Episode #43: Lincoln on the Golf Course

With guest Tom Klingenstein

Peter Wood

Tom Klingenstein, an investor, political philosopher, playwright, and member of the NAS board of directors, joins Peter to discuss Abraham Lincoln, multiculturalism, and the liberal arts. Tom originated our Bowdoin Project after a golf game with Bowdoin President Barry Mills—a meeting characterized by the Wall Street Journal as “The Golf Shot Heard Round the Academic World.” 

Show Notes

0:00 Peter introduces Tom Klingenstein

1:55 Tom describes Williams College when he was there—and tells the story of how he accidentally discovered a political philosophy book that set off his lifelong interest in Abraham Lincoln. 

7:21 Going to Swaziland as a member of the Peace Corps was the best thing he ever did, Tom says. 

10:11 Why did NAS do a 360-degree study of Bowdoin College? Tom tells the story of his pivotal conversation with Bowdoin President Barry Mills, characterized by the Wall Street Journal as “The Golf Shot Heard Round the Academic World.” 

19:30 We used to know the names of college presidents, Tom notes, because they were scholars. Today, most college presidents are full-time fundraisers. 

21:10 Some memorable details from the Bowdoin study: The college offered only two courses on colonial history, one on sex and one on food. 

24:50 Peter and Tom discuss Tom’s play If Only…A Love Story. 

29:09 What lessons does Tom draw from Lincoln? 

39:19 We hear a lot about multiculturalism, but what is it? 

59:15 Peter and Tom discuss how to expand the Overton Window, the range of opinions considered fine for polite society. 

1:02:20 Tom lives an election district where only four voters voted for Trump. Tom and Peter talk about polarization. 


Thomas D. Klingenstein, “A Golf Story,” Claremont Review of Books, September 2017. 

David Feith, “The Golf Shot Heard Round the Academic World,” Wall Street Journal, April 5, 2013. 

Thomas D. Klingenstein, “Our House Divided: Multiculturalism vs. America,” The American Mind, October 31, 2018. 

Peter Wood, “Abraham Lincoln, Matchmaker,” First Things, September 11, 2017. 

Peter Wood and Michael Toscano, What Does Bowdoin Teach? How a Contemporary Liberal Arts Education Shapes Students, National Association of Scholars, April 2013. 

Mitchell Langbert, “Homogenous: The Political Affiliations of Elite Liberal Arts College Faculty,” Academic Questions, Summer 2018.

  • Share

Most Commented

June 5, 2024


Subpoenas for All!

Ohio Northern University gnaws its teeth with an appetite for vindictive lawfare....

June 6, 2024


Backlash: Sometimes It Hurts So Good

We have undermined the leftist status quo in higher education for decades with the persistence of Morlocks. You really should be more alarmed about us than you are. Not that I’m going......

May 7, 2024


Biden Admin Is Weaponizing Title IX To Promote Fringe Sexual Politics

Earlier this month, the Office for Civil Rights in the Biden Education Department issued a new regulation on how schools must observe Title IX. This rule transf......

Most Read

May 15, 2015


Where Did We Get the Idea That Only White People Can Be Racist?

A look at the double standard that has arisen regarding racism, illustrated recently by the reaction to a black professor's biased comments on Twitter....

October 12, 2010


Ask a Scholar: What is the True Definition of Latino?

What does it mean to be Latino? Are only Latin American people Latino, or does the term apply to anyone whose language derived from Latin?...

May 12, 2017


Harvard Prepares to Host All Black Graduation

Is Harvard's all black graduation a benign trend or a step backwards? ...