George Will urges in his latest column (you'll need a subscription if you've used up your freebies this month) that the Purdue University President Mitch Daniels, former Indiana governor, would make a dandy GOP nominee. Powerline's Steven Hayward basically says good idea but lotsa luck. .
While I don't want to comment on anybody's candidacy, I do want to quote Will, who in turn quotes from a lapidary commencement speech Daniels delivered this year in which Daniels put his finger on the root of the almost universal sense of victimhood on campus today. Will writes:
Without explicitly mentioning the paranoia currently convulsing many campuses, Daniels identified its origin. He said that “even more absurd” than the idea that life is a lottery is the idea that “most of us are victims of some kind, and therefore in desperate need of others to protect us against a world of predators and against our own gullibility.”
Daniels’s words to the Class of 2016 clarify why the 2016 presidential campaign offers an echo, not a choice. The presumptive Democratic nominee is a progressive committed to government ambitious enough to iron the wrinkles of luck out of life, and to distribute equity to life’s victims, meaning to everyone.
Will, by the way, is equally critical of GOP candidate Trump, whom he describes as a "world-class whiner."
It was a terrific commencement address–witty and weighty at the same time (always the unbeatable combination).I urge you to read it. Here is a nugget of gold on the importance of "earned success" (pardon some repetition from the Will quote–but it is even better in the speech):"
Around the country this weekend, ceremonies like this one are dispensing diplomas. They all read about the same – bachelor of this, master of that. But they will not be equal in meaning. Repeated studies reveal that the seriousness of subject matter and the rigor with which student mastery is evaluated vary widely. As employers have come to learn, many diplomas tell little or nothing about the holder’s readiness for work or for life. At most, they are a proxy for the intelligence that got the student admitted to college in the first place.
Your diplomas are different. You chose a school where, by and large, serious subjects are taught seriously. Where high grades are still provably hard to come by. No participation trophies here. You got your diplomas and your self-esteem the old-fashioned way: You earned them.
And yet, among many pernicious notions of our time, perhaps the most dangerous is the idea, sometimes implied and sometimes express, that life is more or less a lottery. That we are less masters of our fate than corks floating in a sea of luck. Or, even more absurd, that most of us are victims of some kind, and therefore in desperate need of others to protect us against a world of predators and against our own gullibility.
I doubt you or your parents believe such nonsense. If you did, you wouldn’t have come to Purdue. You wouldn’t have invested the time, money, or hard work that brought you to this moment. And I hope you will tune out anyone who, from this day on, tries to tell you that your achievements are not your own.
Oh, sure, we all get important help along the way. I hope you will never lose sight of those parents, teachers, coaches, and others who nurtured and assisted the growth of your intellect, skills, and character. But in the end, your successes, and your failures for that matter, are, like your diplomas today, really up to you.
I used to like that clever metaphor about the turtle on the fence post. You know, the one that ends “What you know for sure is he didn’t get there on his own.” It’s cute, but I don’t use it anymore. It dawned on me that it sends just the wrong message. Because the fictional turtle on a post did nothing to lift himself to that height; he just got lucky, when someone else put him there. Life’s achievements are never like that.
I’m not saying that luck never plays a part; of course it can. But, unless it’s the tragic kind of luck, it almost never decides a life’s outcome. Like the referees’ calls in a basketball game, the good and bad breaks are likely to even out over the course of a season. What counts in the long run is the quality of your play.
Here’s the deal: You can’t take luck completely out of the equation, but you can tilt the odds in your favor. Decisions you make, and effort you either do or don’t put in, will either increase or reduce the chances that life’s breaks break in your favor.
In other words, if you succeed, you did, too, build that success.