Friday, June 18, 2010

Victor Davis Hanson's Reflections on Being Governed by a University Lecturer

Here are a number of quotes from the Pajamas Media piece by VDH titled 'Government by Faculty Lounge.'

We are being run by the mindset of the faculty lounge, as if the philosophy or English department has taken over running the country. Let me adduce some random examples.


Tax proposals in haywire fashion are thrown out almost every day from various Obamians, as if at a faculty bull session over coffee. Can we count them all — much less can small businesses plan to hire a worker when they don’t know how much more they will shortly owe the government?

Here is what we hear from Barack Obama: a restoration of the death tax. Trial balloons for a national sales tax or a VAT. How high will capital gains hikes go? Rates are to go back to or beyond (?) the Clinton income tax schedules? Was the cap to come off income exposed to the full FICA bite, and was it to be set at $150,000, $200,000, or $250,000? What exactly is the new healthcare surcharge? And when and if these federal income hikes are added to the states’ raises in state income, property, and sales taxes, what will the aggregate tax bite be? Does anyone know? Do any of these guys care how “they” are going to make enough money to pay “us”?
We had a green czar who claimed that whites pollute the ghetto and are more likely to be mass murderers. Our attorney general called the nation one of “cowards” for not holding racial conversations on his terms. He has no interest in trying Black Panthers who disrupted voting, but a great deal in trying the architect of 9/11 in a civilian courtroom, replete with Miranda rights, in Manhattan a few hundred yards from Ground Zero.

The Black Caucus, stung by serial charges against its members of corruption, wishes to prune back the House Ethics Committee as we now know it, presumably because it is “racist” as a bad messenger of inconvenient tidings.
To suggest that the president should not have said “kick ass” or “bring a gun to a knife fight” or “get in their face” or “tear up” a talk show host is to traffic in anti-black stereotypes


Foreign Policy
Recall the much ballyhooed trip to Turkey — why then the present Turkish response? The outreach to Syria and the missiles to Hezbollah — why did Assad do that after we were so nice? And why is not Mr. Putin appreciative of our kind words? Why does he not help us with the Iranian problem? Maybe all those new hundreds of millions of borrowed dollars to the Palestinians will at least change their opinion of us?

Who is a friend, who an enemy? Rule of thumb: if you liked the U.S. between 2001-8 (e.g., Britain, Colombia, the Czech Republic, India, Israel, Poland, the former Soviet republics), something was wrong with your illiberal, pro-Bush stance. But if you pretty much despised America (e.g., Cuba, Iran, Russia, Syria, Venezuela), then we sort of sympathize with your former antipathy (we shared it too), and so now want to reach out and expand our common ground.
Lounge Wisdom

OK — Washington seems to run now along the logic of the faculty lounge. But let me explain the rules of Lala-Land. Some of you were not academics for 21 years. No problem, you can easily imagine what the worldview is on campus — given that after six years on the job you cannot be fired except for felony conviction (and even that is problematic). After tenure a failure to publish and awful teaching evaluations mean nothing. “Post-tenure review” has the teeth of a U.N. investigation.
Status is predicated on university affiliations, the more Ivy League the better; an Ohio State professor with 10 successful books is always judged a failure in comparison to a brilliant Princeton professor with two “seminal” articles. The more one covets academic status, the more one deplores the unfair social divides in America.

Money is as despised in the abstract as it is pursued in the concrete. No one has run a business, worked much in dead-end, physical labor, or felt economic disaster when the economy went south. Tragedy instead for those who make it on the academic gravy train is the absence of an automatic pay increase, a refused sabbatical, or a hiring freeze. Academics damn Wal-Mart’s exploitation, but count on part-timers to work for a third of their own salaries for the same work — and thereby subsidize their own aristocratic perks. The PhD is felt the equivalent of an MD or MBA, and so leisured contemplation focuses on why less well spoken doctors and CEOs cruelly and so unfairly make so much more than far smarter professors.
Foreigners were usually smarter than Americans, mostly because they took the train and were without a Ram pickup in their garages. Fright surrounded things like flipping back the circuit breaker or unplugging the sewer line under the house; more mysterious were the grubby folk who didn’t eat arugula and were called in to conjure up a fix to these bothersome distractions.

Ambiguity in speech, not clarity was preferred; the ability to adduce ten different points of view was always considered superior to deciding on one. Tantrums, the occasional obscenity, the knife-in-the-back memo always assumed a sort of rule that such rascality never earned a punch in the face; the art was to be as cruel as possible without resort to violence. Yet when gut-check time came to vote openly yes or no and take the consequences, most voted present by skipping out or abstaining.
The white male Midwestern student without money or connections was to be pitied and ignored as a loser as much as was the discriminated black student of the 1940s and 1950s. The more constructed identities the better — I remember the female, gay, half-black administrator achieving a rare “threefer” and soaring through the state university system cursus honorum.

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