Our Fearless Leader on the Tube

In an interview on PBS-aired talk show Charlie Rose Wednesday night, Faust confidently lapped up PR for Harvard's financial aid programs, got excited about the Internet revolution and studying slavery, and smoothly dodged (not rigorous) inquiries about the University's financial conundrum. As one frequent Harvard pundit and critic remarked: "The president has spiffed herself up a lot, she’s dressing better, and somehow she looks younger. Botox? Cosmetic surgery? Or just great TV makeup?"

Rose, an acclaimed interviewer, contented himself with pitching softballs (How is the Harvard of the '60s and '70s different from that today?) and inane questions (Imagine a freshman asks you, "What do you want me to get out of this? What kind of person should I become in the next four years?"). Faust, the humble historian, talked about diversity and lauded the Q guide as an example of Harvard's dedication to quality teaching. (Unfortunately, only the first ten minutes of Faust's interview were posted on Charlie Rose's Web site.)

But Faust seemed to only really get excited when Rose got talking about education itself. Indulge in Faust-isms after the jump.

Rose: "How about this: [Dramatic pause.] The simple process of someone, uh, teaching someone else, and someone learning from someone else. [Painfully slow and deliberate word choice.] Has the dynamic of that thing...that has been...the engine...of becoming...an educated person...changed?"

Faust: "Both yes, and no." [She delivers a speech on the benefits of the Internet and talks about superimposing maps of Africa using computers to study the slave trade. This leads to philosophizing on the information age itself.]

Rose: "Does that make a smarter society?"

Faust [wide-eyed]: "Well, depends on how you define a smarter society. We have more information, but do we succeed in turning that into knowledge and, as you say, wisdom? Those things are not necessarily always correlated."

Deep.