April 20, 2007

Who the Fuck is Hank Paulson?

I realize it's an unforgiveable faux pas to speak poorly of the school during Dimensions, since a single derisive statement can convince a prospie that she actually might not prefer Dartmouth over Yale. But, considering the College's recent choice of Commencement Speaker, I feel like my hands are tied. You see, I don't actually believe in the oh-so-Ivy inferiority complex I like to joke about, but I'm a bit infuriated to see us play into it.

I guess this is all a really roundabout way to ask, "Is Hank Paulson really the best we can do? Really?" I imagine that nobody is surprised by the choice, but that everyone must be dissappointed. I mean, great, he's Sec. of the Treasury, and that's great for an alumni newsletter or a tour-guide name-dropping, but not for commencement. Why do feel obliged to get an alum? This is probably less interesting than the '05 choice of Immelt (at least GE was worth protesting). His career background - bumblefucking around as assistant deputy secretary of whatnot before some illustrious time at Goldman - its the kind of shit that I don't even find intriguing enough for a BG alumni mixer (had we successful alums, that is). He's impressive, but picking him for commencement is like screaming, "everybody look, we finally have a quasi-famous alum!" (Maybe if exercised a little restraint, people would be left to assume we've got a Senator or something out there).

Dartmouth has dropped the ball year after year in picking a commencement speaker (Paulson, Brokaw, Immelt, Mr. Rogers, some historian...) We'd all rather have an impressive and famous public figure rather than an accomplished alum, and we'd all prefer someone unique over someone trite (like Brokaw, who's kind of the village bicycle in commencement circles). Who the fuck is Hank Paulson? Where's our Jon Stewart, where's our Bill Clinton (christ, didn't we get him while he was President?), or a Kofi Annan or anyone who we might give a flying fuck about. What about a Sasha Cohen or a Seth MacFarlane?

Fuck it. It's not my commencement. I'm sure that, provided no alum gets appointed Undersecretary of Agriculture in the meantime, we'll do better next year.


  1. Anonymous4:36 PM

    If you want Cohen and MacFarland types, stop complaining and transfer to Harvard. Dartmouth will be better for it, and you and Harvard will both get what you deserve. Their prior commencement speeches (thanks for the links) epitomize the no-class dumbing down of what should be the best of America.

  2. Why is it so shocking that students would want somebody who has done something interesting with their lives, or at the very least can relate to them, rather than some obligatory recognition of an alum. I could've thrown out some other names - I saw Shirin Ebadi give the commencement speech at Brown in 2004, and I was completely floored by it. We pull in amazing people throughout the course of the year to speak here (while we're on female Nobel Peace Prize recipients, Waangari Mathai in 2005), but then drop the ball come commencement. I could name others, but it wasn't really central to my point.
    Nobody cares what Paulson has to say, and in no shape, way, or form, does Hank Paulson provide any appeal to the actual students who are graduating. Hank Paulson doesn't represent the pinnacle of my education, and I fail to see how his presence is a succesful bulwark against the "no-class dumbing down of America."
    So, why don't you quit raining on my parade, and go to Harvard where you can be surrounded by a bunch of pricks who represent the douchification of what should be the best of America.

  3. Anonymous8:13 PM

    "Hank Paulson doesn't represent the pinnacle of my education."
    Apparently Sasha Cohen does. Sad.

  4. Anonymous2:07 AM

    Too bad you're sad. You want Stewart?! How the hell did you even get into Dartmouth? Hank Paulson is one of the most popular businessmen of today. All the giddy '07s in love with the idea of i-banking (then realizing it makes them mizerable and hate life) will be drooling over the former GS CEO.

  5. Honestly, all this hyperbole (mine and anonymous#1's) is besides the point. There's nothing awful about Paulson, but there isn't a whole lot intriguing about the guy either. For my own commencement, I would like someone who I could be proud of having had the opportunity to hear. I mentioned the comedian-types because, in the absence of someone great, at at least they might be able to speak to our generation, or at least we'd be amused.
    I mean, you're right. It's a great question. How did I get into Dartmouth? (I've always assumed some combination of administrative oversight and the blatantly obvious tendency to disproportionately admit people of South Asian descent). But, disillusioned as I might be, I still think that even people who are giddy about their future prospects at GS would prefer Kofi Annan, Bill Clinton, or even Jon Stewart over some bureaucratic nobody who happened to graduate from the same school as us.
    After all, what's the purpose of commencement? If we're trying to serve the students who are actually graduating, maybe it's better we reflect their interests rather than those of some out-of-touch jackass who thinks Family Guy epitomizes the retardation of America. But I'm probably just talking crazy talk. Let's totally get another CEO next year. I hear the head of Vivid Video is an '84 KappaSigma/ChiGam. All the 07's who watch porn will just be drooling over that one.

  6. Anonymous8:57 AM

    You admit to being in Bones Gate, and you'd rather have the comedian du jour as our commencement speaker than any of the speakers from the last few years. I hope you weren't expecting to be taken seriously.

  7. Anonymous11:28 AM

    How about Alec Baldwin?

  8. Anonymous12:51 PM

    Instead of asking for someone who can "speak to our generation", should we not be taking more initiative to "listen to prior generations" who just might have something to offer that we have not yet figured out ourselves?

    Cohen entertains, but listening to the Harvard red-dress address, I could not find anything of wisdom relevant to my future. Kofi might speak to the challenges of the world, though I doubt he would come without some kickback offer. Perhaps Mike Nifong on the American jurisprudence system? Rumor has it he is available.

  9. Have you read Brokaw's speech? It doesn't seem entertaining or all that enlightening. It's just bad joke, bad joke, platitude about growing up, platitude about 9/11, platitude about cultural conflict, greatest generation, good luck and godspeed.

  10. Anonymous3:45 PM

    Want a thought-provoking exercise? Pick a famous historic figure you respect... Ghandi; Jesus; Socrates; George Washington; MLK Jr. Put yourself in their shoes, back from the past and viewing today's world from their perspective. Then write the speech they would give to new graduates about to "commence" onto society's stage.
    Submit it to the D, DFP, Review, whereever, or even post it here.

  11. Anonymous3:23 PM

    Despite your cop out, naming others might actually help your point. It's easy to bitch about the college's choice of commencement speaker. Lots of people do it every year, at every college around the country. http://www.upenn.edu/gazette/0506/gaz04.html
    Naming people who might be better takes actual work and allows people to see what you actually value in a commencement speech.

    Though the title of your post suggests otherwise, your example of Ebadi makes me think that you're more interested in someone who will give a good speech than someone whose name means something to other people. That's a fair point what do you know about Paulson's speaking ability? Who do you know of who's accomplished and speaks well?

    Hank Paulson is an accomplished alum actually involved in important stuff right now. The fact that he was sitting on the Green 39 years ago listening to some speech from some guy might have some relevance to people graduating. I hate Buzzflood as much as the next person, but this doesn't strike me as buying into the inferiority complex. Bringing in someone who's an alum and near the top of the government probably struck the selectors as a "safe" choice.

    A Bill Clinton speech at this time of year would be excruciating. Maybe a year ago, maybe in 2008, but not this June.

    Maybe Ann Coulter should give the speech. She could dress up as Saddam Hussein, fire a few shots from a Kalashnikov into the air, and then give a speech "in character" about how angry "he" is that the Americans killed "him" and invaded Iraq. It would be at least as amusing and original as anything Borat or J. Stewart would say.

    Borat's real name is actually spelled Sacha Cohen.

    Sasha Cohen is a 21-year-old figure skater who won a silver medal at the Olympics. I'd be rather interested in what she might say to 4500 21/22-year-olds and their families and professors in June.

  12. Anonymous5:21 PM

    the funny part about the "sasha cohen" typo is, she actually IS a dartmouth student who will be graduating this year...

  13. Anonymous12:51 PM

    The angry douche has his panties in a twist again....

  14. Anonymous12:58 PM

    There are three of you who work on this blog.

    The last blog post was 3 days ago. This is unacceptable.

    Learn2Blog n00bs.

  15. Willie Mays is getting an honorary degree. Why can't he be the speaker if he'll be here anyway? I'd stick around the extra few days for that.

  16. Anonymous12:13 AM

    Nathan makes the point that I've been discussing the most with fellow 07s since the announcement was made. While I cannot speak for his rhetorical ability, Willie Mays is a cultural icon and major figure of the Civil Rights Movement, in addition to being perhaps the greatest all-around baseball player of all time.

    Additionally, I think Dartmouth would be well-served to have a light-hearted Class Day Speaker, the way that Harvard and many other schools do. If my memory serves me correctly, Sacha Cohen spoke as Ali G. for Harvard's Class Day, not Commencement. That way, students could enjoy a more casual, humorous speech from a comedian or other engaging figure, while the College would be able to continue choosing Commencement speakers whose main contribution is their considerable gravitas and not their ability to engage the graduating class.

  17. Anon, I love the idea of a Class Day with a more light-hearted speaker, or at least, a more generationally-tuned speaker. That's a great idea, you should write a letter wo whatever admin office handles these things and suggest it.

    On another note, Ted Williams was greater.

  18. Anonymous9:35 PM

    A little Google would go a long way. Start here:


    Then here:


    Then learn to do your own research.