The Slatest

To State the Obvious, the Trump Administration’s New Affection for “Merit-Based” Policies Is Deeply Ironic

Mike Theiler-Pool/Getty Images, Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images, Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images, and Mark Wilson/Getty Images.
Heir, heir, heiress, dubious Ph.D.

Photo illustration by Slate. Photos by Mike Theiler-Pool/Getty Images, Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images, Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images, and Mark Wilson/Getty Images.

On Tuesday, the New York Times reported that the Trump Justice Department is planning to sue universities whose admissions programs “give members of generally disadvantaged groups, like black and Latino students, an edge over other applicants with comparable or higher test scores.” On Wednesday, POTUS himself unveiled “new legislation that would reduce legal immigration to the U.S. and evaluate visa applications based on merit,” in Bloomberg’s words. A theme emerges here: The Trump administration apparently believes that merit should determine an individual’s access to valuable resources. To state the obvious, this is deeply ironic.

Donald Trump reportedly got into Wharton because an admissions officer was doing his brother a favor. He later inherited a real estate business from his very wealthy father.

Senior White House adviser Jared Kushner was admitted to Harvard despite mediocre grades and SAT scores shortly after his father donated $2.5 million to the school. His first prominent business endeavor was running a newspaper called the New York Observer, which his father bought for him for $10 million.

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is a wealthy heiress who seemed unfamiliar with several basic education concepts during her confirmation hearings.

Senior national security adviser Sebastian Gorka insists on being called “Dr.” despite having received his Ph.D from an obscure Hungarian university via what one U.S. expert has described as a “fraudulent” process involving a dissertation that another expert said “would not earn [Gorka] a doctorate at any reputable academic department in the United States.”

And don’t forget about top adviser Ivanka Trump (a UPenn legacy admit and nepotism hire), press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders (the daughter of ex–Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee), Housing and Urban Development official Lynne Patton* (a Trump family event planner who listed schools she didn’t graduate from on her LinkedIn page), and first lady Melania Trump (who claimed to have an architecture degree that didn’t exist and plagiarized her convention speech from Michelle Obama).

So many self-made men and women at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. these days! Should they rename it the Merit House?

Correction, 5:25 p.m.: This post initially misspelled Lynne Patton’s name.