Tuesday, May 27, 2008

WSJ: Dartmouth and Clinton, Both Desperate

From today's Wall Street Journal:

If you think Hillary Clinton has been slow to accept the results at the ballot box, meet the folks who run Dartmouth College.

Like Sen. Clinton, the powers that be at Dartmouth have been getting trounced at the voting booth by an opposition campaigning for change. Like Sen. Clinton, Dartmouth's establishment has responded with increasingly desperate attacks. And like Sen. Clinton, its hopes of victory now depend on increasing the power and influence of unelected officials.


The full piece by William McGurn can be found here.

[Joe Malchow]

11 comments:

color me impressed said...

Did you know McGurn is an acquaintance of Malchow's? I'm impressed.

Anonymous said...

McGurn seems to have gotten all of the requisite talking points in.

The Wall Street Journal would like to join all of the conservative people out there in reminding you that the "parity" thing isn't a conservative conspiracy because: (1) T.J. Rodgers is libertarian, and (2) this one gay dude from the class of '02 supports us.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I think this is the first time the Journal has used homosexuality as a proxy for accuracy.

Dude who said board abdicated responsibility is gay = it must be true.

Anonymous said...

Just what you might expect from the once-respected WSJ. I assume they will next support the John Birch Society. They should stick to business news, which they report well, and not follow the advise of misguided and disgruntled alumni/ae.

Anonymous said...

They report a lot of things well, when they bother to look into things on their own. The op-ed reads like a regurgitated Dartblog post, minus the gratingly pretentious writing style. I would guess that the basis for the article consists entirely of a conversation with Joe Malchow.

Anonymous said...

Five posts critical of the opinion piece, and not one of them capable of discussing the pros and cons of the actual points made.

The blind-eyed emotionalists do their own position a great dis-service. Or perhaps it has no fundamental strength, so these emotional outbursts and personal attacks are all they have.

Anonymous said...

Or with Rago, who has WSJ connections. McGurn's thing reads like he assumes everything the parity people say is true, like he would never consider questioning an obviously biased source.

Anonymous said...

3:13, weren't McGurn's thoughts already been shot down elsewhere before he regurgitated them here?

Pros

Raising superdelagates is actually a good idea, but he didn't see the obvious comparison: either political party is like the board in that it is a private organization that lets arbitrary and restricted classes of people cast ballots without needing to be "democratic." Superdelegates are highly undemocratic, but the private organization known as the Democratic Party can set up its process that way if it wants to. Refusing to count primary "votes" does not disenfranchise anyone. Limiting polls to party members, or holding caucuses or other ridiculous nomination systems, would never pass Constitutional muster, but they do not need to.

There are no other redeeming features in McGurn's uninformed and gullible editorial.

Cons

The Trustees have never been "trounced at the voting booth," they are the ones who do the voting, and they are the ones under attack. The Trustees are not "unelected officials," they are elected members of a private board. The board as a whole is "self-perpetuating," not just some subset of it. The charter trustees are not "appointed by the school itself," they are appointed by the board itself, as are the alumni trustees. The only distinction is the means of nomination. The "establishment slate" originally included many members of the "pro-parity" slate. The board will not "eviscerate" any arrangement no matter which slate wins. Dartmouth is not one of the few schools where alumni have a real say, and if alumni do have a say, it is because the board is biased in favor of electing alumni.

Dartmouth has embraced "reform," by expanding its board. There are no significant "personal attacks" from the board against the four petition trustees (McGurn calls them "popularly [sic] elected" trustees) that can compare to those trustees' attack against the board, whose decision they described in a court filing as "a pure act of thuggery." The recent trustee letter contained no personal attacks, nor does McGurn mention any (so what's his point?). Dartmouth refuses to share its mailing list with the public, so there is nothing wrong with refusing to share it with individual trustees. Some of the four really have sunk to "Washington-style politics," so that description is apt. Some of the four really are pursuing a "political agenda" (read: Zywicki's Pope Center speech and several other equally idiotic speeches that were not recorded).

The board is not trying "To end their influence on the board." If it wanted to do that, it would expel them from the board. If it wanted to end the influence of petition trustees in general, it would eliminate all alumni trustee seats.

McGurn isn't pointing out anything when he calls the executive committee "unelected" (does any board anywhere have elected committees?). He is wrong when he refers to some trustees as "unelected trustees." All but the president and governor are elected.

McGurn's digression into the political leanings of the petition trustees is trivial, and he is wrong when he says "these men have all run on an Obama-style campaign for change that Dartmouth alumni can believe in." Smith's campaign in particular was a slick and bitter issue-driven wedge campaign for a position that no campaign should be necessary to achieve. McGurn refers without apparent irony to "the popular vote of an Ivy League electorate," which points out just how stupid an idea that is.

If "the real message here" is alumni discontent, what does that have to do with the lawsuit? Mere unhappiness has never created a legal claim out of thin air.

The election is not "in fact a referendum on the board-packing plan," it is in fact a referendum on the law suit. The ignorant phrase "board-packing plan" is revealingly pejorative. King sums it up poorly when he refers to a battle between administration and alumni, because it is in fact a battle between a small, misguided, and litigious clique of alumni and the board of trustees. If anything were to cause the value of the degree to "plummet," it would be that misguided clique.

McGurn is unable to explain why the results of Dartmouth's election "will really mean anything" or why he, someone who is not an alumnus, will be looking to Hanover.

Anonymous said...

3:13, weren't McGurn's thoughts already been shot down elsewhere before he regurgitated them here?

Pros

Raising superdelagates is actually a good idea, but he didn't see the obvious comparison: either political party is like the board in that it is a private organization that lets arbitrary and restricted classes of people cast ballots without needing to be "democratic." Superdelegates are highly undemocratic, but the private organization known as the Democratic Party can set up its process that way if it wants to. Refusing to count primary "votes" does not disenfranchise anyone. Limiting polls to party members, or holding caucuses or other ridiculous nomination systems, would never pass Constitutional muster, but they do not need to.

There are no other redeeming features in McGurn's uninformed and gullible editorial.

Cons

The Trustees have never been "trounced at the voting booth," they are the ones who do the voting, and they are the ones under attack. The Trustees are not "unelected officials," they are elected members of a private board. The board as a whole is "self-perpetuating," not just some subset of it. The charter trustees are not "appointed by the school itself," they are appointed by the board itself, as are the alumni trustees. The only distinction is the means of nomination. The "establishment slate" originally included many members of the "pro-parity" slate. The board will not "eviscerate" any arrangement no matter which slate wins. Dartmouth is not one of the few schools where alumni have a real say, and if alumni do have a say, it is because the board is biased in favor of electing alumni.

Dartmouth has embraced "reform," by expanding its board. There are no significant "personal attacks" from the board against the four petition trustees (McGurn calls them "popularly [sic] elected" trustees) that can compare to those trustees' attack against the board, whose decision they described in a court filing as "a pure act of thuggery." The recent trustee letter contained no personal attacks, nor does McGurn mention any (so what's his point?). Dartmouth refuses to share its mailing list with the public, so there is nothing wrong with refusing to share it with individual trustees. Some of the four really have sunk to "Washington-style politics," so that description is apt. Some of the four really are pursuing a "political agenda" (read: Zywicki's Pope Center speech and several other equally idiotic speeches that were not recorded).

The board is not trying "To end their influence on the board." If it wanted to do that, it would expel them from the board. If it wanted to end the influence of petition trustees in general, it would eliminate all alumni trustee seats.

McGurn isn't pointing out anything when he calls the executive committee "unelected" (does any board anywhere have elected committees?). He is wrong when he refers to some trustees as "unelected trustees." All but the president and governor are elected.

McGurn's digression into the political leanings of the petition trustees is trivial, and he is wrong when he says "these men have all run on an Obama-style campaign for change that Dartmouth alumni can believe in." Smith's campaign in particular was a slick and bitter issue-driven wedge campaign for a position that no campaign should be necessary to achieve. McGurn refers without apparent irony to "the popular vote of an Ivy League electorate," which points out just how stupid an idea that is.

If "the real message here" is alumni discontent, what does that have to do with the lawsuit? Mere unhappiness has never created a legal claim out of thin air.

The election is not "in fact a referendum on the board-packing plan," it is in fact a referendum on the law suit. The ignorant phrase "board-packing plan" is revealingly pejorative. King sums it up poorly when he refers to a battle between administration and alumni, because it is in fact a battle between a small, misguided, and litigious clique of alumni and the board of trustees. If anything were to cause the value of the degree to "plummet," it would be that misguided clique.

McGurn is unable to explain why the results of Dartmouth's election "will really mean anything" or why he, someone who is not an alumnus, will be looking to Hanover.

Anonymous said...

The "actual points made" are nothing new and have been discussed repeatedly on this blog and others.

Here's your rebuttal.

1. The analogy to the ability of the Democratic party to elect its leaders or the ability of the U.S. voters to elect their lawmakers is inapposite because the Trustees don't "govern" the alumni. They don't tax the alumni, they don't lock them up, they don't represent their interests, etc. This isn't about "democracy." It's about (a) whether and to what extent the entire body of alumni should have a direct vote in College governance, and (b) whether an 1891 agreement is binding, if so, what it means.

2. One of the reasons that Dartmouth's leaders have been "slow to accept the results at the ballot box" is because they believe the balloting process has been corrupted by professional politicians who have something other than the best interest of the College in mind.

3. It's a weak rebuttal to the charges of a conservative conspiracy to point out that (a) TJ Rodgers is libertarian and isn't in lockstep with President Bush on gay marriage or the war in Iraq, or (b) a gay ACLU Democrat alum supports the lawsuit. It's like the "one of my friends is [insert name of minority here]" argument to rebut charges of prejudice.

4. The general tone of the article sounds like McGurn has swallowed the rhetoric of the Review folks whole. I understand that it's an op-ed making an argument, but it's fairly one-sided.

Anonymous said...

J. Michael Murphy ‘61 has called forr candor and denies the right-wing political efforts to control Dartmouth's direction in the "D"/ (“Time for Candor,” May 9, 2008).

Mr. Murphy does not deny that he and his slate will continue to accept funds from anonymous non-Dartmouth sources, including conservative foundations, to support the lawsuit and their expensive campaign, which has included mailings, push polling and autodialing telephone messages.
And the published biographies of his slate tell an incomplete story.

Here's what some of his fellow petition candidates didn't tell you.

Frank Gado '58 hasn't told you that he's Vice President of the Hanover Institute, the administration-bashing conservative political action committee headed by John MacGovern '80 that regularly sues the College and has been behind all petition candidate races. The Hanover institute has not denied being a conduit for the conservative foundations that are funding this effort.

Marjory Ross’81 says she's a conservative publisher, but does not tell you her authors include Ann Coulter, Dinesh D'Souza '83 and Laura Ingraham '85 and her bestsellers include "Unfit for Command," the book that "swiftboated" John Kerry. She sits on the board of the Clare Booth Luce Policy Institute, an institution whose stated aim is to “engage, inform, and connect conservatives across the country with a special focus on providing a voice for “young women who want fair treatment and equal opportunities, but who are offended by the radical, liberal agenda they encounter in our nation's high schools, colleges, and popular culture.”

Paul Mirengoff '71 doesn't mention that he opposes the Wright administration and used his neoconservative PowerLine blog to get petition trustee Todd Zywicki '88 elected. Mr. Zywicki has been very open about his agenda, stating in a public speech “those who control the university today they don't believe in God and they don't believe in country…..the establishment within these academies is vicious, they are vicious people, they have their own dogma. If it were the case that there was no morality and there were no values being taught in the academy that would be better than what we have, which is that there is a new dogma. The new dogma is environmentalism and feminism and that is the dogma and they will enforce it viciously…………. It's going to be a long and vicious trench warfare, I think, if we are serious about taking the academy back .”

Maryland Republican state senator Alex Mooney '85 hasn't mentioned that he is the person who asked New Hampshire state representative Maureen Mooney to introduce a bill aimed at overturning Dartmouth's control of its own charter.

In the Dartmouth Review, former petition trustee John Steel '54 has declared that the Alumni Association should separate from the College, and alumni should stop giving to the school and reverse their bequests. Steel recently circulated an email to supporters suggesting that, according to the Book of Revelations, Barack Obama may be the anti-Christ.

This group of petition candidates is shrouding their political aspirations in the rhetoric of "parity" and "democracy" and hoping you won't look any further. Dartmouth needs stewards who will put the interests of the college ahead of a partisan agenda.