Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Matt Bevin to Play Gatsby!

The latest McConnell attack ad on Matt Bevin does the most damage so far with the revelation that Bevin falsely claimed on his LinkedIn profile that he had received a degree from M.I.T. -- like Jay Gatsby claimed he went to Oxford.

The Hill contacted M.I.T., which says that Bevin was never enrolled there. Bevin then changed his LinkedIn profile to read that his education includes the "School of Life." Whatever that is.

Bevin's campaign released a copy of the "Certificate of Recognition" -- not diploma -- that Bevin says he received from the "EO/Entrepreneurial Masters Program"in 2008.  The "Certificate of Recognition" includes the M.I.T. logo.

"Certificate of Recognition"?  This sounds like something my kids received for participating in U-6 soccer. The reference to the "Masters Program," on the other hand, plainly connotes an M.B.A.

 Bevin describes the programs as located on the M.I.T. "Endicott Campus."  M.I.T. does not have an "Endicott Campus," according to the  M.I.T. spokesperson interviewed by the The Hill -- just a building called Endicott. So if those individuals who put this program on had met at a Starbuck's near M.I.T., that would have been the M.I.T. "Starbuck's Campus."

Bevin's campaign contends that McConnell is "childish" to criticize Bevin for lying about where he went to school. Apparently the theory is that lots of people puff up their resumes, so who cares? This, of course, impugns the integrity of those voters Bevin is attempting to court.

There are two distinct aspects to any resume, the subjective and objective.  There may be room for puffery in the subjective -- perhaps exaggerating one's contribution to a project at work.  These are the parts of a resume, or LinkedIn profile, with which people can legitimately disagree, because it is a matter of opinion and oftentimes unquantifiable.  But that's not what happened with Bevin.

Where Bevin received his education is not subjective. It is an objectively verifiable fact -- one that M.I.T. has soundly refuted.  Bevin has crossed the line from truthiness to deceitfulness

What's truly bizarre about Bevin's assertion that he was educated at M.I.T. is that he went to a very good university, Washington and Lee.  Why make stuff up when you have a degree of which most people would be justifiably proud?

As fine a school as Washington and Lee is,  I can't think of any movies set there. In contrast, Good Will Hunting was set at M.I.T.  Maybe Matt Bevin was channelling another Matt who became a star on the set at M.I.T.:  Matt Damon.

Or perhaps the answer lies in another part of Bevin's background he doesn't discuss much.  Bevin attended a New England prep school, just like Ryan O'Neil in Love Story.  Now, the Preppy in Love Story went on to Harvard, but hey, M.I.T. is just down the road and those students are allowed to join the Harvard Coop and row crew on the Charles.  The point here is that New England prep schools like Bevin's alma mater, the Gould Academy in Maine, survive because parents see them as pathways to places like Harvard and M.I.T.  Parents aren't paying the $49,500 a year just for the competitive skiing and snow-boarding.

Students in  prep schools like Gould, particularly in New England, must feel a certain pressure to get into schools like M.I.T. In that respect, I get why M.I.T. would have held an irresistible allure for Bevin.

The Gould Academy lists Matt Bevin as a "notable" alum for being a "Businessman and candidate in Kentucky's 2014 Senate Election." After The Hill  put the lie Bevin's M.I.T. education, I bet the Bevin campaign let Gould Academy know about his candidacy -- makes it easier for us skeptics to see whether that part of his education actually occurred.  Memo to the Gould Academy:  Bevin will have to defeat Mitch McConnell in a primary before he will be a candidate in Kentucky's 2014 Senate Election. Might want to correct that notable alum link to state that he's a candidate in the Republican primary of U.S. Senate.

In the meantime, Bevin's M.I.T. charade makes me think of two Kentuckians who desperately wanted to attend M.I.T. next month and did not get in, despite perfect scores on the ACT.  I think of those two Kentuckians and any and every child who did not get into his first choice school, and who felt his heart sink at receiving a skinny envelope with a rejection letter instead of the fat envelope with the course catalogue.

As adults, we should encourage students that they can be not just successful but fabulous without admission to M.I.T. or whatever the dream school was.  The last thing we want to say, or model, is no worries; you can attend a bogus seminar there and still put it on your resume.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

There is an MIT Endicott House in Dedham, MA where seminars are held....