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Home --> Politics --> Soapbox --> Who's Smarter?

Who's Smarter?

Claim:   Essay compares education and career experience of government officials and celebrities.

Status:   Undetermined.

Example:   [Collected on the Internet, 2003]

The Hollywood group is at it again. Holding anti-war rallies, screaming about the Bush Administration, running ads in major newspapers, defaming the President and his Cabinet every chance they get, to anyone and everyone who will listen. They publicly defile them and call them names like "stupid," "morons," and "idiots." Jessica Lange went so far as to tell a crowd in Spain that she hates President Bush and is embarrassed to be an American.

So, just how ignorant are these people who are running the country? Let's look at the biographies of these "stupid," "ignorant," "moronic" leaders, and then at the celebrities who are castigating them:

President George W. Bush: Received a Bachelors Degree from Yale University and an MBA from Harvard Business School. He served as an F-102 pilot for the Texas Air National Guard. He began his career in the oil and gas business in Midland in 1975 and worked in the energy industry until 1986. He was elected Governor on November 8, 1994, with 53.5 percent of the vote. In a historic reelection victory, he became the first Texas Governor to be elected to consecutive four-year terms on November 3, 1998, winning 68.6 percent of the vote. In 1998 Governor Bush won 49 percent of the Hispanic vote, 27 percent of the African-American vote, 27 percent of Democrats and 65 percent of women. He won more Texas counties, 240 of 254, than any modern Republican other that Richard Nixon in 1972 and is the first Republican gubernatorial candidate to win the heavily Hispanic and Democratic border counties of El Paso, Cameron and Hidalgo.

Vice President Dick Cheney earned a B.A. in 1965 and a M.A. in 1966, both in political science. Two years later, he won an American Political Science Association congressional fellowship. One of Vice President Cheney's primary duties is to share with individuals, members of Congress and foreign leaders, President Bush's vision to strengthen our economy, secure our homeland and win the War on Terrorism. In his official role as President of the Senate, Vice President Cheney regularly goes to Capitol Hill to meet with Senators and members of the House of Representatives to work on the Administration's legislative goals. In his travels as Vice President, he has seen first hand the great demands the war on terrorism is placing on the men and women of our military, and he is proud of the tremendous job they are doing for the United States of America.

Secretary of State Colin Powell was educated in the New York City public schools, graduating from the City College of New York (CCNY), where he earned a Bachelor's Degree in geology. He also participated in ROTC at CCNY and received a commission as an Army second lieutenant upon graduation in June 1958. His further academic achievements include a Master of Business Administration Degree from George Washington University. Secretary Powell is the recipient of numerous U.S. and foreign military awards and decorations. Secretary Powell's civilian awards include two Presidential Medals of Freedom, the President's Citizens Medal, the Congressional Gold Medal, the Secretary of State Distinguished Service Medal, and the Secretary of Energy Distinguished Service Medal. Several schools and other institutions have been named in his honor and he holds honorary degrees from universities and colleges across the country.

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld: attended Princeton University on Scholarship (AB, 1954) and served in the U.S. Navy (1954-57) as a Naval aviator; Congressional Assistant to Rep. Robert Griffin (R-MI), 1957-59; U.S. Representative, Illinois, 1962-69; Assistant to the President, Director of the Office of Economic Opportunity, Director of the Cost of Living Council, 1969-74; U.S. Ambassador to NATO, 1973-74; head of Presidential Transition Team, 1974; Assistant to the President, Director of White House Office of Operations, White House Chief of Staff, 1974-77; Secretary of Defense, 1975-77.

Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge was raised in a working class family in veterans' public housing in Erie. He earned a scholarship to Harvard, graduating with honors in 1967. After his first year at The Dickinson School of Law, he was drafted into the U.S. Army, where he served as an infantry staff sergeant in Vietnam, earning the Bronze Star for Valor. After returning to Pennsylvania, he earned his Law Degree and was in private practice before becoming Assistant District Attorney in Erie County. He was elected to Congress in 1982. He was the first enlisted Vietnam combat veteran elected to the U.S. House, and was overwhelmingly reelected six times.

National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice earned her Bachelor's Degree in Political Science, Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa, from the University of Denver in 1974; her Master's from the University of Notre Dame in 1975; and her Ph.D. from the Graduate School of International Studies at the University of Denver in 1981. (Note: Rice enrolled at the University of Denver at the age of 15, graduating at 19 with a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science (Cum Laude). She earned a Master's Degree at the University of Notre Dame and a Doctorate from the University of Denver's Graduate School of International Studies. Both of her advanced degrees are also in Political Science.)

She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and has been awarded Honorary Doctorates from Morehouse College in 1991, the University of Alabama in 1994, and the University of Notre Dame in 1995. At Stanford, she has been a member of the Center for International Security and Arms Control, a Senior Fellow of the Institute for International Studies, and a Fellow (by courtesy) of the Hoover Institution. Her books include Germany Unified and Europe Transformed (1995) with Philip Zelikow, The Gorbachev Era (1986) with Alexander Dallin, and Uncertain Allegiance: The Soviet Union and the Czechoslovak Army (1984). She also has written numerous articles on Soviet and East European foreign and defense policy, and has addressed audiences in settings ranging from the U.S. Ambassador's Residence in Moscow to the Commonwealth Club to the 1992 and 2000 Republican National Conventions. From 1989 through March 1991, the period of German reunification and the final days of the Soviet Union, she served in the Bush Administration as Director, and then Senior Director, of Soviet and East European Affairs in the National Security Council, and a Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs. In 1986, while an international affairs fellow of the Council on Foreign Relations, she served as Special Assistant to the Director of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In 1997, she served on the Federal Advisory Committee on Gender — Integrated Training in the Military. She was a member of the boards of directors for the Chevron Corporation, the Charles Schwab Corporation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the University of Notre Dame, the International Advisory Council of J.P. Morgan and the San Francisco Symphony Board of Governors. She was a Founding Board member of the Center for a New Generation, an educational support fund for schools in East Palo Alto and East Menlo Park, California and was Vice President of the Boys and Girls Club of the Peninsula. In addition, her past board service has encompassed such organizations as Transamerica Corporation, Hewlett Packard, the Carnegie Corporation, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, The Rand Corporation, the National Council for Soviet and East European Studies, the Mid-Peninsula Urban Coalition and KQED, public broadcasting for San Francisco. Born November 14, 1954 in Birmingham, Alabama, she earned her bachelor's degree in political science, cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, from the University of Denver in 1974; her Master's from the University of Notre Dame in 1975; and her Ph.D. from the Graduate School of International Studies at the University of Denver in 1981. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and has been awarded Honorary Doctorates from Morehouse College in 1991, the University of Alabama in 1994, and the University of Notre Dame in 1995. She resides in Washington, D.C.

So who are these celebrities? What is their education? What is their experience in affairs of State or in National Security? While I will defend to the death their right to express their opinions, I think that if they are going to call into question the intelligence of our leaders, we should also have all the facts on their educations and background:

Barbra Streisand: Completed high school
Career: Singing and acting

Cher: Dropped out of school in 9th grade.
Career: Singing and acting

Martin Sheen: Flunked exam to enter University of Dayton.
Career: Acting

Jessica Lange: Dropped out college mid-freshman year.
Career: Acting

Alec Baldwin: Dropped out of George Washington U. after scandal
Career: Acting

Julia Roberts: Completed high school
Career: Acting

Sean Penn: Completed High school
Career: Acting

Susan Sarandon: Degree in Drama from Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.
Career: Acting

Ed Asner: Completed High school
Career: Acting

George Clooney: Dropped out of University of Kentucky
Career: Acting

Michael Moore: Dropped out first year University of Michigan.
Career: Movie Director

Sarah Jessica Parker: Completed High School
Career: Acting

Jennifer Anniston: Completed High School
Career: Acting

Mike Farrell: Completed High school
Career: Acting

Janeane Garofelo: Dropped out of College.
Career: Stand up comedienne

Larry Hagman: Attended Bard College for one year.
Career: Acting

While comparing the education and experience of these two groups, we should also remember that President Bush and his cabinet are briefed daily, even hourly, on the War on Terror and threats to our security. They are privy to information gathered around the world concerning the Middle East, the threats to America, the intentions of terrorists and terrorist-supporting governments. They are in constant communication with the CIA, the FBI, Interpol, NATO, The United Nations, our own military, and that of our allies around the world. We cannot simply believe that we have full knowledge of the threats because we watch CNN!! We cannot believe that we are in any way as informed as our leaders.

These celebrities have no intelligence-gathering agents, no fact-finding groups, no insight into the minds of those who would destroy our country. They only have a deep seated hatred for all things Republican. By nature, and no one knows quite why, the Hollywood elitists detest Conservative views and anything that supports or uplifts the United States of America. The silence was deafening from the Left when Bill Clinton bombed a pharmaceutical factory outside of Khartoum, or when he attacked the Bosnian Serbs in 1995 and 1999. He bombed Serbia itself to get Slobodan Milosevic out of Kosovo, and not a single peace rally was held. When our Rangers were ambushed in Somalia and 18 young American lives were lost, not a peep was heard from Hollywood. Yet now, after our nation has been attacked on its own soil, after 3,000 Americans were killed by freedom-hating terrorists while going about their routine lives, they want to hold rallies against the war. Why the change? Because an honest, God-fearing Republican sits in the White House.

Another irony is that in 1987, when Ronald Reagan was in office, the Hollywood group aligned themselves with disarmament groups like SANE, FREEZE and PEACE ACTION, urging our own government to disarm and freeze the manufacturing of any further nuclear weapons, in order to promote world peace. It is curious that now, even after we have heard all the evidence that Saddam Hussein has chemical, biological and is very close to obtaining nuclear weapons, their is no cry from this group for HIM to disarm. They believe we should leave him alone in his quest for these weapons of mass destruction, even though it is certain that these deadly weapons will eventually be used against us in our own cities.

So why the hype out of Hollywood? Could these celebrities believe that since they draw such astronomical salaries, they are entitled to also determine the course of our Nation? That they can make viable decisions concerning war and peace? Did Michael Moore have the backing of the Nation when he recently thanked France, on our behalf, for being a "good enough friend to tell us we were wrong"? I know for certain he was not speaking for me. Does Sean Penn fancy himself a Diplomat, in going to Iraq when we are just weeks away from war? Does he believe that his High School Diploma gives him the knowledge (and the right) to go to a country that is controlled by a maniacal dictator, and speak on behalf of the American people? Or is it the fact that he pulls in more money per year than the average American worker will see in a lifetime? Does his bank account give him clout?

The ultimate irony is that many of these celebrities have made a shambles of their own lives, with drug abuse, alcoholism, numerous marriages and divorces, scrapes with the law, publicized temper tantrums, etc. How dare they pretend to know what is best for an entire nation! What is even more bizarre is how many people in this country will listen and accept their views, simply because they liked them in a certain movie, or have fond memories of an old television sitcom!

It is time for us, as citizens of the United States, to educate ourselves about the world around us. If future generations are going to enjoy the freedoms that our forefathers bequeathed us, if they are ever to know peace in their own country and their world, to live without fear of terrorism striking in their own cities, we must assure that this nation remains strong. We must make certain that those who would destroy us are made aware of the severe consequences that will befall them.

Yes, it is a wonderful dream to sit down with dictators and terrorists and join hands, singing Cumbaya and talking of world peace. But it is not real. We did not stop Adolf Hitler from taking over the entire continent of Europe by simply talking to him. We sent our best and brightest, with the strength and determination that this Country is known for, and defeated the Nazi regime. President John F. Kennedy did not stop the Soviet ships from unloading their nuclear missiles in Cuba in 1962 with mere words. He stopped them with action, and threat of immediate war if the ships did not turn around. We did not end the Cold War with conferences. It ended with the strong belief of President Ronald Reagan... PEACE through STRENGTH.

Origins:   The factual information presented here is not difficult to verify, as biographies detailing the educational and professional qualifications of our high-ranking government officials are readily available from a number of on-line sources: Verifying the educational accomplishments of film stars is less easy:
  • Barbra Streisand had already embarked on a show business career by the time she was a teenager and did not attend college.
  • Cher left home at age sixteen to pursue an acting career and did not finish high school.
  • Martin Sheen did fail his college entrance exam for the University of Dayton but maintains that he did so on purpose so that he could pursue an acting career over the objections of his disapproving father.
  • Jessica Lange studied art at the University of Minnesota but left school before the completion of her freshman year.
  • Alec Baldwin spent three years studying political science at George Washington University before switching to New York University's drama department to pursue an acting career, and he eventually returned to NYU and received a BFA degree in Drama in 1993. (Could not find any information about a "scandal" prompting his departure from George Washington University.)
  • Julia Roberts moved to New York after finishing high school to pursue an acting career and did not attend college.
  • Sean Penn joined the Los Angeles Repertory Theater after finishing high school and did not attend college.
  • Susan Sarandon graduated from Catholic University in Washington, DC, with a degree in Drama.
  • Ed Asner enrolled at the University of Chicago, but his education was interrupted by an Army hitch; after his discharge he embarked on an acting career and did not return to college to complete a degree.
  • George Clooney studied Broadcast Journalism at Northern Kentucky University but left school before completing a degree.
  • Michael Moore briefly attended the University of Michigan at Flint before leaving school.
  • Sarah Jessica Parker was already a professional performer before starting high school and did not attend college after graduating.
  • Jennifer Aniston graduated from New York's High School of Performing Arts and pursued an acting career without attending college
  • Mike Farrell joined the Marines after finishing high school and afterwards embarked upon an acting career without attending college.
  • Janeane Garofalo studied history at Providence College in Rhode Island. There is conflicting information about whether she completed her degree or left school during her senior year; most biographies indicate the former.
  • Larry Hagman attended Bard College in Anandale-on-the-Hudson for one year before leaving school and pursuing an acting career.
As to the point of this piece, it's safe to say that those who hold high positions in federal government generally have more formal education and more on-the-job experience in politics and government than film actors do, that they are privy to a large amount of information the
general public does not have access to, and that they are therefore better qualified to make important policy decisions than the average actor.

The question posed by the title — "Who's smarter?" — isn't so easily answered. Graduating college or holding elected office exposes people to new ideas and concepts and imbues them with practical experience, but those paths don't necessarily make people "smarter," nor is treading those paths necessary for one to become a competent politician or political analyst. Some very highly regarded U.S. presidents had little or no formal education (Abraham Lincoln), did not attend college (Harry Truman), or had no previous experience holding elective office (Dwight Eisenhower), and one (Ronald Reagan) even began his career as a film actor. On the other hand, some very well-educated and intelligent men with experience in governmental administration who served as chief executive of the U.S. (Herbert Hoover, Jimmy Carter) frequently show up on rosters of "worst U.S. presidents."

Last updated:   14 October 2007

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