Officals at Arizona State University say they always intended to honor President Barack Obama when he delivers the commencement address next month. Just not with an honorary doctorate degree. Instead, an important scholarship will bear the President's name.
The way the whole public relations snafu played out, I can't help but think the scholarship announcement simply was a knee jerk reaction to the bad press the school received from every corner of the country. Had ASU President Michael Crow and his doctorate committee really intended to do that from the get-go or was this just a way to save face?
Probably only a handful of insiders really knows what the dynamics were among ASU officials after news broke that ASU would not bestow Obama with an honorary doctorate degree.
Their explanation for the snub? Obama hasn't amassed a sufficient body of work to warrant the honorary degree.
C'mon. This is the first Black President of the United States. Through his childhood and career, he's survived poverty, racism and the brutality of a national political campaign. He's brought hope to millions of disenfranchised Americans. He's brought a sense a calm to a world that is reeling from the brink of economic catastrophe. That's a pretty impressive resume, even though there are bound to be failures down the road. Hey, he's human.
Still Michael Crow is not sufficiently impressed. He's one of the most powerful college presidents in the country and he's known for calling the shots. But this time Mr. Big Shot has missed the target. Perception is everything and Crow completely misjudged the public outcry that would surface when he and his minions decided to withhold this high, but largely symbolic, honor.
How many people who have received honorary doctorates really deserve them? A few, yes, but not usually. In this case, giving Obama a doctorate should have been a no-brainer. It's a matter of goodwill and public perception.
Remember when Jennifer Aniston accused Brad Pitt of lacking a sensitivity chip? I'm wondering if someone here in Tempe could use a sensitivity transplant. That might be just what the doctor ordered.