Thursday, December 09, 2010

Black's Duncan Yo Yo

Daily Politics has an interview where Education Secretary Arne Duncan comes out with fulsome praise for newly appointed chancellor Cathie Black:

"Q: What do you think about Cathie Black?

Duncan: "I'm a huge fan of Joel Klein. He's done an amazing job. And her challenge and the opportunity is to take public education here to the next level. And I'm going to do whatever I can to be supportive of her in doing that, and I, there's a lot of easier things she could have chosen to do. For her to have the courage to step up and do this work, I think tells you something about her character."

Hip hip hooray! We can now add Duncan to the list of Bloomberg sycophants with their hands out. The idea-in spite of the fact that Duncan himself lacked any real ed cred when he took over the Chicago schools-that Cathie Black is aces for NY is risible indeed.

And Duncan practically foams at the mouth-in spite of the fact that he is all too well aware of the learning curve she faces: "There are challenges whether you're conventional or unconventional. Anyone coming to this job has a huge learning curve. I will say in Chicago I worked for the previous superintendent before I got the job for 2-1/2 years. I sort of thought I knew it, and I got there, I had no idea how big my learning curve was. So she like anyone else has a, has a, you know, a learning curve. She's smart. She's committed. She's going to have a great team. And this is a, is not just about Cathie, it's about the entire city rallying to make this the best urban public school system in the country. And I think she has the potential to be a fantastic leader."

Once again, we confront the fact that Mike Bloomberg may be a kleineman, but he has very long arms-and, it goes without saying, even deeper pockets. Given this reality we need to take much of what people like Duncan say with no more than a grain of salt-otherwise we'll really get hypertension.

Duncan's shout out to Cathie Black reminds us of another Black-Justice Hugo Black. It was the justice-along with Justice Douglass-who commented about the suspect nature of loyalty oaths: "They are proof of nothing but loyalty to self interest." And in this case Duncan, in Pavlovian response to the Bloomberg cash nexus, pursues his own future prospects-putting his encomiums to Cathie Black in the category of  a wallet-based loyalty; and one that deserves to be deeply discounted.