As longtime readers of Power Line know, I spent the 2013-14 academic year as an inmate at the University of Colorado at Boulder, which actually was a splendid time because it is so easy to torment liberals. As I explained in my account of the year in National Review last year, “I loved to tell liberal audiences that conservatives wholly approve of the Boulder greenbelt because it makes the quarantine so much easier to enforce: Liberals trying to escape can be more readily rounded up by the tea-party pickets on the perimeter and sent back downtown with a fresh package of fair-trade organic kale.” My talks to liberal groups in Boulder usually went downhill after this opener.
Well, Boulder really just wasn’t weird and challenging enough, so get your smelling salts ready because I’ll be spending the next three years as a visiting fellow at . . . UC Berkeley. Among other things, I’ll be teaching Political Science 157A, “U.S. Constitutional Law,” a large undergraduate lecture course, and also team teaching a seminar on executive power and administrative lawmaking at Boalt Hall Law School with John Yoo. (We’re thinking of offering the students a choice for course grading: a 25-page research paper, or being waterboarded.) Other courses and events will follow in due course through the Institute of Governmental Studies, which will be my home base for the next three years.
Now I know what you’re thinking, and yes, I have a Blackwater security detail on retainer, as well as a closet full of new Kevlar menswear and disguises. Actually, fairness compels noting that large public universities are probably less hostile to conservatives than private liberal arts colleges for reasons that would take a while to explain, and in fact the course I’ll be teaching in the political science department was long taught by one of Berkeley’s unknown and unheralded conservatives, the late Sandy Muir. So having me there is not as astounding as it seems. Many of my academic heroes were from Berkeley, especially Aaron Wildavsky and Paul Seabury. (And Harvey Mansfield Jr. taught briefly at Berkeley in the 1960s.) Like many universities, the problems at Berkeley are the radicalized “studies” departments, and the radical hangers on in town who make a mess of the city of Berkeley.
Wandering around campus yesterday as students began arriving for the fall semester it was interesting to see that by far the most tables for student clubs were for various and sundry Christian fellowships, many of them catering to Asian students. But there was the Socialist Students table, which I found reassuring, because what would Berkeley be without socialism? The nice young fellow at the table tried to strike up a conversation:
“No, thanks, I’ll just drop in on the White House website if I need to get my socialist fix on.”
I may well try to audiotape my lecture course on the Constitution (you can actually take in a large number of Berkeley lecture courses through iTunes), which doesn’t start until January. At which point, Power Line University may come one step closer to reality. Stay tuned for updates. I’m sure I’ll have lots of them.