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What Can You Do With a President When He Stops Being a President?

Nobody thinks of assigning him when they stop wining and dining him…

So out he goes, in search of consultancies and media appearances for himself…

The sad post-presidential story of George Washington University’s Stephen Trachtenberg (he was, during his tenure, a dead ringer for Gordon Gee – genial, bow-tied, tending toward inept public statements, and scandalously overpaid) displays all the pathos of a man who can’t sit still after having been a university leader, a man flailing about in search of things to do and failing to do them well.


Defense of the indefensible is a Gordon Gee/Stephen Trachtenberg trademark. Both men – like Sarah Palin – “get increasingly adorable” as their statements get increasingly deplorable. The bow tie enlarges… becomes pink…

Trachtenberg ran to the defense of Yeshiva University when its greed and corruption turned it into a conflict of interest paradise ruled by Bernard Madoff and Ezra Merkin. In 2008, he dismissed as a Monday morning quarterback anyone who criticized this now junk-status catastrophe.

Trachtenberg’s recent remarks about rape and its causes have embarrassed not only him, but GW, since he’s closely associated with the school. GW is doing what it can to distance itself from him, and Trachtenberg is becoming beyond belief adorable.


Gee landed on his feet, at West Virginia University.


Americans really like guys like these. UD has no idea why.

Margaret Soltan, September 2, 2014 10:17AM
Posted in: kind of a little weird

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4 Responses to “What Can You Do With a President When He Stops Being a President?”

  1. Colin Says:

    I hesitate to defend Trachtenberg, but is what he said so unreasonable? Of course rape is always the fault of the rapist. But surely suggesting that young women who drink themselves into oblivion in a frat house might be taking a foolish risk is … I dunno … obvious?

  2. Margaret Soltan Says:

    Colin: I agree with you that there’s some reasonableness behind Trachtenberg’s statement. But as uttered, the statement falls pretty short of reasonableness and makes him vulnerable to the claim that he’s focusing on all the wrong things. Like Gee, he seems incapable of speaking with care.

  3. Greg Says:

    Of course this has become an issue of political correctness. I believe that that has happened because those eager to “advise” young women to avoid certain actions are often sexists eager to control them, to deprive them of freedom.

    And yet one would advise one’s daughters that certain behaviors are risky and do increase the chance of assault. It is easy to go from there to “fault,” in an ordinary language sense, for not avoiding the behaviors, which in turn could be seen to (and in the worst minds does) put a criminal and a victim in some sort of parity of fault.

    It is best to see these things on different planes. On one plane, or in one sense of fault, a victim of a crime is never at fault for exercising her freedom. On another one, some behavior raises the risk of being a victim. One needs to speak carefully when advising, up front or after the fact, about which risks are/were worth taking given the payoff versus the unfortunate potential for crime. It is easy, indeed natural, to do this in the language of “fault.”

    Is it reasonable for a young woman to go hiking alone – sure if it means enough to her to take whatever risk is involved based on facts available about the locale ets. Likewise with dressing as she would like. Absolutely her right. Rock climbing is risky, and yet, worth it to those who want to exercise that sort of freedom.

    After the fact, one might consider speaking of a victim’s fault. And perhaps that’s just not a good idea, given the possibility of conflation. But, if one so speaks, it should be made clear that we are talking about things on two very different planes. That sort of fault in no sense justifies or redeems criminal action.

    A few years ago when I did lots of martial arts, all students (men and women) in my dojo were advised that avoidance of conflict, care walking down the street, perhaps avoiding certain places etc. were often desirable, though, of course, not at too high a price. The suggestion was to think about these things, because, after the fact, one might be wrong (expressible as negligent) even based on one’s own preferences. Of course in taking a particular risk, one often is right. No one was offended by this suggestion, made in that context.

  4. AYY Says:

    UD, How many times have I told you that if your goal is to change things, then cut down on the snark and give more substance? I’ve been telling you that for years,no? All this time and does it do any good?

    Your post rests on so many unstated assumptions that your point is incomprehensible, Maybe all the snark is personally gratifying but how is anyone supposed to know what in the world you’re talking about, except that maybe you’re jumping on a bandwagon.

    Maybe there’s a meta text that Trachtenberg is being treated unfairly. Could be.

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