Worst commencement speakers of 2004

Posted: May 26, 2004 12:00 AM

 It's graduation time, and thousands of college students will be leaving the friendly confines of undergraduate education. For most seniors, there will be no more liberal lectures, leftist rants or anti-war marches once they leave campus. But until the moment student tassels are moved from right to left, universities will use their podiums to promote leftism.

 Graduation ceremonies themselves are being used to pound home some final liberal body blows. At the 50 highest-ranked undergraduate universities (according to U.S. News & World Report), liberals overwhelmingly dominate the list of graduation speakers. Of the 40 universities where commencement-speaker information was available, 29 speakers are politically partisan. Twenty-one of those 29 -- 72 percent -- are liberal.

 The only conservatives or Republicans speaking at major universities are Sen. John McCain (University of Southern California and University of Florida), Sen. John Warner (University of Virginia), Dr. Elias A. Zerhouni, director of the National Institutes of Health (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice (Vanderbilt University in Nashville), White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales (Rice University in Houston), Secretary of State Colin Powell (Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C.), and Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue (Georgia Institute of Technology).

 Meanwhile, liberals and Democrats dominate the rolls. From Bill Clinton (Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y.) to former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright (Duke University in Durham, N.C.), from Clinton Justice Department nominee Lani Guinier (University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign) to Clinton friend Vernon E. Jordan (Penn State University at University Park), from Sen. John Breaux (Tulane University in New Orleans) to Clinton Solicitor General Walter Dellinger (Boston College), liberals have conservatives on the ropes, both in terms of university quality and in terms of speaking quantity. Of the top 15 universities, 10 are having politically active speakers; nine of those speakers are liberals or Democrats.

 Clearly, conservatives are at a decided disadvantage at commencements. Not only are prestigious American liberals bestowed honorary degrees and open microphones. Radical international liberals and groovy airhead liberals get the bully pulpit, too. Here, then, is the Commencement List, the most egregious choices for commencement speakers at the top 50 universities:

 The liberal media brotherhood. Jon Stewart, the funny but anti-Bush host of "The Daily Show" on Comedy Central, is one of the most sought-after commencement speakers on the market; he will be speaking at both Princeton University and the College of William and Mary (Williamsburg, Va.). Tom Brokaw, whom Wall Street Journal columnist John Fund suggested might vie for a Democratic vice presidential nod in the upcoming election, will speak at Northwestern University in Chicago. Thomas L. Friedman, The New York Times' liberal foreign affairs columnist, will speak at Washington University in St. Louis. Ted Koppel has not yet stated whether he will read a list of American soldiers killed in Afghanistan for his University of California at Berkeley commencement address. Strangely, prominent conservative/populist media people like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Tony Snow and Bill O'Reilly are not scheduled to speak anywhere.

 The liberal dingbats. The legendary thinker Bono, of U2, will speak at the University of Pennsylvania, where he will also receive an honorary doctor of laws degree. Note to UPenn: Picking anyone with one name to give your commencement address is most likely a bad idea. Bradley Whitford, the actor who plays Deputy Chief of Staff Josh Lyman on the liberal propaganda show "The West Wing," will address graduating seniors at University of Wisconsin at Madison. Whitford campaigned for Al Gore during the 2000 election.

 The radical writers society. August Wilson, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, is best described as a theatrical black separatist; he will be speaking at the University of Washington. Kurt Vonnegut, who is "mad about being old and mad about being an American," will talk to students at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa. Tony Kushner, the anti-capitalist, gay-activist playwright behind such works as "Angels in America," will speak at Columbia University in New York City.

 The international contingent of the radical left. Emory University in Atlanta will welcome Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland and ex-United Nations' high commissioner for human rights. Robinson routinely takes anti-America positions on foreign policy and is also the major-league anti-Semite who presided over the Jew-bashing "World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance" in South Africa. Harvard, not to be outdone, will have U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan speak to the graduating class.

 The complete domination of leftist commencement speakers is more a symptom than a disease. Liberals dominate the faculties, administration and student body at virtually every major university in the United States. You would think that graduations, at least, would be non-political. But on campus, a day -- even graduation day -- without soapbox liberalism is a day without sunshine.