While discussing the Administration's efforts in the Cold War, McGeorge Bundy spent his day and a half in Cambridge apparently trying also to end a Cold War of his own with the academic community.
Ever since his stinging reply to a letter from several Midwestern professors inviting him to a teach-in in April, Bundy has encountered increasing criticism from the academic community. When his sudden trip to the Dominican Republic prevented him from appearing at the nationally-televised Washington teach-in, protests became louder.
Both petitions circulated in Phi Beta Kappa protesting Bundy's appearance here noted the former dean's "contempt for critics, lay and academic."
But the man who had icily told the Midwestern professors he "could not give them high marks," was not to be found in Cambridge this week. At the Monday afternoon panel discussion, Bundy went out of his way to commend panel members for "good questions." As often as possible, he began his answers with "I agree with you, but . . ."
The inevitable disdain for "second and third-hand press reports," the sarcasm at the expense of a questioner's imprecise wording were present, but in obvious moderation. The Bundy who remained to chat informally with students for 15 minutes was a thoroughly charming and personable man, listening respectfully to criticism and replying politely. Never, either during or after the session, did Bundy lose his composure, raise his voice, or openly indicate displeasure.
In his Phi Beta Kappa oration, a most reasonable Bundy noted that he "did not want to take one side of a contested issue when he had a monopoly of the prose words." He closed by invoking John F. Kennedy's name to urge a close working relationship between the "world of ideas and the world of politics.