Robert Whitaker was born in 1941. He entered the University of South Carolina at age sixteen and was a Political Science instructor at the age of nineteen. He then received a scholarship to study for a PhD in economics at the University of Virginia. Two of his eight graduate instructors there later won Nobel Prizes in Economics.
Both future Nobel Laureates left the University of Virginia while Robert was there. Robert’s second reader for his dissertation, James Buchanan, was “forced to leave” when a new dean took over who had vowed to “clean out that nest of right-wingers in the Economics Department.”
Robert was a professor of economics but was unable to complete his PhD because his field of specialization, Public Choice (the field in which the two graduate professors later won Nobel Prizes) was disliked after the faculty had been purged.
Robert then became involved in political activism and intelligence work.
Robert worked with William Rusher, publisher of National Review, in turning the so-called “Wallace Democrats” into “Reagan Democrats.” This was a move that respectable conservatives opposed vigorously. Robert’s 1976 book, A Plague on Both Your Houses, attacking both the liberal establishment and the watered-down Republican opposition, was a milestone in this campaign.
Robert worked on Capitol Hill from 1977 to 1982. During that period, two of his most personally gratifying accomplishments enjoyed today by all of us were saving the Hubble Telescopes and preventing the Internal Revenue Service from imposing racial quotas on private schools.
Despite his criticism of Ronald Reagan in A Plague on Both Your Houses, Robert was a Reagan appointee in charge of all civilian security clearances and federal staffing.
In 1982 Robert conceived and produced an anthology for St. Martin’s Press, The New Right Papers. It explained the strategy that led to Reagan’s 1980 victory by the people, including Robert himself, who made it a reality while conservatives dithered.
Robert left official Federal service in 1985. His third book, Why Johnny Can’t Think: America’s Professor-Priesthood goes into much more than just academia.
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