you really think a California politician would be willing to spend months in Iowa and New Hampshire to win?”

          Oh, yeah. Anyone who seriously wants the presidency is more than willing to do that.

    • jhanley says:

      In 2008 it had been almost 50 years since a sitting Senator won the presidency. Obviously it was something that wasn’t going to happen again…until it did. We can discern what appears to be a trend, but is it a trend that will continue forever? Probably not. So the question is only when will the trend be broken, and the best available answer to that is “when we’re not expecting it to be.”

      • superdestroyer says:

        But the previous three presidents had been Ivy League graduates and the current president in a graduate of two Ivy League Universities. Saying that someone from a state university could be president would be the same as arguing that someone who is protestant and a graduate of a state university law school will ever be a Supreme Court Justice.

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