What’s Good for Larry Summers Was Bad for Cornel West

Lawrence Summers, former president of Harvard University, is now the director of the National Economic Council in the Obama administration. Many political observers believe that he effectively controls the government’s economic policies.

Hark back to the fall of 2001 when Lawrence Summers, then-president of Harvard University, summoned black studies professor Cornel West to his office. Summers took Professor West to the woodshed for moonlighting and paying too much attention to activities that had nothing to do with Harvard University. Summers accused West of neglecting his teaching, frowned upon his recording a rap CD, and expressed disapproval of his engaging in “inappropriate” off-campus political activities.

Now it turns out that Larry Summers was doing a little moonlighting of his own. Reporter Louise Story of The New York Times revealed recently that from 2004 to 2006, while Summers was still president of Harvard, he was a paid consultant to the hedge fund Taconic Capital Advisors.

Apparently, Summers saw no conflict in his moonlighting while president of Harvard. Yet Cornel West’s activities were, according to Summers, a serious infraction and a neglect of his official duties.

In 2006 Summers stepped down as president of Harvard University after making disparaging comments about the innate abilities of women in mathematics and the sciences.

In 2008, after he left Harvard, Summers earned $5.2 million from the D.E. Shaw hedge fund working one day a week. Summers earned another $2.7 million in speaking fees at meetings of the nation’s major financial institutions such as Goldman Sachs and Citigroup.