I was reading and commenting to this post at Cannonfire and a thought struck me: Barack Obama’s list of “accomplishments” is really just a bunch of unearned rewards. I’m not breaking any new ground here I’m just looking at it from a slightly different angle. Let’s review:
When Obama returned from Indonesia at age ten, he began attending Punahou School, an elite prep school. Allegedly he was given a scholarship because his family was too poor to afford the tuition. But that begs the question: what was the scholarship based on?
After graduating from Punahou, Obama began attending Occidental College, a private school in Southern California. Occidental is a pretty good school but it’s no Ivy League University. According to Joseph Cannon, Occidental is a school for rich kids whose grades aren’t good enough to qualify for USC (University of Spoiled Children.) We don’t have any records from Occidental to look at, but by Obama’s own admission he didn’t exactly distinguish himself at that school.
Then he turns up at Columbia, which is an Ivy League University. Once again, we have no records to go by, so it’s unclear how Obama qualified to get into Columbia and what he did while he was there. We know he attended and that he graduated, but that’s about it. His first full-time jobs may offer a clue, however.
According to Wikipedia, after graduating from Columbia Obama worked for a year at the Business International Corporation and then at the New York Public Interest Research Group. According to what I have read, neither job was particularly prestigious or highly paid. He then moved to Chicago to organize the community, but by his own admission was basically a failure.
This is where it starts to get really weird. He gets accepted to Harvard Law School, but once again we have no records to explain how he got into what is arguably the best law school in the country. While there he becomes an editor and then President of the Harvard Law Review. That would seem to be an impressive accomplishment except for the fact that he never published anything!
Now the HLR has had black editors before but Obama was the first black President of that organization. From Cannonfire:
How did he become President of the Harvard Law Review? Via a “writing contest,” or so we are told, although Obama refuses to allow us a glance at the winning opus. He never wrote anything for publication during his Harvard period, although any truly ambitious law student would have done so. Obama defenders have argued that other Presidents also had a phobia for writing, but this is not true.
And how did this little-known, utterly unpublished “author” score a massive advance for the autobiographical Dreams From My Father? Nothing about the project indicated high sales — in fact, Obama had only a hazy idea of what he wanted to write about, even after he cashed the check for his advance. Most tyro authors are very lucky to sell 5000 copies of a first book, and the writer gets maybe a buck a copy. Obama received enough money to maintain an office, to keep his family in comfort, and to finance a trip to Bali. And even under those luxurious circumstances, he missed the deadline by a wide mark.
Has any other President of the Harvard Law Review been offered a book deal for his memoirs before he even passed the bar? Job offers at prestigious law firms, sure, but book deals with big cash advances? That’s not all he got, he also got a sinecure as a lecturer at University of Chicago Law School. That’s pretty good for a green-as-grass attorney who wasn’t even practicing law yet.
Obama did not actually begin practicing law until 1993, but by 1994 he was on the board of directors of the Woods Fund of Chicago and The Joyce Foundation, which was rarefied air when you consider the credentials of his fellow board members. In 1995 he was appointed as the as founding president and chairman of the board of directors of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge. Those kind of appointments don’t usually go to a lawyer who hasn’t even made partner yet.
in 1996 (while still an associate attorney) Obama got himself elected to the Illinois State Senate by successfully challenging the nominating petitions of all the other candidates. He then proceeded to earn a certificate of attendance by voting “Present” on every bill that was even remotely controversial. During his final term he managed to grab the credit for legislation other people had done the hard work on.
In 2004 Obama got elected to the U.S. Senate when his main competition in the primary and general elections were conveniently forced to drop out because of scandals. After being sworn in as the junior Senator from Illinois, he immediately began running for President while writing his second memoir.
So what accomplishments does Obama have to merit the rewards he has received? He gets lots of accolades, but what has he done to earn them? To use a sports analogy, Obama is like a college benchwarmer with no stats who gets drafted in the first round and is given a huge signing bonus. Now he is on the verge of possibly being named Most Valuable Player without a single significant accomplishment to his name.
Have you voted yet?
(music by Joe Walsh)