Monday, December 06, 2004

Quick Hits Monday

A new feature here at VOR---Quick Hits will point to interesting stories as they develop and highlight stories that you may have missed. Enjoy…..R.C.

It Begins…

Hilary Clinton for President stories are already being strategically placed in the New York Times by loyal “Clintonistas”. This one suggests that Hilary can overcome her negative reputation in large parts of the country by going on a “listening tour” of some sort. Look for these stories to continue until her reelection in 2006 and gradually become more and more positive, until the day she announces. The plan is to convince us that she can win. Good luck.

Foreign Policy 101

Check out Peter Beinart’s tremendous piece, A Fighting Faith, at The New Republic (subscription required) if you want to face the hard truth about what Democrats need to do to win credibility on national security issues. While many Democrats may be sympathetic to the Michael Moore/Move On set, this article makes a persuasive appeal for an intra-party struggle for supremacy.

Bobby Jindal Elected President

The 2nd Indian American elected to Congress in U.S. history, Jindal has long been tabbed as a rising Republican star. At 33, he logs another major achievement by being unanimously elected as President of his House Republican freshman class and becoming a part of the GOP leadership team. Jindal represents the conservative bent of the new GOP House and Senate members, with far right positions on many social issues. But as a minority, a Christian, and a skilled policy analyst (especially on health care), Jindal has the characteristics to one day lead the Republican Party. Many will point to the example of J.C. Watts, a promising black conservative who left the House, despite ascending into the top ranks of leadership, reportedly because he was being held back. Perhaps Jindal will suffer the same fate, but the GOP already boasts several top minority leaders in other branches, including the current and previous Secretary of State, the Attorney General, and even a few judges. Will the GOP be the first party to nominate a racial minority for President?

Easy as A-B-C

No Child Left Behind may have been controversial, but education issues have not been projected as a central concern in the 2nd term. Below are two great stories on education, one of the New York Review of Books and the other from Katharine Boo from the New America Foundation. For what its worth, Americans have never been able to have a real discussion on the impact of culture of school performance. The NY Books piece examines recent work in the field, and points to some disturbing statistics on the differences in how much time parents from different backgrounds spend working with their children on their homework, controlling for economic differences. Is this a real issue or a read herring? Boo’s article gives us the inside look at a charter school in Boston, warts and all.

Billy for Homecoming Queen

Imagine that you’re a suburban security mom whose biggest dream is for your cheerleader daughter to win homecoming queen. And, after she manages to beat out all the other girls, she loses to a boy in a dress. Heartbreaking? An attack on traditional values? Who knows? The article below from the NYT is one of their special “no statistics, but lots of somes, manys, and isolated examples” stories which they publish quite often. I can see both sides. The old alumni at these colleges come back to a campus much different than the one they left. They find increased ethnic, gender, and sexual diversity, and many of the staples of their college social life, like homecoming, frat parties, and secret societies, are afterthoughts. And that’s a good thing, because a less traditional social scene allows more students to find acceptance even if they aren’t the star quarterback or the Senator’s son. A whole new generation of aspiring middle class strivers is replacing the old moneyed elite that used to dominate elite schools. (The poor are still largely shut out)

On the other hand, I also believe that college life has become too focused on these narrow definitions of identity. Every student not only wants full acceptance for their specific identity, but also wants public validation from the rest of campus. Whatever happened to being just a Berkeley student, an econ major, or one guy on Floor 2 of Unit 2? Shouldn’t universities encourage real diversity, which involves the intermingling of students from different backgrounds, instead of encouraging us to retreat to the comfort of our identity based clubs, houses, and social events?


Return to Top