For many years, at difficult moments in his life, David Browne '65 would have dreams about Paul Wolfowitz '65. This was the young Paul Wolfowitz, not the one in the Pentagon but the one Browne had grown up with on the streets of Ithaca in the 1950s, the precocious jug-eared kid who lived in the big grey house on Valley Road, the one he calls "maybe the smartest person I've ever known." In his dreams, this Paul would talk him through whatever jam he was in. "Always think things through," his childhood friend would counsel. "Make up your own mind."
Browne is now a psychiatrist in Novato, California, and he is not one to take dreams lightly. "I must have imprinted with him as someone you could get good advice from," he says. "He was inspirational, because he was so motivated. I think that's why he appears in my dreams." Lately, however, things have changed. Browne sees a lot more of Paul Wolfowitz these days, but only in the newspapers. The childhood Paul and his words of wisdom have vanished from his dreams. Maybe Browne doesn't need the advice. Or maybe something is telling his unconscious that Paul Wolfowitz is no longer the guy to be giving it.
Wolfowitz is probably the most influential deputy defense secretary in U.S. history, and almost certainly the most vilified. Ever since he emerged as a leading proponent of the invasion of Iraq, this soft-spoken son of a Cornell mathematician has found himself at the epicenter of an ongoing war of ideas surrounding the use and abuse of American power. In the narrative of the antiwar movement, "Wolfie" is cast as a lead villain, the utopian whose fantasy of an imperial foothold in the Middle East coaxed a credulous president into a bloodbath; among neoconservative policymakers and pundits, he's the bigpicture visionary whose faith in the transformative goodness of democracy brought down a tyrant.
But as the optimistic pre-invasion scenario he so passionately advocated seems ever more implausible (and as Wolfowitz--now said to be an embattled figure within the Bush Administration-- recedes in prominence), a third, more conflicted character has emerged: the misguided idealist who managed to deceive himself about the price of regime change. Probing his biography for clues, many journalists seized on his graduate studies at the University of Chicago with the late Leo Strauss, the German émigré political philosopher whose ideas inspired several prominent neoconservative thinkers. Strauss's interpretation of Plato's ideal Republic, where an enlightened philosopher caste tells "noble lies" to the masses while whispering esoteric truths to a select few, made the Straussian connections running through neocon policy circles an irresistible topic of media speculation. (Another oft-named Straussian, former RAND Corporation analyst and close Wolfowitz friend Abram Shulsky '64, was the director of the Pentagon's Office of Special Plans, an in-house intelligence team created after 9/11 to mine for Iraqi links to Al-Qaeda.) Wolfowitz himself, who took a pair of classes from Strauss during the late 1960s, dismissed the Straussian conspiracy talk as "the product of fevered minds" in a 2003 interview with Sam Tanenhaus of Vanity Fair. (Wolfowitz did not respond to numerous interview requests for this article.)
In many ways, those who were present during the formative years ofWolfowitz's political education fundamentally agree: the Paul they knew was always an independent thinker, and the roots of his worldview are deeply buried in the influence of his strong-willed father, Jacob Wolfowitz, and the four pivotal years he spent in the intellectual hothouse of the Telluride Association residence at Cornell, where academic scholarship students lived and studied. It was at Telluride that he met his future wife, Clare Selgin '67, and where he forged the network of friends and mentors that, in many ways, still sustains him today. It was also where he honed the diplomatic skills that helped him effect the most dramatic foreign policy revolution since the Cold War.
When Paul Wolfowitz entered Cornell as a freshman in 1961, he was a gifted faculty brat seemingly fated to follow his father into the thickets of theoretical mathematics. By the time he graduated, he was on a very different road, one that would lead to a notoriety few anticipated.Most of his old friends still recognize the Paul they see on the evening news, even if they sometimes wonder how the boy with all the answers became the man who raised so many troubling questions.
Fred Baumann '66 remembers a familiar parental refrain in the Jewish community of Ithaca in the 1950s: "Why can't you be like the Wolfowitzes?" Jacob and Lillian Wolfowitz's two model kids were well known at Temple Beth-El, where Baumann attended Hebrew school and, at ten years old, first met Paul and his older sister, Laura. Paul was quick-witted and friendly, and a year older than the quiet and bookish Fred; he proved an irresistible role model. "I was his protégé," says Baumann. "Paul had tremendous charm, along with real goodness. You wanted to follow him." Now a political science professor at Kenyon College in Ohio, Baumann would follow Wolfowitz to Ithaca High School and then to Telluride. "There was a kind of gravity to him.He was more like a grown-up than the rest of us."
It's a feeling that resonates with many Ithacans who grew up in Paul's shadow. "When you were with him, you felt a sort of benignness radiating from him," remembers Daniel Fogel '69, now president of the University of Vermont. "A masterly intelligence that had no malevolence." Fogel was another Cornell kid--his father was English department chair Ephim Fogel--and he says, "Paul always loomed large for me."When Wolfowitz was a student in his father's freshman honors English class, Professor Fogel asked his son, then an eighth grader, "Why can't you write as well as Wolfowitz?"
The Wolfowitz clan arrived in Ithaca in 1951; father Jack had been in Columbia University's statistics department since the war, but left following the 1950 death of his friend and main collaborator, Abraham Wald. Visiting professorships at UCLA and Illinois kept the Wolfowitzes on the move in 1952 and 1953, but then they settled into a handsome two-story Arts and Crafts house at the top of a winding road in the Belle Sherman neighborhood on Ithaca's East Hill, a prosperous upper-middle-class enclave of Cornell faculty families.
For Jack Wolfowitz, the road to the American dream had not been easy. Born in Warsaw in 1910, his parents had fled the anti-Semitic unrest of between-the-wars Poland, immigrating to New York City in 1920; several family members who remained behind would perish in the Holocaust. After attending public schools and City College, the elder Wolfowitz supported himself during the Depression by teaching high school math while working toward a PhD at New York University. Laura was born in 1941; Paul followed in 1943.
In many ways, the Wolfowitz children enjoyed a textbook Eisenhower-era upbringing. Paul was a spelling bee champ and Eagle Scout who played tennis and basketball, excelled on the Ithaca High School debate team, and served as features editor for the school newspaper, The Tattler. He spent the summers bicycling around town with a small group of friends. Once, four of them biked around Cayuga Lake, a 100-mile trip, in one day. The townie boys treated the university next door as their personal playground, playing football on campus fields and borrowing Barton Hall's basketball courts for their pickup games.When maintenance staff once tried to kick the tenth graders out of Barton, Wolfowitz responded by marching into the office of athletic director Bob Kane '34 and getting a permission note. "Paul was good at taking charge of things,"David Browne recalls.
At the Ithaca High School of the late 1950s, the sons and daughters of Nobel laureates mixed with farm kids and jocks, and the first stirrings of the next decade's upheavals were finding voice in student social action groups that pondered civil rights and nuclear proliferation. "We were pretty idealistic," says classmate Linda Russo '65, who, with Browne and neighbor Thomas Rawski '65, formed the core of Paul's high school confederates. Rawksi, now an economics professor at the University of Pittsburgh, recalls Wolfowitz as politically "more moderate" than the liberal IHS norm; Mary Nichols '66, daughter of the prominent left-leaning Cornell professor and future Ithaca mayor Ben Nichols '41, BEE '46, ME '49, calls him "a contrarian" in his teenage years. "I remember Paul as being out of synch with the liberal views of most of the students."
Academically,Wolfowitz seemed destined to follow in the footsteps of his father, who quizzed his son with math problems and steered the boy toward a career in numbers. But Paul was no less gifted with language--he placed second in New York State in the National French Exam--and he shared his father's fascination with history and world events. Asked about the source of his career interests,Wolfowitz told an interviewer in 2003,"My father deserves a large part of the blame, or whatever it is."
Jack Wolfowitz was a man of strong opinions--about mathematics, and a great deal else. An innovator in the field of statistics known as sequential decision theory, he delivered rapidfire lectures from meticulously prepared notes, preceding each class with a series of jokes that, returning students discovered, rarely changed from year to year. "He was a wonderful teacher but a gruff person in his personal life," says Rawski, who took a class from Professor Wolfowitz. "The contrast between his behavior in class and his normal social behavior was astonishing."
Professor Anil Nerode, who arrived in the mathematics department in 1959, remembers his former colleague as brilliant but emphatically difficult."No one was close to Jack--he was very prickly," says Nerode, who worked a few doors down in White Hall, then home to the math department."He had a tin ear about social relations, but under all this he was a very nice guy." Often, it fell to Wolfowitz's frequent Cornell collaborator, his former prize student Jack Kiefer, to smooth ruffled feathers. Kiefer would later gain campus prominence as one of the most outspoken faculty voices against the Vietnam War, while Wolfowitz was an oldfashioned "1930s Roosevelt liberal," as Nerode recalls, and notably more conservative. His staunchly anti-Communist take on the issues of the day "put him at odds with the math department-- and much of the rest of the faculty," says former government professor Walter Berns, now a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. But before Vietnam came to dominate campus politics, the topic most likely to come up around Jack Wolfowitz was another, earlier conflict.
"He brooded on the Holocaust," Nerode recalls. "It was always there." His office in White Hall was filled with volume after volume on war and genocide, and the mathematician talked for hours on his family's fate. Jack Kiefer's wife, Dooley Sciple Kiefer '57, remembers Wolfowitz as "passionate" about the need to defend the state of Israel. At social events, or at the Statler table where the math faculty regularly lunched, the subject was inescapable; Jack Wolfowitz lived in a world haunted by atrocities.
For his children, the awareness of the horrors they had escaped--and the perils of failing to confront the world's evils-- shadowed lives of intellectual precocity. Along with his father's Holocaust books, Paul read George Orwell and John Hersey's Hiroshima. He lived, with his family, atop Mount Carmel in Israel during his father's visiting professorship at Haifa's Technion University in 1957. (Paul prepped for the trip, Rawksi recalls, by bringing Arabic language books with him to swimming practice.) He wrote his junior-year theme on the Civil War. And in his senior year of high school, he started taking calculus at Cornell.
Laura Wolfowitz '62 was already on campus, a biology major who broke the Telluride gender barrier in 1961 and became the first female resident of the house since its founding in 1910. Paul, who participated in a Telluride Association summer program at the all-male Deep Springs College in California after his junior year, was quickly outgrowing Ithaca High. Every morning, he rode his bike to Cornell to attend Nerode's freshman honors calculus, then coasted down to the new IHS building north of town. It was a fairly challenging class, but Wolfowitz dominated the college students. "He was very striking--he was in with the cream of the freshmen, and he was far superior to all of them,"Nerode says. "Paul was one of the two or three smartest math students I've ever seen."
Nerode, still teaching after almost a half-century at Cornell, shakes his head when he remembers the sixteen-year-old's otherworldly poise. "He was able to anticipate what I was going to do," he marvels. "Completely self-motivated.He was just a better reasoner than all the others."
In his best-selling 1987 polemic on the decline of higher education, The Closing of the American Mind, the late Allan Bloom rhapsodized about the students he encountered at Cornell in the early 1960s. "There was at that moment," he wrote, "a spiritual yearning, a powerful tension of the soul which made the university atmosphere electric." Bloom was then in his early thirties, a charismatic new hire in the government department and an avowed disciple of Leo Strauss, with whom he had studied in Chicago. In the scholarship students at Telluride, where he lived as a faculty guest for a year and a half, he found his ideal "blank slates"--gifted but unformed minds for whom "the works of the great writers could be the bright sunlit uplands where they could find the outside, the authentic liberation. . . ."
In the wake of Sputnik, the American educational system was struggling to keep pace by directing the best and brightest into the sciences. At intellectually elite Telluride, the rolls were correspondingly heavy with math and science majors. "We all sort of looked down on the humanities," says Abe Shulsky, who arrived in 1960 and recalls that more than half his housemates were, like him, math students. "It was a very egghead-y place," says David Bolotin '66, who roomed with Wolfowitz in his freshman year. Bolotin, a classics professor at St. John's College, recalls a Telluride house where the halls echoed with "morbidly heavy classical music" and a social calendar highlight was a sherry party for a visiting physicist. ("I think we had one dance," house president Norman Brokaw '65 says, "and it was a minuet.") Things would soon get livelier. "Bloom," Shulsky says, "turned things upside down."
At dinner or in the basement kitchen, where he repaired each evening to fix himself toast, the young professor would conduct informal Socratic dialogues that lasted long into the early morning hours.Mixing pointed debate with jokes, gossip, and chainsmoking, Bloom was a spellbinding presence."He really was like Socrates in some ways," says Bolotin. "I've never seen a more gifted teacher." Fred Baumann, a history major before Bloom convinced him to pursue political science, was equally transfixed. "He raised the questions, ‘What is the most important thing in your life? How should you live? What is the best life?' " Baumann remembers. Bloom, he says, was particularly adept at wearing down their resistance to the notion of universal standards of good and evil, a bulwark of Strauss's work. "We were, many of us, soft relativists, and he would do something I would never do--he would make it a personal issue. He would raise questions to which we would say, ‘There's no answer--it's a matter of opinion.' And he'd say, ‘How do you know there's no answer? Can you prove to me there's no answer?'When he broke down our dogmatic belief that there's no way we can know--then we really wanted to know."
The impact of Bloom can best be seen in the careers of those kitchen disciples, many of whom now man the intellectual wing of the neoconservative movement. They write for think tanks such as the American Enterprise Institute or the Claremont Institute and enjoy the funding of right-leaning organizations like the John M. Olin Foundation. Many Telluriders of the era, such as the University of Toronto's Clifford Orwin '67 and Thomas Pangle '67 or Boston College classicist Christopher Bruell '64, rank among the most prominent Straussians in academia; others, such as Shulsky or Charles Fairbanks Jr. '65, director of the Central Asia Institute at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, have--like Wolfowitz--mixed scholarly pursuits with influential policy posts.
Wolfowitz now tends to downplay the role that Bloom--and the ideals he espoused--had on his views. "[Bloom] had a lot to do with my coming to appreciate that the study of politics could be a serious business, even though it wasn't science," he told Vanity Fair. "I never took the political theory ...most of his other students did." The degree to which this is true remains a topic of spirited debate.Many students and faculty active in Telluride during that time resist the notion that Bloom single-handedly indoctrinated a generation of Straussian neocons (now popularly dubbed "Leo-Cons") at Cornell. "There were a number of points of view at Telluride, despite Bloom's rather overpowering presence," remembers Walter LaFeber, now the Tisch Distinguished University Professor. Along with Walter Berns and fellow historians Donald Kagan and George Kahin, LaFeber was a frequent contributor to the political roundtable that emerged at the residence. "There was a lot of intellectual give-and-take on campus at the time.We disagreed on a lot, but we all got along personally, and we all hung out at Telluride."
According to political science professor Nathan Tarcov '68, who eventually assumed Bloom's post at the University of Chicago's Committee on Social Thought, "there was hardly much unanimity" among Bloom's Telluride followers, then and now. "There are plenty of people who studied with Strauss who aren't particularly enthused about this war, including myself." Fairbanks hears a faint echo of Strauss in Wolfowitz's fondness for the phrase "regime change" ("Strauss sort of re-introduced the word ‘regime' as a translation for the Greek politeia, meaning the kind of political system which is connected both with the authoritative ideals of a society and what kind of people hold office in that society," he explains) and in his general intellectual approach. "The notion that the conventional wisdom might be fundamentally wrong--I think that must be due to a sense he got from Bloom and Strauss." But he also stresses that Wolfowitz was no blind follower. "He always thought for himself," Fairbanks says. "The effect of Allan Bloom's teaching was to liberate his natural interest or bent toward public affairs."
Others who were in Bloom's inner circle agree. "Paul was never one of the closest followers," says Bolotin."He got his political orientation from his family. Bloom helped him find the courage of his own convictions. To that extent, Strauss matters." Baumann recalls that Wolfowitz kept a discreet distance from the true believers. "All these discussions around the dinner table-- ‘Does the philosopher need friends?' That wasn't Paul. He didn't go through some deep Straussian conversion--this fit into where he already was."
Indeed, a less controversial influence may have been Telluride's other faculty guest, Frances Perkins. The former secretary of labor under FDR and the first woman to hold a Cabinet-level position, Perkins was in her late seventies and teaching in the School of Industrial and Labor Relations when she moved into Telluride in 1960. Diminutive, proper, and a living link to the vigorously interventionist Democratic Party that the Wolfowitz family so admired, "Madame Perkins" proved to be an inspiration of a different sort. "Paul was deeply impressed by her," says Bolotin; Norman Brokaw recalls that the two forged a "special bond." When she died at eighty-three on May 17, 1965, just weeks before his graduation,Wolfowitz served as one of her pallbearers.
The model that Perkins provided--what Shulsky calls her "noblesse oblige and sense of duty to society"--manifested itself in Wolfowitz's enthusiasm for the mundane duties of Telluride self-governance, at which he excelled. "There's a certain public spirited prudery about him--Paul is sort of the good citizen," says Fairbanks, who marveled at his friend's "tremendous ability to charm and persuade senior people in authority over him."Wolfowitz served as house treasurer and then vice president, and he was "masterful," according to Baumann, at day-to-day diplomacy in a society of highly opinionated overachievers. If he borrowed his politics from his father, he did not share Professor Wolfowitz's impolitic personal style. "Paul always seemed to be the one who smoothed the feathers," says Brokaw."He was a peacemaker. You can't find anyone at Telluride who didn't consider Paul a friend."
Wolfowitz's stature only grew when he began dating freshman Clare Selgin, an anthropology major interested in Indonesian dance who drove a VW and was one of the early handful of women residents. (They would marry in 1968 and have three children; the two divorced in 2002.) But Paul also had friends and interests outside the insular realm of the house. His old Ithaca High crowd kept in touch: Linda Russo was a frequent visitor, though she found Paul's housemates to be increasingly "cliquish" as the Bloom influence deepened, and Dave Browne played for the house's intramural football team, which Wolfowitz quarterbacked. The wonkish Telluriders did not fare well in their scrimmages with the nearby fraternities. "Paul could throw a decent spiral," Browne says, "but I don't recall us ever winning."
In late August 1963,Wolfowitz and Baumann were cleaning the Telluride attic when Paul suggested that the two of them should join some Ithaca church groups that were taking buses to Washington for a civil rights demonstration. Baumann agreed, and the two undergraduates joined the 250,000 who heard Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech at the March on Washington.
In the political universe of Telluride,Wolfowitz landed somewhere in a vast moderate middle that had not yet become bitterly riven over Vietnam. "What he was was a good solid anti- Communist liberal," Baumann says. Bloom himself, future darling of the neoconservative right, was a former Adlai Stevenson Democrat who voted for Lyndon Johnson and largely kept contemporary politics out of his classroom lectures (if not his informal Telluride seminars); likewise, conservative firebrands-to-be Walter Berns and Donald Kagan had then barely begun their rightward journeys. (Bloom's closeted homosexuality, not revealed until Saul Bellow's quasi-biographical novel Ravelstein was published in 2001, was also apparently not a topic of discussion, even if it was something of an open secret for most of his students--a "don't ask, don't tell" situation, as Wolfowitz told an interviewer in 2000.)
By 1964, Bloom's campuswide popularity--it wasn't uncommon for students to burst into applause at the end of lectures-- was such that the arrival of his mentor, Leo Strauss, on March 25 was greeted with yards of ink in the Daily Sun. Strauss sat for a lengthy interview at Telluride, holding forth on the moral failures of the social sciences and rebuking the notion of nuclear disarmament because of the urgency of "the physical defense of the West against the Communists." ("There should be no letdown," he said, "not only in the case of thermonuclear weapons but other kinds as well.") The interview was accompanied by a critical essay written by a pair of graduate students that drew counterpunches from three Telluriders--Shulsky, Bolotin, and Christopher Bruell --who fired off vitriolic letters to the editor defending Strauss. Shulsky sounds nonplussed about the Straussian dustup today-- "I remember being a little puzzled by him," he admits--but Baumann recalls the professor's visit as an epochal (if equally mystifiying) event. "I had a conviction that this was about the most important stuff," he says. "This was what I really needed to know."
Shulsky, one year ahead of Wolfowitz, abandoned his mathematical studies in the middle of his senior year and then decamped for the University of Chicago's political science department. Paul, now pursuing both math and chemistry ("I thought maybe if I could work on a cure for cancer I'd be more fully satisfied," Wolfowitz said in 2003), began his senior year in the fall of 1964 increasingly drawn, like so many housemates, to politics.
Bloom was no longer living at Telluride, but he remained a fixture in the lives of the residents, leading a reading group at his apartment and contributing to the house's growing factionalization. Two warring camps dominated: the government and history majors that Bloom cultivated, and an assortment of more literary types, many influenced by the critical theorists Paul de Man, who taught at Cornell until 1966, and Jacques Derrida. "I remember all these people who became big-noise Straussians and big-noise Derridians, fighting it out when they were nineteen years old," Baumann says. "It was sort of comical, because we didn't really know what we were talking about."
When freshman Nat Tarcov arrived in 1964, he found Paul Wolfowitz positioned as something of a house leader. "Everybody looked up to him," says Tarcov, who shared a room with Paul in the spring semester. "I felt it was kind of an honor to be rooming with him."
It was a crucial time for Paul, who needed to decide about his post-Cornell path. Shulsky, studying with Strauss in Chicago, remembers getting a midnight phone call; Paul had been burning energy by playing squash at a neighboring fraternity house late at night. They talked about Chicago, his graduate school options, the burden of his father's expectations.Wolfowitz had been accepted into MIT, where he was supposed to pursue a PhD in biophysical chemistry. But, unbeknownst to his father, he also applied to Chicago and Harvard, in political science and international relations, respectively.
Jack Wolfowitz disapproved of Paul's new Bloomian crowd-- and of the idea of politics as a worthy career for a mathematical mind. "Jack thought political science was something you learned by reading the New York Times," Berns says. And yet, as Shulsky notes, Paul's father had only passed on his own predilections. "There was always this contradiction in him," Shulsky says. "Professor Wolfowitz was a very intellectually rigorous man, but he was passionate about politics."
As Paul wrestled with his future, he also confronted what was emerging as the most divisive issue on campus. His roommate Tarcov was active in Cornell's brand-new chapter of Students for a Democratic Society, and the two spent long hours discussing SDS's overriding concern, the escalating conflict in Vietnam. In February, a small student protest against the war, sponsored by the Ad Hoc Committee on Vietnam, made its way into downtown Ithaca, where the protesters were greeted by a largely hostile crowd of residents. Paul may have shared many of the students' frustrations with how the war was being managed, but fundamentally he followed his father's rock-solid anti-Communist line--Vietnam was part of the larger global struggle against totalitarianism.
That spring, Berns--who had never had Wolfowitz as a student --wrote a glowing recommendation for Paul's Chicago application. ("If there is a superior student at Cornell," he proclaimed. "I am not aware of him.") According to Walter LaFeber, Bloom also made a phone call to Chicago and managed to obtain a fellowship for Paul.When Jack Wolfowitz learned about it, he was furious. "Allan told me," LaFeber says, "that the Wolfowitzes never talked to him again." After Paul finally revealed his intentions to his family, Jack pleaded with Berns to help change his son's mind. "He was very distressed," Berns remembers, "and came into my office to express his consternation. He was convinced that Paul had been led astray."
Jack Wolfowitz wasn't the only one surprised by Paul's postgraduate plans. "Everybody was astonished," says Charles Fairbanks, who says he doesn't remember even discussing politics with Paul at Telluride --"even though I was obsessed with it." For others, however, Paul's path in life had long been obvious. "What else was he going to do?" Shulsky says.
In the waning weeks of the semester, a larger wave of Vietnam protests shook the campus. The Ad Hoc Committee staged a vigil on the Arts Quad at the end of April, then disrupted a speech by New York governor Nelson Rockefeller in Barton Hall. Small counter-protests by war supporters accompanied both actions. When a larger rally in front of Willard Straight Hall was scheduled for May 6,Wolfowitz and Tarcov joined a small silent counter-demonstration, holding signs for the "Committee for Critical Support of the U.S. in Vietnam."When they arrived at the Straight, they found some 400 Ad Hoc members facing off with a large and angry contingent of pro-war fraternity members. "And in between was the Committee for Critical Support of the U.S. in Vietnam, which consisted of Paul and me, plus another fellow," recalls Tarcov. "We were not noticed."
The basic platform of the grandly titled group, had anyone asked, was simple: "We were doing everything wrong, but we were there for the right reasons," Tarcov explains. "I guess it's not so different from our current situation."
In 1965, a band of former Cornellians made their way to the University of Chicago. Shulsky was already there;Wolfowitz, Brokaw, and Fairbanks arrived that fall, the next wave in a steady stream of Bloom's Telluriders who would study at Chicago during the late 1960s and early 1970s. They shared a tiny warren of cheap rooms--Paul, ever the peacemaker, took the tiniest, the former maid's quarters--and embarked on the final stage of the political education that Allan Bloom had begun years before.
Back in Ithaca, Bloom remained a Telluride regular--"like a spirit that haunted the place," says Dan Fogel, an English major and poet, who was "deeply disaffiliated" from the Bloom crowd and "appalled" by the professor's constant exhortations not to demonstrate against the war. "But we all took his courses anyway," he says. "And always applauded after every lecture."Wolfowitz, too, was a vivid presence at the house, thanks both to his ongoing relationship with Clare and his impressive graduate school exploits. "When I got to Telluride,"Fogel says, "Paul had assumed mythic proportions."
Over in White Hall, Jack Wolfowitz's isolation grew.Vietnam had opened a rift with his close collaborator, the outspokenly anti-war Jack Kiefer, and the retirement of older colleagues had left him surrounded by a younger,more liberal crowd."He really felt that he wasn't liked and nobody wanted to talk to him,"Anil Nerode says. Jack stopped going to lunch at the Statler with the rest of the department sometime around 1966.He took more visiting professorships: Paris and Technion again in 1967, Heidelberg in 1969.When the takeover of the Straight by students of the Afro-American Society in April of that year tore the faculty in half (Bloom and Berns resigned in the aftermath, enraged by what they saw as the University's surrender to an assault on academic freedom), Professor Wolfowitz's estrangement from Cornell was nearly complete. After nineteen years in Ithaca, he left in 1970 for the University of Illinois. As Nerode remembers, he never discussed his plans. "I didn't even know he was going to leave until it was publicly announced."
In time, as Paul's career took him from Yale to the Pentagon and the State Department, Jack Wolfowitz seemed to make peace with his son's choice. At the University of South Florida in Tampa, where he taught from 1978 until his death in 1981, he often spoke with pride about Paul's accomplishments as a rising policymaker. Manoug Manougian, chairman of the USF math department, grew close to the distinguished mathematician in his final years. "Jack was a very down-to-earth, peace-loving person," he says. When Paul visited, they played tennis and argued about books. "What a shame," Jack sometimes said of his son, "that Paul didn't continue in math."
Often, Jack Wolfowitz and Manougian, born to Armenian immigrants, would reflect ruefully on the world's troubles--the ethnic strife that bedeviled their native countries earlier in the century, the smoldering Israeli-Palestinian issue, the incalculable horrors of war and genocide that had dogged human history. "The question was always, how can a person in his right mind do these things?"Manougian remembers. "How can we change the world?"
Jack Wolfowitz, like any mathematician, believed that there was a correct answer. "Every problem has a solution," he always told Manougian. "There is a solution to this that doesn't require a war." But, in the end, he admitted that he didn't know what it was.