I don’t find Marty Peretz all that interesting as a person: there are plenty of bigoted, ostensibly-educated-but-stupid old men in this world. For my money, Jim Fucking Lehrer describes him perfectly via a fictitious character:
[Perry] was a lightweight sociology professor of no special talent or accomplishment who owned and edited the magazine The New World because his wife was a shoe company heiress who bought it for him. He was a joke in all circles except those that believed money was important. Perry was an occasional dinner guest at the Hollowells’ solely because his magazine published a long think piece by Bill Hollowell once a month. …
But I find the Marty Peretz phenomenon — would be intellectuals and wise men sucking up to a wealthy dim-wit — fascinating, because it’s so poorly hidden, e.g. on his upcoming Harvard honor:
Peretz simply said, “The notion that after teaching 45 years at Harvard and people giving money in my honor that I have to defend myself—please.” Just as a point of reference, here are the people giving the money in his honor. I wonder if Al Gore, EJ Dionne and the rest think he should defend himself?
Now, university fund-raisers are unabashed whores, as they should be (the greatness of our university system is due in part to these people’s ability to extract money from the Daniel Plainviews of the world). So what Harvard is doing here doesn’t bother me, nor does it amuse me.
What does amuse me is all the would be courageous truth-tellers in the world of journalism who at best, will timidly take a whack at Peretz once someone more important has cast the first stone, and at worst continue to kiss his ass. It will be the same with David Bradley, the rich guy who bankrolls The Atlantic, if he ever goes around the bend. In for a pony, in for a pound.
None of this is much different than what goes on at CATO or the various other serious, Koch-funded enterprises.