Drums along the Charles River
Stanley Kurtz as the National Review describes the resignation of Lawrence Summers as the consequence of a clash within the Democratic Party. "These moderate Democrats want to bring the academy closer to the center of the country. But when push came to shove, the leftist faculty wouldn't play along." Summers was apparently offered a role in the next Democratic campaign, which suggests that he had to accede to the radicals or forfeit any chance of being a "bridge" figure in the campaign.
Alan Dershowitz meanwhile, dwells on the sheer underhandedness and illegitimacy of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences "coup de etat". Whatever the Graduate Schools thought of Summers, they are anxious to preserve their independence within the academic world, and the FAS action was akin to one party grabbing victuals from the table instead of waiting to be served by the waiter.
"The Faculty of Arts and Sciences, which forced Summers's resignation by voting a lack of confidence in him last March and threatening to do so again on Feb. 28, is only one component of Harvard University and is hardly representative of widespread attitudes on the campus toward Summers. The graduate faculties, the students, and the alumni generally supported Summers for his many accomplishments. The Faculty of Arts and Sciences includes, in general, some of the most radical, hard-left elements within Harvard's diverse constituencies. And let there be no mistake about the origin of Summers's problem with that particular faculty: It started as a hard left-center conflict. Summers committed the cardinal sin against the academic hard left: He expressed politically incorrect views regarding gender, race, religion, sexual preference, and the military."
If Kurtz is right, Summers decamped because he had his eye on managing a future Democratic campaign. But the manner of his departure may have stirred up a hornet's nest at Harvard. It will be interesting to see whether the other members of the Harvard community will let such a challenge to their prerogatives pass unnoticed or make a fight of it, not perhaps from principle, but out of a need to retain their traditional independence.