Samuel Huntington of “Clash of Civilizations” fame, Interviewed

Charlie Rose interviews Huntington on the ideas in his oft-cited and even more criticized “Clash of Civilizations” thesis. Rose calls the clash thesis “provocative.”  What do you think about the logic of the clash thesis.  Given that you’ve read Amartya Sen’s response to Huntington, what kinds of questions would you have asked Huntington that Rose failed to?  (The Huntington interview runs from 1:55 until about 21:00.  No, Professor Huntington is not a dead-ringer for John Cleese.  That is, in fact, John Cleese, who is interviewed in the middle segment; hence, the screen shot of Cleese.)

Roger Clemens, Steroids, and Political Ideologies

In class today, we discussed yesterday’s Congressional hearings dealing with the use of steroids, and other performance-enhancing drugs in baseball, in which our esteemed elected representatives questioned umpteen-time all-star pitcher, Roger Clemens, on his involvement. Those of you who have been following this soap opera understand that one of Clemens’ former trainers, Brian McNamee, and a former teammate, Andy Pettitte, have both accused Clemens of having used steroids and HGH (human growth hormone).

I watched some of the highlights of the testimony, and what was interesting was that here, as in many other contemporary issues in American society, there seemed to be a readily apparent partisan split on the issue, with Republicans believing and supporting Clemens, while Democrats did the opposite. I have no idea why, given the nature of political attitudes and political ideologies, this would be the case. What is it about the issue of steroids in baseball that would “tap into” underlying political attitudes and ideologies in order to make this a clearly ideological issue. Maybe this isn’t an “ideological” issue at all, but a partisan one. By this I mean that for many in this country (especially on Capitol Hill), their partisanship is no longer a means to an underlying ideological end, but an end in and of itself. So if George Bush (with the complicity of both Republican and Democratic-led Congresses during his tenure) spends the people’s money like a drunken soldier, he–a Republican–is immune from criticism by other Republicans, even though his behavior is anathema to conservative economic ideology.

Here is Clemens testifying, and a clip from Mike and the Mad Dog, the most highly rated sports talk show in the New York City area, in which Chris “the Mad Dog” Russo–a Republican–exhorts his listeners in Connecticut to vote long-term Congressman, Christopher Shays (R), out of office for what Russo viewed as Shays’ “grandstanding” during the hearings yesterday.

Mad Dog snarly towards Shays:

South Carolina Democratic Primary, Institutional Legacies, and Generational Change

In class on Thursday, I defined institutions and described some of their major characteristics, the most important of which is that an institution endures, sometimes despite the significant impetus for change driven by changing political, social, economic, and technological sources. Last night’s Democratic primary exit polls in South Carolina provide a glimpse into the institution known as the Democratic primary and how that institution has endured over time. Here is a portion of the exit polls from CNN:


Notice the three red boxes, which confirm that Obama was able to win a landslide victory in South Carolina despite receiving only 15% of the 60-and-older non-black vote. So what, you may respond, a pattern has emerged showing Obama captures much more support from the under-30 crowd than the over-60 cohort. But if you look at the over-60 black vote, you’ll see that they voted overwhelmingly in favor of Obama. The complete story here is the institutional legacy of the Democratic party in the South and the impact of generational change on the nature of the party. When we cover political attitudes and ideologies in about two weeks time, we’ll read Ronald Inglehart’s work, in which he highlights the importance of inter-generational changes in attitudes brought about by exposure to epoch-changing events. Lyndon Johnson’s signature on the Civil Rights Act in 1964 was just such an event.