Does the president need a college degree?

The question of Walker’s missing diploma has arisen occasionally in Wisconsin. Opponents charged that there was something untoward about his dropping out of Marquette. He then authorized the university to release the records as proof there was no hidden story behind his departure. The governor has said that a college education isn’t a “base requirement” for high office. The Walker camp had no comment for this column.

History might help Walker. There have been 12 presidents without college degrees, starting with George Washington and 10 others, including Abraham Lincoln, elected in the 19th century.

More than a century ago, a Princeton academic, Woodrow Wilson, who later became president, raised a question about the 16th president: “Would Lincoln have been a better instrument for the country’s good if he had been put through the processes of one of our modern colleges?”

Historians have resoundingly rejected Wilson’s point; Lincoln is widely considered the greatest American president. His predecessor, James Buchanan, had a college degree (rather rare in those days), but is considered one of the worst.