Do Pat Williams Supporters Suffer From Political Alzheimer’s?

by lizard

Though supporters outnumbered opponents in the confirmation hearing for Pat Williams yesterday, it was who decided to stand up and oppose Pat that’s raising eyebrows—former Williams staffer and former UM vice president, Jim Foley.

For those who don’t remember things that happened a year ago, BOTH Pat Williams and Jim Foley were trying to downplay the rape scandal as it was developing last year. Jim’s repellant behavior was exposed thanks to a FOIA request, which produced e-mails detailing how Foley wanted to punish the alleged rape victim through the student conduct code:

University of Montana Vice President Jim Foley was so troubled by the student’s decision to talk about the school’s handling of her case that he sought to discipline her under the Student Code of Conduct.

“Is it not a violation of the student code of conduct for the woman to be publicly talking about the process and providing details about the conclusion?” Foley emailed then-Dean of Students Charles Couture in March.

Jim Foley got what he deserved for how he chose to play the PR game; he got fired.

And Pat Williams? Despite playing the same PR game last May with this remark printed in the NYT, Williams evolved his “knucklehead” depiction of UM football players to the now infamous “thug” depiction, which drew the ire of UM football worshipers.

I think it’s important to remember, especially for those supporting Williams for the Board of Regents, how Pat Williams tried to do EXACTLY what the rest of the old boys network was doing; damage control:

“I’m very sorrowful one of the premier universities in the Rockies has been scandalized by a few knuckleheaded students,” said Pat Williams, a former United States congressman and a member of Montana’s Board of Regents. “The football team has been terribly hurt by this.”

If those who support Pat Williams want to make his political legacy the justification for his confirmation, what about this statement? What does it say that Pat’s instincts as this scandal was developing was to downplay the incredibly serious allegations by suggesting it was just a “few knuckleheaded students” responsible for scandalizing UM?

It’s too bad some people have such short memories. Montana’s University system needs a fresh perspective, one that prioritizes student safety over protecting athletics.

Is that too much to ask?

  1. d.g.

    You have it exactly right here. Williams, I believe, was Engstrom’s behind-the-scenes adviser through the whole damage-control gambit. I will always say: Butte produces few sycophants, and Williams is one of the few.

  2. Thanks Lizard, this appears to be a tough one. Education and students have become incidental to the business at U of M (and MSU for that matter). Even a nuisance, perhaps. The King has no clothes.

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