He Doesn’t Get Plato’s “Republic” Either!

Dani Rodrik is a Professor of International Political Economy at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.  He recently posted a wonderful piece on his blog about catching the newly appointed New York Times columnist William Kristol making a flawed economic assumption in a recent column.

Wiliam Kristol was the former Chief of Staff for Vice President Quayle and is the editor of the right-wing opinion magazine The Weekly Standard. His political views fall slightly to the right of Attila the Hun.

However, Professor Rodrik was able to use Kristol’s weak economic argument to excorcise a longstanding demon and say the words that he has waited nearly 30 years to say: “Mr. Kristol, you get a C in economics.” He goes on to tell how Kristol gave him C grades for all his essays when Kristol was the teaching assistant at Harvard and Prof. Rodrik was a student.

The clear implication of his post is that Mr. Kristol gave low grades to students with whom he disagreed politically. The post warms my heart too, because in 1979 Mr. Kristol was an adjunct professor teaching my Intro. to Political Philosophy course at the University of Pennsylvania. I had no idea of Kristol’s background and the discussions in class were not that revealing since they rarely touched on modern politics. (Besides everyone was talking about our school’s trip to the Final Four that semester).

I had the same grade pattern though, C’s for papers that I thought were relatively well expressed and betrayed a modestly liberal political view. I even had other poli. sci majors read my papers to see if I wasn’t crazy. They all thought I was being graded harshly (of course, they were all liberals, too.)

So, Professor Rodrik, thanks for calling bullshit on Mr. Kristol. Of course, if Kristol had been any good as an academic, our nation might have been spared his forays out into the world at large.

P.S.: My bias against Mr. Kristol isn’t because of his politics, but because his politics clouded his opinion of students.  I had David Eisenhower as a teaching assistant during my junior year and he was awesome. He used to hold wonderful informal discussion groups and was always helpful. 

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