- The Washington Times - Friday, May 25, 2001

One of the idiosyncrasies of Yale is that, what with all the parading about, reception-lining and speechifying, it takes about a week and a half to graduate. That was a good thing this year because it meant that both Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and President George W. Bush could participate without having to cross paths.
Both are Yalies at least technically. Mr. Bush went to Yale, as they say, while Mrs. Clinton went to the Law School. Both are members of the 1960s generation, but also just technically. Famously partying his way through college, Mr. Bush gave a wide berth to the "protest generation" (not to mention the library); Mrs. Clinton, meanwhile, spent a goodly part of her bright law school years leading protests "great and small," accordingto Barbara Olsons "Hell To Pay," "from the Vietnam War to the lack of tampons in the womens rest rooms." Not too suprisingly, Mrs. Clintons idea of a party in those days was the Black Panther Party. (When the notorious Black Panther Bobby Seale stood trial in New Haven for murder, Mrs. Olson reports, Mrs. Clinton organized "shifts of fellow students to monitor the trial and report alleged civil rights abuses" for course credit, naturally.)
This week, of course, both the president and the senator addressed the Yale Class of 2001. Again, their experiences couldnt have been more different. Mrs. Clinton received a standing ovation. Mr. Bush was resoundingly booed and heckled by virtually all the students and dont be surprised a great number of the parents, while his appearance was boycotted by more than 200 members of the Yale faculty. Why?
Mrs. Clinton went first on Class Day, the penultimate commencement event. "The most important thing I have to say to you today is that hair matters," the junior senator from New York told the graduating seniors. "Your hair will send significant messages to those around you." This, of course, was a joke. Or at least it seems to have been a joke, the start of that humorous interval in those otherwise Periclean orations "dare to care, dare to compete, dare to dream, dare to love… " Mrs. Clintons supporters have come to expect. But what was really funny was that some observers didnt seem to get it. "The comments may have referred to research at Yale last year into bad hair days and self-esteem," reported the Associated Press, seemingly straight-faced. "The most resounding message of Clintons speech was perhaps her warning that hair matters, " concluded the Yale Daily News.
Sure, George W. Bushs jokes went over better when he spoke on Commencement Day. And sure, his message about change and purpose "Life writes its own story. Along the way, we realize we are not the author" had nicely affecting sincerity that was entirely nonpolitical. But obviously, it was not the speeches themselves that garnered generous applause or unmannerly dare I say uncivilized? derision.
When Mrs. Clinton spoke of a snub she said she suffered at the hands of a Harvard Law School professor who, circa 1970, told her that Harvard didnt need any more women, no doubt the young people in the crowd bit their lips in true Clintonian empathy at the indignities the woman before them had suffered at the hands of the patriarchal whatsis, an empathy that no doubt later brought them to their feet in wild applause for her hair-and-dare address. The next day, when Mr. Bush was booed, hissed and heckled on receiving his honorary degree as, according to The Washington Post, "the graduates raised a sea of yellow protest signs," they no doubt felt adrenaline surge as they struck back against the dread Old Boy Network and evil WASP establishment Mr. Bush personifies for them.
Ironically, Mr. Bushs benighted appearance drives home the utter lack of prestige that the old network has, and the puny influence that was once known as "the establishment" exerts over new elites. "The sentiment in Davenport is definitely against Bush," a senior in Davenport College Mr. Bushs own residential college and current home to his daughter Barbara told The Post. Even Delta Kappa Epsilon, Mr. Bushs fraternity, offered no brotherly support. "Isnt DKE showing support for Bush today? 'Well, were not rallying against him," a frat boy rather pathetically told the paper.
Liberalism on campus, of course, isnt news. By now, in fact, its a positively hoary tradition, one that began right around the time Mr. Bush matriculated in 1964. But campus liberals should be more careful. That is, they really ought to take better care of their Old Boys. After all, what will students and faculty protest when they are gone altogether?

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