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The Republican "Triumph of the Will" (Not):

I usually skip watching political conventions entirely, given that they are just staged political propaganda for each party, providing a forum for politicians on each side to present rhetoric that mostly ranges from the dishonest to the insipid, as American political rhetoric usually does. (It's especially not surprising to find such rhetoric at a convention, because they are trying to win over the undecideds, who tend to be the most ignorant of voters, who generally cannot be bothered with substance, and are unaware of the dishonesty). And given that my libertarian views are so far out of the political mainstream, I rarely can take ideological pleasure in any of the speeches given by politicians for either party, almost all of whom I dislike and often despise.

That said, this election cycle is more interesting than most, and I caught a few of the Republican convention speeches. Dishonest and insipid, not surprisingly, was par for the course, though it was very interesting to watch Gov. Palin easily surpass low expectations as a rhetorician.

According to Brian Leiter, however, one of his colleagues at a "leading American law school" found the Republican speeches Wednesday night, which included Palin's, not the usual partisan nonsense one gets from political conventions, but "horrific." Leiter's anonymous correspondent continues: "Only twice have I heard anything so blood-curdling: First, on viewing Leni Riefenstahl's Triumph des Willens while an undergraduate. And second, on listening to a radio broadcast of an old tape of a Jim Jones sermon in 'Jonestown' Guyana."

Res ipsa loquitur.

David Muellenhoff (mail):
Sigh. Sadly, off the top of my head I could name at least three of my professors at UC Davis School of Law who could have written that.
9.7.2008 12:23am
anonn (mail):
Newsflash: Another professor at a "leading American law school" needs to wear diapers at night. Details at 11.
9.7.2008 12:29am
phaedruscj:
This blog has taken on a decidely anti Palin pro Obama tone. An earlier post wonders if Palin has even heard of some Russian painter or Bauhaus design. As if that was some indication of her qualification for office. Another post comments on insipid and untruthful speeeches by Republicans being especially bad this year. No specifics given of course. Readers have plenty of outlets for partisan political commentary. If that's what Volokh is descending into then many of us will have to move on I guess.
9.7.2008 12:40am
lpc (mail):
which well-known law prof tends to use overheated lefty rhetoric and knows german (as in the reference to riefenstahl in the original german)?
9.7.2008 12:41am
CiarandDenlane (mail):
Does Godwin's law apply to political campaigns?
9.7.2008 12:42am
rrr (mail):
Considering the drivel on Leiter's blog, it's no wonder he would have such friends. Did you read the condescending name-calling? Is that what it takes to be a Ph.D. in philosopy? Childishness? As a Ph.d. cand in a related field, I've already learned my lesson about them. Leiter reinforced it with his insipid narrow-mindedness.

Anyway, as such, the analysis makes me think the professor is such a leftest that any speech by a Republican would be blood-curdling (and the tenor of Leiter bears that out). Given that, what exactly does any of this contribute to the conversation? Nothing. But hey, they high-fived each other on their moral and intellectual superiority!
9.7.2008 12:54am
Dave N (mail):
I think that Godwin's Law especially applies to political campaigns.
9.7.2008 12:57am
pcharles (mail):
That is just plain drivel. I suppose if Palin gave the speech in an outdoor football stadium with faux Greek columns then it would be okay?
9.7.2008 12:59am
Norman Bates (mail):
If the Republican ticket wins this November, the elitism of Brian Leiter and friends -- those who disagree with us are stupid and/or evil -- will play a large role. Keep up the good work guys.

I've just started hearing this new meme that Leiter et al. are floating -- that Sarah Palin is intellectually deficient because it took her more than four years and stints at several colleges to earn her degree. Elitists,like Leiter, whose adolescences were prolonged into their twenties while their parents paid their way through country club educational establishments may not understand this, but a very large fraction of college and university students, like Sarah Palin, are working their way through college, supporting families, and managing full-time jobs and significant course loads in an effort to better themselves. This means that they will take more than four years to earn a baccelaureate and that job and family related moves may make it necessary for them to matriculate in several institutions on their way to a degree. Leiter may be dismissive of this discipline and drive. I think it's indicative that Sarah Palin and others surmounting the same difficulties are morally far superior to Leiter and his ilk.
9.7.2008 12:59am
Glenn W. Bowen (mail):
The sheer volume of hateful venom dripping from this man's writing almost obscures the larger fact that this guy is one terrified garden variety liberal pissant.
9.7.2008 1:01am
Angus:

This blog has taken on a decidely anti Palin pro Obama tone.
You must be reading a different blog given the number of pro-Palin, pro-McCain, and anti-Obama posts.
9.7.2008 1:04am
Stacy (mail) (www):
Some people keep saying "liberals" must be scared of Palin. I doubt they're scared; they find her contemptible and feel perfectly free to unload on her. This is class war come full circle - the proles have become the kulaks, and a new class of proles have risen up to challenge them in their turn.
9.7.2008 1:07am
Nifonged:
Hmm, between:

1) the superinflated tuition at law schools today (which I must confess my ignorance as to how crazy its become until I checked the "top" schools' websites a few days ago on a bet with a friend...whoa);

2) the reaction of "top" firms with the slowdown in legal work with no-offers, lay-offs and interview cancellations; and

3) the reaction and rhetoric of notable law professors in a currently hotly contested election;

I wouldn't be betting heavily on law school enthusiasm with talented American young people in the short-term.

I'm not sure that's a bad thing.
9.7.2008 1:09am
Cory J (mail):
<blockquote>
If the Republican ticket wins this November, the elitism of Brian Leiter and friends -- those who disagree with us are stupid and/or evil -- will play a large role. Keep up the good work guys.
</blockquote>

Reminds me of the quote attributed to--I think--Pauline Kael commenting on Nixon's victory over McGovern: "But everyone I know voted for him!"
9.7.2008 1:13am
fullerene:
At their best, the conventions are well-produced stagecraft. The only foreign analogies that come to mind are Nazi Germany and, to a lesser extent, the Soviet Union. Or did I miss something? North Korea and now the Chinese put together impressive but sterile displays.

Honestly, what turned me off was the pettiness of the Republican National Convention. Triumph of the Will seeks to elevate one's opinion of Hitler's Germany. It makes little direct mention of enemies, but instead creates an image of power, grandeur, and inevitability. It is supposed to be moving, and I guess it succeeded. Godwin's law or not, I am not sure how anyone could compare a parade of speakers whining about how much elitists don't like them to Triumph of the Will.
9.7.2008 1:14am
dualdiagnosis (mail):
Fear of Sarah is crippling the left, it's funny how obvious it is being displayed. Even Obama is showing signs of being intimidated.

I think they will be very slow to realize that the old school tactic of reflexively demonizing her will not work. She hasn't been posturing and positioning herself for this nomination, the pure ambition shown by Obama does not show on her.

After the lesson they were given last week, the backlash, they will continue down this road because they know no other.
9.7.2008 1:16am
James Lindgren (mail):
I don't think it's a GOOD thing that Palin MIGHT BE ignorant about modern art.

I thought it interesting that others didn't have an idea about what might be in Obama's mind when he said "Wassily."
9.7.2008 1:25am
jsmith:
Would it be a bad thing if she is?

And maybe Obama was thinking of "Nittaly" and just got tongue-tied.
9.7.2008 1:38am
Asher (mail):
That's sad, but Leiter gets a lifetime pass from me after writing this withering attack on Ronald Dworkin:

http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=598265
9.7.2008 1:39am
Hoosier:
"I don't think it's a GOOD thing that Palin MIGHT BE ignorant about modern art. "

I don't care. Really.

But, hey, this might be the next Big Issue for the Obama fanatics! "Palin doesn't understand absract art! What a stupid rube housewife!"

Even better if you get Obama to say: "She's so uncouth, she ought to be living in f***ing OHIO!"

Ah. The left. So bitter. And still clinging to their Heiddeger and their Village Voice.
9.7.2008 1:39am
Sasha Volokh (mail) (www):
phaedruscj: I agree with Angus -- the posts on this site have tended to be very pro-Palin, and I suppose there's some pro-McCain and anti-Obama stuff too. Several of the bloggers are members of Law Professors for McCain (this includes Eugene and Orin, and I've just signed up). But several of the bloggers are also not wild about McCain-Palin and support the ticket for the sake of diluting Democratic influence, or for the sake of having divided government. (That's my view, for instance, and Ilya has repeatedly stated the second view.) As for Palin, I like the idea of her, but on the merits, I'm giving her the benefit of the doubt for now.
9.7.2008 1:44am
Splunge:
Leiter's anonymous correspondent continues: "Only twice have I heard anything so blood-curdling: First, on viewing Leni Riefenstahl's Triumph des Willens while an undergraduate. And second, on listening to a radio broadcast of an old tape of a Jim Jones sermon in 'Jonestown' Guyana."

Oh, right. Because, you know, if McCain and Palin are elected in November, the concentration camps and gas ovens will start getting built by March of '09, the Capitol will be burnt to the ground and Congress suspended indefinitely, and the United States will quintuple the size of its armed forces, wage aggressive war against most of the civilized world, and unleash nuclear hell from here to Swaziland.

You know, it's weird that folks with the cushiest life on the planet -- American academics -- so often act like hysterical Chicken Littles. That crazy Reagan, he's going to get us all incinerated! Look out, by 2000 the world population will be 11 zillion and we'll all be starving! Re-elect Bush and the black helicopters will be a-comin' for you the next day! Invade Iraq and 10 million will die and terrorism come to Tampa! The price of gas isn't going to stop at $4, it will be $10 by Christmas and unavailable by Easter! Aieeee!

Et cetera. No wonder ordinary Janes and Joes, who have to cope with way more true threats to life and prosperity in their daily lives, hold y'all in contempt as folks who skipped some essential part of growing up.

Get a grip. Get a life. The Republic will survive the election of either Obama or McCain, and be pretty much the same. Indeed, we're fortunate -- given the asinine tendency towards hysteria exhibited by our chattering classes -- that two pretty talented men (and one talented woman, huzzah) are willing to stand for the job.
9.7.2008 1:48am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
a very large fraction of college and university students, like Sarah Palin, are working their way through college, supporting families, and managing full-time jobs and significant course loads in an effort to better themselves


Are you saying this is actually true about Palin? That she was "working [her] way through college, supporting families, and managing full-time jobs?" And that this is why it required five colleges and six years?

I wonder if you actually know. That seems to be the plain meaning of what you said, that you know.
9.7.2008 1:52am
Brian G (mail) (www):
I think 96% of the Professors at my law school could have said that.

Hilarious how much law school Professor hate Republicans. A conservative group from the university once did a study on the law school professors and found that 100% of the Professors were registered Democrats and those who donated money all went to Democrats. The law school administration and most of the professors were real pissed about it. Funny how much they love the First Amendment whent hey are talking about the Pentagon Papers but hate it when it is used to expose them as, gasp, liberals!
9.7.2008 1:56am
Hoosier:
We have people like that around here. They're called "faculty."
9.7.2008 1:58am
Brian G (mail) (www):
And by the way:


that Sarah Palin is intellectually deficient because it took her more than four years and stints at several colleges to earn her degree.


In a country full of peaople who didn't get a bachelor's and masters or law degree before they were 25, I don't think that will go over well. I got my AA at 23, my BS at 31, and my JD at 35, and it took me 6 different schools to get it all done myself. So what? That makes me, and Palin, no different than the thousands of others who weren't exactly spending their late teens and early 20's near a classroom.
9.7.2008 2:00am
Mike& (mail):
"I don't think it's a GOOD thing that Palin MIGHT BE ignorant about modern art."

Who cares if Palin knows anything about modern art?
9.7.2008 2:03am
Borealis (mail):

I don't understand why the conventions are viewed so poorly by the intellectual crowd here. It is the only chance that each political party gets to get out its message directly for an extended period of time, without the media being an intermediary. After this it is only sound bites, 30-second commercials, and 90 second responses in the debate.

Let the parties get out their messages and then consider them. There is still two months to dig into the facts, discuss them, and try to follow up. This is as in-depth as it ever gets.
9.7.2008 2:06am
David Warner:
"As for Palin, I like the idea of her, but on the merits, I'm giving her the benefit of the doubt for now."

I'd say that's currently widespread. There's a non-zero chance that she's pulled the wool over everyone's eyes, which would be quite an accomplishment in itself. Then I see something like this:

http://www.polartrec.com/node/3944

And it seems more likely that she really is different.
9.7.2008 2:25am
Perseus (mail):
I don't think it's a GOOD thing that Palin MIGHT BE ignorant about modern art.

As a politician, I don't see how it matters much (especially if you're a libertarian who doesn't think that the government should be funding art). As a human being, it might not be such a good thing, but then again, there are plenty of good aesthetic, philosophic, or religious reasons to ignore modern art.
9.7.2008 2:55am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
A conservative group from the university once did a study on the law school professors and found that 100% of the Professors were registered Democrats and those who donated money all went to Democrats.


I think it's not just an issue with law school profs. People with graduate degrees tended to vote for Kerry. I'm not sure this reflects well on the GOP.
9.7.2008 3:09am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
In a country full of peaople who didn't get a bachelor's and masters or law degree before they were 25, I don't think that will go over well


I think the reasons matter. The reasons for someone to attend five different colleges might be very impressive, or they might be very unimpressive. That's why I hope we get to find out the reasons. If I was interviewing a job applicant, I would definitely inquire. So I hope that inquiry is made, and answered.
9.7.2008 3:09am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
http://www.polartrec.com/node/3944


That person says the jet was sold on eBay. But it wasn't. I wonder if that's something Palin told her.
9.7.2008 3:09am
Kirk:
Splunge,

I can't for the life of me figure out which candidate you meant to leave out. [" ...two pretty talented men (and one talented woman..."]
9.7.2008 3:24am
BillW:
James Lindgren: I don't think it's a GOOD thing that Palin MIGHT BE ignorant about modern art.

What's it like to sit in that thing? Or is more for looking at?

jukeboxgrad: And that this is why it required five colleges and six years?

For what little it may be worth, the correct figures seem to be four schools and five years.
9.7.2008 4:08am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
"the correct figures seem to be four schools and five years."

Cite?
9.7.2008 4:42am
Perseus (mail):
The left. So bitter. And still clinging to their Heiddeger

With a nod to Orin Kerr's recent post: And since Heidegger supported the Nazis, the Left...
9.7.2008 4:43am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
I think her campaign said 4, but this report seems to go into detail about 5.

McCain can't count his houses, and she can't count her colleges.
9.7.2008 4:48am
one of many:
As a human being, it might not be such a good thing, but then again, there are plenty of good aesthetic, philosophic, or religious reasons to ignore modern art.


Does just being too lazy count as a good philosophic reason for ignoring modern art? Some of it is OK, a smaller number of pieces are great but most of it is just too much work to determine what the artist is trying to communicate and when you do figure it out just isn't worth the effort. I do give bonus points for those like Warhol who are fun, it doesn't seem like work to get to the message. Dagnabit, artistic conventions exist for reason, they make communication easier for everyone and you should know the rules (conventions) before you start bending the rules, just because you have studied everything by Klee does not mean you know enough to be a great artist. I suppose this is true of any artistic period however and the dross gets discarded over time leaving the best. At least modern art's better than post-modern art.
9.7.2008 5:20am
davod (mail):
David Bernstein - I am thankfull that you are able to write this. Your effort to expose the massive attempt at brainwashing by the Republican (Bush) regime is to be commended.

You must be one of the few brave opponents who have survived the purges, mass deportations to concentration camps and killings of the seven plus years of the regime.

Thank heaven that some of us, only in the most furtive ways of course, were able watch the more sedate and illuminating display of humility by Obama at the Democratic national convention.
9.7.2008 6:16am
Uthaw:
I don't think it's a GOOD thing that Palin MIGHT BE ignorant about modern art.

I don't think it's a GOOD thing that people assume that anyone who did not attend an Ivy League school is an ignorant buffoon and automatically unqualified for high political office.
9.7.2008 7:23am
LM (mail):
dualdiagnosis:

Fear of Sarah is crippling the left, it's funny how obvious it is being displayed. Even Obama is showing signs of being intimidated.

I think they will be very slow to realize that the old school tactic of reflexively demonizing her will not work. She hasn't been posturing and positioning herself for this nomination, the pure ambition shown by Obama does not show on her.

After the lesson they were given last week, the backlash, they will continue down this road because they know no other.

You have quite a vivid imagination.
9.7.2008 8:07am
LM (mail):
I just read Brian Leiter's page. As a liberal I have to say stuff like is a lot of the reason I prefer this place to most blogs on the left. None of the bloggers here is nearly as extreme and belligerent as Leiter. That said, for so many of the commenters here not recognize that the VC comment threads are at least as extreme and belligerent as that, from the right, is a shame.
9.7.2008 8:32am
Federal Dog:
"You know, it's weird that folks with the cushiest life on the planet -- American academics -- so often act like hysterical Chicken Littles."


Actually, there's nothing weird about it. Classrooms are highly artifical and completely sheltered places. They have spent their whole lives in that environment. There is no mystery here: People who never leave the academic cloister are highly likely to turn into hysterics at the first hint of reality intruding into their fantasy bubble world.
9.7.2008 9:02am
Smokey:
Angus:

"This blog has taken on a decidely anti Palin pro Obama tone."

You must be reading a different blog given the number of pro-Palin, pro-McCain, and anti-Obama posts.
Angus is right. Since Sarah Palin's arrival, there has been a significant shift in public opinion.

The comparisons between Palin and Barry are especially damaging to the community organizer, who is left to fend for himself against an opponent running, not for President, but for VP. The comparison enhances one and diminishes the other.
9.7.2008 9:25am
Cornellian (mail):
I usually skip watching political conventions entirely, given that they are just staged political propaganda for each party, providing a forum for politicians on each side to present rhetoric that mostly ranges from the dishonest to the insipid, as American political rhetoric usually does.

My sentiments exactly. Didn't watch DNC, didn't watch RNC, pretty sure I didn't miss anything. I'd go back and watch a 3 minute YouTube clip if someone insisted there was something really important to be seen at either event, but so far I haven't noticed anyone making that assertion.
9.7.2008 9:55am
Cornellian (mail):
one of his colleagues at a "leading American law school" found the Republican speeches Wednesday night, which included Palin's, not the usual partisan nonsense one gets from political conventions, but "horrific." Leiter's anonymous correspondent continues: "Only twice have I heard anything so blood-curdling: First, on viewing Leni Riefenstahl's Triumph des Willens while an undergraduate. And second, on listening to a radio broadcast of an old tape of a Jim Jones sermon in 'Jonestown' Guyana."

Ha! you should hope for "blood-curdling" - sure beats boring.

I wouldn't know about UC Davis, but I never, ever heard a prof at Cornell law school speak like that. I don't doubt there are plenty of liberals on the faculty (and even some conservatives) but they're not fanatics.
9.7.2008 9:57am
rarango (mail):
Excuse me, but when has any political convention been an exercise in civility. The trouble with professors is, basically, that they are professors and live not in the real world. Continue pushing the meme that being editor of harvard law review is somehow a major qualification for the presidency; thats going to play really well in the battle ground states with the middle class. And continue pushing the meme that Palin attended six colleges--um that is not inconsistent with many American's experiences who have to work, move around--If anything it shows perseverence. Nothing is more out of touch with working class Americans that college professors.
9.7.2008 10:26am
sigh:
would still like to know why it took that long, and that many schools.
9.7.2008 10:50am
paul lukasiak (mail):
It wasn't the speeches themselves that were so frightening -- it was the delegates on the floor. The reaction to Palin's elegant deflations of Obama were greeted with what sounded like bloodlust -- and made her speech far less effective than it could have been.

In real life, Obama core supporters are just as rabid -- if not worse, while McCain's core is far more civilized when you talk to them.

Indeed, each party's convention represents a separate aspect of the "nuremberg" phenomenon -- for the Democrats, it was the cult-of-personality and subjugation of individuality in deference to the Leader; for the GOP, it was the xenophobia implicit in Hilter's brand of National Socialism.

The big difference to me is that McCain is unlikely to become the object of a 'personality cult' and thus the spectre of authoritarism implicit in Nuremberg is incomplete. But Obama has consistently exploited his core supporters hatred of outsiders -- and scent of fascism is much stronger with him.
9.7.2008 11:58am
karl newman:
...And still clinging to their Heiddeger and their Village Voice.

Silliness. Everyone should relax since there are many important issues at hand
9.7.2008 12:10pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
I don't think it's a GOOD thing that people assume that anyone who did not attend an Ivy League school is an ignorant buffoon and automatically unqualified for high political office.


I don't think it's a GOOD thing that people assume that anyone who demonstrates extraordinary academic accomplishment is ipso facto a pointy-headed elitist who we wouldn't want to drink beer with and therefore we shouldn't elect.

The GOP has embraced anti-intellectualism. That's reflected in your remark. And this attitude indeed seeks out and elevates "ignorant buffoon[s]."

I actually think that very high intelligence is a good quality for a president to have. I also think that very high intelligence is positively correlated with extraordinary academic accomplishment. What a radical, subversive way of looking at things!
9.7.2008 12:31pm
rarango (mail):
JBG: I think you might be conflating intelligence with education. I am not sure the correlation is not as strong as you might imagine. Ask Adlai Stevenson or Harry Truman for their take on things.
9.7.2008 12:42pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
I think you might be conflating intelligence with education. I am not sure the correlation is not as strong as you might imagine.


You are stating a position that has become very popular. Much to our detriment, in my opinion.

Let's imagine you were suddenly about to make a critically important hiring decision. Say, picking someone to perform open-heart surgery on you tomorrow. And let's say that you knew almost nothing about the two candidates. All you knew is that one was a graduate of the University of Idaho and one was a graduate of Harvard.

Or let's say you knew that one achieved very high academic honors, and one finished at the bottom of his class.

Would you really be so casual about concluding that there probably isn't much difference? I doubt it.

Also, education is a good thing even if it's not correlated with intelligence. I prefer the more educated candidate even if they are no more intelligent than the uneducated candidate.

Also, I know McCain's class standing was a reflection of poor behavior, and not just bad grades. But I find that not comforting at all.

By the way, I love your Freudian slip (the second "not").
9.7.2008 1:21pm
Fat Man (mail) (www):
"According to Brian Leiter, however, one of his colleagues at a "leading American law school" found the Republican speeches Wednesday night, ... "horrific." Leiter's anonymous correspondent continues:"

Leiter is playing with his imaginary friends again.
9.7.2008 1:26pm
Hoosier:
"Ask Adlai Stevenson or Harry Truman for their take on things."

AGAIN with the Undead! Geez. It's getting weird around here.

Truman was plenty bright for the job, but also aware of his limitations. So he surrounded himself with (arguably) the best advisors
9.7.2008 1:28pm
David Warner:
"Truman was plenty bright for the job, but also aware of his limitations. So he surrounded himself with (arguably) the best advisors"

Not so much with Bush, who is similarly bright.
9.7.2008 1:40pm
Federal Dog:
"JBG: I think you might be conflating intelligence with education. I am not sure the correlation is not as strong as you might imagine."


Just as weak -- if not weaker -- is conflating the amount of time spent in classrooms and being educated. Intelligence, education, and spending a lot of time in school are three very separate things.
9.7.2008 1:53pm
matt b (mail):
the disdain you elitists have for middle american-ness (and alaska apparently) is striking.
9.7.2008 1:58pm
BladeDoc (mail):
The worst surgeon I ever worked with (I was a resident under him) matriculated at Harvard, the best from Lehigh University. The whole Ivy League thing is overrated IMO. And in the interest of full disclosure I went to UVA.
9.7.2008 2:57pm
Pauldom:
Hey, let's continue attacking educated people. The more educated someone is, the more that person deserves our scorn. And if someone actually devotes a career to EDUCATING OTHERS, that person is REALLY beneath respect and deserves all the contempt we can scrape together.

That's the way to make sure America prospers--demonize education.
9.7.2008 3:22pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
The worst surgeon I ever worked with (I was a resident under him) matriculated at Harvard, the best from Lehigh University. The whole Ivy League thing is overrated IMO.


I can only hope there are lots of people like you who are encouraging their kids to line up at Lehigh and avoid Harvard at all costs. Better yet, line up at Idaho (Palin's alma mater). Then some kids I know might have an easier time getting into Harvard.

I thought conservatives are supposed to believe in the wisdom of the market. The dynamics of the college admission market indicate that Harvard (et al) has value that Lehigh (et al) doesn't have.
9.7.2008 3:31pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
That's the way to make sure America prospers--demonize education.


In fairness, the GOP doesn't always "demonize education." They think Regent University is great.
9.7.2008 3:31pm
John Doe (mail) (www):
Leiter inspires pity more than anything else. How miserable it must be, to be so out of touch with normal people that the slightest hint of a conservative viewpoint makes Leiter fly into sobbing hysterics about the "American Taliban," the Nazis, etc.
9.7.2008 3:33pm
Not Normal (mail):
Why would you think poorly educated creationists who hunt moose are 'normal' people? How many live in your neighborhood?
9.7.2008 4:04pm
jsmith:

People with graduate degrees tended to vote for Kerry. I'm not sure this reflects well on the GOP.


Of course it doesn't reflect well on the GOP. Everyone knows that all the important decisions should be made by those who spent many years cloistered away from the real world with their noses in books.

How silly to let our democracy be run by, you know, the people. How very silly.
9.7.2008 4:04pm
Federal Dog:
"Everyone knows that all the important decisions should be made by those who spent many years cloistered away from the real world with their noses in books."

Based on decades of experience as an academic, that's not necessarily where their noses are.
9.7.2008 4:20pm
ericH (mail):
Oh boy, here comes the Nazis again to take over America. Been hearing this from the likes of Leiter for about three decades.

Y'know, for a group of people known for their efficiency (ruthless to be sure) they sure are taking their sweet old time getting here. I thought Reagan was going to be the One?

Man, I hate incompetent Nazis.
9.7.2008 5:44pm
Fat Man (mail) (www):
jukeboxgrad:

The dynamics of the college admission market indicate that Harvard (et al) has value that Lehigh (et al) doesn't have.


The truth of the matter is that the ivy's do not provide a better education than state universities, in many cases its not as good because the big name profs are jet setting off to their consulting gigs leaving the the instruction of undergraduates to grad students, many of whom don't even speak English.

BTW Lehigh is a very good school, and probably a better place to learn and grow as an undergraduate than an ivy.

Basically, what the ivies give their students is membership in a club characterized by the snobbery and elitism of the members. Allow me to recommend this essay to anyone who seriously wants to know what the ivies are all about:

"Lost in the Meritocracy: How I traded an education for a ticket to the ruling class" by Walter Kirn in the Atlantic magazine for January/February 2005.
9.7.2008 5:45pm
David Warner:
"I just read Brian Leiter's page. As a liberal I have to say stuff like is a lot of the reason I prefer this place to most blogs on the left. None of the bloggers here is nearly as extreme and belligerent as Leiter. That said, for so many of the commenters here not recognize that the VC comment threads are at least as extreme and belligerent as that, from the right, is a shame."

They tilt right (whatever that means, I'd say more paranoid) for some threads, then the Obamjaweed shows up for others. I try to learn the names and tune them (on both sides) out. At least here the idiots aren't running the asylum, and there are diverse arguments being made, with a smidgen of engagement here and there.
9.7.2008 5:57pm
David Warner:
I'd concur somewhat with Fat Man's take although the Ivies afford an opportunity to meet smarter students than other schools, and some take advantage of those connections to accomplish exceptional things.

I don't think anyone intelligent is attacking education per se, just a resume-stuffing empty credentialism that we've all experienced in one form or another, and unfortunately seems to be embodied in one of the Presidential Candidates, however appealing he would be as Head of State, or useful he would be to break the lingering barriers of past discrimination, or potentially inspiring he would be with his eloquence and capacity to express our shared values.
9.7.2008 6:05pm
Hoosier:
David Warner:
I'd concur somewhat with Fat Man's take although the Ivies afford an opportunity to meet smarter students than other schools, and some take advantage of those connections to accomplish exceptional things.


Well, I think that's right. The deep secret of "elite universities" is that the "value added" isn't much different than at a good state school, and less than at a good small college or an HBC. The top three graduation rates are found at harvard, Yale, and Notre Dame, in that order. Why? Because these schools get so many well-prepared, ambitious applicants to choose from that they'd have trouble preventing matriculated students from finishing.

What's the opposite of "garbage in, garbage out"?

But don't tell mom and dad, or they won't pay us $200K for what we could offer for a whole lot less. Americans think that education is magic. That's why the higher ed industry can get away with having its faculty take on progrssively less institutional responsibility as they move up the ladder. Weird, huh?

Shhhh!
9.7.2008 6:52pm
Fury:
jukeboxgrad writes:

In fairness, the GOP doesn't always "demonize education." They think Regent University is great.

Somewhat of a cheap shot, don't you think - making broad generalizations like that?
9.7.2008 7:19pm
SteveMG (mail):
Let's see: a group of (mostly) washed-up or (mostly) hack democratically-elected politicians reading speeches written by someone else that no one will remember to a crowd of people wearing funny hats reminds someone of the Nuremberg rallies?

What was that again about anti-intellectualism?
9.7.2008 7:40pm
Elliot123 (mail):
Isn't it great we have TV so we can all watch the speeches ourselves, and don't have to rely on some law professor at a "leading American law school."
9.7.2008 9:17pm
Elliot123 (mail):
"I don't think it's a GOOD thing that Palin MIGHT BE ignorant about modern art."

No, it isn't. Nor is it a good thing Obama is probably ignorant of snowmobiles. Who cares?
9.7.2008 9:20pm
LM (mail):
David Warner:

"I just read Brian Leiter's page. As a liberal I have to say stuff like (sic) is a lot of the reason I prefer this place to most blogs on the left. None of the bloggers here is nearly as extreme and belligerent as Leiter. That said, for so many of the commenters here not recognize that the VC comment threads are at least as extreme and belligerent as that, (sic) from the right, is a shame."

They tilt right (whatever that means, I'd say more paranoid) for some threads, then the Obamjaweed shows up for others. I try to learn the names and tune them (on both sides) out. At least here the idiots aren't running the asylum, and there are diverse arguments being made, with a smidgen of engagement here and there.


Agreed. My comment didn't come close to saying what I had in mind, and that's aside from a couple of typo omissions, one of which also distorted my meaning (I meant to say "predominantly from the right)." Anyway, what I wanted to get at wasn't the extremism per se, which can have its merits, but how oblivious so many extremists apparently are to being such, their blindness to how similar they are to their opponents, and how much they waste by dismissing the other side's take before they've even heard it.
9.7.2008 9:49pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
Everyone knows that all the important decisions should be made by those who spent many years cloistered away from the real world with their noses in books


Thanks for this nice example of the GOP's rampant anti-intellectualism.

If spending "many years cloistered away from the real world" is a bad thing, then why not eliminate education entirely? Who needs schools?

If all my kids need to know how to do is read the Bible, comprehend creationism, and field-dress a moose, can't we save a lot of money if I just teach them that at home?

And since people who spend too much time with "their noses in books" are apparently subversives and troublemakers, why not get rid of books, too? Maybe every mayor should do what Palin did: make inquiries about banning books.
9.7.2008 11:37pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
these schools get so many well-prepared, ambitious applicants to choose from that they'd have trouble preventing matriculated students from finishing.


Thanks for helping me make my point. The fundamental issue (in the context of the current discussion) is not how much someone learns at Harvard. The fundamental issue is what we can assume about a person by virtue of the fact that they have a degree from a place like Harvard (especially a degree with high honors). Let's say Lehigh (for example) provides exactly the same education that Harvard does. Trouble is, the applicant pool is very different. A person who graduates from Lehigh has only proven their ability to compete against that particular applicant pool. A person who graduates from a place like HLS, and with high honors, has proven that they have an enormous amount of intellectual capacity. We know this because we know something about the quality of the applicant pool.

This conclusion is unavoidable even if you believe that what Harvard teaches is indistinguishable from what is taught at, say, Lehigh or Idaho. Because the applicant/student pool is highly distinguishable.

Obama's academic history is not just proof that he was taught certain things. It's also proof that he is capable of a certain level of intellectual performance. A student from Lehigh or Idaho might be just as smart, but their diploma doesn't prove it.

But I think certain people like their leaders to be no smarter or better-educated than they are (and that's where the epithet "elite" comes in handy). I think that attitude is self-destructive, and it helps to guarantee that places like China and India are going to be eating more and more of our lunch.
9.7.2008 11:37pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
I can only hope there are lots of people like you who are encouraging their kids to line up at Lehigh and avoid Harvard at all costs. Better yet, line up at Idaho (Palin's alma mater). Then some kids I know might have an easier time getting into Harvard.
Don't get too excited, JBG. It ain't gonna happen for you. It takes more than calling all the other applicants liars for you to get admitted to an Ivy League school.
9.7.2008 11:42pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
People with graduate degrees tended to vote for Kerry. I'm not sure this reflects well on the GOP.

Of course it doesn't reflect well on the GOP. Everyone knows that all the important decisions should be made by those who spent many years cloistered away from the real world with their noses in books.
That's not really what the stat reflects. It reflects the facts that masters degrees in education are handed out like water to teachers, who are an overwhelmingly Democratic special interest group.
9.8.2008 12:23am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
It ain't gonna happen for you. It takes more than calling all the other applicants liars for you to get admitted to an Ivy League school.


In my life so far I've only been granted admission to six Ivy League schools. And that was only 100% of the ones to which I applied. So I guess I'll have to defer to your superior knowledge on this point.

That's not really what the stat reflects. It reflects the facts that masters degrees in education are handed out like water to teachers


The stat was for all graduate degrees, not just "masters degrees in education." How do you know what portion of all voters holding graduate degrees are M. Ed.?
9.8.2008 1:26am
Fury:
Jukeboxgrad writes:

"A student from Lehigh or Idaho might be just as smart, but their diploma doesn't prove it."

You are using "smartness" in a way that it was not intended. Certainly, people get into a college or university for reasons other than (or primarily) "being smart".
9.8.2008 12:55pm
Bad English:
"A student from Lehigh or Idaho might be just as smart, but their (sic) diploma doesn't prove it."


A diploma doesn't prove intelligence, no matter what school issued it. At best, it proves minimal completion of stated contractual obligations, including minimum grades (C, C-, or even D), unit requirements, and tuition payment.
9.8.2008 2:37pm
Tony Tutins (mail):
The top three graduation rates are found at harvard, Yale, and Notre Dame, in that order. Why?

At Harvard, basically you have to graduate in four years, or else you don't graduate. Thus students are under constant pressure to finish on time. From the Harvard College student handbook, the best you can hope for, is that your petition for one and only one additional term will be granted.:

Additional Term

In exceptional cases, and only to meet specific degree requirements, students may petition the Administrative Board for permission to remain in the College for one term beyond the end of the second term of their senior year. .. Before petitioning the Administrative Board for an additional term, students should consult with their Allston Burr Resident Dean about their proposed academic program, tuition and fees, and eligibility for College housing and financial aid. The Board will weigh the academic record and performance in the community when considering these petitions. Under no circumstances will the Board grant a student permission for more than one additional term.
9.8.2008 3:26pm
Michael J.Z. Mannheimer (mail):
What is offensive about the way Governor Palin is being "marketed" is that the message is not: "Vote for her despite the fact that she did not attend an Ivy League school." Rather, the message is: "Vote for her because she did not attend an Ivy League school." It is the difference between being unintellectual and being anti-intellectual.
9.8.2008 5:02pm
Hoosier:
Michael J.Z. Mannheimer

Your planted axiom is that dislike of Harvard is anti-intellectual. And you are wrong. Dislike of Harvard doesn't stem from a sense of the intellectual level of the place, but from a perception of smug self-satisfaction. It's just a general rule that people don't like that kind of thing.

I don't "dislike" Harvard. But when I've been there on research trips, I was stunned by the place. I'd never been to a place where large numbers of people actually thought that their s*** did not stink. (Yale isn't like that, from my experience. There is just a different culture in Cambridge.)

So that's why I'm not sorry to have someone who isn't from Harvard.

Your other plated axiom comes out in your preferred mode of "marketing," namely, "Vote for her despite the fact that she did not attend an Ivy League school."

Do you see anything wrong with the use of "despite" in that sentence? Or the fact that you think it reads OK as is?
9.8.2008 6:24pm
Hoosier:
In my life so far I've only been granted admission to six Ivy League schools. And that was only 100% of the ones to which I applied.

Yet you took your degree from a jukebox. How very odd.
9.8.2008 10:25pm
Michael J.Z. Mannheimer (mail):
Hoosier,

You mistakenly read my comment as "preferr[ing]" one of these marketing messages over the other. I do not. As a matter of fact, I prefer that candidates for public office not be "marketed" at all, as if we are going to the polls on November 4 to buy toothpaste or a big flat screen TV. I prefer that the political parties treat the American people as if we are intelligent enough to pick our leaders based on their positions on public policy, and not a bunch of braying jackasses who will fall for the "vote for me because I'm an ordinary person just like you" pitch.

And, please, if you want to write the word "shit," just write the word "shit."
9.8.2008 10:36pm
Hoosier:
Mannheimer:

1)"You mistakenly read my comment as "preferr[ing]" one of these marketing messages over the other."

2) "What is offensive about the way Governor Palin is being "marketed" is that the message is /not/: "Vote for her despite the fact that she did not attend an Ivy League school." "

I didn't mistakenly read your comment, though perhaps you mistakenly wrote it.

"And, please, if you want to write the word "shit," just write the word "shit.""

If I had /wanted/ to write the word, I would have. But I think it's obvious from my post that I /didn't/ want to write the word.
9.9.2008 12:52am
Hoosier:
Note: In item (2) above--Emphasis in the original, etc., etc.
9.9.2008 12:54am