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Must Have Been The Six Year Plan

Posted by Chris Liebenthal on August 4, 2010


The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel brings up the subject of whether having a college degree or not should be a factor in the upcoming gubernatorial race. The reason for this story is obviously because Scott Walker never finished school.

I’ll start out the outrage machine by saying that, yes, it should be a factor. I would follow that up quickly that it shouldn’t be the only factor, or even necessarily one of the bigger factors, in the race.

Obviously, people could rattle off a considerable list of people who have succeeded in life without a college degree, the most famous being, of course, Bill Gates.

I think what would bear greater meaning is not whether he got a degree, but why he didn’t. According to the article, Walker left school because he got a job at the American Red Cross.

I’m sorry, but does anyone really see Walker as being the type of guy who would leave with only a year or year and a half to go to do humanitarian work? Even if that was true, that idealism was very short-lived and he lost that idealistic mentality decades ago.

But I don’t think that Walker’s excuse passes the smell test.

First of all, Walker refused to release his transcripts. He did release a letter from Marquette University that had this:

Walker released a letter from Marquette that showed he attended the school for four years, from 1986 to 1990, and would have needed to stay there for at least another year to get a degree. He had 94 credits and would have needed at least 36 more. The exact number of credits he needed isn’t clear because students must take classes in certain areas of study to get degrees.

Doesn’t that sound like a referral from a job from which a person was fired? “Yes, so-and-so worked here from this date to that, and this was their salary.” Businesses carefully word their responses like that so that they can’t be sued for slander or libel for saying something to the effect that they fired the bum for being a no-good thief who was always trying to grab the receptionist’s butt or whatever.

Adding to the suspicious and dubious explanation from Walker’s failure to graduate is this:

Walker declined to release his transcripts, but his campaign said he had a grade-point average of 2.59, in the C’s. He had just established status as a senior when he left after four years of mostly full-time coursework at Marquette University.Walker’s supporters – and even some of his detractors – say it shouldn’t matter that he didn’t attain a degree.

After four years, he was still at the very least a year from being able to graduate. Now, it takes many people more than four years to graduate from college, especially if they are working their way through school. But there is no indication that Walker was doing that. Was he having problems at school with his grades? The GPA isn’t very impressive, but it’s not the worst either.

I have heard a couple different stories on why Walker left school so abruptly. I won’t go into the details of them, since they are not verified, but this article does give them more credibility that Walker suddenly having a short-lived phase of idealism.

Walker doesn’t do himself any favors with this line either:

Walker, for his part, has said at times that he wished he could finish so his children would see that he had followed through. He said in an interview he should be judged on his record of keeping taxes down in Milwaukee County rather than whether he finished college.

It is a common meme for Walker to say he is “holding the line” on taxes, but in the eight years he has been county executive, taxes have gone up some 17%, or nearly $40 million.

And has been pointed out time and time again, by pundits on both sides of the political spectrum, Walker’s worst enemies are his own supporters.

Take for example, the quote from State Senator Glenn Grothman:

“There are tens of thousands of people with master’s degrees who don’t have the common sense God gave a rabbit,” said state Sen. Glenn Grothman (R-West Bend), who has a law degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

“Whether you spend two, four (or) six years hanging around a classroom has no bearing on whether you can hold elective office. . . . Anybody who knows Scott Walker knows he could take six months off and sit in a boring classroom and it wouldn’t make him one whit more qualified.”

I’ll let Tom Foley highlight the irony of Grothman proving his own point. But does it really help that one of Walker’s staunchest supporters admits that Walker couldn’t gain anything from furthering his education?

As I said at the top of this post, I don’t think the fact that Walker failed to graduate from college should be the top consideration in deciding whom to vote for. What would be much more germane would be the facts that Walker has raised taxes every year, but has failed to meet even the basic elements of his job, including effectively running programs like mental health services or income maintenance programming, or keeping the county facilities from literally falling apart and making the entire county into a hard hat area.

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