What do Donald Trump and Imee Marcos have in common?
Several things, actually. Both have been celebrities since their younger days and both are currently elected officials.
There’s something else that binds them, however, and it’s not necessarily a good thing.
The US president says he graduated from the Wharton School of Business, and we have no doubt that he did. But he frequently says that he was the smartest guy in his class, implying that he graduated with top honors.
This may not be entirely true.
The elder daughter of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, on the other hand, has been making claims regarding her academic background that may have stretched the truth a bit too far.
She claims that she first graduated from the University of the Philippines, then went to Princeton to earn another degree. Neither claim seems to be true.
Both UP and Princeton say that there is no record of Ms. Marcos having graduated from their institutions of higher learning. In the case of the latter, she only took up some short term courses which do not indicate one way or another that she was ever an honor student.
As for Mr. Trump, it now appears that he has taken great lengths to make sure that his school records are never made public.
It’s hard to say which is worse – to hide the truth or to claim an untruth.
School records matter. They indicate what sort of a person was in his or her younger days. This is not to say that one must graduate at the top of his or her class in order to serve the public. Far from it.
There are many reasons why one performs below expectations while earning a college degree. Poverty is one reason. It is hard to devote one’s time to studies when one has to work multiple jobs in order to put food on the table.
Also, the world is full of people who dropped out of college because they were just too smart to be confined to a classroom. Bill Gates and the late Steve Jobs quickly come to mind.
It is not clear why Mr. Trump has tried to mask his school records. His accomplishments as a businessman are legend. At the very least, he must have a good head on his shoulders. So what if other classmates did better than him? None of them became President of the United States.
As for Ms. Marcos, she should just own up about her records. She may well end up as a senator of the Philippines after the May elections; lying about her academic accomplishments, or lack thereof, will not sway Filipino voters one way or another.
It is somewhat disturbing to know that her brother Bongbong Marcos likewise made false claims about his collegiate records while in the US. But that’s another matter.
Both Mr. Trump and Ms. Marcos had scores of classmates from their college years who can vouch for them as being smart, average, or just plain lucky to have passed the courses they took.
Lying or hiding one’s past will come back to haunt both of them sooner or later.