October 3, 2012

"[M]y reaction to President Obama’s visit has gone from unease, to mild irritation, to serious concern."

UW—Madison polisci prof Kenneth R. Mayer has 4 problems with the decision to allow the Obama campaign to hold a rally in the center of campus that will shut down many buildings for the entire day — a regular class day — tomorrow. This text is from a letter he sent to some of the people involved in the decision-making. He copied me on the letter and responded positively to my request to blog it. Here are the 4 problems:

(1) In order for students to get a ticket for this event (which doesn’t even guarantee entry), the University is requiring them to go to the Obama campaign website, provide contact information, and then click on a button that says “I’m In!” In a very real sense, we are forcing them to become participants in the campaign and express their support for the campaign. This is SOP for a campaign event, but it should not be for the University. Having a president visit as an educational public event is one thing. Forcing students to declare their support for a presidential candidate in order to attend the event on campus is quite another. Should we be in the business of helping a campaign farm thousands of email addresses?
Note: You also have to give your phone number, which for many/most students means a cell phone number, something that I think most people see as more private, since it doesn't go into the public phone directories.
(2) The location of the rally could not be more disruptive. It hardly seems appropriate to shut the central campus down for an entire day, closing offices and seriously disrupting our mission. I have several colleagues who had scheduled exams for Thursday. Surely there were other venues that would pose less disturbance.

(3) I have learned that classified staff will be required to take a vacation or personal day, arrange to work at another location on campus, or work at home. This is what pushed me into the seriously annoyed category. The UW is penalizing staff (or, at a minimum, dramatically inconveniencing them) for an event that they had no say in organizing or scheduling. That’s wrong.

(4) The University is finessing the central point of this visit. It is not a Presidential visit. It is not a Presidential speech. It is a campaign event. It is a major event when a president visits UW. It is, I’m sure you’ll agree, somewhat less major when the president comes not as a president, but as a candidate.
This is not a partisan issue (my objections would be the same if it were Romney). I think this should have been handled differently, in a way that welcomed the President but did not diminish our basic purpose.
ADDED: Ken teaches a course called "American Presidency," and you can see the subjects covered and the readings assigned here.  Here's "The Oxford Handbook of the American Presidency," which is only $33 if you go for the Kindle version.

104 comments:

shiloh said...

There is only one thing in life worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about. ~ Oscar Wilde

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Uh oh. Better watch out. Prof Mayer and Althouse may end up in a re-education camp for deviating from the party line and not falling onto bended knees to worship Dear Leader.

YoungHegelian said...

Well, that Prof Mayer sure showed himself to be a first class crypto-fascist, didn't he? No doubt he's racist to boot.

Seriously, as a resident of the DC area, I can tell you that if Prof Mayer ever had the misfortune to raise his issues to the campaign staffers, he would receive a blank stare in return.

"What? We're disturbing the life of the peons? Don't you understand we're very busy & important people."

Our ruling classes think very highly of themselves.

MadisonMan said...

The visit itself does not inconvenience me, here on the south side of Campus (and far from the Liberal Bastion of Bascom Hill).

I agree very much though with what the Professor writes. The University at the very least is being used by the Obama campaign. At the worst it is actively campaigning for the incumbent. Ugh.

It is not beyond the realm of possibility for thunderstorms to be rolling through Madison while a good portion of the student body is camped out along Observatory Drive waiting to get onto Bascom Hill. This past summer University Health Services convinced the SERF and NAT to shut down because of high heat -- they were concerned that students wouldn't know enough to slow down their exercising when it's hot out (The infantilization of the student body, is what I call it). Will they show similar concern if the student body is waiting out in the open during a thunderstorm to see a campaign event for Democrats?

Bob Ellison said...

(4) The University is finessing the central point of this visit. It is not a Presidential visit. It is not a Presidential speech. It is a campaign event. It is a major event when a president visits UW. It is, I’m sure you’ll agree, somewhat less major when the president comes not as a president, but as a candidate.

Really? You think each President gets a switch installed in his brain that goes from "Candidate" to "President"?

This guy teaches polisci?

Christopher in MA said...

Looks like somebody's going to be sent to Room 101. . .

AF said...

Seems reasonable, though I must say I have trouble believing him when he says "my objections would be the same if it were Romney." It's not that they shouldn't be the same; on its substance this truly is a non-partisan issue. It's just that, knowing what I know about the world, I would bet ten bucks that this guy intends to vote for Romney.

That doesn't detract from his points, which are still valid.

AJ Lynch said...

Professor Mayer is only embarrassed because he is one of the few UW profs that does get a hard-on when thinking about the upcoming Prez visit.

Irene said...

The situation on Bascom Hill already is disruptive. This morning, a worker who admonished me for "standing" behind heavy equipment when I paused to take a photograph.

When I stated that I found the situation disruptive, one of his coworkers chirped, "Obviously, a Republican."

Wow!

MesabiMike said...

As far as the confidentiality issue, I am guessing that most UW students are smart enough to give a false phone number. In fact, the Mitt Romney public campaign phone number is not a bad idea either

Pogo said...

Hell, why not just give all UW Madison students pre-filled ballots?

Hell, take 2, take 3!

TWM said...

"When I stated that I found the situation disruptive, one of his coworkers chirped, "Obviously, a Republican."

Priceless.

MadisonMan said...

By the way, This webcam shot shows (barely) part of Observatory Drive, along which the students will line to enter Bascom Hill, off to the right of the frame. It refreshes every 5 minutes (maybe not automatically however).

alan markus said...

I think society has gotten rather amoral about things like this. Not that long ago, these actions would have been considered offensive. Now, it's like a big shoulder shrug.

To think that in 1970 Sterling Hall in Madison was blown up because of US involvement in the Viet Nam war. Now, we have a leader preempting personal/professional lives to facilitate his (and Tammy Baldwin's?) campaign needs.

Man, have we gotten soft, or what? This would have never been allowed to happen in the 60's.

furious_a said...

You think each President gets a switch installed in his brain that goes from "Candidate" to "President"?

He does when his campaign has to reimburse Treasury for unofficial-duty use use of Air Force One.

rastajenk said...

I would expect that Prof Mayer's tax returns, voting record, credit history, and ebay shopping list will soon become public tools for the assassination of his character.

Like Joe the Plumber. He who speaks out must be shamed.

AF said...

"When I stated that I found the situation disruptive, one of his coworkers chirped, "Obviously, a Republican."

Priceless.


And yet, accurate.

MadisonMan said...

(and boy, doesn't it show a beautiful day today!!!)

bagoh20 said...

"This is not a partisan issue (my objections would be the same if it were Romney)"

I believe that 100%, but you are not the problem here. There is simply no way this would be permitted if it was Romney. In fact, such a thing would be met with aggressive resistance.

Knowing that, how can we trust the education coming out of such a dishonest, unfair, undemocratic institution? How can we expect that any ideas not in line with this minority view will ever get a fair hearing, if heard at all at UW?

I could never trust my kid's education to such an obviously close-minded place.

TWM said...

"He does when his campaign has to reimburse Treasury for unofficial-duty use use of Air Force One."

Bingo!

Tyrone Slothrop said...

NWS forecast for Madison WI tomorrow:

A slight chance of showers before 1pm, then a chance of showers and thunderstorms between 1pm and 4pm, then a chance of showers after 4pm. Partly sunny, with a high near 68. South wind 5 to 15 mph becoming west in the afternoon. Winds could gust as high as 30 mph. Chance of precipitation is 40%.

That wind is going to play hell with the Greek columns.

Irene said...

"And yet, accurate."

I voted for Tammy Baldwin in 2000.

SteveR said...

Not a big jump to make the case that how you feel about the impact that candidate Obama is having on the UW community tomorrow, is how many Americans feel about the impact that President Obama is having on the country.

In each case incompentant, self serving attitude aided by blind admiration and pure idealogic corruption.

Told you so...

rhhardin said...

He may be overthinking the mission. Bathos is certainly a rhetorical danger.

The problem is annoyance. You don't need high purpose to combat the incivility of Obama.

MadisonMan said...

And my first comment makes me wonder: Would anyone be liable for damages if the storms rolled through and lightning injured someone? It's certainly a possibility that any meteorologist today could warn you about. If the University is actively working to line up its student body, putting them in harm's way -- is the University liable for any damages that occur?

Probably not, I'm guessing, since it's a state institution.

pbAndjFellowRepublican said...

Can folks give a fake phone number?

Maybe Meade can test this as he goes new meadia undercover. He should also come up w/ a fun name.

P.S. I apologize in advance if this sort of thing causes the Secret Service to interrogate Meade.

Jay said...

AF said...


And yet, accurate.


How in the hell would you know?

AF said...

"I voted for Tammy Baldwin in 2000."

Who are you planning to vote for in 2012, if I may ask?

To be clear, I am not dismissing your concerns, which strike me as legitimate. I am just pointing out that this is in fact something that is going to bother non-Obama voters much more than Obama voters. That's just human nature.

shiloh said...

Althouse is a firm believer in free speech, or so I hear ...

Maybe she should give her class a refresher course in free speech ... or not.

btw, what will be the con billionaire/millionaire $$$ changers ROI when Willard loses? Rhetorical.

Jay said...

AF said...
It's just that, knowing what I know about the world, I would bet ten bucks that this guy intends to vote for Romney


What you "know about the world" can fit onto a teaspoon.

You realize you just simply can not accept any criticism of your sort of a God President without the comfort of trying to explain it all away somehow, right?

Marshal said...

Mayer just got tagged as "unreliable" by 97% of UW professors. It'll be interesting if 5 years from now he writes an article about the effects.

Tyrone Slothrop said...

Then again, the thunderstorms may provide pretext for moving the event indoors, maybe some venue that's easier to fill up.

Levi Starks said...

It's true that A Romney president would probably not receive the same preferential treatment, but I'm betting they would roll out the Red carpet for Castro or Chavez

SteveR said...

Shiloh: how about you learning what free speech is before you tell somebody else about it?

Kevin said...

People seem to forget that Mayers is a former Feingold staffer, so the criticism from liberals on this board is rather showing in some way for what a pretty real concerns about what is set to happen at UW over the next 24-36 hours.

schmidt said...

Can folks give a fake phone number?

Yes, you can. I tried, yesterday. Fake name, too. Still got an email - which, for tomorrow, is all they'll be looking at.

MadisonMan said...

This link should give you a picture of the simulated radar for 4 PM tomorrow. Thunderstorms just moving east out of Dane County.

Irene said...

"To be clear, I am not dismissing your concerns, which strike me as legitimate. I am just pointing out that this is in fact something that is going to bother non-Obama voters much more than Obama voters."

Fair enough, AF. As someone who works on the UW campus, I find this disruption bothersome regardless of the politics.

drozz said...

if ever there was a better way to attract the eye of sauron...

colleges are there to prepare these kids for life. what life lesson is being learned here? the president's narcissism takes priority.

AF said...

You realize you just simply can not accept any criticism of your sort of a God President without the comfort of trying to explain it all away somehow, right?

You realize that I've repeatedly described those criticisms as legitimate, right?

MadisonMan said...

Irene, I voted against John Sharpless in 2000. Not the same thing as voting for Tammy, but the net effect is the same.

Sofa King said...

I took Ken's "American Presidency" class back in fall of 2000. As you can well imagine, it was fascinating! Talk about being in the right class at the right time!

shiloh said...

"before you tell somebody else about it?"

Haven't given my definition of free speech aside, Althouse and her con flock are the only ones who speak w/100% certitude re: free speech!

blessings

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Would anyone be liable for damages if the storms rolled through and lightning injured someone?

That makes me think about the old saying about someone being too dumb to come in out of the rain.

:-D

Sofa King said...

By the way, along with Downs, Prof. Mayer was one of my favorites. Schweber too. I liked that they all really challenged people's feelings and made them defend their positions.

Ann Althouse said...

"And my first comment makes me wonder: Would anyone be liable for damages if the storms rolled through and lightning injured someone?"

There are buildings that could be used for shelter, but people are going to be prevented from entering them. Of course, everyone who voluntarily enters the restricted area can be said to be assuming the risk.

Reminds me of how I've felt as a spectator at PGA events. You're out there and exposed and can only try to walk/run to your car, which might be a couple miles away. The players are quickly whisked into SUVs and taken to the clubhouse, where you're not allowed in.

But tough! You knew what you were getting into.

X said...

People seem to forget that Mayers is a former Feingold staffer

AF's knowledge of the world is wrong?

furious_a said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chef said...

Is there any state law in Wisconsin that prohibits use of state dollars for campaign purposes, analogous to the California law that's causing some problems for university groups endorsing an initiative?

http://collegeinsurrection.com/2012/10/progressives-at-fresno-state-shut-down-debate-illegally-endorse-prop-30/

The Drill SGT said...

Actually, I don't think the campaign reimburses for Air Force One

I think they pay in 'air fares', which amounts to much less and the 'security' costs etc continue

Speaking of which, I assume UW is in a budget crunch.

Watch the post rally three way finger pointing.

The State House will demand to know why the UW can't live with the budget if they can afford to put on campaign rallies

UW will try and bill the SS for security, (as other cities have found, Romney pays), the SS will point to Chicago, Chicago points back to SS. They have the routine down pat.

furious_a said...

To: Profs' Althouse and Mayer
Fr: University Relations
Re: Presidential Visit

Hard cases, huh? Y'all better get your minds right, or else.

cc: BarackObama.com

Bob Ellison said...

Sofa King, can you give an example of how Mayer challenged feelings? I'm still flabbergasted that a professor of politics could be so silly as to suppose that Obama, or any other POTUS, can pretend not to be a candidate in October 2012.

Mayer might be a great person and a great teacher. I have no idea. But the email the Professor quoted is laughable.

Paul Zrimsek said...

"Barack will never allow you to go back to your lives as usual, uninvolved, uninformed. Or to your offices." --Michelle Obama, 2008

furious_a said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
edutcher said...

Madame, be glad you and your confreres are not required to be in attendance.

shiloh said...

Althouse is a firm believer in free speech, or so I hear ...

If she weren't, the little weasel would be long gone.

btw, what will be the con billionaire/millionaire $$$ changers ROI when Willard loses? Rhetorical.

Moronic.

Actually, the Romster is moving up in the polls again and even Ned Silver says he may well eke out a win in the electoral College.

The pertinent question is, what will the little weasel say if Choom loses and the Demos lose big across the board?

We may never see him again.

Now, there's a loss!

WineSlob said...

Mayer's the Officious Little Prick
Who Lied to Get ID Kicked
He Objects to Disruption
When His Own Obstruction
Lets Cheaters Determine the Pick.

furious_a said...

But tough! You knew what you were getting into.

Ahem, we're talking college students here.

AF said...

AF's knowledge of the world is wrong?

Not necessarily. People do change their politics over time. That said, I wouldn't be shocked if Mayer is an Obama voter. That's why I'd only bet ten bucks! Especially in universities, where the center is skewed left, moderates often feel compelled to stand in for conservatives.

SteveR said...

Haven't given my definition of free speech aside, Althouse and her con flock are the only ones who speak w/100% certitude re: free speech!

An incoherant non response. Totally expected

MadisonMan said...

But tough! You knew what you were getting into.

The UW set the precedent, though, this summer, when they closed the exercise facilities because it was so hot. Too hot to work out inside!!

Now, all of a sudden, there's another real danger from the weather, and it's you knew what you were getting into. I don't think a Judge will buy that line of thinking.

My vague recollection, from one of Judge Tauro's 1980something decision about a malfunctioning weather buoy, is that once the Govt takes responsibility for something, the Govt must maintain that responsibility.

geokstr said...

No doubt the AP report, to be quickly copy/pasted by the rest of the "unbiased" "objective" "news" media, will be that the event was attended by over a quarter million enthusiatic fans, based on an estimate by David Axelrod.

geokstr said...

No doubt the AP report, to be quickly copy/pasted by the rest of the "unbiased" "objective" "news" media, will be that the event was attended by over a quarter million enthusiatic fans, based on an estimate by David Axelrod.

Patrick said...

At most, this will lead to a quick article, buried in the metro section, with the UW saying they'll look into revising their policy for next time. And they will revise their policy for next time only in the event that a Republican ever wants to hold an event in a UW facility.

MayBee said...

If you can provide a fake name and phone number, what is the purpose of requiring a name and phone number?

rasqual said...

There's talk of the $1.5 billion Obama has spent of taxpayer money just to be our president.

I wonder if anyone's calculated the traffic stoppages and lost productivity in cities, and in this case the cost to an entire institution for what its toady administration fawningly considers its privilege, not Obama's.

Expecting faculty to take vacation time to accommodate this is clearly a case of projecting. Who WOULDN'T, the thinking goes, freely eat into their vacation for a chance to adore The One?

chickelit said...

MadisonMan said...
This link should give you a picture of the simulated radar for 4 PM tomorrow. Thunderstorms just moving east out of Dane County.

I'll bet a big double rainbow comes out for POTUS afterwards. Unicorns will prance too.

but I am a robot said...

While I'm on campus, a wireless network called "Forward2012" has been showing up on my computer. Anyone want to help me guess the password?

bgates said...

I'm still flabbergasted that a professor of politics could be so silly as to suppose that Obama, or any other POTUS, can pretend not to be a candidate in October 2012.

What are you talking about? His objection is exactly that Obama is coming as a candidate, but the University is pretending otherwise. "The University is finessing the central point of this visit. It is not a Presidential visit. It is not a Presidential speech. It is a campaign event."

ricpic said...

This may have been raised in a prior post: is there a legal issue with a public institution hosting a partisan rally?

Ann Althouse said...

"While I'm on campus, a wireless network called "Forward2012" has been showing up on my computer. Anyone want to help me guess the password?"

obamalove

obamaobama

iloveobama

ooobamaaa

!!!obama!!!

edutcher said...

How 'bout lady parts?

BarrySanders20 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David said...

Ok.

Publicize the corrupt bargain.

Use it against them.

furious_a said...

This may have been raised in a prior post: is there a legal issue with a public institution hosting a partisan rally?

Ummm, the Hatch Act?

Chip S. said...

Anyone want to help me guess the password?

itcouldbeworse

BarrySanders20 said...

Obamalama
Obamapalooza
Obamalamadingdong
Bucky4Obama
BuckyBendsOver4Obama
ShutUp&Obey

The Drill SGT said...

No althouse

These are sophisticated internetz peeps, not like those aging thugilcans.

They nos about cekuritie.

Strong pswd a have upper,lower,numbers, etc

Obama2012!

Bob Ellison said...

bgates, I guess that's too subtle for me. "It is, I’m sure you’ll agree, somewhat less major when the president comes not as a president, but as a candidate." That implies that the man (Obama) dons a persona, and can do so even in October 2012. Maybe Mayer is trying for irony, but if so, he's too dry.

furious_a said...

Anyone want to help me guess the password?

'didntbuildthat'

furious_a said...

Strong pswd a have upper,lower,numbers, etc

Wireless network keys (AT&Ts, at least) are 10-digits:

'16000000M'

schmidt said...

If you can provide a fake name and phone number, what is the purpose of requiring a name and phone number?

I don't know, to call/text you?

mark said...

In case you don't understand. The point about classified staff is about more then faculty and students.

Stealing a vacation day from a single mom working in a classified staff position is wrong. Do you really believe that every building, college, university, and grounds staff can just toss a vacation day to Obama? That they should be happy to give that day to him?

Beta Rube said...

I think we shuld have an Althouse Madison meet up after Romney wins. I can't imagine the University will have a problem if we hold it on campus and disrupt a few things here and there.

MayBee said...

I don't know, to call/text you?

If they don't need it for security, the university should request that be taken off the form the university links to.

mark said...

@Bob "That implies that the man (Obama) dons a persona ..."

No it doesn't. President Obama is perfectly capable of doing two jobs. (Unless he is brain damaged). And Federal Law recognizes that separation (see Hatch Act, etc) as well. He puts on his candidate hat (like hat boy Andy) and pays for stuff out of his own pocket. He puts on his President hat and we the taxpayers foot the bill.

If he mixes the two (like Sebelius did) he breaks the law. Now, for a normal person breaking the law there are consequences. But, for democrats (like Sebelius) it is more "oh well, we really don't expect them to be honest anyway. They're democrats."

Understand now?

hamcentral said...

@sofa king

I enjoyed Downs and Mayer as well. Did you have Eric Margolis at any point? He was my favorite philosophy prof.

The Drill SGT said...

Ten digits?

Count again

Mines ten

Swami said...

You think each President gets a switch installed in his brain that goes from "Candidate" to "President"?

Most do.
This one's been stuck on "Candidate" since 2008.

Heck, it's been stuck on "opposing George Bush", too. This is his second time running a campaign against a man who isn't even on the ballot.

kimsch said...

So, say I work at UW and I'm one of the classified staff and I'm told I have to burn a vacation day for tomorrow's event.

What if I've already purchased airfare, hotel, and my week at Disneyworld tickets for my family and me at Christmas time? And I won't have any vacation days left over? This "vacation" day cuts into my planned vacation. Now what about my already paid for vacation?

Swami said...

You think each President gets a switch installed in his brain that goes from "Candidate" to "President"?

Most do.
This one's been stuck on "Candidate" since 2008.

Heck, it's been stuck on "opposing George Bush", too. This is his second time running a campaign against a man who isn't even on the ballot.

Baron Zemo said...

I seem to remember them cancelling an outdoor event because of rain during the convention.

Why aren't they doing that now?

Baron Zemo said...

Oh wait. It is in Wisconsin.

Full of stupid people who don't know enough to come in out of the rain.

Nevermind.

Baron Zemo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sofa King said...

I enjoyed Downs and Mayer as well. Did you have Eric Margolis at any point? He was my favorite philosophy prof.

No, I had several philosophy classes but the only professor I really remember was Lester Hunt because I was astonished to find a libertarian individualistic near-Randian professor. I got him by accident in Contemporary Moral Issues and then took his class on Philosophy of Law. It was a heady time for me, when many things I learned in economics, political economy, and philosophy crystalized into a coherent set of ideas.

caseym54 said...

It's almost UGLY, wouldn't you say?

Clark said...

Racist!

Real Debate said...

Gee, Professor Ken has links to MSNBC, NPR, and CNN, no Fox News... I wonder which side of the aisle he walks down?

Edmund said...

If I was one of the "classified" staff that was being forced to give up a vacation day, I'd refuse and ask to be assigned other duties. If no duties were assigned and I was forced to take vacation, I'd bill the Obama campaign for the amount and if not paid, sue in small claims court.

Alex said...

shiloh - so the ends justify the means and it's all about being a BIG HISTORICAL FIGURE. After all, Obama is a GIANT and we are just a bunch plebes here. We should all bow down to his GREATNESS and forget about things like ethics.

lefthook41 said...

who actually thinks this is racist.....
that comments just encompasses everything that is wrong with the left

how is it racist to question the operations of the university, last time I checked the university's only color is red

meanwhile obama can make some of the most divisive speeches ever in presidential campaign and engages in a ridiculous amount of class warfare because the only way he can win is to divide the country, but this common sense polisci teacher is racists, you got to be kidding me

Cj said...

Will someone please do some quick number-crunching to calculate the effective financial impact of this campaign stop.

How many hundreds of employees are going to effectively get a day off tomorrow? I know, I know, they're supposed to log a vacation day, or "work from some other location"... ha! This is going to be a freebie day, and we all know it.

Any private-sector entity experiencing such a disruptive event would notice a literal loss to their bottom-line. They would have to weigh the value of the event, against the cost of the event.

Not so with tax-payer funded institutions like a college campus. The good people in Mazomanie, and Black River Falls, and Rock County will pay their taxes, and reap no benefit from this disruption whatsoever.

Lyle said...

He's got integrity. That's commendable these days.

Murphdogg's blog said...

Ken Mayer was a great professor who respects the office of the president. I had him for poli sci 104 in Fall 2000, in the Bush/Gore election. He definitely leaned to the liberal side, but wanted the campaign to be fair and pointed out media bias. He wanted people to think about the issues and decide for themselves instead of just voting straight ticket one way or the other. I take offense at people cutting him down. He has a right to free speech and the things he mentioned seemed like reasonable complaints.

Murphdogg's blog said...

Ken Mayer was a great professor who respects the office of the president. I had him for poli sci 104 in Fall 2000, in the Bush/Gore election. He definitely leaned to the liberal side, but wanted the campaign to be fair and pointed out media bias. He wanted people to think about the issues and decide for themselves instead of just voting straight ticket one way or the other. I take offense at people cutting him down. He has a right to free speech and the things he mentioned seemed like reasonable complaints.