I have already used my time machine to predict what Commencement speaker Tom Friedman will say on Sunday. Those interested in Friedman’s policy opinions can read this summary of his latest book.

There are at least four problems with Friedman as Commencement Speaker. First, it would be nice if the College aimed for a greater diversity in its speakers. When was the last time a conservative/Republican spoke? Probably 1996, and that speaker needed to win the Presidency first. Second, as noted above, Friedman will almost certainly repeat entire sections of Commencement speeches that he has given in the past. Special to Williams it will not be. Third, is it just me, or is Friedman one of the least impressive three-time Pulitzer award winners around? The reviews of his book (here and here — hat tip to Crooked Timber — are devastating. I don’t so much disagree with Friedman as find his observations trite, his stories boring and self-centered.

Fourth, and most importantly, Friedman does not care about Williams. This is just another stop on his non-stop book tour, another feather his cap. Why should potential applicants think that Williams is special, if we don’t act like it is, if we play the same get-the-most-famous-speaker-that-you-can Commencement game that other schools play?

Williams would be much better served by celebrating the lives and achievements of Ephs. It will mean much more to them and much more to us.

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