By GORDON GLANTZ
GORDONVILLE — While the talking heads on the tube were all aghast at the news of ultra-rich people scamming to get their kids into “elite” schools, I’ll pulled my shoulders out of my sockets – again – with a shrug.
As long as Bruce Springsteen wasn’t implicated, which I highly doubted, I was good.
And really, the news was not news at all.
It certainly wasn’t breaking news, largely because this drill of our culture catering to lifestyles of the rich and famous has left us all broken.
The rich getting over, usually at the expense of the poor, is one of the world’s oldest professions – right up there with, well, the world’s oldest profession.
I’m reminded of a line in the movie “Platoon” where the Charlie Sheen character, Taylor, is admonished by a black soldier, King, that, “the poor are always getting (bleeped) over by the rich. Always have. Always will.”
Emphasis on always.
As in always.
It’s a reason I don’t get into tongue-clucking mode when a kid from a poor or middle class background gets a 6-year, $11 trillion contract — with a $34.5 billion guaranteed signing bonus – to put a ball through a hoop or hit a ball with a wood club over a fence from some filthy rich owner trying to outbid other filthy rich owners.
Turnabout, in these rare instances, is fair play.
But these are rare instances.
For the most part, it is the other way around, and we should not be surprised by the latest scam.
Maybe the national networks saw it as a chance to talk about something other than All the President’s Men II, but it is really all connected.
While your president (not mine) signs bills to be unforgiving with the student loan debt that almost all of the rest of us needed to keep literal pace with the Joneses, let’s look at his disloyal highness as a prime example.
He got into Penn (after a stint at Fordham).
How did that happen?
It’s all a bit murky, but Penn clearly seems less than boastful about an alum in the White House than he is about being a Penn alum in the White House.
Though barely remembered by professors or fellow students, he somehow walked away on his bone spurs with an economics degree (transcript sealed).
And his kids – the spawn of the bible-signing devil – all managed to gain entry into elite schools: Donald Jr. (Penn), Ivanka (Georgetown, Penn), Eric (Georgetown) and Tiffany (Penn, Georgetown).
Meanwhile, our first lady entered America on an Einstein visa (insert laugh track).
George W. Bush? Not quite the sharpest tool in anyone’s shed, and yet he went to Yale.
There are pictures of “Dubya” as a male cheerleader, so there is more evidence of involvement in student life that that of your president (not mine), but you still have to wonder how he landed there – given the fact that he is, well, him.
“Dubya” – despite a middling 77 average at Yale – moved on to Harvard Business School.
See, there was an open rule on the books that students were grandfathered into these place based on bloodlines – as in blood of the blue variety.
A rule? Yes, a rule. Talk about an exclusive country club where the poor kids earn their way in on tips from parking the cars.
George H.W. Bush went to Yale. So did his father before him, Prescott Bush.
Sensing a pattern here?
And it’s not limited to just Republicans.
The Kennedys all went to Harvard (Ted even got booted for cheating and then somehow reemerged after a military stint).
The difference, as opposed to the current “first” family, is that they were clearly edified enough by their Ivy League schooling to master critical and nuanced thinking skills.
There are zillions of more examples of how rich people made sure their offspring, deserving or not, were inserted into the race a few laps ahead of a field trying to run it honestly.
On its face, creating something better for the next generation — if only in enlightenment — is at the soul of what’s left of the American dream.
Anything beyond that, and we see how badly the system is broken.
This new twist on it, though fairly elaborate and so slimy that it makes you want to take a shower just from reading the sordid details, is nothing new.
Simply put, it involved a whole lot of cheating and bribing – all under the guise of money going to charity.
Sounds bad, and it is bad.
But is it any worse than when poor kids went to fight in Vietnam while the rich kids went to college (or their daddies paid to have them diagnosed with mystery ailments like bone spurs)?
Any worse than serving from 1968-74 in the Air Force and somehow never setting foot in Vietnam (i.e. “Dubyah”)?
Any worse than working people paying twice as much than the wealthy in taxes?
Any worse than traitor Paul Manafort, and his so-called “blameless life” of turning American dreams into Russian schemes, getting a lighter prison sentence than a poor person – especially of color — would for a lesser crime?
Yeah, this one had intrigue – with some celebrity names to make it tawdry – but let’s be real.
It is neither new nor news.
This column first appeared in The Times Herald on March 17.