All the Buzz: The Secret History of Jim Leach

Published:June 11, 2009 by Brendan Wolfe


All the buzz lately in humanities circles has been the nomination of Jim Leach as head of the National Endowment for the Humanities. (If you don’t hang out in humanities circles, you should. The buzz is great!)

Leach, you’ll recall, is a moderate Republican with thirty years in Congress who was thwacked in the Great Republican Massacre of ’06 and then went on to endorse Obama and even speak at the Democratic convention. His wife is a historian and Leach himself is being called—by Inside Higher Ed anyway—a “Defender of the Humanities.”

Which is great. But what people forget to mention is that this dude went to my high school! (That’s a picture up there of Central High School in Davenport, Iowa, by the way, with its cool red stone. Built in 1904 and still going strong.) Leach is in the Hall of Honor, which makes prominent mention of the fact that he was state wrestling champion in 1960 at 138 pounds. So he’s more than just an expert on finance and foreign affairs with a master’s degree in Soviet politics. He’s a scrapper. I’d like to see him go toe to toe with that other Hall of Honor recipient, Roger Craig.

Finally, what’s great for Encyclopedia Virginia, since we receive funds from the NEH, is that I used to deliver papers to Leach, whose home is tucked away in McClellan Heights. According to all the buzz, that’s our in.

IMAGE: Thank you to Flikr user Negative1 for permission to use this photo.