We have enjoyed spirited discussions on these pages with Book’s question about universities and the values thereof.
A recurring theme that I hear among Liberals is one of educational snobbery. I heard this with regard to G.W. Bush (despite his Harvard MBA) and now we hear it about Sarah Palin and other conservative candidates that may one day run for President. Educational credentials will be an issue. Should they?
To lay my own opinions right out on the table, I admire Sarah Palin and do hope she runs – to me, she embodies many of the qualities that I always admired about American women when looking at my country from an overseas (expat) perspective. Those qualities include strength, “can do” practicality and a self-assuredness that looks adversity straight in the face. Plus, she can shoot straight. She was one of Alaska’s all-time most effective governors in just 2-1/2 years. Her autobiography on those years describes someone with exceptional tenacity and people management skills.
Her qualities, however, are the product of her life experiences. The fact that she was expected by her parents to go to university and pay 100% of her expenses and did so at various institutions is a major plus, not a negative. For me, her real life practical accomplishments say far more than her limited educational experience. And, for the sake of Book’s daughter, her (not Alaskan but North Central states) accent is no more a barrier to me than Gov. Christie’s New Jersey accent, JFK’s Boston accent or Bush’s Texan accent…I love accents!). To me, it is practical real-world experience that counts, not formal education. If anything, formal education is a barrier.
So, just how important is education for U.S. presidents? I note that some of our greatest presidents had little or no advanced education. George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Harry S. Truman never went to university. Ronald Reagan got an undergraduate degree in economics from tiny Eureka College in the middle of the corn and soybean fields of Illinois. By contrast, our worst presidents were some of our best educated: Woodrow Wilson (Ph.D. professor), Jimmy Carter (nuclear engineer), Bill Clinton (Rhodes Scholar) and, now, Barack Obama (Ivy League elitist lawyer).
So, how important is formal education to being a good President? What are the Presidential qualities that a university can or cannot impart? How do we best counter these arguments from the Liberal /Left…not for the sake of the Lefties (whose egos remain immune to reason) but for the sake of all others trying to make up their minds on this issue?