Monday, December 06, 2004

A Fundamental Question

Michael Barone has an interesting opinion piece over at Townhall.com. I have always found him an interesting writer, who rarely gets caught up in the left-right bs that kills most serious political discussion in the media.

In his discussion of the elections and the future for Bush, Barone observes:

Yale historian John Lewis Gaddis has written that Bush has transformed American foreign policy, in response to the serious threat of Islamist terrorism, more than any other president since Harry Truman transformed American foreign policy in response to the serious threat of the Soviet Union in the Cold War. Gaddis, no Bush acolyte, regards Bush's transformation as a serious enterprise, worthy of serious study. Not many Democrats in election year 2004 took the same approach.
Barone and Gaddis get it. As someone who works in academics, I have been amazed at the lack of serious discussion pertaining to the Bush Doctrine. Among my colleagues, Bush is viewed with near universal scorn and his policies dismissed without consideration. The Bush Doctrine seems memorable only for ridicule and to bring up the term "axis of evil."

The problem that I have observed as an undergrad, graduate student, and professor is that in academia, where 97% of the faculty are far left of center, there can be no real discussion of the Bush Doctrine. In diagnosing the problems of Democrats when it came to the Bush Doctrine, Barone also delivers (without realizing it) a striking critique of academia.

Truly, this is just another reason why we need more balance in academics.

Update: Powerline has now chimed in on the subject, linking to a story in the Economist.

I read the story the other day, but did not comment on it because it was a little outside the purview of the blog. Further, it is a difficult subject for me, working in academics and having many, many friends in the ivory tower that see diversity as for everyone but conservatives. As one of the tenured professor's at my current place of employ told me after a faculty panel earlier this year, "It was really interesting to hear your take on the whole Iraq war...I have never known anyone in academics to lay out a conservative viewpoint like that." Needless to say, I had given a middle of the road presentation largely arguing that the Bush Doctrine deserved to be given serious consideration rather than instant dismissal.

This has been one of the more difficult realizations regarding my chosen career. I left a career in state government to return to school for my PhD in the hope of become a college professor. In grad school and in my teaching, I have never met anyone in academics who self-identifies as an a conservative or Republican. It still amazes and disappoints me. All in all, academics is a pretty unwelcoming place for a conservative.