The Corner

Cold as Ice

Well, I gave my talk at St. Lawrence University last night. And, I should say that I don’t think I’ve ever had a colder audience. I’ve spoken to scores of college audiences now, including those with vastly more liberal reputations, but this was the iciest reception I’ve ever had. Quite a few students were clearly sent as class assignments (which is always bad). But it seemed like part of their assignment was to be hostile. I have a bad tendency to tell if an audience is listening by trying to make them laugh. And I’m usually very hard on myself about this sort of thing and I usually know when my material or delivery is off. But this was really amazing. Self-deprecating humor, Bush-bashing humor, humor itself had almost  no effect (and anti-liberal humor produced glares and clenched teeth), including all sorts of stand-bys I’ve used for years to positive effect even with hardcore lefty audiences (I used to be part of a road show that at time featured folks like Ralph Nader, the Indigo Girls et al, so I know from lefty campus audiences). I had a great time with the campus Republicans and some faculty before and after, but I’ll tell ya, the longest month I ever spent was the hour I spent talking to kids from SLU.