Chris Matthews: No One Would Ever Question How a White President Got Into Harvard (Besides Matthews)
[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here. Or by Twitter @AaronWorthing.]
So as you might have noticed the Donald has moved from demanding Obama’s birth certificate to demanding Obama’s transcripts, saying at one point that he wanted to know how Obama got into these good school given he was allegedly not a great student. Now bear in mind, Combover also claimed that the long-form birth certificate was missing or destroyed, so whatever his sources are, they are unreliable.
MATTHEWS: Here‘s Trump yesterday. Let him talk. We will let him talk from New Hampshire. It won‘t be too informative, but here he is. Let‘s listen to Donald Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, TRUMP ORGANIZATION: I think if he wants to release it, that‘s fine. And if he doesn‘t want to release it, that‘s fine, too. But the word is—you know, you think you‘d want to release it, actually, because the word is he wasn‘t a good student and he ended up getting into Columbia and Harvard.
QUESTION: Whose word?
TRUMP: And I‘d like to know—I‘d like to know—well, this is what I read written by some of the people in this room. I‘d like to know, how does he get into Harvard, how does he get into Columbia if he isn‘t a good student? It‘s an interesting thing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: How do you take that, Clarence?
PAGE: I think he‘s got his presidents mixed up. He‘s talking about George Bush.
MATTHEWS: The legacy (INAUDIBLE)
PAGE: But no, I‘ll tell you how black folks feel about it. It sounds like he‘s saying he‘s an Affirmative Action baby.
And they go on. But not fifteen minutes later, he says this, when talking with Jonathan Alter:
MATTHEWS: Well, what about Trump? What about—Trump…
MATTHEWS: … saying now, Donald Trump is now questioning his application to Harvard…
ALTER: Well, of course.
MATTHEWS: … and Harvard Law and to Columbia, that he didn‘t really deserve to get in. You would never say that about a white person. Right off the street, you wouldn‘t say it.
ALTER: Right. This is race. This is race, Chris.
You got that? No one would ever question how a white president got into a good school. I mean besides Clarence Page and Chris Matthews earlier that evening.
Hey do you want to see Matthews do this? Click on the image and it will take you to the Right Scoop, which put together the video:
And indeed, Chris Matthews wasn’t alone. Aa google search would reveal a lot more examples of accusing Bush of not deserving admission to Yale or Harvard. For instance, Michael Kinsley, writing in Cnn accused Bush of receiving “Affirmative Action” in 2003:
They may not have had an explicit point system at Yale in 1964, but Bush clearly got in because of affirmative action. Affirmative action for the son and grandson of alumni. Affirmative action for a member of a politically influential family. Affirmative action for a boy from a fancy prep school. These forms of affirmative action still go on.
And I can say having gone to Yale Law that they explicitly had a legacy policy, and an affirmative action policy. If memory serves, so did Harvard (no, I didn’t get in there).
Now obviously a person who is white, male, straight, non-disabled and protestant is not likely to ever be accused of receiving affirmative action, except as a tongue-in-cheek word for “legacy.” But that is because of the simple reality that affirmative action is not available to them. So if there is racial discrimination there, it is in the affirmative action program itself.
And I do support, in a limited sense, affirmative action. But before I delve into that, let me take a moment to make a full disclosure because it really shows where I am coming from on this. First, I have no legacy or “blue blood” to speak of. Indeed, when my grandfather, whose parents had “crossed the pond” from Scotland before he was born, learned I was going to Yale, he could hardly believe it. It was unimaginable when he was young. On the other hand, I might have benefitted from affirmative action. It’s a little uncomfortable to talk about because I have complicated feelings about achievement. If you spend almost a third of your life having hidden learning disabilities that you don’t even know about, it does a serious number on your self-esteem. For instance, I usually don’t talk about my grades in college, and wouldn’t here, except it’s about to be really relevant.
As I have said before, because of my disabilities I faced severe discrimination in high school. I’m not talking about a failure to accommodate, but active discrimination. I dropped out and didn’t try to get an education for years later. As a result I had to go to a lower tier state school. So then I discover that my LSAT score (more or less the SAT of law schools) was higher than the average for students at every law school in America, and my GPA was a perfect 4.0, I saw that I was literally in the running to be any school I might apply to. (Which with my messed up self-esteem really threw me for a loop.) The only thing that was a black mark on my transcript was the lack of prestige in my undergraduate school. I was concerned they would hold that against me.
But especially when it came to the big three—Yale, Harvard and Stanford–I didn’t want to disclose the fact I had these disabilities. It wasn’t the pride of avoiding affirmative action so much as fear of discrimination. But long story short, I had no choice but to reveal the fact I had those disabilities and therefore I tried to take that lemon and make lemonade. So I said, diplomatically, that yes, my undergraduate school was not the most prestigious, but countered that concern in three ways. First, I pointed out that given that discrimination I faced, I didn’t have many options. Second, I pointed out that given all that discrimination what I had achieved was more impressive than you would normally think. And third, I pointed out that given I had that perfect GPA, I literally couldn’t have done better at my undergraduate school. So literally they had no idea what I could have achieved a “better” school.* So that is asking for a “plus,” a bonus, based on the fact I was disabled. That is affirmative action.
And I am fine with that. And I was definitely thinking of my own life experience when I wrote this when talking about affirmative action in regards to a police department:
Now one of the ways I am center-right, instead of being right wing down the line is that I support, in a limited sense, affirmative action. I think that a little affirmative action in providing opportunities is just fine. The problem I have is when it is applied to outcomes. So if a law school wants to use affirmative action to provide a person an opportunity they otherwise wouldn’t have had, I am fine with that (within reason). But on the other hand, when its time to choose who is going to be given a gun and the right to shoot people, I am not such a fan of affirmative action.
And to sketch it out a little more, here’s what I said about DeStaphano v. Ricci, where New Haven was about to throw out test schools because too many white people passed. After arguing that more than likely the black firefighters scored lower because of reasons that might have been related to racial discrimination in society as a whole, I write:
Now, in all of those possibilities it is still the case that as of this day, the best scorers on the test are likely the best firefighters, and if there is any discrimination to blame, it is not the test itself, but forces outside of the test itself. And however much we might lament those outside forces (and I do) and the wasted potential, the fact is if your house is burning down, do you want the guy who would have been a great firefighter but for discrimination that keeps him from acquiring the knowledge to be a great firefighter, or the guy who is right now a great firefighter?
The question answers itself.
It also suggests that rather than taking the easy way out by quotas and the like that New Haven can and probably should engage in an aggressive program of developing African American firefighters to their fullest potential. So the affirmative action should be there, in the form of affirmatively finding black potential and developing it. Rather than ignoring what are more likely than not real differences in knowledge and ability, New Haven should instead work to erase those actual differences.
Which is indeed what is so pernicious about the de facto quota they tried to establish here—it would have allowed New Haven to ignore the underlying reasons for the disparity, rather than address and correct them. It doesn’t do the people of New Haven or the black firefighters themselves any favors if they are promoted when they don’t deserve it.
Feel free to disagree with me, but that’s where I think affirmative action is justified. And so I can see a very real possibility that if Obama received affirmative action, it might have been justified. Or it might have been just a crude band aid ignoring the real problems.
And you might rationally disagree with me. You might even feel that it was justified in my case because it was based on very specific facts, but it wouldn’t be when they just apply a blanket “bonus” to all black people without any attempt to determine if they personally faced discrimination.
But what Matthews and his ilk want to do is say that affirmative action is so self-evidently good and right that only a bigot would question it. But in fact even when supporting it there are questions. Like for instance, do hispanics get affirmative action? How about gay people? How about Jews? How about Asian Americans? Some of the biggest opponents of affirmative action I know are Asian Americans, in part certainly because it often favors black people and hispanics and not them.
And it’s worth noting that Asian Americans have cause to be pissed. I don’t believe anyone in this day and age would claim that Asian Americans are dumber or lazier than white people, on average. If anything people stereotype them as smart and industrious (and thus some kind of yellow menace). But as Frank Wu documented in his book “Yellow”…
…Asian Americans have to work harder and have more degrees to achieve the same pay as a similarly situated white person.** When confronting the statistics in Wu’s book (the first few chapters are the only ones really worth reading), it is impossible to escape the conclusion that bigotry against Asian Americans exists and has a serious financial (if not emotional) impact. So they are right to be mad if affirmative action is granted to black people and hispanics and not them.
And you might even rationally think that all this racial discrimination is just too poisonous, even if well intentioned, to justify it. It certainly can’t be denied that it is rancorous.
And this is what Mickey Kaus wrote recently on Al Sharpton’s attempt to shut down debate over Obama’s affirmative action:
What’s wrong with having a debate over affirmative action? Is Sharpton saying African-Americans don’t get into Ivy League schools because of affirmative action? If not, then what’s the point of having it?
The biggest problem with race preferences is that they taint the achievements, not just of those who benefit from them, but of everyone in the beneficiary group–even those who would have gotten into the college or gotten the job, etc., without the preference. That is an unfairness Obama may acutely feel. Race preferences are a big reason blacks feel they have to be twice as good as everyone else to measure up in society’s eyes–which is a powerful argument for ending the preferences.
The amazing thing isn’t that we would have a debate on this divisive issue now but that Obama’s been able to duck it for so long[.]
So reasonable minds can disagree on this, and we should be free to discuss it freely. But like with many topics, that’s not how many on the left want to deal with it. Their approach is shut up, they explained. And the apparent way to do so is to claim that to even hint that Obama might have received affirmative action is racist.
So when Trump said that Obama “undoubtedly benefited from affirmative action” in his academic career, that was supposedly racist in the eyes of Chris Matthews and pals.
Oh, except Trump didn’t say that. Obama did. Which exposes just how silly all of this really is.
But then again, I have said before that Matthews’ real problem is that he himself is race-obsessed and he can’t imagine anyone thinking differently from him.
Of course in the end it’s all over a silly thing. Yes, three years ago the press should have hectored Obama into releasing his transcript, but that was because we were trying at that point to estimate how good a president he would be. Now we have seen how good a president he has been for the past couple years, and really, we don’t need to guess anymore. A couple people criticized me for giving the birth certificate any attention at all, on the theory that we should focus solely on his work as president. I will respectfully disagree when the subject is his constitutional eligibility to be president (noting again, I believe he is in fact constitutionally eligible). But when the subject is about purely whether he should keep his job, it’s absolutely correct to say the most important information is what he has done on the job so far. Seriously, unless he took a course in college called “How to Win the Presidency and then Drive America into the Ground in Eight Years” I doubt anything in his transcripts will be particularly relevant.
Then again, if he did take that course it would explain a lot.
[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]