Sunday, April 24, 2005

Campus ideological bias and Hillary bashing. Oh, Jesus ...

You have to read this. Regular readers are aware that I've spent an inordinate amount of time slapping the bejeezus out of both right-wing nutbar David Horowitz and his koolaid-swilling little culties, the Student Nazis for Academic Fascism (and I'm in no way done with either of them yet). But, every so often, a new player jumps onto the field and, naturally, I must dispense with him as well.

Back here
, I took to task one Prof. Jon Reisman of the University of Maine at Machias, whose evidence for a prevailing anti-conservative bias was phrased thusly:

"Republicans and conservatives are in the closet mostly," said Jon Reisman, a professor at the University of Maine at Machias, who noted that he is the only member of the faculty with a Bush-Cheney sticker on his car.

"We have to speak up more, but the culture is pretty negative," he said, recalling that when Hilary Clinton visited the University of Maine as first lady, "it was almost a coronation," in contrast to Laura Bush's visit, which elicited "a pretty cool reception."

Now, at the time I responded to this, I have to admit that I hadn't read Reisman's words carefully enough as I suggested that maybe, just maybe, Hillary was more popular because a sitting U.S. Senator just naturally has more star power than a plastic, unaccomplished, former schoolteacher (uh, that would be Laura).

Well, in a private e-mail, Prof. Reisman drew my attention to the fact that the Hillary visit occurred while she was still first lady. So, why is this important?

First, it's worth pointing out that, even at the height of the Bill Clinton impeachment scandal, he was still a massively-popular president. As you can read here:

Finally, on Aug. 17, 1998, after relentless media attention, leaks, and news of Lewinsky's upcoming testimony, Clinton made history by becoming the first U.S. president to testify in front of a grand jury in an investigation of his own possibly criminal conduct. In an address to the nation that evening, he admitted to having had an “inappropriate relationship” with Lewinsky, but reaffirmed that he did not ask anyone to lie about or cover up the affair.

Paradoxically, however, in spite of the scandalous outcome of events, Clinton's overall popularity among Americans remained high. The country seemed willing to ignore his weaknesses in character, much as they did in the 1992 elections, as long as the economy was good, his policies were popular, and the United States remained strong abroad.

In short, it was the economy, stupid. While lots of Americans might have been appalled by Clinton's personal behaviour, they were just as likely to be pretty darned pleased with the way the economy was chugging along, and Hillary was the obvious beneficiary of that satisfaction when she travelled. Is it any surprise, then, that folks might be just tickled when she dropped in? But that's not the best part.

Note well that, in the year 2005, Reisman is using, as proof of academic pro-liberal bias, a visit by Hillary Clinton while she was still first lady. Think about that. Reisman's case for campus ideological discrimination is based on, of all things, a visit by Clinton from some time back in the 1990s.

This is Reisman's smoking gun -- a years-old visit by a Democratic first lady. Does it get any more desperate or pathetic than this? Truly, these are the people who can't let go, who can't forget, and who just can't, for the life of them, stop blaming Bill and Hillary for absolutely everything wrong with their sorry lives.

It's 2005, Admiral Smirk is into his second term, the economy is tanking, the deficit is soaring, U.S. soldiers are still dying overseas and yet ... and yet, it purely galls Reisman that his colleagues really liked Hillary when she stopped by sometime the previous decade.

What a sorry lot these people are.

: Well, well, well ... based on a little more research (and it's quite possible I'm totally out to lunch but I'm going to take a chance here), I'm going to suggest that the eminent Prof. Reisman is absolutely full of it, and I have the Google results to prove it.

Let's start with his recent (March 2005) story again:

"We have to speak up more, but the culture is pretty negative," he said, recalling that when Hilary [sic] Clinton visited the University of Maine as first lady, "it was almost a coronation," in contrast to Laura Bush's visit, which elicited "a pretty cool reception."

Really? So let's take a closer look at this, shall we, to see how the good Prof. Reisman cuts corners with the facts.

For this to be a meaningful comparison, it only makes sense that we compare the respective receptions of the first ladies at the same campus, no? That's only fair, do we all agree? So where would these visits have taken place?

According to one of the e-mails I got from Reisman, Clinton's visit was to "Orono", which I will naturally assume to be Maine's largest university in the town of that name. And when Reisman writes that Laura Bush, comparatively, got a "pretty cool reception," we would naturally assume that that would be at the same campus. And we would, by all accounts, be wrong.

A Google search on '"laura bush" visit university maine orono' provides several dozen hits but (as far as I can tell), none of them describe Laura visiting the actual campus. While they talk about the Bush twins (Jenna and not-Jenna) on campus, Laura is described as visiting Lewiston instead, which makes Reisman's comparison virtually worthless. But here's the capper.

As opposed to Reisman's description of Laura's "pretty cool reception", we have the September 11, 2004 issue of the Portland Press Herald, describing her visit thusly:

First lady Laura Bush described her husband as a champion of women's issues Friday during a campaign swing through Maine's second-largest city that emphasized a "W stands for women" theme to build support for President Bush among female voters. Speaking to a standing-room-only crowd in a converted church that now houses the Franco-American Heritage Center, Bush placed a decidedly female emphasis on the president's foreign and domestic track record, as well as his second-term agenda...

Although the audience for Bush's 19-minute speech included both genders, women seemed to dominate the crowd as well. The audience repeatedly waved "W stands for women" signs and shouted "Laura, Laura, Laura" when Bush first approached the podium after a string of female GOP activists addressed the crowd.

Oh, yes, that is one decidedly "cool" reception, isn't it?

It is, of course, entirely possible that Reisman is referring to some other visit of Laura's to some university campus in Maine but, if he is, Google is entirely unaware of it. Which suggests a really unpleasant implication -- that Reisman, like Horowitz, just makes shit up.

Please, Jon, say it ain't so.

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