O’Donnell’s education problem gets worse

O’DONNELL’S EDUCATION PROBLEM GETS WORSE…. Things looked bad yesterday when extremist Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell (R) got caught lying about her educational background. But the story got even worse for Delaware’s GOP nominee last night.

The story started when O’Donnell claimed to have graduated with a bachelor’s from Fairleigh Dickinson years before she actually earned a degree. It got much worse when we learned that O’Donnell lied about having studied at Oxford, and lied again about post-grad work at Princeton.

Making matters just a little worse still, Christina Bellantoni reports that O’Donnell claimed to have attended Claremont Graduate University, but a school spokesperson explained yesterday, “Claremont Graduate University has no student or education record for an individual named Christine O’Donnell.”

As it turns out, O’Donnell actually received a fellowship from a right-right think tank called the Claremont Institute, which has no affiliation with the Claremont Graduate University. The radical GOP candidate just pretended they were one and the same. (She also lied about the fellowship itself, characterizing it as “graduate” work, which it was not.)

Yesterday, I made the case that all of this Mark Kirk-like lying is ironic, given that O’Donnell claims to be obsessed with truth-telling in all instances. But Ben Adler goes even further, noting that the elitism of O’Donnell’s mendacity is ironic for cultural reasons, too.

[U]nlike actually going to Oxford or Princeton, lying about where you went to school really is elitist. Rush Limbaugh and Jay Sekulow attacked Elena Kagan as an elitist for having gone to Harvard Law but the mere fact that she went there does not show that she thinks one’s worth is measured by where they went to school. Of course she could think that, but all that having gone to Harvard proves is that she wanted to get the education they offer. (You could strain to argue attending expensive private institutions is elitist compared to attending public schools, but that would be a leftwing, not rightwing, populist attitude.)

By contrast, pretending that you took courses at Princeton or Oxford when you did not, and you are many years past college-age, demonstrates that you think having done so is really a necessary credential. Aside from the sheer patheticness of such insecurity, it is the ultimate reification of the elitist idea that middle-aged adults should continue to define themselves by the academic credentials they obtained in their youth and that the best schools are old, expensive institutions that started out only allowing only white Christian males to attend.

Adler added that he’ll look forward to Limbaugh’s “denunciations of O’Donnell for being an out-of-touch coastal cosmopolitan,” but I suspect we’ll be waiting a long while for that one.