View From a Height
Commentary from the Mile High City
Monday, January 26, 2004

Edwards Tackles the Tough Ones

John Edwards, in USA Today today (courtesy of Real Clear Politics), comes out strongly opposed to college admissions preferences - for legacy students. These are children of alumni. These preferences, practiced by almost all colleges and universities. As policy, they're a courtesy to alumni; as fundraising, they're smart.

Edwards defends affirmative action, naturally, as promoting "diversity," since he certainly can't defend it as promoting fairness. He provides no evidence that legacy applicants are more likely to be admitted to a school than are beficiaries of affirmative action. Nowhere does he state the number of students so affected. How many students who get into, say Virginia, with legacy help, couldn't have gotten into another comparable school, but either didn't want the hassle, or did want to carry on a tradition? How many students really are going to Harvard rather than Roanoke County Community College because dad went to Cambridge?

Edwards is both taking a slap at President Bush, widely perceived as getting into Yale on his father's coattails (the only coattails his father seems to have had), and signalling that he's going to try to run a populist campaign, playing off his image as a moderate. He talks as often about his poor upbringing as Kerry does about Vietnam; so often you half expect him to claim that he was raised a poor black child. We'll see if it works.

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