Hillsdale Jujitsu

Chatterbox is dazzled by the speed and skill with which the conservative press has disassociated itself from George Roche III, the recently departed president of Hillsdale College. Roche built up Hillsdale into a darling of the neoconservative movement–a liberal-arts college self-consciously dedicated to the superiority of “the Judeo-Christian faith” and the American way. But when Roche recently resigned (here’s his resignation letter) amid accusations by his son, George Roche IV, that since 1980 Roche had carried on an affair with his daughter-in-law–until she committed suicide–the National Review quickly nabbed an exclusive interview with George IV. The Weekly Standard hastily followed up with a cover piece that condemned Hillsdale’s campaign to hush the whole matter up in the name of protecting Roche’s “constitutional right to privacy,” which, the Weekly Standard pointed out, is “something most conservatives don’t even believe exists.”

The mop-up operation occurred so swiftly and efficiently that the liberal press never got a chance to make opportunistic use of the incident, as it has been doing with the lurid details of the Gingrich divorce. A Nexis search turns up no see,family values is bullshit! pieces thus far by any of the usual liberal-to-left suspects. Katha Pollitt can still try, but the National Review and Weekly Standard would seem to have left little to say, except perhaps that Roche is innocent.