Lynne Cheney's One-Sided 'Truth'

September 29, 1992

Five years ago, Lynne V. Cheney, who chairs the National Endowment for the Humanities, co-authored (with Victor Gold) "The Body Politic," a satire on the vacuousness of U.S. presidential campaigns. On the cover page of that book was an aphorism from Machiavelli: "The great majority of mankind is satisfied with appearances, as though they were realities."

Half a decade later, Ms. Cheney is living proof that Machiavelli was right. She is out with a "report" on the "state of the humanities in higher education." But what "Telling the Truth" is really about is the conspiracy of the nation's liberal professors to impose "political correctness" on college and university campuses and to muzzle (and punish) those innocents who are disturbed by the practice and those right-thinking conservatives who refuse to go along.

The arguments Ms. Cheney poses in her treatise can be found in recent books by Rita Kramer ("Ed School Follies") and others, which are full of outrageous anecdotes about the behavior of left-leaning professors (a paper presented at an academic conference titled "Jane Austen and the Masturbating Girl"). Most are out of context, but that doesn't bother the head of the NEH, who blames many of the woes of American higher education on those who would "convert every academic subject into a politicized study of race, class and gender."

Nor does it bother Ms. Cheney that she produces a "report" that purports to explore the "state of the humanities in higher education" -- but that does nothing of the sort. There is not a hint in "Telling the Truth" that any college professor who shares Ms. Cheney's political ideology ever, in the history of academe, tried to impose his or her views on unsuspecting students.

It is not coincidental that this "report" was issued, at public expense, only six weeks before the presidential election. Ms. Cheney, a Republican political appointee and wife of Defense Secretary Dick Cheney, an even bigger Republican appointee, knows on which side of the bread her butter goes. And she apparently knows who tells the truth, too.

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