James Fallows on Niall Ferguson: 'As a Harvard Alum, I Apologize'

James Fallows on Niall Ferguson: 'As a Harvard Alum, I Apologize'

Get ready for the assault on Niall Ferguson.

Harvard is not a friendly and open place. It’s a place that often demands ideological conformity, as current Obama economic advisor Lawrence Summers found out when he had the temerity to suggest that men and women have natural biological brain differences. Now, historian Niall Ferguson is about to come under heavy fire for his Newsweek essay in which he called for President Obama to be thrown unceremoniously from office come November. James Fallows over at The Atlantic is leading the way with a piece called, “As a Harvard Alum, I Apologize.”

His case is not convincing. He argues that under Obama, “private sector jobs have recovered better in his first three-plus years than they did under George W. Bush.” This is enormously misleading, considering that Bush actually experienced a double-recession in the aftermath of Clinton, and then again in the aftermath of September 11. In point of fact, Bush’s job growth averaged 171,000 per month in 2004, 208,000 per month in 2005, and 172,000 per month in 2006; Obama’s has averaged 86,000 in 2010 and 153,000 in 2011. In other words, his best year hasn’t been close to Bush’s third-best year.

According to Fallows, Obama’s sole achievement on foreign policy is Osama Bin Laden’s killing, but that’s enough to justify his presidency. And he simply declares that Ferguson is wrong that America has no credibility with China (their behavior in the Philippines would suggest that Ferguson is far closer to the truth). Here’s how Fallows concludes:

My point concerns the broadside pamphleteering nature of his argument, which is no worse than what we expect on cable-news talk shows, but also no better. And it comes from someone trading heavily on the prestige that goes with being a tenured professor at the world’s leading university … To me this is not what the tradition of Veritas and the search for scholarly enlightenment is supposed to exemplify. Seriously, I wonder if one of Ferguson’s students will have the panache to turn in a similar paper to see how it fares.

Somehow, Fallows seems uninterested in discussing the intellectual credentials of other Harvard professors … like, say, Elizabeth Warren. He just doesn’t agree with Ferguson, and that means that Ferguson must be ousted.

It’s this sort of nonsense that kills my alma mater. As a Harvard Law alum, I apologize for the shoddy knee-jerk Obama defensiveness of leftist hacks like Fallows.