Political Animal


YET MORE PHOTO FUN….Matt Yglesias has decided to follow my lead and post a picture of himself on his site. Hurry over before he takes it down.

I have a new picture too, and as soon as my idiot ISP manages to get my personal web space back on the air, I’ll post it. It’s a bright and smiley Kevin Drum, just like the old picture except that it’s not ten years old and I don’t look quite so much like a charter member of the local Young Republicans club.

UPDATE: It’s up now. Hopefully my ISP can keep it there.

LIBERAL SHMIBERAL….Suppose the American media

LIBERAL SHMIBERAL….Suppose the American media were absolutely neutral, favoring neither left nor right. Every single article and every single op-ed split the difference perfectly. What would happen?

Well, liberals would think the media was conservative and conservatives would think it was liberal. And, um….that’s actually about what happens in the real world, isn’t it? Does that mean ? nah, couldn’t be. A neutral media? Too boring.

But I suppose I’ll find out. I just went out and bought Eric Alterman’s new book, What Liberal Media?, which Atrios says I don’t even need to read now that I have it in the house. Apparently, buying it is actually just a (rather inefficient) way of contributing some money to Eric Alterman while also promoting the cause of liberal books ? possibly to soften up the market for a future book by Atrios himself? Maybe….

But I’ll read it anyway and report back when I’m done. No point in wasting 25 bucks, after all.

(And a note to Eric: I dropped by my local Barnes & Noble to find a copy ? you know, big chain, carries every book in the galaxy? They didn’t have it. So I drove over to the big Barnes & Noble, and after 10 minutes of searching the clerk finally found a copy, one of three in the store. So not only is your promo tour going badly, but your publisher doesn’t even seem able to get the book stocked. This doesn’t bode well. Maybe you should shave your legs and start wearing miniskirts?)

(Oh, and another note: how come Glenn Reynolds gets an advance copy but not Atrios? What’s up with that?)

(And one more: could I really have gotten a free review copy just because I’m an important blogger? Would that be cool or what?)


FISH TO ACADEMY: DROP DEAD….Stanley Fish thinks that university professors should quit jawboning about political issues and stick to their academic knitting:

My assertion is that it is immoral for academics or for academic institutions to proclaim moral views.

….Of course [universities] can and should take collective (and individual) action on those issues relevant to the educational mission — the integrity of scholarship, the evil of plagiarism, the value of a liberal education. Indeed, failure to pronounce early and often on these matters would constitute a dereliction of duty.

Now, ever since Aristotle leveraged his position as head of the Lyceum to become an unofficial advisor to Alexander the Great, academics have placed themselves squarely in the middle of the issues of the day. So this is not exactly a new problem.

But never mind that. What I’m curious about is the reaction of Eugene Volokh and Glenn Reynolds: they both think Fish is onto something, Eugene going so far as to say “I almost entirely agree” with Fish’s article. (Glenn, needless to say, merely links in a vaguely approving manner without actually coming right out and saying he approves.)

I don’t get it. Both of them have dedicated considerable amounts of their professional lives to speaking out on public affairs ? much of it on university time and taking advantage of their authority as university professors. Hell, they both run popular blogs in which they mouth off on subjects far and wide on a daily basis, just like the rest of us. So why would they claim that professors should limit themselves to the merely pedagogical?

Am I missing something here?

UPDATE: Mark Kleiman writes to say that he thinks Fish is speaking strictly about classroom advocacy. After reading the article again, he might be right, although there are a number of passages that seem to indicate otherwise. If that really is what Fish meant, then it’s a pretty muddled piece. He should have made his point a lot clearer.