Zell Miller – Young Harris College Controversy
WaPo reports today that retiring Georgia Senator Zell Miller is Bound for K Street:
Sen. Zell Miller, the Georgia Democrat who turned on colleague John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) and campaigned for President Bush, will be trying his hand at government relations in the private sector when he retires from the Senate next month. Miller is joining McKenna Long & Aldridge, a law firm of 350 lawyers and policy advisers, with offices in Atlanta, the District and elsewhere. He will be a “senior policy adviser” in the law firm’s government affairs practice.
Even when the year-long restriction on lobbying senators is over, it does not sound as if Miller will be actually buttonholing lawmakers. He said he will be advising clients on how they can get their legislative way and come up with “practical solutions.” “I certainly don’t plan on walking any halls of Congress,” he said in an interview yesterday. But his work for McKenna is “something I can do and still live in my home” in Young Harris, Ga. He talked about “a certain expertise” he has in national security and military matters but said he has not been able to talk to the law firm about the specifics of what he will be doing, because he is still in the Senate.
Winfield Myers tells us the rest of the story: Miller’s desire to return to his alma mater, Young Harris College, to resume his teaching duties was thwarted by a faculty outcry.
But so politicized has higher education become that even the smallest academic communities now employ teachers who’re only too happy to lash out at a native son who professes traditional conservative beliefs — even if he also happens to be the school’s most distinguished alumnus. That’s a pity, especially for the students who could have learned about American politics from a former governor and Senator who spent decades in the public arena.
Can there be any doubt that, had Miller spoken out against the Bush administration, his place in academe would have been assured? After all, Max Cleland, Georgia’s embittered ex-Senator, found his liberal credentials far more useful in landing an academic post than in maintaining his Senate seat in a Red State. Viewed from that perspective, Miller’s ostracism from his alma mater is a badge of honor. But for Young Harris College, it remains a shameful stain.
It’s understandable that many faculty members would object to Miller’s return, given the leftism that dominates the academy. But Myers is right: the students could certainly learn a lot from Miller’s lifetime of public service–as will Cleland’s. It’s a shame they won’t be able to.
Update (1314): Oops. I should have done more research into this one. I got an e-mail “tip” on the story and just presumed that it was a new development. In fact, as commenter kappiy notes, the Young Harris story dates from May. While Myers’ account of the controversy is correct, it omits a rather important detail reported at the time:
Zell Miller, miffed at alma mater, won’t teach there (Macon News – AP)
May 22, 2004
Both Young Harris and UGA said they would welcome him back.
But Miller wrote that he will not work at Young Harris because of Franklin’s letter. “I have long put up with this kind of vitriol in the political world but I am not going to at my alma mater,” he wrote.
Franklin, who also criticized Miller’s creation of a state lottery as “legalized gambling,” said his disagreement with Miller was philosophical, not personal. Franklin’s wife, Louisa, is the college’s academic dean.
If Franklin’s letter were part of a generalized faculty movement at YHC, Miller’s position would be understandable. But Miller is a controversial figure–more so now than in May, since his RNC address has come since–and he has to expect that some will vehemently disagree with him. Especially on a college campus.
(Post title modified to reflect this update)