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September 07, 1989 - Image 75

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The Michigan Daily, 1989-09-07

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a

The Michigan Daily/New Student Edition - Thursday, September 7, 1989- Page 15

With D.C. on his mind, Prof.

Tanter

,candidly voices a conservative view

by Leslie Perera
Daily Staff Writer
Displayed on his office wall,
where pictures of family and loved
ones are generally found, is a large
autographed picture of himself shak-
ing hands with then-Vice President
Bush. Surrounding the picture in arc-
like precision are various other
framed photographs of himself with
influential politicians. All have
careful inscriptions: "To Ray, from
Ronald Reagan", "To Ray, from Al
Haig."
A framed invitation to President
}George Bush's inauguration hangs
on an adjacent wall.
The slight greying in the closely
cropped hair is the only reminder of
the time that has passed since the
0 pictures were taken of the man now
sitting behind the computer at his
desk. The intense, penetrating eyes
and the brilliant, toothy smiles are
the same.
Political science Professor
Raymond Tanter's glory days as a
'"staffer" on President Reagan's
National Security Council staff are
not soon forgotten. His term in
Washington from March 1981 to
r 'September 1982 helped transform
him into an unconventional univer-
sity professor. And most people
would agree that Tanter is )a "product
of Washington." As a result, he feels
estranged from the University of
Michigan political science depart-
ment and has become increasingly
controversial among students.
"I am a principled person,"
Tanter says. The brief pause and
broad smile indicate that the punch-
lne is about to come. "It's just that
my principles are all right wing."
'With this he breaks into his charac-
teristically loud, animated laughter.
Tanter, a professor at the
University of Michigan since 1967,
has long been controversial because
of his personal politics and his out-
spoken nature. While both the cam-
pus and Ann Arbor are very liberal
communities, Tanter is a conserva-
tive. And he is not afraid to say so,
loudly.
This was apparent last year when
Tanter was often contacted by the
media and asked to offer support for
such volatile issues as the selections
of Dan Quayle for Vice President and
John Tower for Secretary of Defense.
He did so gladly because in
Washtenaw County, which gave

98% of its support to Jesse Jackson
in the 1988 democratic caucus, a vo-
cal conservative is hard to find.
Tanter enjoys the role of a sort of
conservative gadfly, although he be-
lieves it may have been forced on
him because "so few faculty mem-
bers speak out."
Tanter's background makes it
surprising that he would emerge as
such a staunch conservative. Tanter
grew up in Chicago where both his
parents worked for many years at the
United States Postal Service. Tanter
describes them as "law and order
Democrats."
As an undergraduate at Roosevelt
University in Chicago, Tanter was
an active member of Americans for
"I am a principled
person, it's just that my
principles are all right
wing."
-Prof. Ray Tanter
Democratic Action. However, in
what he described as a purely re-
alpolitik move after deciding that he
could become more visible and have
a greater impact on political out-
comes, Tanter switched from this
liberal opposition group to the
Republican Party.
After receiving his Ph.D. in po-
litical science from Indiana
University, Tanter returned to
Chicago to teach at Northwestern
University from 1964-67. It was dur-
ing this time that he met his first
political mentor, Donald Rumsfeld
and began working on Rumsfeld's
early Congressional campaign.
Rumsfeld later became White
House chief of staff and then secre-
tary of defense under President Ford.
Early this year during the furor over
John Tower's nomination for secre-
tary of defense, it was rumored that
Rumsfeld may be up for the job.
Tanter, who still maintains a close
personal relationship with Rumsfeld,
was delighted at the time.
"If Rumsfeld goes to Defense, so
do I," Tanter said matter-of-factly.
The confidence and self-assurance
of the man are evident in everything
he does. Students either find Tanter
arrogant and abrasive or they are at-
tracted to what they see as incredible
candor.
Rob Feldman, a former student

of Tanter's, said that upon first meet-
ing Tanter he was "awed by Tanter's
love of self." He does not like Tan-
ter's teaching style. He believes that
Tanter is too rigid in his political
views and tries to impress them on
his students.
Tanter admits with a chuckle that
his classes generally attract students
that are "right of center," but he is-
adamant in the belief that he does
not force his personal views on stu-
dents.
"My politics are like the web of
a duck's feet," Tanter says, spreading
the fingers on his hand, and looking
at them as if he saw an invisible
web. "They are underneath the duck,
but always propelling it," he says
leaning back in his chair with a grin
of satisfaction. He often speaks in.
analogies to illustrate his point.
Tanter explains that analogies are
characteristic "Washington talk," a
habit he picked up while on the
NSC staff.
His unpublished book is laced
with analogies beginning with the
title, "Who's at the Helm?," a refer-
ence to the government as a ship
with the President as captain.
The book is an account of the
Reagan Administration's policies
during the Lebanon crisis in 1981-
82. As the Administration's Middle
East specialist, Tanter was inti-
mately involved in the government
decision-making process at this
time. Tanter's account of the crisis
combines theory and policy, and
Tanter believes this to be the reason
why it has yet to be published.
"Had I written a strictly kiss-and-
tell book, it would have already been
published," muses Tanter.
Not only in his book, but also
in the classroom, Tanter combines
theory with his practical experience.
He sees this as part of the reason for
his feelings of estrangement from
the political science department.
"Some people think that I am
not a serious scholar because I strad-
dle the line between theory and pol-
icy," Tanter says candidly.
In April, a political science sem-
inar on the prospects of President
Bush's foreign policy was given by
the department. Tanter was seated in
the audience at the back of the audi-
torium. Although he says he is too
busy to mind, Tanter felt that he was
"explicitly not invited" to speak at
the seminar.

"I know George Bush," Tanter
declares incredulously as he points to
the picture on the wall. "I was a
spokesman for his policies during
last year's election."
Despite Tanter's personal feel-
ings of estrangement, political sci-
ence professor Alfred Meyer does not
think that Tanter is an outsider in
the department.
"That may be Ray's own concep-
tion -- or misconception," Meyer
explained. "The shindig [political
science seminar] was organized by
area specialists and Tanter is not
one. There was no reason he should
have been included."
As his student assistant gets up
from behind the computer to leave,
Tanter thanks her for the progress
she has made on his book, and tells
her to "message him on MTS" about
something they are working on.
MTS, or the Michigan Terminal
System, is an elaborate communica-
tion network through computer mes-
saging. Tanter prefers this to tele-
phone calls.
Another student comes unan-
nounced into Tanter's office suggest-
ing that the constant flow of student
traffic is not uncommon. He often
leaves his office door open. Tanter
likes to surround himself with a vast
personal bureaucracy of students and
former students. They are arranged in
a Washington-like structure with a
definite hierarchy and chains of com-
mand. This bureaucracy helps Tanter
do everything from running his
computer-assisted simulation to
planting flowers at his home.
David Durham, a senior political
science major and member of the
Reserve Officer's Training Corp, is a
"His heart is in
Washington and not in
Ann Arbor."
-Tom Zigoris, a former
teaching assistant for
Tanter
part of this informal bureaucracy.
He spends a lot of time helping
Tanter with the computer simula-
tion, despite the fact that he does not
get paid and receives no academic
credit. Why does he put in the time?
"He is a useful ally and will be
able to help me out later," Durham
says bluntly, looking directly at
Tanter.
"He's honest," Tanter laughs,

Professor Raymond Tanter possesses a love/hate relationship with his
students. While many students like his practice of mixing personal poli-
tics and theory, others find that his dogmatic thinking keeps him from
listening to any other points of view.

seemingly pleased with Durham's
answer. "I get a lot of loyalty from
students because I put the time in."
Tanter is the only political
science professor to use computer-
assisted simulations as a teaching aid
because they are "expensive and
time-consuming." The computer
game is set up and run by former
students and attempts to mirror the
government decision-making pro-
cess. Every member of the class is
assigned to act as a government offi-
cial or press person and is expected
to act within the bounds of their as-
signed roles as various scenarios and
crises unfold throughout the se-
mester.
Despite a diversity of feelings
about Tanter's personal teaching
style, most students agree that the
simulation is a valuable part of his
courses. Ed McGlinn, a former stu-
dent and simulation coordinator,
took all of Tanter's courses: Amer-
ican Foreign Policy Process, Arab-
Israel Conflict, International Se-
curity Affairs and a seminar on the
Strategic Defense Initiative or "Star
Wars."
"I loved doing the simulation. It
kept bringing me back," McGlinn
said.
Many of his students believe,
however, that Tanter's first priority
is Washington politics and not
teaching.
"His heart is in Washington and
not in Ann Arbor," said Tom
Zigoris, a former teaching assistant
for Tan ter.
"I love to teach and help students
grow," Tanter says, but he admits
that he hopes to return to Wash-
ington. With this admission his
thoughts immediately return to the
rumored possibility of Donalk
CFMa1e4

Rumsfeld for secretary of defense.
"He's perfect. He has experienc(
and he's squeaky clean," Tanter in
sists.
A knock on the door cuts
Tanter's political predictions short.
(And the eventual nomination of
Dick Cheney ultimately proved them
wrong.) Another student enters his
office and immediately comments on
the recent addition to Tanter's framed
picture and memorabilia collection--
the invitation to President Bush's in-
auguration. Tanter begins to talk ex-
citedly about the inauguration cere-
mony, as the student listens silently.
For a few minutes, Tanter is back
in Washington. U
-
PASS
IT
AROUND I
Share the
news,

History
Continued from Page 2

" fills the upper part of the border.
Finally, the year the University was
founded, 1817, appears at the bot-
tom.

Angell 1871-1909, often hailed as
one of the best presidents the
University has ever had, prided him-
self on knowing many of the stu-

1825. Over the years it changed The official colors were adopted dents by their first names. His wife
r until the present seal was adopted in in 1912: maize and blue. So as not once even made chicken soup for a
1895. to be misrepresented, they are de- student who was sick.
The sun shines from behind a scribed as the color of Indian corn While current president James
shield on which appears a lamp of and the clear intense blue of the un- Duderstadt may not know your first
knowledge standing upon a book. clouded sky. name, he does spend time on campus
.Artes, Scientia, Veritas" the In addition to the school colors conversing with students. Most of
University motto is inscribed below and seal, there is the president who his time is spent working on his of-
the shield. "University of Michigan represents the students. James Burrill fice computer but he does attend

some student meetings. His wife
probably won't make you chicken
soup but if you run into her some-
where, she'll more than likely say
hello to you.
If you ever feel restricted at the
University or feel that it doesn't
have enough to offer think about
what it used to be like. There once
was a wooden fence along the edge
of campus to keep University cows
in and city cows out. But that was
then and this is now!

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