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Behind blue eyes

Yale senior James Kirchick has written many outstanding columns for the Yale Daily News in the past four years, several of which we have noted here. Yesterday’s column is his last for the YDN, and Mr. Kirchick goes out with both barrels blazing under the cover of a bland headline: “Under media glare, politics can quickly become public.” The subject of the column is Rhodes scholar Chesa Boudin, Yale ’03, child of terrorists grown up to be a bootlicker of tyrants. Kirchick is unsparing on Boudin’s work for Hugo Chavez:

Like his parents, Chesa sees no moral relationship between means and ends. About Venezuela, he told the Times that, “The fact that we have a country that’s trying to create an alternative model is bold and ambitious and unique, and that’s why people are wondering, ‘Is it possible?’” The horrors of the 20th century ought to have erased any doubt in the mind of a Yale-educated Rhodes scholar about attempts to yet again create Heaven on Earth and Socialist Man.

It is incorrect to label Boudin a useful idiot. Idiots do not become Rhodes scholars. His obvious intelligence makes his embrace of undemocratic tactics all the more troubling. Chesa calls Venezeula’s democracy “protagonistic.” People without hard-headed, Marxist political illusions call it “authoritarian.”

In addition to the tracts on the Venezuelan New Jerusalem, Chesa recently edited “Letters from Young Activists: Today’s Rebels Speak Out,” a book that includes the epistles of some 40 precocious radicals. In a letter written to his incarcerated father, Chesa demonstrates his terrifying ethical calculus. He tells Dad that his life sentence as an accomplice in three homicides is “largely a product of your own commitment to progressive political change and to the inherent value and equality of human life.” Apparently this “commitment” does not extend to the pigs.

Reading Kirchick’s column, I wondered if Boudin might not have been better served by four years of listening to Pete Townshend’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again” than to his teachers at Yale. “Won’t Get Fooled Again” is of course the politically cynical high point of the Who’s 1971 masterpiece “Who’s Next.”

Upon the release of “Who’s Next” in 1971, Rolling Stone magazine judged “Who’s Next” to be “dangerously close to sterile,” a judgment that Jay Cost usefully recalls in his column on Princeton historian Sean Wilentz’s recent article on George Bush for the magazine. Based on its misjudgment of “Who’s Next,” Cost has long viewed Rolling Stone as “a magazine not to be taken seriously.” In his column Cost provides the evidence of Wilentz’s current article to sustain his estimation of the magazine.

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