Opening Act: In the Mode of Reagan

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Sept. 5 2013 8:45 AM

Opening Act: In the Mode of Reagan

Robert Costa goes inside Rand Paul's campaign to block a Syria resolution.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

His team is eager to cast Paul as an heir to Ronald Reagan, who, they argue, was frequently reluctant to involve the U.S. military in foreign civil wars. “It’s about reclaiming the party from hawks and putting us back in the mode of Reagan,” says a Paul source. “As we do that, we want to help him, so we’re pushing back really hard against the isolationism chatter. That’s not what he’s about; he’s about non-intervention and the national interest.”

Waving the Reagan banner to make a case for realpolitik is, of course, totally consistent—Reagan would speak ringingly of human rights and in the next breath re-emphasize that the "human rights first" Carter strategy was a disaster.

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Gordon Silverstein slate-pitches how Obama's Syria process has actually increased executive power.

Tom Frank traces the decline of the university.

What actually will happen to higher ed, when the breaking point comes, will be an extension of what has already happened, what money wants to see happen. Another market-driven disaster will be understood as a disaster of socialism, requiring an ever deeper penetration of the university by market rationality. Trustees and presidents will redouble their efforts to achieve some ineffable “excellence” they associate with tech and architecture and corporate sponsorships. There will be more standardized tests, and more desperate test-prep. The curriculum will be brought into a tighter orbit around the needs of business, just like Thomas Friedman wants it to be. Professors will continue to plummet in status and power, replaced by adjuncts in more and more situations. An all-celebrity system, made possible by online courses or some other scheme, will finally bring about a mass faculty extinction—a cataclysm that will miraculously spare university administrations. And a quality education in the humanities will once again become a rich kid’s prerogative.

George Will endorses one of the less convincing snark lines against a Syria strike.

In the Illinois legislature, he voted “present” 129 times to avoid difficulties; now he stoops from his executive grandeur to tutor Congress on accountability. In Washington, where he condescends as a swan slumming among starlings, he insists that, given the urgency of everything he desires, he “can’t wait” for Congress to vote on his programs or to confirm persons he nominates to implement them.

Right, exactly the same thing—taking no public position on an issue, versus using your clout to ask parties to pass your preferred bill.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.