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Sophomore's IBJ Column on Ubben Lecture by Lee Hamilton '52 Asks, "How Do We Get Back to This?"

Sophomore's IBJ Column on Ubben Lecture by Lee Hamilton '52 Asks, "How Do We Get Back to This?"

April 24, 2011

April 24, 2011, Greencastle, Ind. - "A highlight of every semester at DePauw University, the Ubben Lecture series brings at least one headliner to campus to speak about a current event or topic, or to engage in a debate," begins an Indianapolis Business Journal column by Jake Bonifield, a DePauw sophomore. "Past speakers have included Mikhail Gorbachev, Benazir Bhutto, Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair. This year, former U.S. Rep. Lee Hamilton spoke on foreign policy."

Bonifield notes, "Hamilton’s speech was full of memorable quotations and sage advice. With the gruff, grandfatherly tone of an experienced diplomat, he sought to frame foreign policy in practical terms, recounting how his counsel had been received by sitting presidents and offering opinions on the crises in the Middle East. The speech was enjoyable and the content rich, but something else stood out that said more about our condition at home than it did about our prospects abroad. As I walked out of Meharry Hall, where the lecture had been given, it occurred to me that, had I not known Hamilton’s political affiliation before the speech, his remarks would not have made it obvious. The realization was startling. How could someone with such a high profile -- a major political figure by any standard -- be so nonchalant in weaving across the center line?"

20110315 183530rFThe political science major observes, "One of the last of a generation of statesmen whose primary objectives were not framed neatly in partisan terms but couched patriotically in terms of national priorities, Hamilton’s brand of authentic analysis was a breath of fresh air. How do we get back to this? To lament partisanship has become the low-hanging fruit of political punditry. But to blame our representatives for this dilemma is like blaming our cars for speeding in a school zone. We control whom we send to Washington and, although we can’t control what they do when they get there, we can send a strong signal."

The column concludes, "In the parking lot, as I passed a Buick with an Obama sticker and a pickup with a 'Don’t Tread on Me' emblem, it occurred to me that there weren’t many events at which one could expect both drivers to be present. Later that evening, I watched Hamilton and his wife stop on the edge of campus before driving away, and the image revealed the lesson: an earlier generation leaving our own to inherit the legacy. And not a bumper sticker in sight."

You'll find the complete essay at IBJ's website.

Lee H. Hamilton was a history major and basketball standout at DePauw. After a career in law, he served 34 years in the U.S. House of Representatives and co-chaired the 9/11 Commission and Iraq Study Group. His March 15 Ubben Lecture is embedded below.

Source: Indianapolis Business Journal