Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Professor As Pundit. Where We Go All Highbrow And Shit and Link to a Harvard Political Review Article.

By Matt Shuham

In an interview with the Harvard Crimson last year, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger mentioned something unique about the Kennedy administration: it was the first to heavily utilize college professors. Kissinger said, “it was only in the Kennedy administration in the sixties that an organic relationship was established between the White House and Harvard… [that] has continued not so much between Harvard and the White House, but between the academic world and the White House.”

This mindset of professors, not only as educators but also as policymakers, has pervaded our government since the 1960s. And why shouldn’t it? While some argue that so-called “technocrats” are incapable of directing nations through troubled waters, few oppose the idea of having informed and scholarly advisers guiding our leaders.

There is a readily fluid relationship between “governing” and “campaigning.” During the 2008 presidential election, John McCain’s advisors included professors from Stanford, Columbia Business School, Vanderbilt, and Harvard among many other institutions. Barack Obama’s advisors notably included Lawrence Summers and Jeffrey Liebman, two big-name Harvard professors who left the “Kremlin on the Charles” to advise the then-Senator. Now, Alan Krueger, a professor at Princeton, is the administration’s top economic advisor

However, what might once have been considered mere policy and campaign advice has become something new, as professors have turned into political surrogates.


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