'Tuesday [Larry Summers] faced an angry faculty gathering where "his ears were pinned back," as one reporter said. Summers now seems to be saying he made a mistake in airing the idea of gender-related differences in the interests and aptitudes of scholars. But here is what he may be forgetting, for people under pressure often lose track of their lack of culpability: Summers did nothing wrong. He thought aloud about an interesting question in a colorful and un-defended way. That's what universities are for.
His mistake was stepping on the real third rail in American cultural politics. It's not Social Security. It is attempting to reconcile the indisputable equality of all people with their differentness. The left thinks if we're all equal we're all alike. Others say we're all equal but God made us different, too, and maybe he did that to keep things interesting, and maybe he did it because each human group is meant to reflect an aspect of his nature. Our differentness is meant to teach us his infinite variety and complexity. It's all about God.
But what the Summers story most illustrates is that American universities now seem like Medieval cloisters. They're like a cloister without the messy God part. Old monks of leftism walk their hallowed halls in hooded robes, chanting to themselves. Young nuns of leftist deconstructionism, pale as orchids, walk along wringing their hands, listening to their gloomy music. They become hysterical at the antichrist of a new idea, the instrusion of the reconsideration of settled matter. Get thee behind me, Summers.'
And WE are the "conservatives"?
OK, one more bit of Noonan's acerbic insight:
Hillary. Forget her prepared speeches, put aside her moderate statements on Iraq and abortion. This is how you know she's running for president in 2008. Ten days ago a reporter interviewed her in the halls of the Senate (another kind of cloister) and asked if she planned to run for president. She did not say, "I'm too busy serving the people of New York to think about the future." She did not say, "Oh, I already have a heckuva lot on my plate." She said, "I have more than I can say grace over right now."
I have more than I can say grace over right now. What a wonderfully premeditated ad lib for the Age of Red State Dominance. I suggested a few weeks ago that Mrs. Clinton was about to get very, very religious. But her words came across as pious and smarmy, like Tammy Faye with a law degree. Maybe she still thinks in stereotypes; maybe she thinks that's what little Christian ladies talk like while they stay home baking cookies. Whatever, it was almost as good as her saying, "I'm running, is this not obvious to even the slowest of you?"
OK, that's it for now. I haven't even finished her column, and I fear I will end up posting all of it here unless I just post what I've got.