As the nation’s attention is focused on the action of the presidential primaries, we intensely scrutinize each candidate and their fit for the presidency. Amidst the flurry of lofty promises, swelling words, handshakes, debates, and veiled attacks, we try to get a handle on who these people are. Where did they come from? Are they really all they claim to be? Are they fit to preside over the most powerful country on earth with all its problems and promise?

Of course, the answer to these questions largely depends on your beliefs and perspective, your idea of what a president should be. While education is not the sum of a person, we offer the following glimpses into the educational accomplishments of the 2008 presidential candidates:

Mitt Romney – Best known for saving the Salt Lake Winter Olympics and driving progress as the governor of Massachusetts, Romney attended Stanford University for two quarters and finished his degree at Brigham Young University, where he graduated as valedictorian, summa cum laude. Four years later, he earned a joint JD/MBA degree from Harvard, graduating cum laude and being named a Baker Scholar for finishing in the top five percent of his business school class. One word is repeated in the media again and again about Romney, and it is no less true about his educational performance: “impressive.”

Hillary Clinton – Equally impressive is the education of this former First Lady. She attended Wellesley College, majored in political science, and actually served as the president of the university’s Young Republicans organization. Events during her undergrad education changed her views, and she soon left the Republicans for the Democrats, never to return. She was so active and successful in political and social activism during her college years that she became the first student at Wellesley to ever deliver the commencement address and received a seven-minute standing ovation. She went on to law school at Yale, where she continued her strong interest in social issues. Clinton is no doubt a strong competitor and apt student. If she was elected, we could expect a strong emphasis on social improvement from the White House.

John McCain – Like his father and grandfather before him, McCain attended the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis. Exhibiting his now-familiar “maverick” personality, McCain did not fit into the command-and-control culture of the academy. He enjoyed English literature, history, and government and participated in lightweight boxing. Relegated to low standing, he still wielded an unusual amount of influence over his fellow midshipmen.

He graduated from Annapolis fifth from the bottom of his class before serving as a naval pilot. He would eventually fly in the Vietnam War, escape a number of near-fatal incidents, get shot down and taken prisoner by the brutal Viet Cong, and held by them for five and a half years. During this time, he was refused medical treatment, beaten, kept in solitary confinement for two years, and interrogated. Through it all, McCain refused to give away any information to his captors. Performance in the classroom can be noteworthy. Performance in such brutal, merciless conditions as these earns a whole different level of respect and credibility.

Barak Obama – This junior senator studied at Occidental College in Los Angeles for two years before finishing his BA in political science with a specialization in international relations at Columbia University in New York. He then worked for various community organizing groups. In 1988, he entered Harvard Law School and earned his JD degree magna cum laude. He served as an associate attorney with Miner, Barnhill & Galland from 1993 to 1996, representing community organizers, discrimination claims, and voting rights cases. Following, he lectured at the prestigious University of Chicago Law School in Constitutional Law. Charges of lack of experience or expertise in Washington or international affairs have haunted Obama throughout his campaign. Obviously, these claims may not be true.

Mike Huckabee – This candidate is self-described Southern boy, unpretentious and uncomplicated. His educational record reflects this. He graduated magna cum laude from Ouachita Baptist University, completing his bachelors degree in Religion in 2 and a half years. He then attended Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary but dropped out after one year. For what it’s worth, Huckabee has been awarded two honorary doctoral degrees: a Doctor of Humane Letters, received from John Brown University in 1991, and a Doctor of Laws from Ouachita Baptist University in 1992. Huckabee may be impressive on many fronts; education apparently is not one of those fronts.

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