Wednesday, January 03, 2024

Some People Are Never Satisfied

After the indictment of Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey and subsequent calls for his resignation- including from a majority of his colleagues- I recognized that Menendez had no chance of being re-nominated by Democratic primary voters for a new term. The Senator did properly step down as chairperson of the Foreign Relations Committee but resignation from the body would have had little practical effect. I cynically suggested that Democrats instead should have demanded Justice Clarence Thomas' scalp in return for that of Menendez and wrote

Turning the tables on Republican wrongdoing when they can more easily adopt virtue signaling would be against their religion of turning on one of their currently disfavored own. Fingers held in air, they have determined which way the wind blows, just as they did when they gave full-throated support to their colleague in his last re-election bid. Wind direction has shifted, and so have their principles.

While conservatives typically resist calls to resign in response to personal scandal, liberals and progressives typically do the honorable thing and resign. That can backfire. After Claudine Gay resigned as President of Harvard University, her chief inquisitor at the figuratively fatal hearing of the House Education and Workforce Committee, Representative Elise Stefanik (R-NY), responded in a statement

I will always deliver results. The resignation of Harvard’s anti-Semitic plagiarist president is long overdue. Claudine Gay’s morally bankrupt answers to my questions made history as the most viewed Congressional testimony in the history of the U.S. Congress. Her answers were absolutely pathetic and devoid of the moral leadership and academic integrity required of the President of Harvard. This is just the beginning of what will be the greatest scandal of any college or university in history. 

Our robust Congressional investigation will continue to move forward to expose the rot in our most “prestigious” higher education institutions and deliver accountability to the American people.

This was self-congratulatory ("I will always deliver results"), unappreciative ("long overdue"), self-righteous ("morally bankrupt"), grandiose ("the beginning of what will be the greatest scandal of any college or university in history"), and pompous ("to expose the rot in our most 'prestigious' higher education institutions"). It was quintessential Elise Stefanik.  And on Wednesday billionaire hedgefund manager and Harvard alumnus

Bill Ackman wrote in a lengthy post on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, that members of the Harvard Corporation, the board for the university, should leave if they supported former President Claudine Gay.

“The Corporation Board should not remain in their seats protected by the unusual governance structure which enabled them to obtain their seats,” said Ackman, billionaire and founder of Pershing Square Capital Management.

Ackman specifically called on Penny Pritzker, the board chair, and others on the board who supported Gay before her departure, to resign. 

He said those members “orchestrated the strategy to threaten the media, bypassed the process for evaluating plagiarism, and otherwise greatly contributed to the damage that has been done.”

“Then new Corporation board members should be identified who bring true diversity, viewpoint and otherwise, to the board,” Ackman added. 

Ackman has been vocal in calling for Gay’s removal since her congressional testimony. Gay resigned from her position Tuesday, after her antisemitism testimony and plagiarism controversies. 

In his post, Ackman said he believed diversity, equity and inclusion efforts at Harvard were the cause for its recent troubles, and a new board should reflect differing views on the subject. 

Ackman is very hostile to diversity, equity, and inclusion programs on college campuses and would sincerely like to see them ended, and up to a point he has a point. Ackman, a huge contributor to the college, now is calling on the board of Harvard University to resign. That would be the same board which accepted Gay's resignation and may even have pressured the President to step down. One scalp down, several more to go.

Notwithstanding her thinly veiled glee, Elise Stefanik is a creature of another sort.  When Liz Magill, who with MIT President and Gay failed in the House committee hearing, Stefanik responded "one down, two to go." Representative Jamie Raskin then explained on MSNBC

.... where does Elise Stefanik get off of lecturing anybody about anti-Semitism when she’s the hugest supporter of Donald Trump who traffics in anti-Semitism all the time? She didn’t utter a peep of protest when he had Kanye West and Nick Fuentes over for dinner. Nick Fuentes, who doubts whether October 7th even took place because he thinks it was some kind of suspicious propaganda move by the Israelis.

And the Republican Party is filled with people who are entangled with antisemitism like that.  And yet somehow she gets on her high horse and lectures a Jewish college president from MIT.

It's unlikely that Stefanik, whatever her claims to the contrary, is sensitive to the free speech issues which underlie the DEI movement and practices at many colleges. No doubt she is fund-raising prodigiously and with her behavior pleasuring her man, Donald J. Trump, who sometime later this year will be deciding upon a running mate.

The DEI approach will continue to some extent, perhaps under a different expression or slogan, while in her transcendent opportunism Stefanik will find a different right-wing battle to fight.   And Democrats and liberals will still be bending to pressure, seemingly unaware that it is self-defeating to bow to the will of thugs.


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