Sunday, November 1, 2009
I'd love to have a room for a night at the White House, but I am not a Podesta
I hesitate to suggest that Obama's eloquent speeches about the importance of higher education is disingenuous . . . I relate strongly to the stories he tells about his mother being a struggling graduate student from Kansas. (Those are two things I share with her, plus I attended schools where Obama either taught or attended himself). The same institutions that informed the way Obama thinks also played a formidable role in my own intellectual formation. But then I learn that Anthony and Heather Podesta - lobbyists for Sallie Mae - spent the night at the White House. Mr. Podesta claimed that his lobbying efforts failed (see page 2 of this article). However, his wife, Heather, made three additional visits to the Old Executive Office in the White House Complex. Moreover, Anthony Podesta's brother, John, was head of Obama's transition team. I realize these facts are just part of politics. I'm not naive. Nevertheless, it's unsettling information, especially when I think of the way in which I was inspired by Obama's refrain: "We need real change." From this lowly perspective (plus being crushed by student loan debt), I'm not really seeing any of this so-called "real change," and I know that there are millions of others who agree with me. It leaves me wondering why I bothered canvassing for Mr. Obama. It also leaves me wondering if there is any value in obtaining degrees from the most prestigious universities in this country.