Scott Walker was gone. Dropped out. And in the spring of his senior year.
In 1990, that news stunned his friends at Marquette University. Walker, the campus’s suit-wearing, Reagan-loving politico — who enjoyed the place so much that he had run for student body president — had left without graduating.
To most of the Class of 1990 — and, later, to Wisconsin’s political establishment — Walker’s decision to quit college has been a lingering mystery.
Not even his friends at Marquette were entirely sure why he never finished. Some had heard that a parent had fallen ill, or maybe there was some financial strain. Others thought he had simply had enough of school.
Walker clearly liked college politics more than college itself. He had managed to line up 47 campaign endorsements, including ones from the ski team and the varsity chorus, but he had trouble showing up on time for French.
And, after four years, he had faltered on both fronts. He’d lost an ugly race for president. And he apparently had far too few credits to graduate.
Kevin Miller, who knew Walker from the Marquette Students for Life, described Walker’s thinking at the time as: “ ‘I’d rather have a full-time job and have the rest of my time to spend on politics.’ ” He said Walker intended to go back to school at some point. “I never got any indication that it was anything other than that. Or anything more than that.”
Walker’s own explanation has been short and simple. He got a job. He meant to go back. But he just never found the time.
Today, Walker, 47, is the governor of Wisconsin and a strong contender for the GOP’s 2016 presidential nomination. He is known for an astounding political hot streak: Since 1993, he has run 11 races for state legislature, county executive and governor — including a highly unusual recall election in 2012 — and he has won them all.
But before that streak came a string of defeats — the campus election, his failure to finish college and his first campaign for state office.
There is a bunch more, with lots of specific details and interviews. You probably should go read it. I’ll drop a spoiler and tell you it’s a hit job thinly disguised as an objective candidate bio. But that’s not what I want to talk about.
The thing that struck me about the article is that it’s about a midwestern governor who isn’t officially a candidate for anything right now and yet it gives us more information about Scott Walker’s college years than we have ever heard about Barack Obama.
Don’t get me wrong – Scott Walker is fair game. Anyone who wants to run for president should expect some close scrutiny of their life. But Barack Obama has been president for over six years now and there is still a lot of missing information about his college background. What little we do know mostly comes from his ghost-written memoirs and official campaign press releases.
Will the media be fair and balanced in its treatment of both GOP and Democratic candidates this time?
I’m not optimistic.