We have faithfully followed the Sayings of Chairman Jim Leach of the National Endowment for the Humanities since he took the helm of the agency at the dawn of the Age of Obama. In the past few months, thanks to the efforts of Professor Penelope Blake, others such as the editors of the New Criterion and Fox News have begun to take note.
Leach combines pomposity and foolishness in a mixture that verges on lethality. His speeches demonstrate the cosmic gulf between Jim Leach’s opinion of his abilities and Jim Leach’s abilities.
If Leach would cast his pseudoliterate prose into rhymed couplets, he might be a character out of Molière. His speeches are illogical, incoherent, long and soporific. One wonders: Shouldn’t the head of the National Endowment for the Humanities be able to write a clear English sentence?
Now comes the Boston Globe with the mocking item “For art’s sake.” In the interest of readability, I have added paragraphing to the report by the Globe’s Mark Shanahan and Meredith Goldstein:
As it does each year, the National Endowment for the Humanities just doled out millions of dollars to hundreds of individuals and institutions. The agency’s largesse — $23 million in 2010 — supports schools, scholars, museums, and libraries. (One batch of dough this year will help 30 US libraries develop programs related to Louisa May Alcott.)
But what caught our eye was a $300,000 grant to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Based in Cambridge and founded 230 years ago by John Adams and John Hancock, the Academy is an exclusive club composed of writers (Philip Roth, John Updike) innovators (Steve Jobs), architects (Moshe Safdie, Frank Gehry), academics, and others. So what?
Well, Jim Leach, the former congressman who’s chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, happens to be a recent inductee into the Academy. (At the ceremony in October, Leach lamented a looming crisis in the humanities and said, “mutual understanding — the bridging of cultures, near and far — is the requirement of our age.”) Now, just two months after he was inducted, Leach and the NEH have given the Academy a $300,000 check. Not bad.
Inspired by Leach’s doings with the AAAS, Shanahan and Goldstein add: “The Academy might consider inducting Oprah Winfrey and Mark Zuckerberg.”
Oh, how cynical the Globe is. Leach’s election to AAAS obviously had no relationship to the $300,000 grant. Consider all those great books he’s written, the paintings, the sculptures, the scientific discoveries. . . .
The Globe’s item concludes: “Calls to the NEH and the Academy were not returned yesterday.”