- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 24, 2005

Campus nostalgia

“Academia, at least in the liberal arts, stands for devolution, not revolution; stasis, not progress. More often than not, educators who describe themselves as ‘progressives’ (one of those code words) are really stuck in New Deal liberalism. They haven’t even made it as far as a Clintonesque co-opting of GOP-inspired social reforms.

“To be fair, this sociological stagnation doesn’t always show up in the actual curricula, especially the hard sciences. … But in the humanities — English, the arts as a whole, philosophy, political science, and the rest of the disciplines that emphasize critical thinking about the human condition — academics seem to think society should have stood pat with FDR, or maybe LBJ. … Further, in part because of that nostalgic longing for the days of muckraking, domestic Marxism, and the ‘awakening American social conscience,’ the skew in the politics of chosen class materials is palpable — if not darkly hilarious. Professors make required reading of Upton Sinclair’s ‘The Jungle’ or, for that matter, Hillary Clinton’s ‘It Takes a Village.’ You will never see professors teaching out of Newt Gingrich.”

Steve Salerno, writing on “Varsity Daze,” July 22 in National Review Online at www.nationalreview.com

No respect

“The Democrats’ minions in the press complain that Bush respects them less and less. … The guest list for last Monday’s White House gala dinner for India’s prime minister included not a single member of the mainstream media, other than Bush-friendly conservatives Fred Barnes and David Brooks, and of course Raghubir Goyal, the White House correspondent for India Globe and Asia Today.

“Long ago Bush made it clear he regards the Washington press corps as a special interest whose views don’t reflect those of most Americans. … [T]hese media folk still haven’t figured out that Bush doesn’t fear them — let alone regard them in any way his equal. He’s tried to signal that our government comprises three branches only, but they haven’t been very perceptive.”

Wlady Pleszczynski, writing on “It’s the End of the World,” July 22 in the American Spectator Online at www.spectator.org

Not at ease

“In a photograph of the Northwestern University women’s lacrosse team taken with President Bush, four sets of flip-flops are plainly on display. The president, a lacrosse stick in each hand, appears characteristically unfazed. The girls smile tranquilly, unaware that their exposed toes are a scandal in the making. …

“The Chicago Tribune ran an article fretting about whether flip-flops were appropriate for formal occasions. … While the controversy obviously reveals a generation gap when it comes to views on casual dressing, it also raises the question: Why do we scorn the flip-flop?

“In the lacrosse team photo, the other front-row athletes wear strappy sandals that are at least as minimalist as their teammates’ flip-flops. About these shoes there has not been a critical word. …

“Mostly … our problem with flip-flops is one of pedigree. — They were first favored by fringe groups: surfers and habitual beach-goers. …

“[F]or most, flip-flops are about ease and comfort; they’re easy to slip on and more comfortable to wear than shoes with some structure. And this is precisely why the recent instance of flip-floppery met with such objection, even as the shoes have become mainstream: You’re not supposed to be at ease when you’re meeting the president.

Amanda Fortini, writing on “The Great Flip-Flop Flap,” July 22 in Slate at www.slate.com

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