Why PubClassroom?

Why Pub Classroom?

Dreaming in Translation

Academics harbor a lot of learning. But all that knowledge and insight often remains unused in the public. In an odd parallel with the old story about Las Vegas, what’s learned in colleges and universities often stays there. Part of the reason for this is that citizens outside academia are too busy with their own work to follow scholarly publications or attend college classes; and many don’t have the time or money for academic training, or even notice why anyone needs this kind of work.

But another reason for this disconnect of “town and gown” is that academics often speak with more intricacy and complexity than most people have patience for—and sometime analyze with more elaboration than is immediately necessary for the understanding how to steer through key issues and problems. Using academic learning for understanding direction would actually be helpful to the average person. True confessions: I live the professor type, ready to elaborate in detail; I thank my children for warning me about too much “complexifying.”

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Campaign 2004, Uncategorized

Bush Achieves Goal In Spite of Criticism

President George W. Bush has received an unprecedented amount of criticism, and yet he won re-election handily.  How’d that happen?

A majority of Americans do not share his application of Christian traditions to a millennial vision of US mission; a majority of Americans believe that, while government cannot solve all social problems, it can give important direction, which contrasts sharply with Bush’s strong anti-government stance.

The Bush campaign put less emphasis on reasons to vote for him than on attempts to stimulate feelings based on his tough talk and reputation for decisiveness.  As a result, many voters for Bush will likely get four years of policies they don’t want….  Read whole essay here….

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Campaign 2000, Uncategorized

The Personal Is Now Political: Let’s Decide If It’s Presidential

“The Personal Is Political” was a slogan from the 1960s.  Women maintained that choices about their private lives were shot through with political consequences; African Americans presented the raw force of political power in every private act of segregation; and environmentalism became popular from awareness that private acts of consumption and waste have large public consequences.

Ever since the 1960s, there has been increased media attention on the private lives of public figures.  Democrat Jimmy Carter was the first president to appeal based on his folksiness, and Republican Ronald Reagan was even more adept in the arts of the personable leader.

In this campaign, the “compassionate conservatism” of Republican George W. Bush is a combination of conservative policies and a personable promise that he is a nice person.  By contrast, Democrat Al Gore has a lot of expertise and experience, but little personal flair.

Back to you, Dear Voters: the personal has become political.  Now is it presidential?…  Read whole essay here….

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Campaign 2000, Uncategorized

VP Candidates Set the Tone: Bush, Gore Should Listen to Dad and Uncle Joe

The Vice Presidential debates between Republican Dick Cheney and Democrat Joe Lieberman presented opposition with civility.  Central casting could not have picked better characters than Cheney as dad and Lieberman as uncle.

By contrast, Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush presents himself as the “bad boy” in class, chopping down his rival and trying to be king of the hill, while Democrat Al Gore is the “good boy” who knows all the answers, but makes his classmates’ eyes roll.  By acting more their shoe size than their age, Bush and Gore have been tiresome squabblers.

Can Mr. Bush and Mr. Gore learn something from their elders?…  Read whole essay here….

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Campaign 2004, Uncategorized

Saving Lt. Kerry: An Open Letter to the Candidate

Democratic candidate John Kerry has let the Republicans define his campaign by putting so much emphasis on the Democratic Senator’s service during the Vietnam War.  Republicans controlling the rhetorical agenda indeed….

Simply reporting for duty, former Lt. Kerry, is not enough.  Your history is interesting and impressive, but the country needs to decide about our recent history and our paths to the immediate future.  You need to tell your story about the problems that the Bush presidency has created and what you would have done—and what you will do—differently.

Rather than just telling us we need a better president, show us with stories that plant your positives on each of Bush’s negatives.  A better president would have made use of broad world sympathy after 9-11 to build a coalition and marginalize the terrorists—would have let inspectors do their work in Iraq to get the facts about weapons program—would have prevented lawlessness, looting, and prison abuse which have bred antagonism throughout the Middle East.

Dear Senator Kerry, don’t just tell us how bad Bush has been; the public already senses that; show us what you’ve got.  A better president starts with a better story….  Read whole essay here….

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