What did the President Learn?

What did the President Learn?

By Ken Blackwell and Bob Morrison Senior Fellow, Family Empowerment


Ken Blackwell is Senior Fellow for Family Empowerment and Bob Morrison is Senior Fellow for Policy Studies at Family Research Council. This article appeared in The American Thinker on December 10, 2014.


Is college still America’s best friend? Defeated for re-election last month, Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) may not be so sure. A racially-charged college paper of his surfaced to his great embarrassment and may have helped to bring him down.

We should encourage higher education, but sometimes those old college days come back to haunt us. George W. Bush engagingly dismissed his wilder college days by saying: “When I was young and foolish, I did things that were young and foolish.” That’s a nice way of summing up the wisdom of Scripture. “When I became a man, I put away childish things.”

In his unsuccessful bid for re-election, Mark Pryor’s senior thesis surfaced and caused the candidate no small amount of trouble. He needed a strong turnout in Arkansas’ critical black community in order to have a chance of surviving the GOP wave. His college thesis chilled his chances with black Arkansas voters. Their voter turnout was depressed. And that depressed Sen. Pryor on Election Day.

Pryor’s defeat because of weakness in the black community raises another question: Where was President Obama? Could he not have helped the flailing Pryor? Could he not have assured Arkansas voters that Sen. Pryor was now a mature and responsible supporter of civil rights?

Mr. Obama was missing in action. In state after state, he dared not appear on the campaign trail --even to save the political skins of endangered Democrats. President Obama’s support proved to be the kiss of death in Arkansas (as well as Colorado, Iowa, Kentucky, North Carolina, Georgia, and, most recently, Louisiana.)

In his 1984 thesis, Pryor refers to two “unwilling invasions” of the state that were ordered by Republican presidents. Abraham Lincoln was responsible for the first of these “invasions,” in what most people refer to as the Civil War. Dwight D. Eisenhower ordered the second of these when he sent the 101st Airborne into Little Rock in 1957 to enforce federal court orders. Judges were requiring integration of Central High School in the state’s capital city.

It’s passing strange that a sitting U.S. senator could ever have used such clumsy language or evinced such muddled thinking. Does anyone refer to President Washington’s command of troops to suppress the Whiskey Rebellion of 1794 as an “unwilling invasion?”

All this focus on college papers also raises another fascinating question: Where is President Obama’s own senior thesis? We have been told that his Columbia University thesis was about the politics of the Nuclear Freeze. Was it?

How can it be that we know so little about President Obama’s intellectual background? We keep hearing how well educated he is. Occidental College, Columbia University, and Harvard Law School are surely among the most elite institutions in our country. But where is the product?

John F. Kennedy’s senior thesis was published as a book. Why England Slept was a bestseller in the 1940s. It is available online. So why the big mystery about President Obama’s youthful genius? Presidential historian Michael Beschloss assured us early in this administration that Barack Obama was the smartest man ever to enter the White House.

If that is so, we should see more evidence of it. Here’s a little self-test. You know that more than three million people attended President Obama’s first inaugural in 2009. It was indeed an important historical event. But can you recall a single line from his Inaugural Address? More important, perhaps, can he?

President Obama went to Normandy in 2009 for the 65th anniversary of D-Day. Newsweek editor Evan Thomas said then that “he hovers over the nations like a sort of god.” That’s fulsome praise. Our God speaks. What did Evan Thomas’s god say at Normandy?

In 2004, candidate John Kerry was heard to say “I can’t believe I am losing to this idiot [George W. Bush] Then Kerry had to face press reports that Bush’s college grades were better than the haughty New Englander’s.

This is no effort to play “gotcha.” All of us have an interest in learning about those who would lead us. If President Obama won’t release his college papers, or his college grades, how about simply telling us which courses he took?

In one of his autobiographies (Dreams from My Father) Barack Obama informs us candidly that he actively sought out the Marxist professors on campus. He also says he sought out the Structural Functionalists. More left wing theorists. Were these courses part of a balanced intellectual diet? Or were they his meat and drink? We deserve to know this.

This is especially important when the student who took these courses now seeks total control over our lives and our children’s lives. He can achieve this through his takeover of our health care system, called ObamaCare, and through the central direction of education by means of Common Core, not unreasonably called ObamaCore.

It’s no secret that in 2008 and 2012, Barack Obama was the most popular man on campus -- on virtually all the campuses. Isn’t it time for us to learn what he learned when he was on campus? Redact the grades, if you must, but let us see what courses he took. Only then will we learn where he intends to take all of us. We have a right to know this.