The 40th anniversary of the Watergate break-in has brought the name Jeb Magruder back into the news. As deputy director of Richard Nixon’s Committee to Re-Elect the President, Magruder helped plan the break-in. He’s also a graduate of the University of Chicago. In fact, despite its current reputation as the cradle of President Obama’s left-wing career, the U of C has contributed far more conservatives to American politics. Here are a brief University of Chicago Right Wing Hall of Fame.
JEB STUART MAGRUDER, ’62: After moving to Chicago to pursue a Masters in Business Administration, Magruder became involved in Republican politics, managing Donald Rumsfeld’s campaign for Congress and Richard Ogilvie’s run for Cook County Board President. These successes led him to become Deputy Director of Richard Nixon’s Committee to Re-elect the President. In that job, Magruder attended meetings at which the Watergate break-ins were planned. He served seven months in prison, and later became a Presbyterian minister.
JOHN ASHCROFT, ’67: After George W. Bush became president in 2001, appointing the law-and-order, pro-life Ashcroft as attorney general was his reward to the religious right. Ashcroft was born in Chicago, grew up in Missouri as the son of an Assemblies of God minister, then returned to his hometown for law school after earning a degree from Yale. Ashcroft served two terms as governor of Missouri and one term in the Senate before losing his seat to Mel Carnahan, who had died in a plane crash three weeks prior to the election. As attorney general, he supported and enforced the anti-terrorism USA PATRIOT Act, which critics said gave the government authority to spy on citizens. He is now on the faculty of Regent University, a conservative Christian law school in Virginia.
ROBERT BORK, ’50, ’53: Bork earned both his B.A. and his law degree in Hyde Park. The conservative legal scholar was Solicitor General in the Nixon Administration, gaining fame as the hatchet man in the Saturday Night Massacre. After Watergate Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox found out about the White House Tapes, Nixon ordered Attorney General Eliot Richardson to fire Cox, before he could hear what was on those tapes. Richardson resigned in protest. So did Deputy Attorney William Ruckelshaus, leaving Bork to do the deed. Later nominated to the Supreme Court by President Ronald Reagan, he was rejected by the Senate, not only for his role in Watergate, but for his criticism of Roe v. Wade. A martyr to conservatives, he has frequently been seen on Fox News in recent years.
PAUL WOLFOWITZ, ’69: As a Ph.D. student, Wolfowitz studied under Professor Leo Strauss, considered one of the founders of the neo-conservative movement, a reaction communism and the decadence of the 1960s counterculture. Neoconservatives also believe it is America’s duty to spread democracy, by force if necessary. As Deputy Secretary of Defense in the George W. Bush Administration, Wolfowitz had a chance to put the philosophy he’d learned in Hyde Park into practice. Along with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Vice President Dick Cheney, Wolfowitz was one of the hawks in favor of invading Iraq. He helped create the doctrine of pre-emption, and promoted Iraq’s supposed development of weapons of mass destruction as a casus belli. After the war bogged down, Wolfowitz was appointed to a term as president of the World Bank.
ALLAN BLOOM, ’49, ’53, ’55: Bloom promoted the cultural side of neo-conservatism. His best-selling book, The Closing of The American Mind, criticized universities for opening their students’ minds to authors outside the canon of Western literature. The book, which also attacked rock music and ’60s radicalism, was considered one of the first manifestoes of the culture wars. Bloom was encouraged in his writing by U of C colleague Saul Bellow, who later memorialized him in the very entertaining novel Ravelstein.
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