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Is President Kim A Neo-Con?

Kristol.gifThe New York Times reported the other day on the passing of Irving Kristol. Its lengthy obituary comments on the genesis of neo-conservatism:

The Public Interest writers did not take issue with the ends of the Great Society so much as with the means, the “unintended consequences” of the Democrats’ good intentions. Welfare programs, they argued, were breeding a culture of dependency; affirmative action created social divisions and did damage to its supposed beneficiaries. They placed practicality ahead of ideals. “The legitimate question to ask about any program,” Mr. Kristol said, “is, ‘Will it work?’,” and the reforms of the 1960s and ’70s, he believed, were not working.
In the Valley News today, President Kim uses language that is surprisingly similar:
He [President Kim] said there are many areas in which assessment tools could be used to better gauge what takes place at colleges and universities. One example, he said, is student volunteer work. “We have to be sure when students are going out and they engage in social activities, that what they’re doing is actually well thought out and effective and has an impact. Oftentimes what happens is that social service programs are more about the act of giving. … But when you say, ‘But did it work?’ We often don’t know. What we’ll try to do is make sure that anything that (students) do is done in a way that’s evidence-based and actually leads to improved outcomes. I think that would be a wonderful way for us to have a broader impact on the community.”

No argument from this corner on the above. Whatever label you want to apply to such an attitude, I sincerely hope that President Kim will have George Orwell’s self-described “power of facing unpleasant facts.” If intellectual rigor can replace PR spin at Dartmouth, we will all be better off.


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