Chat with Dole Institute of Politics Interim Director

September 5, 2007

This chat has already taken place. Read the transcript below.

Interim Director of the Dole Institute of Politics Jonathan Earle will be in to discuss the presidential races, other issues surrounding national politics and what's going on at the Dole Institute this year.

Moderator:

Thank you for joining us for this online chat with Interim Director of the Dole Institute of Politics, Jonathan Earle. I am Haley Harrison and wil moderate today's chat.
Jonathan is here to chat about politics, the upcoming spring primaries, the Dole Institute or whatever political issues are on our minds.
Thank you for being her Jonathan.

truthhurts:

Hello Mr. Earle - I believe Bill Lacy had tentative plans for a fall series spotlighting third parties in American politics. Is this still part of your plans for the fall? The rising discontent with both major parties would seem to make this a popular event.

Thanks
Patrick Wilbur

Jonathan Earle:

Thanks for writing Patrick --
We do have a major program on third parties in U.S. politics planned for October 25. I agree there is a rising discontent with the major parties out there, and some people feel "abandoned." But there isn't a long record of success for the various third parties that have made a go at transforming the American political system. This fall, maybe we'll find out why and if that could change.

justthefacts:

How do you choose your speakers? I know the Institute says that it doesn't promote one party or set of politics over another, but it does seem that it hosts a lot more liberal speakers/guests then conservative ones. Is that my imagination, or have I missed the visits from conservatives? Who pays for guest speakers? Since Bill Lacey is now in charge of his presidential bid campaign, will Fred Thompson be coming to the Institute for a visit?

Jonathan Earle:

We get our speakers in a number of ways. I've been in charge of programming at the Institute since 2003, and I think we've done a pretty good job balancing the political views of our guests. That isn't to say we could do better. We also try to balance international, national, and state/local politics. It's strange: Kansas is known as a conservative state, and Lawrence is famously a "blue dot." Believe me, I have invitations out to plenty of conservatives as well as people from other parts of the spectrum. I also think you'll be pleased by some of our programs this fall, so stay tuned!

Moderator:

You say the Dole Institute gets its speakers in a number of ways. Is it through staff connections? What is the method to selecting speakers? Explain.

Jonathan Earle:

It varies a lot. For the aforementioned "Third Parties" program, we chose a topic and then filled in the best national experts we could come up with (and had time in their schedules!). For others, we try to match potential guests with the mission of the Institute. So it made sense to have General David Petraeus come speak when he was commanding general at Ft. Leavenworth. Other programs are centered around a specific person: we have two terrific journalists on the schedule this fall. Connie Schultz, a Pulitzer-prize winner from the Cincinnati Plain Dealer, is a liberal and a feminist. She'll be here next Wednesday, Sept. 12. On October 30, we have Bob Novak, who is from a completely different part of the political spectrum. Does that make sense?

Moderator:

So you're saying the Dole Institute makes a conscious effort to bring in speakers from across the political spectrum? Also, IS Fred Thompson coming?

Jonathan Earle:

Definitely. In fact, I think it drives Director Lacy crazy that we draw more for our more liberal speakers. So, conservatives out there: the gauntlet has been laid down! Come on out!. If you are a Fred Thompson fan, you will likely be pleased this year. Booking him (no date set) was a condition of my taking on this job.

justthefacts:

The Institute always looks so beautiful and has such good programs, it's a state treasure. I always encourage my out of town visitors to stop by and at least see it. With that said, isn't there some way to keep the green area around the Institute just a little nicer; it seems like such a beautiful building and setting should have a lawn and landscaping that at least equals that of the local banking insitutions! Does the KU lawn squad take care of it or does the Institute contract that care to an outide vendor?

Moderator:

What is something you want to accomplish in your tenure (however short or long it is) as Interim Director? With politics in the air this year, how will the Dole use that excitment to draw in more students?

Jonathan Earle:

Thanks for the kind words about the facility. It really is a treasure, and I smile every time I walk through the door. KU's facilities operations takes great care of the grounds, in spite of everything the Kansas weather can throw at it. We'll do our best to keep things green and beautiful.

Jonathan Earle:

In answer to Haley's question, there are some things I want to accomplish. Since we began offering regular programming, the response from students (at KU and local schools) has been growing consistently. I'd like to keep that up. Before the Dole Institute was built, there just wasn't anywhere in Lawrence doing this kind of programming. So with the increased student interest and the importance more people are placing on politics, I think we're in a position to raise the bar even higher. What happens in Washington and Topeka and at City Hall really does impact our lives, whether we vote or not, or pay attention or not. I think more people are realizing this.

Moderator:

Many people on staff at the Dole have close political ties with a particular candidate or even hold an office themselves. Where do you stand? What is your political affiliation? To which side do you lean?

Jonathan Earle:

Any visitor to my office at the Dole Institute can probably figure out my politics (I try to keep them vague in my classes). Let's just say my political hero is Bobby Kennedy, and I believe government can and should help people.

Moderator:

Jonathan, thank you for joining us today and for taking our questions. We appreciate your time and look forward to the exciting things happening at the Dole this year.

Moderator:

This closes today's chat.

Jonathan Earle:

You're welcome -- and I hope to see many of you out on west campus this fall.

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