GDub got into Phillips Academy because he was a legacy: meaning his father and uncle had previously attended (and graduated from) Andover.
GDub was admitted to Yale despite his mediocre record at Andover because he was a legacy: his father, uncle and grandfather attended (and graduated from) Yale. Average Joe Blow who was not a legacy would have been rejected by Yale with the grades GDub had. Correction: Average Joe would have been advised not to even bother applying to Yale with the grades GDub had. And GDub himself frequently remarks on having been a "C" student in college. He thinks, for some absurd reason, that this is funny.
GDub got into Harvard Business School back when anyone with an undergraduate degree from an Ivy League school and the cash to pay full tuition was an automatic admit. Having a father who had been a Congressman, an Ambassador, and Chair of the RNC also didn't hurt. HBS had a reputation in those days as a soft landing place for not too bright children of wealthy or connected parents who didn't have any idea what to do with themselves but needed a credential to go into the family business. It was an easy credential to get, because at that time all the courses were graded pass/fail. No matter how dim you were, once you got in it was almost impossible to flunk out. Anyone who showed up in class and did any work at all could receive a "low pass" (classes were pass/fail, but there was high pass, pass and low pass).
One of GDub's special "gifts" is smarmcharming people, and not caring what rules he has to bend or break to get what he wants. HBS students are traditionally encouraged to form "study groups" where work is divided among the members and each person studies one area in depth and shares that information with the group. Anyone who has ever been in one of these groups knows how often there is always one guy who does nothing and coasts on everyone else's work because he is liked or pitied. A lot of the exams were take home honor system: you get the question and bring back your answer some number of hours or days later. GDub's willingness to abuse honor systems and assume rules do not apply to him is already pretty well documented in the ANG/AWOL story. Is there any doubt in anyone's mind that GDub, a perpetually pampered boy with an oversized sense of entitlement, might have persuaded someone else to "help" write his papers and exams? A large allowance could also do a lot of persuading back in the day before Business Ethics classes.
HBS did not get a reputation for being highly competitive and academically rigorous until the late 70s/early 80s, when unfavorable comparisons with Stanford Business School and Wharton embarrassed them and made them get their act together.
But as recently as the late 90s someone anonymously posted this on a Business Week magazine comments page about HBS:
The Harvard Business School program is entirely subjective. Grades have no correlation with grasp of the material or overall intelligence, rather they reflect quantity of class comments, number of visits to professors' offices and general patronizing. It is so easy to game the system, it is pathetic. I don't say this as someone burned by the system. I am satisfied with my own grades. It is just reality. Students should come prepared to "play the game" or they will be unhappy.
GDub, a master of gaming the system if there ever was one, did receive the standard two-year MBA degree from Harvard. But now that regular HBS admission is so competitive, the "people with money who need a credential" niche is filled by something called the Executive Education program. It has completely open enrollment: anyone who can write the $50,000+ check can attend a special short-term course of study. After the nine weeks are completed people can accurately claim they "went to Harvard Business School" or "attended Harvard Business School" or drop casual references to "when I was at Harvard Business School." This goes a long way in places where, anti-intellectualism notwithstanding, the Harvard name still impresses a fair number of people.
And GDub lived such a sheltered life he didn't even get an education in the school of hard knocks. He was handed a lot of executive level jobs and board appointments by friends of his father's friends, and he never met a business venture he couldn't mismanage. All his life he's been getting into financial trouble and bankrupting other people who made the mistake of trusting him with money. Is it any wonder he took the Clinton surplus and made it disappear? Now even those of us who knew not to trust him are risking bankruptcy too--my country may take a generation to recover from the deficits caused by his vanity war. I attribute that to his failures of character than to anything he learned or didn't learn at Harvard.
Unreformed dittoheads get such a thrill out of claiming their president is smart because of his educational credentials. First MBA President and all that rot. What a joke. He didn't have to know anything to get in and he didn't have to learn anything while he was there. And it burns me that this empty suit, whose minions badmouth affirmative action at every turn, owes his entire fancy education (and every job he's ever had) to one form or another of preferential treatment.
So I suggest that people stop making such a big deal out of the fact that George W. Bush has an MBA from Harvard. I am not impressed.
Comments are closed on this story.