Phi Beta Cons

Background Check

The election of Stephen Smith to the Dartmouth College board of trustees was a big defeat for the Dartmouth establishment. But now the establishment is trying to win the spin, with lies. In an AP article, Richard Routhier, chairman of the alumni council’s nominating committee, claims that “Smith was not forthcoming about his conservative background, including a clerkship with Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.” Uh, not exactly. Here’s what Smith says on his campaign website:

After law school, I worked for two federal judges. The first was Judge David B. Sentelle on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. The second was Justice Clarence Thomas at the Supreme Court of the United States, which is commonly–yet wrongly–called the highest court in the land. (As Supreme Court clerks know, the highest court in the land is the basketball court above the courtroom in the Supreme Court!)

For what it’s worth, I reported on Smith’s affiliation with Thomas here–it’s just a brief mention, but it might have been far more detailed because Smith spoke extensively and colorfully about his old boss.
The problem isn’t that Smith hasn’t been forthcoming about his conservative background, it’s that Routhier and others like him aren’t forthcoming about their hostility to reform at Dartmouth.
(Hat tip: emailer Greg Pollowitz) 

John J. Miller, the national correspondent for National Review and host of its Great Books podcast, is the director of the Dow Journalism Program at Hillsdale College. He is the author of A Gift of Freedom: How the John M. Olin Foundation Changed America.