welcome to hacks and flacks

Read about the purpose of this site on our Mission Statement Page

Nobody wants to live an ignoble life.
-from the Mission Statement

When I decided to organize the Graduate School of Political Management, I went out to Princeton to meet with Stanley Kelley, professor of politics. He liked the idea and took a year’s leave of absence from Princeton to serve as the school’s founding provost. At lunch one day, Stanley responded to my rant concerning a feckless mayor who was manipulating New York’s racial tensions for political advantage: “Nobody wants to live an ignoble life,” Stanley said. Hmmm. A deceptively simple remark that I’ve been thinking about off and on ever since.

Christine Solomon, the school’s vice-president, was also at that lunch. Years later, she came to a rancorous debate I was having with a New York landlord-developer who was wreaking havoc with the lives of thousands of tenants, mine included. As we walked out of the auditorium, I asked whether she recalled Stanley Kelley’s remark. She did.  “So, what about this guy?” I asked.  “The man lies about the weather, and the politicians are helping him.”  “What Stanley meant,” she said, “is that nobody wants to live an ignoble life.” Lurking somewhere between Stanley’s serious observation and Christine’s bon mot is, I suppose, the reason for launching this website.

Measured by the number of enrollments, the richness of its curriculum, the expertise of its faculty, the jobs its graduates find, and so forth, the GSPM must be counted as a great success. But there is some unfinished business. Lemuel Gulliver described it almost three centuries ago. Set ashore by pirates on his final voyage, Gulliver found himself  in a land ruled by the Houthnhnms, an enlightened civilization of horses. Yahoos, a race of disagreeable brutes who bore an uncomfortable resemblance to us, also inhabited the land, albeit in a degraded state. Gulliver was hard pressed to explain human culture to the master horse:

…it was with much difficulty that he comprehended what I meant, although he had otherwise a most acute judgement. For he argued thus; That the use of speech was to make us understand one another, and to receive information of facts; now if anyone said the thing which was not, these ends were defeated; because I cannot properly be said to understand him, and I am so far from receiving information that he leaves me worse than in ignorance, for I am led to believe a thing black when it is white, and short when it is  long.  And these were all the notions he had concerning the faculty of lying, so perfectly well understood, and so universally practiced among human creatures.

Do these political operatives even know they are lying? Or do they believe that deception in the cause of a higher purpose justifies portraying war heroes as terrorists?  Or is it they just have to to say the thing which is not to pay the rent? We wonder about such matters, but will leave it to the philosophers and psychiatrists to contemplate the imponderables; for us, it’s enough to expose them one liar at a time. If potential clients shy away from them for fear of being called to account themselves, maybe the operatives will hesitate to write the scripts that say the things which are not. In that happy event, both Christine and Stanley may yet be proven right.  And we will have played our modest role in helping to bring about a new profession.

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