The Washington Post, the newspaper that brought us an investigative report on Mitt Romney’s prep school pranks, has turned its gimlet eye to Scott Walker’s college years.
If you are already familiar with Governor Walker’s bio, you know that there is a catch: Walker dropped out of college without a degree. The future governor left Marquette University, a Jesuit institution in Milwaukee, to take a job. He never looked back.
College being what it is nowadays, I admire this about Walker. What’s so shocking about getting a job instead of racking up six figures in college loan debt sitting through classes on Transgender Poetry or The Crusades as Western Imperialism?
Harry Truman, Walker’s fellow Midwesterner, is our last president without a college degree. If you’d like to read the letters of a man steeped in history through his own reading, I highly recommend Affection and Trust: The Personal Correspondence of Harry S. Truman and Dean Acheson, 1953-1971.
The Post story is headlined “As Walker Mulls White House Bid, Questions Linger over College Exit.” Interestingly, the Post never raises the question that I would ask: was Walker, the son of a small town Baptist minister, unable to afford to complete his course of studies at Marquette? The answer to that question might very well put finished to the "lingering" question.
The lead of the Post story makes Walker’s departure sound sinister:
Scott Walker was gone. Dropped out. And in the spring of his senior year.
But it gets even more sinister in the very next sentence:
In 1990, that news stunned his friends at Marquette University. Walker, the campus’s suit-wearing, Reagan-loving politico — who enjoyed the place so much that he had run for student body president — had left without graduating.
To most of the Class of 1990 — and, later, to Wisconsin’s political establishment — Walker’s decision to quit college has been a lingering mystery.
Suit-Wearing! Reagan-loving! My Lord, the man is a maniac! But might he also have been six-figure debt shunning?
This is the closest to this issue the Post comes:
Not even his friends at Marquette were entirely sure why he never finished. Some had heard that a parent had fallen ill, or maybe there was some financial strain. Others thought he had simply had enough of school.
What's more Walker had trouble showing up on time for French class!
The story continues:
“We used to call him ‘Niedermeyer,’ ” Barry said, after the power-mad ROTC leader in the movie “Animal House.”
Then, in 1988, as a sophomore, Walker ran for student-government president against a well-known liberal student, John Quigley. Walker distributed a 20-point resume, and talked up his good deeds from back in high school.
“God’s honest truth,” said Quigley, remembering the epic un-hipness of their debates. “I remember him talking about being an Eagle Scout.”
In the campaign, Walker seemed to have every angle covered. There were buttons that said “Beam Me Up, Scotty!” There were slogans sprayed on campus snowbanks, with water and food coloring. The campaign even arranged a special deal at Lucci’s Pizza: Walker voters got extra cheese free.
At times, Walker’s opponents accused his campaign of going too far.
The most notable allegation was that Walker’s people had stolen copies of the campus newspaper, to keep students from reading its endorsement of the other guy. Walker’s friends say to this day that they didn’t do it.
More damaging was a flier that attacked Quigley’s ideas close to Election Day, saying that the liberal had only “vague ideals” and was destined for ineffectiveness. It was mild — at least by the standards of real-world politics — but it was enough to outrage the student newspaper.
God’s honest truth, I think that many Americans are less shocked than the Washington Post by an Eagle Scout who can’t get the endorsement of the student newspaper on an ultra-liberal college campus.
And after eight years of the highly-credentialed Barack Obama, the American voter just might think a college dropout isn't half bad.