Petraeus’ boondoggle even worse than thought

Turns out the lucrative CUNY gig is a class with an incoherent course description and a 16 student limit. Veritas!

Topics: David Petraeus, CUNY, College, Higher education, taxpayer funds,

Petraeus' boondoggle even worse than thoughtDavid H. Petraeus speaks at the annual dinner for veterans and ROTC students at the University of Southern California, his first public remarks since retiring from the CIA in scandal.

David Petraeus’s course description for his high-flying gig next year at CUNY is now online. The course is called “Are We on the Threshold of the North American Decade.” That sounds like a question to me, but there’s no question mark. (Though a commenter at Crooked Timber makes a good point: “Maybe it’s an exclamation. Like ‘Have we got a show for you tonight!’”)

Here’s the course description:

In this interdisciplinary seminar, students will examine in depth and then synthesize the history and trends in diverse public policy topics with a view towards recommendations for America’s leadership role in the emerging global economy.

Which prompted Yasmin Nair to suggest this alternative course title: “Can you believe that CUNY is seriously paying me this much money for this shit.” (No question mark.)

And Kieran Healy to say this:

Time was, a professional bullshitter like Tom Friedman would pretend to be a military commander like David Petraeus. Now it’s the other way around.

The man whose course description reads thus also has the gall to include in his course prerequisite this: “Excellent writing and presentation skills are a must.”

Incidentally, the course is limited to 16 students.  How many TAs has Petraeus been given to design, prep, administer, and do the grading for the course?

All of which brings me back to this amazing quote from Benno Schmidt, chairman of the CUNY Board of Trustees:

The faculty needs to learn that in order to get good work done at the university, you need to pay good money. If they think that’s expensive, they’ll find out just how expensive it is to not pay good money.

Corey Robin teaches political science at Brooklyn College and the CUNY Graduate Center. He is the author of "The Reactionary Mind: Conservatism from Edmund Burke to Sarah Palin" and "Fear: The History of a Political Idea." He blogs at

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