Noted Conservative Pundit Addresses Campus

Maggie Fried

In his lecture last Thursday entitled “The Political Argument Today: The Presidential Campaign and Issues of American Democracy,” Newsweek columnist George F. Will advised students in the audience to drop out of school. The remark, however, was not meant to be taken seriously, but instead was a comment about income disparity, an example of the dry sense of humor that prevailed throughout his lecture.

Will’s lecture, sponsored by the Center for Freedom and Western Civilization, the College Republicans, President of the University and Professor of Religion and Philosophy Rebecca Chopp and the Institute for Philosophy, Politics and Economics, was held in Memorial Chapel on Thursday evening. In his introduction of Will, Professor of Political Science, Director of the Center for Freedom and Western Civilization and Presidential Scholar Robert Kraynak, described Will as “one of the most influential political commentators of our time.”

“I think anyone who is objective would view the speech as a great one,” sophomore College Republicans president Andrew Spano said. “[Will] is engaging and adds his ‘dry humor’ at times. Whether you agree with him or not, he knows how to address an audience.”

The address covered a wide range of issues, from the upcoming presidential election, or “horse race” as Will called it, to gas prices to the war in Iraq. The lecture began with the topic of the upcoming presidential election, to which Will pointed out that indicators pointed to a Democrat victory.

“I couldn’t tell you who is going to win…well I can, but I won’t tell you,” he said. Will spent the majority of the time discussing the current welfare state in America, though.

“I was slightly disappointed that he did not speak more on the election; however, I understand the reasons he gave for not wanting to predict outcomes,” sophomore Michelle Vatalaro said.

In his discussion of the current welfare state, Will spoke about the sense of entitlement that currently prevails in American society. In addition to politics and economics, Will also spoke about American baseball – a subject on which he is passionate – several times throughout the lecture

Following the conclusion of the lecture, there was a question-and-answer session, in which several members of the audience participated. The questions ranged from the issue of illegal immigration to Roger Clemens’ guilt to advice for the students in the audience.

Compared to the number of faculty and community members, students composed a very small part of the audience. Despite Will’s reputation as an important political commentator, Spano was not surprised at the low rate of attendance by students.

“We would have liked more students, but Mr. Will is not as big a draw for students as Ben Stein had been last semester,” Spano said. “He has been around for a long time, and older generations relate to him better I suppose. There are many factors as to why not as many students didn’t come out, but we were still pleased with the turnout.”