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My alma mater, the University of Chicago, has launched a new Institute of Politics, which it claims will be “nonpartisan” and committed to the “University’s culture of open debate that includes multiple and often competing perspectives.” It is headed by David Axelrod, a University graduate and a former senior official in the Clinton and Obama administrations, who wants to create “opportunities for politically minded students.” While in office, Axelrod was viewed as not so open to “competing perspectives,” being regarded as highly political and not known for either moderation or introspection. In the Institute’s first featured event on January 19th an array of pundits – David Axelrod, David Brooks, Rachel Maddow, George Stefanopoulos, Rahm Emanuel, and Alex Castellanos – discussed various issues, including the 2012 elections.

The appointment of Axelrod, who does not possess much in the way of academic distinction, has been greeted tepidly by many University alumni, and the first panel is curiously light on actual diversity of opinion. Brooks is, of course, a leading neocon while Castellanos is a Republican media consultant who has advised John McCain, Mitt Romney, and British Petroleum in the Gulf of Mexico. All the rest are conventional liberals close to Clinton-Obama in philosophy. All are also basically status quo politicos who, notably, are international interventionists on either humanitarian or security grounds (or both). I believe I am correct in asserting that all the participants have supported at some point in the past or currently the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the US overthrow of the Libyan government, future US intervention in Syria, and a possible military option against Iran.

I suppose one cannot expect too much from universities, which are dependent for survival on government largesse as well as private contributors who arrive with their own agendas. But if one believes, as I do, that the United States’ decline over the past ten years is inextricably linked to the reckless neo-imperialist policies that have driven budget deficits, global instability, and the persistence of terrorism then it would have been refreshingly “nonpartisan” to feature someone who actually represents an alternative point of view.

(Republished from The American Conservative by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Academia 
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  1. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    As a fellow U. of C. alum, I share your sentiments. What are they so afraid of?

  2. Phil, you’re too cynical. This is merely another tendril in our President’s educational outreach. If you don’t believe me, check out the for-profit college ad’s. Amid all the courses in medical records, private investigators and bar tending, there is not a single degree offering for political hacks. Not one!

    Our President, who wants all Americans to gain a degree, has seen the need and through his paladins, has filled the gap. Advanced degrees in Community Action, Race Hustling, grant writing for perpetual motions machines, etc. will now be available for those in need.

    Please Phil, try to have some compassion.

  3. TomB says:

    Sort of the quintessence of the current political world: The same few old hacks patting themselves on their same few old backs for their self-perceived diversity and broad perspectives. The herd of what passes for modern independent minds on parade, self-admiring as always.

  4. When you wrote “private contributors who arrive with their own agendas” you should have perhaps added “especially for the Middle East.” Witness the efforts Chicago and Harvard have made to distance themselves from Mearsheimer and Walt after the publication of their book “The Israel Lobby.” Like you I spent four cold winters at the U of C and I can only register how disappointed I am now with what the place has become.

  5. I remember Alex Castellanos from 1977 when he was on the staff of Sen. Jesse Helms. I believe he is the son of Cuban refugees and may himself be an immigrant.

  6. bjk says:

    Was this to offset the Uncle Miltie institute? There was lots of faculty opposition to that at the time. This probably isn’t what the faculty had in mind, though.

  7. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Another neocon/neolib front office. The kind of place where political hacks can pretend to be “visiting scholars”.

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