On the abs and shoulders of newly elected Barack Obama comes the most daunting task of his historic presidency which is cleaning up the legacy (mess) that 20 straight years of Yale grads as president has bestowed on us. The last Harvard grad to undertake such a challenge was John F. Kennedy 48 years ago.
In 1636 Harvard was founded and in 1701 Yale was founded and ever since these two Ivy League competitors have been at each other's throats whether it was in founding a nation, creating the game of football, distinguishing themselves as the educational elite of America, charging the highest tuition in the nation to attend, or just capturing the presidency.
Almost a year ago I wrote an article called "Presidential Election 2008 - Harvard versus Yale" . The stunning recent success of Yale in capturing the presidency the past 20 years and nearly for an additional 8 with Hillary capped a long and dominant run by the Bulldogs. In every election since 1972 either a Democrat or Republican presidential candidate or both were from Yale and the 20 year domination beat out the old record held by Harvard and Franklin Roosevelt.
Roosevelt was elected four times himself, meaning Harvard had the muscle to change the Constitution and have a president elected more than twice to keep a favorite son in office. He served into his 13th year before dying and had been elected to serve 16 years. Yale controlled the White House the last 20 years with three different presidents, Bush, Clinton and Bush 2.
Now before we all become overly enamored with the power and success of the Ivy elite remember that Harvard, the venerable 372 year oldest university in the nation still has the dumbest mascot ever adopted by a school in America while the Yale Bulldogs must explain away the legacy of the past 20 years. Oh yes, and only once in history has someone been president who graduated from both schools, our very own George W. Bush, leaving both with much to explain.
As for the Harvard mascot, for those of you who don't know and the Harvard Crimson has worked very hard to conceal the fact, the university mascot is a real person, John Harvard, a puritan clergyman from England in the 1600's. A statue of John Harvard, sculpted by Daniel Chester French, sits in Harvard Yard at Harvard University. Despite its name, the statue does not depict the true likeness of John Harvard, as the sculptor had no accurate image to work from.
The statue, known by Harvard tour guides as the statue of three lies, claims that it depicts John Harvard, Founder, 1638, but in reality Harvard was a contributor, not the founder; the institution was founded in 1636; and the statue is actually a likeness of someone else as French used a student as a model. What Harvard did do was leave the first major endowment to Harvard along with his library thus immortalizing the value of endowments over academics. The current mascot is a hideous distortion of the original John Harvard who wasn't John Harvard to begin with but some student.
Obama is the 8th Harvard grad to serve as president from colonial days after John Adams, John Quincy Adams, Rutherford Hayes, Teddy Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy and George Bush. John Adams was vice president under George Washington for two terms before being elected the 2nd president of the USA in 1797.
Yale has given us 5 presidents with the first being William Howard Taft who was not elected until 1908, 111 years after the first Harvard president. Following Taft were Gerald Ford, George Bush, Sr., Bill Clinton and George Bush, Jr. all in the past 35 years.
The current Yale legacy, Iraq, Afghanistan, the credit crisis, Wall Street collapse, auto company collapse, insurance industry collapse, in fact the whole economic collapse, the extreme negative attitudes toward our elected officials, financial leaders and media, the negative attitude of the world toward America, corruption, oil crisis, terrorism and all the other stuff is certain to be the biggest challenge to Harvard since the great depression and World War II inherited by Franklin Roosevelt.
We can only hope and pray that Barack Obama can clean up the Yale mess and maybe even get the Harvard mascot finally changed during his historic presidency, something even the Adams, Roosevelt's and Kennedy failed to accomplish.