Most readers will recall the brouhaha that engulfed Charlottesville (No, not the march!) when UVa’s Miller Center, which specializes in the study of the presidency, hired a senior assistant to President Trump, Marc Short, for a one year appointment. If you don’t remember, or you’d like a quick refresher on the vitriolic silliness of that episode, see my article about it at the James G. Martin Center.
Now, there they go again. Short’s one-year appointment has been, er, cut short, since he is returning to Washington to be Chief of Staff to Vice President Pence. Commenting on Short’s departure, UVa history professor William I. Hitchcock, one of two history professors who resigned from the Miller Center in protest over Short’s appointment, said Short’s hiring had “shattered the idea that the Miller Center was nonpartisan.”
No one familiar with the tenor of campus political culture these days will be surprised that a senior scholar obviously regards a senior Trump official as by definition partisan, while members or followers of former administrations — or a former Democratic governor of Virginia, Gerald Baliles, who was the director of the Miller Center from 2006-2014 — are not.
On campuses today “non-partisan” has come to be an expansive term encompassing Independents, Democrats, Socialists (interesting we have to list them now), and Never-Trump Republicans. The only partisans left are Trump supporters, or those who don’t dislike or oppose him vigorously enough.