Bruce Murphy
Back in the News

National Media Jumps on “College Dropout” Walker

Walker’s presidential run brings on stories about the hole in his resume.

By - Jan 16th, 2015 12:20 pm

So New York Times columnist Gail Collins graduated from Marquette University. Who knew?

There are many things we may learn now that Scott Walker is running for president. Depending on how well he does in the 2016 Republican primaries, there will be a lot of scrutiny of Wisconsin’s governor. Such as this recent column by Collins, with this choice paragraph:

Walker went to Marquette University in Milwaukee. I went to Marquette, too. Had a great time. Unlike Walker, I got a degree. Only one of us is a governor, so there’s a point for the dropouts right there.

Collins, a funny columnist with a light touch, suggests it may not matter that Walker didn’t graduate, but (there’s always a but):

…we want to make sure that when students of the future are making decisions like this, they’re grounded in reality. Walker claimed that he was about to get the rest of his credits while he was working, but then he got married. (Actually, as PolitiFact Wisconsin reported in a stupendously thorough investigation of this matter, he had several years of potential night school time before he wed.) Then he was going to go, but he was county executive and too busy. And it keeps going on.”

‘Maybe in the next few years,’ he told reporters in 2013.”

This is a bad sign. I think I speak for all of us when I say we do not want to hear any arguments that we should elect Walker president so he’ll have time to finish his senior year credits.

The far-more wonky Washington Post column “The Fix” went all data-oriented on the significance of Walker’s lack of degree. You’ll be comforted to learn (or at least Walker will) that a majority of Americans are just like Walker, at least with respect to lacking a degree: the percentage of adults over the age of 25 that have finished college was just 31.7 percent in 2013, The Fix writer and resident numbers cruncher Philip Bump informs us.

But it’s a rather different story for presidents in history: remarkably, just nine of the 43 men who served lacked a college degree. The last such person was Harry Truman and before that you’d have to go all the way back to Grover Cleveland.

Indeed, presidents of late have been even more educated: the last three have had post-graduate degrees, The Fix tells us.

And even data wonks can offer a little wit, as Bump bumps Walker on how he’s handling the issue:

Walker’s real spin, though, came a bit later. ‘I’ve got a master’s degree in taking on the big-government special interests,’ he said, ‘and I think that is worth more than anything else that anybody can point to.’

That, as far as we know, is not a real degree — though the University of Grover Norquist probably offers honorary diplomas.

In December, the International Business Times devoted a story to Walker’s lack of degree and the consensus among the far more educated American professors interviewed was that it probably won’t hurt Walker.

“We worry more these days about our president being elitist than being quote-unquote ‘like us,’ Arthur Sanders, a political science professor at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, told the paper.  So this could help Walker — if he tells his story the way, the prof added.

And Walker certainly knows how to tell a story.

Bruce Buchanan, a professor and expert on presidential politics at the University of Texas at Austin, said Walker’s resume shows “He outfoxed many college graduates on his way to the governorship.”

And Allan Louden, a communications professor at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, told the business publication that “It might actually be a message that works” because some voters feel they are dismissed by intellectuals. “There’s a lot of, ‘You can’t trust these people. You can’t trust Harvard and Princeton.’”

And if you can’t trust those smarty pants Ivy Leaguers, who better to elect than an MU dropout?

Oddly, the most negative view of Walker’s chances was offered by Brian Sikma, of the Wisconsin-based conservative group Media Trackers, who told the U.S. News that the issue has “a lot of potential to be an unnecessary but powerful distraction… Lack of a college degree will on its own not turn people off, but if used as part of a narrative, then it could be a devastating fact.”

Better watch that Brian, those kind of comments could dry up the well of conservative dollars funding your pro-Republican publication.

I suspect The Fix and Collins are right that the lack of a degree isn’t likely to be a problem as much as how Walker explains it — and he has offered many explanations. The media loves to jump on inconsistencies because it looks so non-partisan.

The other thing that may arise is discomfort among national Republicans about Walker’s resume, which could hurt him. As a July 2010 story in the Milwaukee Sentinel Journal reported “several of Walker’s top campaign aides have urged him over the years to finish the degree and take it off the table as a potential campaign issue,” which likely reflected the concern among some state GOP leaders.

But whatever their worries, Walker keeps winning in Wisconsin.

45 thoughts on “Back in the News: National Media Jumps on “College Dropout” Walker”

  1. Rich says:

    Of all the reasons not to vote for Walker, this one is relatively low on the list. Why not turn the new back to something more interesting, like the number of people connected to his offices and campaigns that have had to be investigated and / or convicted for criminal activity?

  2. Cindy Van Vreede says:

    Instead of joking about Scott Walker’s lack of a college degree, why not talk about the first John Doe investigation where six of his associated were found guilty for all kinds of illegal activities? Of how about Scott Walker being the target of a second John Doe investigation? For those of you not in Wisconsin, a John Doe investigation is equal to a grand jury investigation. Or how about investigating the lies in Scott Walker’s book. He made allegations that protesters rocked his vehicle when video shows no such thing. Or if none of those tickle your interest, how about that Politifact rated Scott Walker as one of the most dishonest governors in America. Try doing some real investigation instead of joking about his school record.

  3. Jake formerly of the LP says:

    But the reason behind the lack of a degree is the problem, and not just with Walker’s education. When you left school right after cheating in a school election, and you keep changing your story as to why it happened, you’ve got a character and credibility problem.

    Add in the fact that Walker didn’t drop out to create something (other than his political career and the sketchiness that has gone with it), and now you have a real narrative- a dishonest lifetime politician who’s really not that bright.

    Combine that with a national media that isn’t bought off by Walker ad money and the local corporate community (I’m looking at you, Journal Communications), and you have a story with legs that will finally get the investigation it deserves. And the exposure of Walker that us in the non-racist, non-bubble world know is inevitable.

  4. Bob B. says:

    How about Walker’s pledge not to be a “career politician” during his run for county exec? Seems like something that he either forgot about or will try to explain away dishonestly as usual. Where’s the media follow up?

  5. Doug says:

    I can’t imagine the most powerful leader in the world being a college dropout. It wouldn’t be good for the State of Wisconsin, our country or the world!

  6. Donna Metzger says:

    The point is he is a ‘quitter’ (of a prestigious college at that), that’s how the Right would run it. Who wants a leader who’s a quitter?

  7. Wisconsin Conservative Digest says:

    What a bunch of lying creeps. Jake the Journal has destroyed tea college deal a dozen times yet you keep lying about it. Scott ran for president of the Freshman class and when the college newspaper endorsed his opponent some of his supporters took some of the newspapers and tossed them, typical dumb kid thing. Scott had nothing to do with it. Scott dropped out to get job 2.5 year after and Marquette has repeatedly said that he was in good standing and could return any time. You are ll such a bunch of filthy liars. Bruce Murphy knows the truth. Bruce, dont you want to have this site have credibiltiy, jump in here. The people involved in these criminal acts ere turned in by Scott, to the DA. there is nothing worse than people lying and knowing that the world know that they are lying.

  8. Bruce Murphy says:

    We have written about the reasons for Walker dropping out, which you’ll find here:

  9. Wisconsin Conservative Digest says:

    Bruce, you neglected to say that he dropped out 2.5 years after this major scandal, almost as important as 9/11, 12/7/41 and the Battle of Britain. He dropped out tog et a job and get married.
    I have known Scott for 20 plus years, he is most honest person in politics that I know. He really pissed off the Left cause he has buried them three times and they hate him for that. Last time I looked this narrative that the left keeps spinning instead of talking about issues that matter, has left them with 36 Assemblymen, 14 state senators, 3 Congessman and no governor. Time to rethink your idiocy boys and girls..

  10. D says:

    Godforbid an American choosing family and a career over a piece of paper. The populist liberals in this country hypocritically only regard those from the upper echelon of society, wealth, and education as worthy of anything. If you didn’t attend the elite, expensive Ivy League, you don’t qualify. What a college degree has to do with foreign policy or leadership is beyond me. Walker has experience that someone like Obama didn’t gain until he was in the White House.

    Instead, lets elect the candidate chosen by the elites and the media years ago! The woman who rode on the coattails of her creep husband, ignored infidelity to maintain political power, carpetbagged her husbands name to a Senate seat, was given Secretary of State because of her name–a job she failed at.

  11. Kent Mueller says:

    It doesn’t matter what the voting public or the media make of his lack of a degree — it matters that it gives other candidates in a very crowded field a cudgel to beat him with, it’s certainly not a “stand-out” qualification that works to his advantage. As I recall the GOP decision was made back last March in Vegas by Sheldon Adelson when the aspirants audtioned for the largest funder. The primaries and convention are mere formalities. My impression is Walker didn’t get the nod. I’m only partly joking about this.
    Speaking of a crowded field, put Walker up against Rick Santorum, Tim Pawlenty and Mike Huckabee. Note the charisma that oozes from just this mostly undistinguishable sub-group. I see Walker as an early wash-out. Jeb Bush and Romney version 3.0 are already vacuuming up the big money. Ron Paul is already fixing the Iowa caucuses.

  12. wisconsin Conservative Digest says:

    anybody that tries to make this a big deal like the nutty Left in this state will flame out.

  13. Greg says:

    I have no doubt if this issue is pushed the back push could get him elected president. Which is sad .We live in what is the dark ages marked by disrespect of truth, science , real moral center and a public whom are lead like lemmings to the mass sucide . They have won the battle for now but that does not make it good or right or moral and in the rear view of history we will look back and see why voting only our self interest and greed is not god for the town,state ,or country .The real story of Walker isnt the fact he did not finished its that in christian school he cheated atpolitics in hopes of making himself important .Its character and yet nothing he has done has changed my mind of made me think any better of him. He self serving ,egotisticalwilling to use his faith familly and friends to get ahead and willing and excited t push the boundries to excite his base . He is no different than expected I woud put money on the fact that his parents were over conservative. He got very little love and attention from them. That he has a history of hiding his true self from those he loves and do anything he needs in persuit of power for powers sake. He is not a very complicated man in the least I do not think he is bright enough.When you know understand little facts its easy to generalize and and when you see nothing to change your mind then its easy. But again people vote thier hate and it makes for horrible leaders.

  14. fightingbobfan says:

    In the scope of things, Walker has much bigger issues than this that translate into a snowball’s chance of going to the White House.

    This does point to a disturbing anti-intellectual trend among GOP voters. A college degree doesn’t have to be worshipped for it/s own sake, but voting for someone because they don’t have a degree is indicative of the voter’s lack of self-esteem.

    From what I have heard among Marquette profs was that Walker wasn’t the brightest bulb in the chandelier. I’ll bet there was a good chance he was going to come out of MU with lackluster grades, and rather than risk that he decided to bail.

    Nevertheless, I know of a lot of people who not only got married, had kids, worked full time and not only got a bachelor degree but masters as well. It is doubtful that Tonette was that much of distraction.

    People state that dwelling on Walker’s college degree is disrespectful to the 68% who don’t have one (as if the right worries about being disrespectful.

    What about not considering it is disrespectful to the 32% who do?

  15. Wisconsin Conservative Digest says:

    Bruce you have the dopiest people in this site, trying to make Walker into a dufus. He doesnt have to be a genius only smarter than the Left, which is not hard. Some of the smartest people I knew in life, never had high school degree. and if worse comes to worse he can compare himself to Gates.
    I can hardly wait to hear the debate from fighting bob, laFollette was a Republican, when we bring up Scotts bald spot.

  16. Bill DeHoff says:

    To the Wisconsin Conservative Digest and the “He doesn’t have to be a genius only smarter than the Left…” comment. That’s the problem with the GOP and many of the Dems as well. Our leaders do need to be very smart because the “other guy” is not the other party but the rest of the world—national interest, changing climate, natural disasters, religion-based terrorism, etc. Our political process has become more and more parochial. We DO need a genius who can guide the country, not the best funded of the school yard bullies.

  17. Jake formerly of the LP says:

    D- Except that’s not what Walker did. He didn’t even marry the much-older Tonette until 2 years after he was tossed out of Marquette, and his first kid didn’t come till 1993- the year he started in the State Legislature.

    This is the problem with the lack of degree- not the lack of a sheepskin, but the shifting reasons why and constant deceptions by a lifetime politician of a governor that already has serious credibility issues among those outside of right-wing bubble-world.

  18. Wisconsin Conservative Digest says:

    Jake you are filthy liar, Walker was never throw out of Marquette and you are liar all around. Filthy lying Liberal.
    Bruce what kind of people do you have on this site?? None of them know anything but lies.

  19. fightingbobfan says:

    “Bruce what kind of people do you have on this site?? None of them know anything but lies.”

    Well, you’re here.

    Con-serv-a-tive (n) — a person who loves lies and loves to be lied to.

  20. Jake formerly of the LP says:

    Dohnal- Really? You know the truth as to why Scotty never finished at Marquette? Then please enlighten us with your “senior from the 262” wisdom. Scotty sure hasn’t been all that forthcoming about it, given that he changes his story with each person that interviews him.

    See Bobby, I may have been born at 10pm, but it wasn’t last night. Just because I put facts together and make a logical conclusion that hurts your little feelings doesn’t make it untrue, old guy.

    A better question may be why Bruce lets your fact-free anti-urbanism self waste the bandwith you do. Especially on this site.

  21. Wisconsin Conservative Digest says:

    What an idiot. Better for people to think that your are an idiot than open mouth and—–. Go back to #8 on this post. Bruce Murphy outlines it as Umhoefer, Pulitzer prize winner for the Jounral did. dopes.
    then come back and apologize for being a filthy liar and send apology to Scott. If you had any class that is what you would do.

  22. Jake formerly of the LP says:

    Dumb Dohnal refuses to answer the question and chooses to slander and deflect. Just like the mediocre Waukesha County windbag that he is.

    Facts point to Walker refusing to be forthright and consistent about this gap in his resume (to say the least). In any other job, that gets you investigated, and likely fired.

    The only thing I apologize for is that weaklings like you voted for dishonest people like Walker to represent my state.

  23. wisconsin Conservative Digest says:

    I love to hear the Left whine. President Scott Walker, Gov. Rebecaa Kleefisch, Senator Ron Johnson, 5 Congress men, 63 Assemblymen, 19 senators and David Clarke gets 80% of final vote, with 50,000 plus people signing against the trolley. Kind of ruins your day doesn’t it.

  24. AG says:

    I have long been a strong supporter of Walker. I believe him to be an honest and honorable person who’s views generally align with my own. However, I don’t believe he should run for president unless he completes his bachelors degree. It is not out of bounds for Walker’s opponents to hit on the fact he doesn’t have a degree. Many of the most mundane jobs in the private sector require a degree. It’s more than just the knowledge in the classes one attends, it’s also the general knowledge and experiences gained at the same time. As important, if not more so, is the ability to show one can complete a long term goal/task that they started.

    I left college early for what I thought was a great opportunity, with the plan of returning later, and it took me much longer than expected to do so. However, until I finished my undergrad, I had no presumptions that my lack of degree didn’t make for some added career challenges. My fellow Walker supporters would do well to not hold that presumption as well. Until he gets a degree, it will be a mark against him.

  25. David says:

    Education is one measure we can apply to citizens as an accomplishment, ability to learn, apply lessons learned, and broaden the mind with an intellectual curiosity in pursuit of a broad array of knowledge. All forms of education would apply including lifetime learning, workshops, technical schools, seminars and conferences, and employer training. Education aides in the foundation of the individual to work and play well with others and seek solutions to many problems.

    Walker is an embarrassment and insult of the first order in any position representing the needs of citizens. He is intellectually lazy, demonstrated that he is a simple con-artist, dishonest documented by Politifact data showing he is a liar greater than 75% of the time, and clueless the other 25%, and corrupt and sleazy lacking any kind of character spine. This is demonstrated by his lack of any accountability for staff that went to prison on his behalf for corrupt deeds stealing company time to benefit Walker alone. Belief in a political theology, legislation provided by ALEC with talking points, and stooge in chief to the highest bidder should not be confused for an education and background for becoming a Governor of Wisconsin. This also speaks volumes about the voters and party that support him. There can be no trust or respect for this type of criminal action.

    I worked full time while obtaining a BA and Masters Degree. My wife worked part time, while we had a family and obtained an Associates and Bachelors Degree. My daughter worked part time while achieving a BA, and full time striving for a Masters Degree.

    Wisconsin citizens deserve so much more in government representation than pure corruption and an intellectually lazy person serving as a stooge for his benefactors supporting him.

    As for Liberals, it is equivalent to Liberty, and brought about the founding of the USA, and through the centuries many of the positive freedoms brought about that we enjoy today, and under attack from the likes of people like Walker. Progressive thought can apply to anyone, even conservatives that are willing to open their intellect to solutions and share them in transparent discourse.

  26. wisconsin Conservative Digest says:

    David on a rant, filled with mostly lies. Walker turned in the people that went to prison and they were not on his staff. A couple of people were defending Walker in the Journal blogs, something that all of the teachers used on company time for months in 2011. He turned in the people that were crooks.
    Walker does not have corrupt bone in his body, the only thing bad in this state is the constant whine of the losing Left that almost destroyed this state before the people tossed them from office.

  27. Gee says:

    Wis Con Dig, et al.: Don’t do a Walker, as telling lies for him does no good. Get the facts, which have been reported in detail by the Marquette Tribune, based on his student records there. It was not in his freshman year that he was caught for unethical campaigning, for example. Really; the facts are on the Internet now, easily available to national media, and it looks bad for a candidate to have his backers try to hide the truth, as that tells media to look again at everything that Walker says.

  28. Jim says:

    The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits. — Rodney Dangerfield

  29. the bystander says:


    Since you’ve know Governor Walker so long, perhaps you could give us an update on how his oldest child is doing

    Walker’s Accuser Stands By Pregnancy Story

  30. wisconsin Conservative Digest says:

    What kind of creepy, slimey people are you anyway?? Sure, you do want to attack his mother? Really feel sorry for you. I would never attack Obamas family, Doyles family, Carters family. Palins family.

  31. Wisconsin Conservative Digest says:

    Gee, Murphy wrote bout this as did Pulitzer prize winner Umhoefer at length at the Journal. You can never do anything to haters anyway so in you pukey world you will continue to hate.

  32. the bystander says:


    You’d better get used to this sort of query. The National Review is not some lefty blog. Until now Walker has been able to restrict media access and only face loyal locals like Sykes and Behling. Now, however, every aspect of his life, his wife’s life, his kids lives will be subjected to scrutiny by the national media. I’m sure you recall what they did to Heman Cain’s love life; Romney’s wife’s illness; Romney’s prep school bully tactics, Governor Perry’s mistatements; and best of all Rick Santorum’s new namesake substance. So the next time you see your friend the Governor remind him that the truth always eventually comes out. Please wish him a hearty Molotov from his friends in Wisconsin.

  33. wisconsin Conservative Digest says:

    Truth has been out for quite awhile and it has been backed up by Marquette. Scott is not lair like most of the Lib on this site or a liar like teddy Kennedy who was kicked out of harvard for cheating.

  34. Gee says:

    Wis Con Dig, the sources you cite got it right about, for example, the scandal in Walker’s sophomore year, so you had best reread them, before you claim to rely on them. And you had best reread much else that those sources say.

    As for Marquette, you also cannot claim that Marquette supports Walker’s story (or, actually, differing stories), because Marquette abides by the federal law that does not allow it to state more than the basics about his years there.

    Again, really, it would be best for you to heed advice to get the facts straight, as national media could hold it against Walker.

  35. wisconsin Conservative Digest says:

    I use the Journal story b Dave Umhoefer, Pulitzer Prize winner and Bruce Murphy did on this page in #8. You do not have one iota of proof on anything except your unabashed nasty hatreds. I actually feel sorry for you. I have known almost every major leader in this state, for 50 years, and never hated any of them. I had no use for some of their leadership but cannot remember any of them except for a few crooks that were worth the time to hate. Takes too much energy to hate. Obviously the people of this state have, three times, passed judgement on this silly kids prank years ago. If that is the best you can ever trash Walker on, I think that you have big trouble.

  36. PMD says:

    This is a non-issue. Walker doesn’t have a chance in hell against Bush, Romney, and Christie.

  37. old baldy says:

    I really tire of the name calling by WCD and others on this thread. Dohnal calling folks he disagrees with liars and idiots does not advance the discussion one iota. Just grow up.

    I really don’t care if Walker or any other candidate has a degree. What matters to me in this situation is that he can’t seem to remember what story he told the last time, so nothing is consistent in the next telling. Walker will be crucified by the national press and primary candidates. He should be sticking around home and focusing on WI.

    In the spirit of full disclosure I offer this: I went back to college at 25 and received a BS and am close to finishing my MS. All while working 40-50 hours a week. My wife went back to get her BS after having kids, and earned her MBA while working full time. Walkers excuses fall on deaf ears in our household.

  38. Wisconsin Conservative Digest says:

    A liar is a liar and you qualify very quickly all of you Walker haters. This story has been out there for years, Walker has no reason to lie cause the facts are all out there for decades. He ran for office at school, Left wing Marquette newspaper endorsed his opponent, some of his helpers stole some of the papers and destroyed the, typical dumb kid stunt. 2.5 years later Walker got good job, was in love and left college. Dumb move but his family was not rich he did not have any money. Umhoefer, Murphy all back that up and Marquette was released by Scott to tell everyone that he left in good standing and could come back at any time. Do your research instead of your hate filled lies.

  39. old baldy says:


    You just can’t control yourself, can you? Just screaming “liar” over and over really proves your point, right? Point out one thing I lied about?

    And I don’t hate Walker. Pity may be a more appropriate term.

  40. fightingbobfan says:

    Hey Bob. Just read your rant on Facebook. If you hate Milwaukee so much it’s a big wide wonderful country. There might be other places where you might be happy.

    I know I would be. It’s your policies of trickle down and the suburbs sucking the city dry that have led to Milwaukee’s problems, not to mention your idiotic endorsement of unlimited guns.

    Liberals are only trying to fight the scourge visited on Milwaukee and America by crack pots like you.

    Need help packing?

  41. Wisconsin Conservative Digest says:

    I mostly feel sorry for people like you but what you are doing to the inner city people is criminal. If I hated Milwaukee I would not even bother to fight for it on these things.
    Suburbs do not suck on the city it is other way around, you have chased away everyone with your stupid rhetoric and attacks on business: tax the rich, income inequality, the 1%ers are stealing everything.

  42. old baldy says:

    If anyone out there heard SW at the WASB convention today you would know why he isn’t presidential material. He was talking to over 1000 school board members and administrators, yet lectured them on education, made inappropriate jokes and told self promoting anecdotes. He made it painfully clear that he didn’t understand his audience and has no grasp of what public education is all about. Many in attendance commented that he was openly disrespectful to those elected local officials in the audience.

  43. Steven Blackwood says:

    The lack of a college degree in itself is not a problem. The fact that he obfuscates why he didn’t finish is a bit of one. The bigger issue for me is that his run for ASMU President in 1988 (his sophomore year, not his Freshman) showed a distinct lack of character.

    I will say this, though; he’s a smooth talker, right out of Melville’s Confidence Man.

  44. Wis Conservative Digest says:

    the Journal and Bruce Murphy have well documented the whole kid stunts and only you Walker haters talk about it.

  45. Jeff says:

    Yadda yadda yadda…blah blah blah….NOTHING about Obolas college transcripts being SEALED up tight, huh ?

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