Academia dies on the Hill

The Democratic-controlled Congress convened a panel of legal experts on Wednesday to inform the debate on the case for impeachment of President Donald J. Trump.  Opinions will differ as to the value of this testimony insofar as the impeachment debate is concerned, but there can be no real question that this is a microcosm of what is wrong with academia today.  Four academics showed up on the Hill, but only one scholar was present: Jonathan Turley of the George Washington University School of Law.  The other three, Karlan, Feldman, and Gerhardt, were merely Democratic activists masquerading as objective academics.  Unfortunately, what the country observed on Capitol Hill Wednesday is precisely what goes on every day on university campuses across America: liberal academics grooming converts for the cause, all the while claiming to be a voice for true scholarship.

Professor Turley informed the panel that he was not a supporter of Mr. Trump, that, in fact, he had "voted against Mr. Trump."  His word choice is important because it attests to something far more than the fact that he was not a supporter of Trump; he was against Trump.  And yet, Professor Turley went on to admonish the Congress that just as his personal views of Trump do not inform his views on the merits of impeachment, neither should their personal views regarding Trump inform their votes.

Trump's call to Ukrainian president Zelensky was not "perfect," according to Professor Turley, but neither was it impeachable.  To state Professor Turley's views regarding impeachment succinctly, the standard for what constitutes "high crimes and misdemeanors" should not be party-specific.  Does anyone really believe that impeachment proceedings would be under way if Mr. Obama had made a similar call to Zelensky?  

When Professor Pamela Karlan uttered the now infamous words "while the president can name his son Barron, he can't make him a baron," what we were observing was a complete absence of judgment from a woman who holds an endowed chair at one of the most prestigious law schools in the country.  It was a cheap shot that spoke far more about her than it did about the president and his family.  What does this say about the state of academia?  Yes, to her credit, she later apologized, but the appalling lack of judgment she exhibited in inserting a president's minor child into the political morass is not something that can be walked back.  Truth be told, Professor Karlan cannot really apologize, at least credibly, for her comments about the president's son because she likely would not be apologizing at all if social media had not erupted in such a spontaneous, bipartisan indictment of her tone-deaf, mean-spirited comments.  This moment before the U.S. Congress and the nation was a lens into the soul of Professor Karlan and what the American people saw was not very flattering, either for her or for the impeachment process writ large.  This was a "teaching moment" if only because it taught us how the process should not work.  The poor judgment of Professor Karlan was perhaps only eclipsed by the even poorer judgment of the Democratic House members in empaneling her as a witness.  Still, it could have been far worse: Professor Karlan was supposedly on the short list of Mrs. Clinton's Supreme Court nominees.

Professor Karlan was asked by representative Sheila Jackson Lee to distinguish between presidents and kings.  She answered that the king's word is law because no one can challenge it, but the president is constrained by the Constitution.  Perhaps the dean of Stanford's Law School should investigate whether Professor Karlan's classroom is governed by the canons of scholarship, or by her partisan views and rabid hatred of all things not of the Democrat persuasion.

Four academics testified on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, but three got schooled on what it means to be a true scholar by the only true scholar among them: Professor Turley.  The panel of experts was there to speak to the history and the laws governing impeachment proceedings, but what they said collectively about the state of academia was far more enlightening and infinitely more troubling.  The Democrats use academia today as their minor league farm system and the results of that process were on vivid display in the Democratic-controlled Congress.

Dennis Weisman is a professor of economics emeritus, Kansas State University.  

The Democratic-controlled Congress convened a panel of legal experts on Wednesday to inform the debate on the case for impeachment of President Donald J. Trump.  Opinions will differ as to the value of this testimony insofar as the impeachment debate is concerned, but there can be no real question that this is a microcosm of what is wrong with academia today.  Four academics showed up on the Hill, but only one scholar was present: Jonathan Turley of the George Washington University School of Law.  The other three, Karlan, Feldman, and Gerhardt, were merely Democratic activists masquerading as objective academics.  Unfortunately, what the country observed on Capitol Hill Wednesday is precisely what goes on every day on university campuses across America: liberal academics grooming converts for the cause, all the while claiming to be a voice for true scholarship.

Professor Turley informed the panel that he was not a supporter of Mr. Trump, that, in fact, he had "voted against Mr. Trump."  His word choice is important because it attests to something far more than the fact that he was not a supporter of Trump; he was against Trump.  And yet, Professor Turley went on to admonish the Congress that just as his personal views of Trump do not inform his views on the merits of impeachment, neither should their personal views regarding Trump inform their votes.

Trump's call to Ukrainian president Zelensky was not "perfect," according to Professor Turley, but neither was it impeachable.  To state Professor Turley's views regarding impeachment succinctly, the standard for what constitutes "high crimes and misdemeanors" should not be party-specific.  Does anyone really believe that impeachment proceedings would be under way if Mr. Obama had made a similar call to Zelensky?  

When Professor Pamela Karlan uttered the now infamous words "while the president can name his son Barron, he can't make him a baron," what we were observing was a complete absence of judgment from a woman who holds an endowed chair at one of the most prestigious law schools in the country.  It was a cheap shot that spoke far more about her than it did about the president and his family.  What does this say about the state of academia?  Yes, to her credit, she later apologized, but the appalling lack of judgment she exhibited in inserting a president's minor child into the political morass is not something that can be walked back.  Truth be told, Professor Karlan cannot really apologize, at least credibly, for her comments about the president's son because she likely would not be apologizing at all if social media had not erupted in such a spontaneous, bipartisan indictment of her tone-deaf, mean-spirited comments.  This moment before the U.S. Congress and the nation was a lens into the soul of Professor Karlan and what the American people saw was not very flattering, either for her or for the impeachment process writ large.  This was a "teaching moment" if only because it taught us how the process should not work.  The poor judgment of Professor Karlan was perhaps only eclipsed by the even poorer judgment of the Democratic House members in empaneling her as a witness.  Still, it could have been far worse: Professor Karlan was supposedly on the short list of Mrs. Clinton's Supreme Court nominees.

Professor Karlan was asked by representative Sheila Jackson Lee to distinguish between presidents and kings.  She answered that the king's word is law because no one can challenge it, but the president is constrained by the Constitution.  Perhaps the dean of Stanford's Law School should investigate whether Professor Karlan's classroom is governed by the canons of scholarship, or by her partisan views and rabid hatred of all things not of the Democrat persuasion.

Four academics testified on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, but three got schooled on what it means to be a true scholar by the only true scholar among them: Professor Turley.  The panel of experts was there to speak to the history and the laws governing impeachment proceedings, but what they said collectively about the state of academia was far more enlightening and infinitely more troubling.  The Democrats use academia today as their minor league farm system and the results of that process were on vivid display in the Democratic-controlled Congress.

Dennis Weisman is a professor of economics emeritus, Kansas State University.