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Sunday, October 26, 2008

Some links for Sunday

I've been submerged lately under a mound of deadlines and other tasks, but I thought I'd surface quickly to suggest a few pieces I came across that might be of interest.  First, in the context of academic freedom and the proper administration of university goals, I want to highlight two of Peter Berkowitz's recent pieces. The first is a review of Stanley Fish's new book on academic freedom, Save the World On Your Own Time. Peter's review is largely appreciative of the descriptive aspect of the book, but tart in its reception of Fish's prescriptive measures. The other piece by Peter looks at three lawsuits trying to hold universities accountable to their own procedures and practice-- Dartmouth's alumni controversy, Duke's lacrosse scandal fallout, and Princeton's donor-kebob problems. I suspect at least Paul and the Ricks might be interested in these issues.

Second, as the political season reaches its crescendo, lots of silliness continues. One beloved friend repeatedly invites me to the Facebook group, Joe Lieberman is a Shandeh (Yiddish for embarrassment). I doubt I'll join. I understand why people are upset with and disagree with Lieberman, but I don't understand why there's so little basic tolerance for people of opposing views--like another friend who threatens to defriend any known McCainiacs from her Facebook profile. (These aren't even academics, Rick!) The reason I mention Lieberman is that he's a useful juxtaposition for those Dems who now welcome Obama's embrace of Republican Senator Chuck Hagel. I don't suggest they're an identical comparison, but if you take a look at tomorrow's issue of the New Yorker, you'll see a long profile by Connie Bruck of Senator Chuck Hagel, who reports his bitterness about being exiled (or at least spiritually separated) from his fellow Republicans. Excerpts from the New Yorker PR person's summary after the jump. If you're a Dem who's upset with Lieberman for his "straying," ask yourself whether you'd be equally upset with Hagel if you were a Republican for his "maver-ickiness." My sense is that there's been a lot more grousing about Lieberman and the politics of betrayal. My view is that both are simply voyaging in conscience on what they regard as the main issue of our time, and so we'd all be better off respectfully disagreeing. It's rather sad when politics devolves to this:

Regarding disparaging comments that Vice-President Dick Cheney made about Hagel after the resolution, [Hagel's wife] says, “That’s O.K. We don’t breathe the same air as Cheney or Rove. We cancel social engagements if we look at the list and see that they’re on it.”

Last, on a less bilious note, here's a lovely and penetrating essay, Fear of Fun, on the struggles associated with growing up and mensching out by former Prawfs-guest, Jay Michaelson, which I just discovered last night despite its origins two years ago. (Description of the Hagel piece after the jump.)

Connie Bruck profiles Senator Chuck Hagel and explores his reluctance to support John McCain, despite their close personal relationship and mutual respect. McCain, Bruck writes, considered Hagel “among his closest friends in Congress. . . . Both were hard-driving, politically conservative, hot-tempered, and humorous. They had served in Vietnam and were known as independent thinkers, averse to Party orthodoxy.” Hagel was even a co-chair of McCain’s campaign for President in 2000. Yet, Bruck writes, “from 2004 on, McCain, in his desire to win the nomination, had embraced Bush’s policies ever more zealously, while Hagel had become the Administration’s most severe Republican critic. . . . In some ways, Hagel is far more of a maverick than McCain has ever been, and his endorsement would likely sway independents whose votes McCain probably needs in order to win.” In early June, McCain and Hagel met in Hagel’s office on Capitol Hill. They discussed their disagreements on the Iraq war and engagement with Iran, and Hagel warned McCain about waging the kind of vicious campaign that had defeated McCain in 2000. Bruck writes that “after the meeting . . . any possibility that he might endorse McCain seemed to disappear.” Hagel says that he’s been “very disappointed” by McCain’s campaign. “He gave one unifying speech and then has spent fifty million dollars to destroy his opponent.” Hagel tells Bruck that the rift between him and McCain is deeper than their differing views on the Iraq war. “In good conscience, I could not enthusiastically—honestly—go out and endorse him and support him when we so fundamentally disagree on the future course of our foreign policy and our role in the world.” He laments that the war in Iraq and the Bush Administration’s surge strategy, which McCain has championed, have “consumed our capacity to deal with anything else in the world,” including the region along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border that is “the biggest threat to our security and the world’s security.” Hagel insists that “whether we like it or not, there will be no peace or stability in the Middle East without Iran’s participation.” Of McCain’s plan to establish a League of Democracies, he says, “In order to solve problems, you’ve got to have all the players at the table,” his voice rising. “How are you going to fix the problems in Pakistan, Afghanistan—the problems we’ve got with poverty, proliferation, terrorism, wars—when the largest segments of society in the world today are not at the table?” Similarly, he tells Bruck that McCain’s repeated calls to expel Russia from the Group of Eight was one of the reasons that he could not endorse him. When Bruck asks Hagel if he would accept a post in a McCain Administration, he says that he has considered it, but “I don’t see John changing his position and direction and concept of the American role in the world, to adjust to mine.” He continues, “I’m not going to change mine to adjust to his. And I serve at the pleasure of the President. So it wouldn’t work.”

Hagel is retiring from the Senate this year, and according to several people close to him, Bruck writes, in the past few years he has “become increasingly discouraged by his inability to influence the Bush Administration and his Republican colleagues, particularly on Iraq-war policy.” Hagel tells Bruck that on the morning that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee debated the surge, as he listened to his colleagues discuss sending more troops to Iraq, he was struck by their “cavalier approach, as if it were an abstraction,” and thought, “Have we learned nothing in the last four years? And we’re now going to send thirty thousand more troops into this meat grinder? For what? . . .We were not a co-equal branch of government. We were just kind of this afterthought to the President, and whatever he tells us to do, we kind of docilely go along.” When the committee passed a resolution, sponsored by Hagel and Joe Biden, opposing the escalation, Hagel says, “I was called a ‘traitor,’ and I was called ‘disgusting’ ” by his Republican colleagues. “His position in that caucus has been a little like a skunk at a garden party,” Hagel’s wife, Lilibet, tells Bruck. Regarding disparaging comments that Vice-President Dick Cheney made about Hagel after the resolution, she says, “That’s O.K. We don’t breathe the same air as Cheney or Rove. We cancel social engagements if we look at the list and see that they’re on it.” Lilibet tells Bruck that Hagel came back from his recent trip to Afghanistan and Iraq with Barack Obama and Jack Reed “in a better mood than he did from most other CODELs [congressional delegation trips]. It was so great for him to be with two guys who appreciate him, listen to him.”

Posted by Administrators on October 26, 2008 at 12:31 PM in Article Spotlight | Permalink

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