Sunday, September 27, 2009

Yudof as Incompetent

The NYT interview is an abject failure on Yudof's part that emblematizes his failed leadership. He was given a national platform from which to speak and he 1) mounted no defense of education, let alone public education, 2) called the UC effectively dead, 3) wallowed in his own compensation package at precisely the time when these things are public lightening rods.

The history of Yudof's use of the cemetery joke shows that he was tone deaf not just on this one occasion with the NYT, but more generally inept as a public representative. He has no public relations skills, no ability to improvise, no ear for context and no sense of timing. His NYT interview was a quintessential moment of opportunity to appeal to the national public in a crisis. . . and he said the same damned thing he's been saying since at least 2001, being a dean or a chancellor or a president "is like managing a cemetery." There is no leadership here, just the same old joke, told and re-told in a context that makes it worse than ever before.

Yudof's comments in 2002 about authoritarian leadership vs decentralization have their most powerful meaning for us in the context of his general ineptness and failure: He does not know what he is doing. He does not know how or when  to appeal to the public to support education. He warned that being an authoritarian is like being a cemetery manager, but now he boasts of being the cemetery manger. He has turned into his own joke.

This is not Dick Cheney we are dealing with, some dark force of dastardly plans. It is George W Bush at the moment of the bank bail-out, when he doubled back on his own ideology and more or less copped publicly to the failure of his entire administration. "How could this happen," asked George W Bush asked his advisers about the financial crisis one year ago. "The shine is off," said Yudof when he threw his hands up in the air rather than defend the importance of education in the NYT interview.

Yudof is an abject failure. He should resign. That is the simplest case to make in the fight to save the UC, the one with broadest possible appeal, and potentially the most powerful.

Michael Salman
History, UCLA


Jeffrey Bergamini said...

There is a certain logic behind everything this man is saying. Sure, it's disgusting, elitist, and absolutely opposed to everything he's supposed to be working for. But it all points to a certain set of motivations and values. In fact, sometimes (as in this NYT Q&A) he is open and honest about it.

I'm not so sure he's failing.

More to the point: We must stop him.

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