The Post Dispatch story was greeted with hoots and derision from almost everyone in Missouri not a Republican. The state Democratic Party here called the politician "dishonest" and put together a video compilation of news coverage from around the state about "misleading" claims. PoliticMO needs no clever introduction. The straight report carried enough inherent humor to stand on its own.
When it went national, the mirth offered an alternative to the dysfunctional family show that the GOP nominating process seems to have become. "Oh man. This is just absolutely priceless," wrote Dave Nir of the Daily Kos. The National Journal termed it "a degree of difficulty." You'll see why.
Dave Spence is running for the Republican nomination for Governor. He wants to replace the current Governor, Democrat Jay Nixon. Nixon is very popular, so even if Spence becomes the GOP nominee, it won't be an easy thing to actually win office.
Spence is borrowing a page from the Romney playbook. He is advertising himself as a job creator and an expert on economic growth. His website even promotes his degree in Economics from the University of Missouri at Columbia.
Here's the problem. His degree was in Home Economics. The school proudly carries the history of the program, which began over a hundred years ago as a "department of household economics." The describe the origin this way: "The initial one-year program was designed for young women who wished to learn proper management of the home."
Okay. This sounds like, and is being played with some hilarity as, a shadow of Mitt Romney's fraudulent claims. The Spence campaign is rather humorless about it. They insist the website is entirely accurate. Home economics is still economics, after all. Missouri, along the way, also changed the name printed on the degree. So the Spence campaign points out that he did not, technically, get a degree in Home Economics. It was actually Consumer Economics. They also are striking back at the coverage as all part of Democratic opportunism: "sad political smear tactics."
Spence's main Republican opponent, Bill Randles, is trying to capitalize on the unexpected opportunity in a low key way. He announced he was releasing his own college transcripts, which are impressive.
I know this is an issue and I know the people of Missouri have a right to know. I am releasing the transcripts for all my degrees. I hold firm to the principle that has become a cornerstone of my political philosophy: sunshine is the best disinfectant.
Sooner or later, the misleading candidate and his campaign just might wake up to the fact that they are playing this all wrong. They don't have to deny anything. They can't, but even if they could, they shouldn't. They have a story they ought to want to embrace, promote, amplify, grasping madly at every last string of oddity.
They are not a loud and silly echo of Mitt Romney. They are Romney's negative.
Romney earned a prestigious degree and went on to make wild claims about job creation that have turned out to be bogus.
Spence had grades too low to get the degree he wanted, or even a second or third, or any choice. So he went for the only program available with virtually no academic qualification. Pretty funny, right?
Also more than a little inspirational.
The guy with the wild claims about the degree that never was, the fellow the big University said wasn't qualified to be an economics major, went on to wrangle a small business loan. He then used his knowledge and skills to build a wildly successful business from scratch. It has grown year after year under his stewardship. A phenomenally successful quarter century later, the firm employs more than 800 people today.
Spence really ought to
Fire his campaign manager NOW
- Make plans to run for President in 2016
All future Spence campaigns should celebrate the candidate as the guy who got a Home Economics degree because the giant University told him he wasn't qualified for anything else.
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