What does Donald Trump mean when he says "I went to Wharton"?



Donald Trump frequently tells crowds that he went to Wharton, as a credential to prove that he is intelligent:

“I went to the Wharton School of Business,” he noted several times. “I’m, like, a really smart person.”

“Why do you have to tell us all the time that you went to Wharton?” moderator Chuck Todd asked. “People know you’re successful.”

“They know it’s a great business school,” Trump replied.

You might be forgiven for thinking from this, as I did, that Trump has an MBA from the Wharton School of Business. He doesn't.
He actually has an undergraduate degree for the two years he spent there. Yes, I said two years. Trump was not able to get into the Wharton School (undergraduate) when he applied to college. He spent his first two years at Fordham University, a respectable school, but no where near as rigorous as Wharton (either undergraduate or graduate). The circumstances of his admissions are not clear, but the Daily Caller suggested Trump may have used a family connection to gain admittance.

So instead of saying "I'm smart because I went to Wharton!" Trump should be saying, "I'm smart because I went to Fordham for two years, and then Wharton for my final two years!"

Trump apparently graduated Wharton without any honors. Like Obama, he refuses to release his grades.

Asked by The Daily Caller if Trump was willing to release his college records before he officially entered the race for the White House, a spokesman for Trump said Team Trump would “pass” on the opportunity in April.

In sum, Trump has no graduate degree from Wharton, or anywhere else, and there is no evidence that he was a distinguished student.

Why does any of this matter? Trump seems to be implying that he has an MBA from the top business school in America. He doesn't.

And worst of all, he doesn't talk like a smart person. He often doesn't even speak in complete sentences. He often speaks in a kind of abbreviated fashion that people have trouble understanding. Here is just one example:

Look, having nuclear—my uncle was a great professor and scientist and engineer, Dr. John Trump at MIT; good genes, very good genes, OK, very smart, the Wharton School of Finance, very good, very smart—you know, if you’re a conservative Republican, if I were a liberal, if, like, OK, if I ran as a liberal Democrat, they would say I'm one of the smartest people anywhere in the world—it’s true!—but when you're a conservative Republican they try—oh, do they do a number—that’s why I always start off: Went to Wharton, was a good student, went there, went there, did this, built a fortune—you know I have to give my like credentials all the time, because we’re a little disadvantaged—but you look at the nuclear deal, the thing that really bothers me—it would have been so easy, and it’s not as important as these lives are (nuclear is powerful; my uncle explained that to me many, many years ago, the power and that was 35 years ago; he would explain the power of what's going to happen and he was right—who would have thought?), but when you look at what's going on with the four prisoners—now it used to be three, now it’s four—but when it was three and even now, I would have said it's all in the messenger; fellas, and it is fellas because, you know, they don't, they haven’t figured that the women are smarter right now than the men, so, you know, it’s gonna take them about another 150 years—but the Persians are great negotiators, the Iranians are great negotiators, so, and they, they just killed, they just killed us.

"Having nuclear"? "It would have been so easy, and it's not as important as these lives are"? "Nuclear is powerful, my uncle explained that to me"? "the women are smarter right now than the men, so, you know, it's gonna take them about another 150 years"?

This is how a child talks. A smart person doesn't have to repeatedly say that he is smart; Ted Cruz doesn't start every speech by mentioning he went to Harvard; a smart person doesn't use words like "stupid" or "dumb" to explain their opponents; and so on.

Donald Trump is not only pretending to be conservative, he's pretending to be brilliant. He's not, and it is comical how people listening to his Gollum-like stream of consciousness self-dialogues think that he is. Even when he explains how it is simply not possible for a Wharton graduate to accuse Megyn Kelly of menstruating.

(Abridged version originally published in AT)



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