Sunday, February 15, 2015

Howard Dean, Scott Walker, and the value of a college degree

Howard Dean thinks Scott Walker isn't educated enough to be president because he dropped out of college. I'm no fan of Walker's politics, but this is an extremely disappointing, tone-deaf argument to make and illustrative of why the left has trouble reaching working-class people. Here is a transcript of the exchange on Morning Joe last Thursday:
"Are you serious? You're saying he might not be qualified because he didn't finish college?" an incredulous Joe Scarborough asked.
"I think there are going to be a lot of people who worry about that," Dean said.
"Do you worry about people that don't finish college?" Scarborough shot back.
"I worry about people being President of the United States not knowing much about the world and not knowing much about science," Dean said. "I worry about that."
Dean later elaborated that Walker's answer on evolution gave him concern about his lack of a college degree.
"How do you know [he's] unknowledgeable? He's knowledgeable about what's going on in his state?" co-host Willie Geist asked.
"And what in the hell does that have to do with him answering the question the way he did? That was a cheap shot," Scarborough added.
"Because," Dean said, "evolution is a widely accepted scientific construct and people who don't believe in evolution either do it for hard-right religious reasons or because they don't know anything."
During his London trip, Walker evaded a question about evolution, which after Christie's and Paul's gaffes about vaccines doesn't exactly make him or his party look like Einsteins (or someone who could pass 8th grade science), but there's a pretty good chance he wavered to play to his base (known to happen), or religious views (which finishing college wouldn't necessarily change). Personally I don't care. There are myriad reasons why Walker wouldn't make a good president. His lack of a "proper" education is pretty far down on the list.  Besides, there are plenty of conservatives who've said things that are patently anti-science who do have degrees. Howard Dean's remarks that  Walker is "unknowledgeable" because he didn't finish college are disappointing and, frankly, elitist to many working-class voters.