If you were on an American college campus last Wednesday, you would have been forgiven for thinking that you’d landed on Broadway following a
Mets New York sports franchise’s championship.
Indeed, Barack Obama’s electoral victory electrified predominately liberal student bodies across the nation, and students celebrated by donning all manner of “O” paraphernalia and displaying “change” signs as prominently as ever. (Apparently, the meticulously branded Obama campaign has bought into this analogy between its electoral victory and a sports championship: it is now selling championship t-shirts that look bizarrely similar to the locker room variety.) Of course, none of this jubilation was surprising. Obama won massive student support when he ran to the left of Hillary Clinton during the drawn-out Democratic primary, and he has long embodied these students’ hopes for the broad institution of left-wing social, economic, and foreign policies. Meanwhile, the outcome left campus conservatives feeling anything but optimistic. With John McCain – the most moderate Republican presidential candidate in three decades – failing to achieve meaningful student support, the future of conservatism on campus seemed as gloomy as ever.
Yet a consolation prize for campus conservatives may be afoot. As Max noted, former Harvard University President Larry Summers remains a leading candidate to replace Hank Paulson as Secretary of the Treasury in the Obama administration. Yes, this is the same Larry Summers who spent much of his five years at the Kremlin on the Charles infuriating campus leftists in his infamous standoffs with Cornel West, divest-from-Israel advocates, and angry feminists–much to conservatives’ delight! (Granted, this is also the Larry Summers who served in the Clinton administration, as well as the same Larry Summers who responded to the angry feminists’ charge of sexism with an unseemly show of tokenism. But, as they say, beggars can’t be choosers.)
So here’s my message to President-Elect Obama: you’ve delighted campus leftists with your election. Now – as you once told a plumber in Ohio – spread the wealth! Give campus conservatives (who are, on average, liberal Republicans or Reagan Democrats) something to cheer for and nominate Summers to the Treasury.
And, Mr. Obama, if appeasing conservatives isn’t a sufficient reason for nominating someone, consider this added bonus: Summers would bolster your political finance committee’s obsessive merchandising. Indeed, just like yourself, Larry looks great emblazoned on a t-shirt.