According to several insiders, Cole’s scholarship, which several professors deemed insufficient, was the decisive factor in the final decision against his appointment. Cole faced strong opposition from some of the most senior, influential, and highly-regarded members of Yale’s history department, including prominent Yale historians Donald Kagan and John Lewis Gaddis. And that was kiss of death, because the Senior Appointment Committee wants a faculty vote that’s nearly unanimous.
One factor that White’s account omits is Cole’s unfitness for the specific position in issue. As Michael Rubin writes in a message commenting on White’s piece:
Cole’s field of academic expertise was wrong for the position. The search was for someone to be based primarily in the Yale Center for International and Area Studies to bridge the gap between academics and policy. Being a commentator is not enough; what Yale was searching for was someone with academic depth but practitioner experience, the type of person that normally winds up at the Fletcher School, Georgetown, or the Woodrow Wilson School.
One other salient point that is evident in White’s account and implicit in the opposition of Professors Kagan and Gaddis reported by White to Cole’s appointment: Cole is a vulgar nut.