Donald Trump was at it again Monday night questioning President Obama’s past. Thankfully, this time the focus was on the President’s educational background rather than his birth certificate. While the change is refreshing, it’s still nothing new as the Trumpster’s raised these questions on a number of occasions before; and all were equally lacking in actual substance.
The story goes like this. Donald Trump says Barack Obama was a “terrible student; he then points out that he went to two of the most prestigious schools in the world; and then you’re supposed to draw the conclusion that something sinister was afoot. And just in case you’re struggling to connect the dots, he throws in some anecdotal evidence in the form of telling you that he’s got friends with kids (with great grades) that can’t get in to those kind of schools.
Trump openly questioned how Obama, who he said had been a “terrible student,” got accepted into Columbia University for undergraduate studies and then Harvard Law School.
“I heard he was a terrible student, terrible,” Trump told the Associated Press in an interview, a claim he’s made in the past but one he doubled down on by suggesting he’s probing that area of the president’s life.
“How does a bad student go to Columbia and then to Harvard? I’m thinking about it, I’m certainly looking into it. Let him show his records,” he said, without providing backup for his claim.
Trump added, “I have friends who have smart sons with great marks, great boards, great everything and they can’t get into Harvard.”
“We don’t know a thing about this guy,” Trump said. “There are a lot of questions that are unanswered about our president.”
The problem with Trump’s argument is also the reason that it resonates with everyday Americans. He’s gossiping like a jaded mother who just found out her kid didn’t get into Harvard. Ignoring that Obama was an Ivy League “legacy”, Mr. Trump’s also making the mistaken assumption that admission to Columbia or Harvard Law in 2011 works the same way it did in the 80′s. What Trump fails to see is that the admissions process to even “lesser” schools has changed dramatically in the last decade; and that was after changing even more dramatically the decade before that. Test scores have gone through the roof, racial preference has come and gone and come again in a different form, and wonderful little resume-builders like “community organizing” have carried weight with hippie administrators regardless of the decade.
The reality is this. Just like any senior partner at the biggest law firms of this country would tell you that they couldn’t get through the front door of their firms under current hiring practices, President Obama probably would not get admitted today to Harvard Law – even with his community organizing background – if he was the “terrible student” Mr. Trump says he was. The game has changed. And make no mistake. It is a game; and liberal hippies make all the rules. So, if Mr. Trump is wondering why his rich, (probably) white, (possibly) conservative friends’ kids can’t get into Harvard and Columbia, he should probably remember that he’s talking about institutions that pride themselves on “righting the wrongs” done by rich, white folk, like him; and his friends.