The Obama Academic Bloc

, Malcolm A. Kline, Leave a comment

Both Democratic and Republican presidential campaigns attract their share of scholars. This year’s race is no exception.

The difference is that those attaché to the former tend to be academic insiders while the latter tend to be viewed within academe as outsiders or even outcasts. This too is an unexceptional trend since, as we have shown, Republicans generally have a hard time making it back through the revolving door from politics to the Ivory Tower.

According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, President Obama’s faculty lounge advisors include:

  • Harvard economist David M. Cutler;
  • MIT economist Jonathan H. Gruber, who helped develop Obamacare;
  • Janine A. Davidson, an assistant professor of public policy and national security at George Mason University’s School of Public Policy;
  • Colin H. Kahl, an associate professor of security studies at Georgetown;
  • Jeffrey B. Liebman, a professor of public policy at Harvard; and, of course
  • Jill Biden, an English professor at Northern Virginia Community College who is married to a high-ranking government official.

By way of contrast, “A look at the other academics advising the Republican presidential candidate suggests, however, that straddling the academic and political realms can be treacherous, especially for those whose conservative views cause them to stand out on liberal-leaning college campuses,” Peter Schmidt writes in the Chronicle.

These mavericks include:

  • Israel supporter Eliot A. Cohen, who currently hangs his hat at Johns Hopkins;
  • Bush Administration appointee (W) Robert S. Joseph, now at Missouri State University;
  • Columbia University economist R. Glenn Hubbard, who helped promote the Bush tax cuts while serving as the chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors;
  • N. Gregory Mankiw, a Harvard economist whose free market approach led to a mass student walkout on one of his classes;
  • Harvard law professor Mary Ann Glendon, who refused an award from Notre Dame in order to protest their commencement speaking invitation to the President, whose policies promoting abortion conflict, Glendon believes with Catholic teaching; and
  • Scott W. Atlas, a radiologist at Stanford who is openly critical of Obamacare.

Additionally, there are candidates for office around the country whose day job is connected with an edu webmail address. To know where they came from is to guess their party affiliation.  “Those interviewed for this article—almost all Democrats, as are the overwhelming majority of college-connected candidates at the national level—have received varying reactions to their academic identities on the campaign trail,” Alina Mogilyanskaya writes in the Chronicle.

For example, Angela K. Zimmann, a writing instructor at Bowling Green State University, got a leave of absence in order to campaign, Would a Republican professor, brave enough to stick his head out of the closet long enough to run for something, be accorded the same privilege?

Also among those throwing their hats in the ring are

  • Christopher T. Henrichsen, a political-science instructor at Wyoming’s Casper College;
  • Charles Dumas, a theater professor at Penn State;
  • Cynthia A. Dill, adjunct faculty at Southern Maine Community College; and
  • Angus S. King, Jr., a lecturer at Bowdoin College.

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Malcolm A. Kline is the Executive Director of Accuracy in Academia.
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