To do this, McArdle compares Walker to herself. She was a lazy student and now just look at how hard she works, and how successful and skilled she has become! No doubt Walker has improved every bit as much as Megan McArdle over the past decade or so!
However, Walker wants to be president, not Megan McArdle's coworker. We compare him to Obama (Columbia, Harvard Law), Bush (Yale, Harvard), Clinton (Georgetown, Oxford, Yale). even Jimmy Carter (US Naval Academy).
Like Ross Douthat, McArdle sees the purpose of an education as a stepping-stone to bigger things. If you are already moving up, who needs an education?
There's a lot of debate among economists over what education really does for us. I mean, we know what it does for us -- helps us get better jobs -- but economists are split over why this is the case. Some think it is mostly a signal that you're conformist, intelligent and responsible enough to sit through four years of classes without flunking. Others think it mostly functions by imparting valuable skills that make people better workers.
But in either case, that's irrelevant to Walker's candidacy. College genuinely may give you important skills -- but that doesn't mean it's the only way to acquire those skills. I mean, Abraham Lincoln did manage to struggle along somehow.
Or college completion may be a signal of your character. But we have other, better signals about Scott Walker's abilities -- namely, his time as governor.
The fact that we seem so fixated on events decades past is its own dire signal -- of the way that America's Mandarin class is starting to think about college education not merely as the basic credential required for many of the best-paying jobs, but also the basic credential required for being a worthy, capable person. This is not merely untrue, but also a giant middle finger raised to the majority of upstanding American citizens who also didn't graduate from college.
Of course, if Scott Walker does become president, it would be nice if he spoke better French. But on the scale of things that will matter for his presidency, that probably ranks only slightly above his bowling score.Yes, discussing Walker's decision to not finish college is like discussing Obama's bowling score-- utterly trivial and meaningless. It's insulting to every good red-blooded American who was never able to finish college to even bring it up. Look at Abraham Lincoln--Walker is just like him!
Like Megan McArdle, the proof of his excellence is in the quality of his work, and Walker's work in Wisconsin is every bit as good as Megan McArdle's.