John Kerry, Lackluster Student
John Kerry, who was beaten by George W. Bush in last year’s presidential race, was also narrowly edged by the Texan as a student at Yale.
Yale grades portray Kerry as a lackluster student (Boston Globe)
During last year’s presidential campaign, John F. Kerry was the candidate often portrayed as intellectual and complex, while George W. Bush was the populist who mangled his sentences. But newly released records show that Bush and Kerry had a virtually identical grade average at Yale University four decades ago.
In 1999, The New Yorker published a transcript indicating that Bush had received a cumulative score of 77 for his first three years at Yale and a roughly similar average under a non-numerical rating system during his senior year. Kerry, who graduated two years before Bush, got a cumulative 76 for his four years, according to a transcript that Kerry sent to the Navy when he was applying for officer training school. He received four D’s in his freshman year out of 10 courses, but improved his average in later years.
The grade transcript, which Kerry has always declined to release, was included in his Navy record. During the campaign the Globe sought Kerry’s naval records, but he refused to waive privacy restrictions for the full file. Late last month, Kerry gave the Navy permission to send the documents to the Globe. Kerry appeared to be responding to critics who suspected that there might be damaging information in the file about his activities in Vietnam. The military and medical records, however, appear identical to what Kerry has already released. This marks the first time Kerry’s grades have been publicly reported.
The transcript shows that Kerry’s freshman-year average was 71. He scored a 61 in geology, a 63 and 68 in two history classes, and a 69 in political science. His top score was a 79, in another political science course. Another of his strongest efforts, a 77, came in French class. [French was his best subject! -ed.]
Kerry explains away his poor grades by noting that he was heavily involved in extracurricular activities; of course, the same holds true for Bush. In reality, they’re both quite intelligent men who have gone on to distinguish themselves since their undergraduate days. Of the two, Kerry is clearly more articulate and Bush more socially adept. In any case, there’s not much we can glean from their college grades thirty-odd years later.
How they have chosen to deal with their mildly embarrassing transcripts is, however, interesting. Bush fully acknowledges that he goofed off and had a good time and makes jokes about the situation; Kerry apparently was willing to endure years of speculation about what might be in his military records in order to hide them. Once again, this goes to something we already knew: Bush has a keener sense of how ordinary people will react to things.