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Revealing Convergence: Van Jones and the Education Speech


In addition to revealing those of his views that should preclude executive-branch employment, and those of his views that should be shared only with a few very close, very like-minded intimates lest they seem inflammatory to normal voters, Van Jones was certainly not very discreet about how hard he worked to obtain the first-rate Yale law degree that was his entrée into big-time lefty politics. It’s worth reading all of this fascinating interview in a sympathetic Bay Area publication, in which he reveals his own regard for the transformative power of education. The nut graph reads:

I had a professor who encouraged me to apply to Harvard and Yale [for law school], which was almost unheard of for students coming from the kind of public schools that I was coming from in the rural South. I was accepted to both places, and decided to go to Yale because Yale didn’t have any grades and was smaller than Harvard. I figured, once I enroll I’m guaranteed to graduate, so I can just go and be a radical hell raiser student, and they can’t do anything about it. Which is pretty much what happened.

(h/t Clarice Feldman)

For this honesty we must thank Mr. Jones. Which brings us to the one issue that even the crankiest right-wing pundits have avoided in the current discussion of their objections to having a president who never stops campaigning speak to the entire, captive population of U.S. schoolchildren. And that is: What is the actual lesson of Obama’s academic career?

The answer is: We don’t know, because no one has ever seen any of his academic work, or his transcripts from high school, Occidental College, Columbia University, or Harvard Law School. We have no idea how hard the president worked in school. We don’t know what he did or did not master or like.

As with so many other matters, the impolitic Mr. Jones is straightforward about what he gained at Yale Law School: namely, credentials and time to be a radical activist. We know, of course, that Barack Obama is brilliant, because everyone says so — and he has a degree from Harvard Law School. But we know nothing about his actual education: what he studied, or how he did in his studies; what thinkers and writers (excepting Saul Alinksy) inspired him and shaped his world views. We see the credentials. What about the content? Surely a few of those thoughtful students who listen to Obama today, from among the 80 percent who would normally graduate with or without presidential exhortations, will want to know . . .

By the way, the usual ploy of resigning in the middle of the night on a weekend to avoid attention seems to have backfired. That’s because on a three-day holiday weekend, at the very end of summer, with recently dead celebrities safely buried, papers are desperate to fill that Monday news hole. Even with all the problems in the New York Times coverage of the resignation, it did make the front page. It wouldn’t have done so had the White House waited two or three days. The MSM could easily have submerged the story in the wake of the education speech, and the lead-up the health-care speech. Bad handling there.


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