No matter what happens on Tuesday, in President Obama, academia has realized its greatest apex of influence, and created a poster child (albeit a middle-aged one) who is the living embodiment of its most monumental failure. “Perhaps if liberals hadn’t coddled Obama his entire life, giving him college acceptance letters, standing ovations and Nobel Peace prizes just for showing up, he would have been more prepared to debate someone a little more challenging than John McCain,” Ann Coulter wrote in a column that appeared before the election.
With all due respect to the senator’s service to our country, by virtue of his life experience, he may have an innate grasp of national security but on much else, he and his staff are out to sea. Over a two-decade time span, whenever I contacted his office on one of his signature pieces of legislation, seeking to get more information than was on the talking points, I was always directed to the office of the Democratic co-sponsor of the bill: That is the only congressional office with which I had that experience in nearly 30 years of dealing with many of them.
Recently, Kadijah Davis, a wise-beyond-her-years Georgetown nursing student noted in The Hoya, Georgetown’s newspaper, that “One of the lone drawbacks of affirmative action is that mediocrity can become an expectation.” Yet and still, the affirmative action which Barack Obama benefitted from was based not on race but on political attitudes. In an academic environment in which agreement with the professor frequently counts for more than mastery of a subject, such “collegiality” is prized.
Until he actually faced a stiff reelection challenge this year at the tender age of 51, Barack Obama has been largely cocooned from opposition for virtually all of his half-century on the planet. The natural contrast is to Ronald Reagan.
From the time he emerged as an anti-communist in the 1940s until about when he was on his deathbed in 2004, the Gipper never enjoyed favorable press coverage. Indeed, what passed for reportage on him was a largely unabated flow of sniping from establishment types with an occasional cease fire.
In his first autobiography, Where’s the Rest of Me? In 1962, Reagan noted that when he started doing speeches as a conservative, he realized the importance of having verifiable facts and figures in his addresses to ward off the fusillade that he knew would come from his left. Barack Obama never had to face a comparable onslaught from the opposite end of the political spectrum.
Malcolm A. Kline is the Executive Director of Accuracy in Academia.
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