It looks like with the recent controversy over John McCain’s commencement speech tour, The New School has solidified its place as New York City’s predominant stronghold of liberal student activism. (Oh, Spirit of ’68! Why have you forsaken us?) The result? A blog war to end all blog wars, courtesy of The Huffington Post.
For those of you who have been out of the loop of academic controversy lately, Bwog regales you with a rundown of what you’ve been missing.
1. Senator John McCain delivers the same commencement address at three American universities in the span of one week— Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University, Columbia, and The New School. Despite a warm reception at Liberty, McCain is met with protests at each of the other two institutions.
2. Jean Rohe, the web-savvy Senior Speaker at New School’s commencement, is made aware of McCain’s policy of giving the same speech on multiple occasions. She logs on to the Senator’s website and reads a transcript of the speech that he gave at Columbia, thereby learning the contents of his address to the New School before he has actually given it. She does not take kindly to the Senator’s remarks. Hence, armed with the text of his speech, Rohe, who is scheduled to speak just ahead of the Senator, discards her original prepared address and instead delivers a hastily-written attack on McCain, his support of the war, and his presence at New School’s commencement, quoting from the speech that he is about to deliver to bolster her attacks.
3. McCain makes a snarky comment thanking Rohe for “the cliff-notes version” of his address. The New School at large is not amused. McCain proceeds to deliver his speech as written, for the third time in seven days.
4. In response to the media attention garnered by her speech (see the story in the New York Times), Rohe writes a defense of her decision to attack McCain in her commencement address for The Huffington Post.
Here’s where things get interesting. In the comments section of Rohe’s original blog post, McCain staffer Mark Salter, who has co-authored at least three of McCain’s books and who claims to have helped write the Senator’s commencement address, gives a strongly-worded rebuttal to Rohe’s speech. At least, the commenter claimed to be Mark Salter—Bwog would hope that one of the top aides to one of the most prominent politicians in the country could string a sentence together better than this guy.
In this less than artful comment, Salter is harsh and insulting to Rohe, telling her that “The only person you have succeeded in making look like an idiot is yourself.” His most damning blows, however, come as he addresses the entire New School graduating class:
Should you grow up and ever get down to the hard business of making a living and finding a purpose for your lives beyond self-indulgence some of you might then know a happiness far more sublime than the fleeting pleasure of living in an echo chamber. And if you are that fortunate, you might look back on the day of your graduation and your discourtesy to a good and honest man with a little shame and the certain knowledge that it very unlikely any of you will ever posses the one small fraction of the character of John McCain.
The Huffington Post followed up by giving Rohe another post in which she responds to the comment. No word yet on whether or not Salter will chime back in, but if he does, Bwog can’t wait to hear what he has to say.
Also adding his two cents on Huffington Post is blogger Russell Shaw, with his directly titled post “Jean Rohe, You’re Wrong”. Between the four posts on the subject, a veritable blog war is raging with over a thousand comments. That’s good, even for Huffington Post. Bwog salutes you, Arianna, as we look on in awe.