THE TRUTH ABOUT
REPUBLICANS BY GEORGE CARLIN
We will leave it up to the reader to determine whether
George Roche III has made serious errors in in judgment. George has supported a
Conservative Christian position especially when it comes to Hillsdale College, as well as
Church and State issues. It is apparent from the data collected, that the first
amendment may be in danger from his past actions.
When we called George Roche's office last year before the scandal broke
(see below), they stated that his position is that there is no such thing as any religion
but his version of Christianity, that all other religions weren't "Real"
religions." What is a real religion, Mr. Roche? What you have been
practicing? Read the following and remember: "By their Works may they be
known." This is a summary of information collected from several sources
including Washington Post, Salon Magazine, Atlanta Journal Constitution and others about
George Roche III.
(Remember it is best to investigate on your own when
looking at allegations about anyone. Don't believe us, think for
yourself and investigate for yourself! And remember, the Religious Freedom Coalition
does not represent any political party nor do we recommend any political candidate, nor
are we involving ourselves in the political process.
While championing family values, former Hillsdale
President George Roche III was sleeping with his daughter-in-law!
It used to be that Hillsdale College thought its
curriculum built character and a respect for Christian "Family Values".
Maybe it still does, no thanks to the disgraced George Roche III, who in forcibly retiring
has turned his institution into a school for scandal. Roche, so far as anyone knows,
wasn't a graduate of the school. And from the looks of it, he was too busy on other fronts
to even audit a single class. He also had a Dean Smith complex, as seen in his having the
college's athletic facility named after himself. If there's any lesson here it's that a
creepy man who raises hundreds of millions of dollars sooner or later starts to see
himself as the second coming of Donald Trump. The always saintly Al Hunt of CNN's Capital
Gang named Roche his outrage of the week, calling "this long-time hero of the
political right" an "all star" hypocrite who "makes Newt Gingrich look
For nearly the past three decades Mr. Roche has made tiny
Hillsdale College the darling of the American conservative movement by championing
morality, Judeo-Christian principles, and right-wing philosophy. During much of that time
Hillsdale forsook all claims to federal financial aid both for itself and for its
students. Roche, himself, brought in more than $324 million in private
contributions. To a large extent Mr. Roche was Hillsdale College. According to reports in
the Chronicle of Higher Education and National Review Online, he ruled the place with an
The reason for Mr. Roche's downfall lies in a messy conflict between his publicly stated
positions on morality and his personal behavior. In November 1999, another
right-wing wolf cloaked in family values sheepskin was unzipped to the American public.
George Roche III resigned as president of conservative Hillsdale College in Michigan after
accusations of a quasi-incestuous relationship with his daughter-in-law, Lissa. Although
no public acknowledgment has been given, it was widely rumored on the campus that
President Roche had conducted a 19-year-long illicit affair with his daughter-in-law Lissa
Jackson Roche. Ms. Roche was a college employee who had major responsibility for the
publication of its well known journal of conservative thought, Imprimis. Lissa Roche
was married to President Roche's son George Roche IV (on campus Roche IV is known simply
as I-V), who is a history professor on the campus.
Apparently not content with his 19-year dalliance with his daughter-in-law, President
Roche decided to divorce his wife of 44 years so that he could marry one Mary Hagan.
According to a story by John J. Miller in National Review Online, the impending
union between Hagan and President Roche caused Lissa Roche severe distress - to the point
where she left I-V for a day or two before the wedding. The relationship between President
Roche and his new wife seems to have gotten off to a rocky start. On October 15,
1999 he informed Lissa and I-V that he was going to dump Hagan. Lissa was ecstatic
at this news.
The next day President Roche, a lifelong diabetic, suffered an insulin reaction. At the
hospital I-V learned that his father had reconciled with his new wife. When informed of
this, Lissa is reported to have said "Oh, shit, oh, no."
On the 17th of October Lissa was in a highly emotional state, and had threatened suicide
in a phone call to President Roche who was still in the hospital. On the morning of
Oct. 17, 42-year-old Lissa and her husband, George Roche IV, visited the 64-year-old Roche
at the hospital, where he was undergoing treatment for diabetes. With her husband
and father-in-law and the new Mrs. Roche as witnesses, Lissa claimed that she and the
elder Roche had been off-and-on lovers for 19 of the 21 years she and her husband had been
married. According to the National Review Online story, I-V is quoted as saying
President Roche "didn't say a word..." at that time, although later he denied
Lissa's claim while at the same time refusing I-V's request to leave Hillsdale so that he
and Lissa could start over. Lissa returned to her campus house after the
confession and armed herself with a .38-caliber handgun. She walked out of her backyard
and through the college's arboretum to a stone gazebo, a secluded location where students
once went to relax, guzzle a few beers or liaise with members of the opposite sex. There,
Lissa ended her life.
Needless to say, these events shook the Hillsdale College campus to its very core.
Following meetings between the college board of trustees and a very upset I-V, President
Roche was forced into retirement on November 10th.
"We have proved that integrity, values and courage can still triumph in a corrupt
world," he wrote in his letter of resignation. "Hillsdale College is a monument
to those beliefs." His statement made no reference to the firestorm raging at
Roche is rumored to have bailed out with a golden parachute. The college refuses to
confirm the amount of his retirement package, but a member of the Roche family puts the
figure at $3 million.
The fallout from Roche's spectacular blowup has stunned the conservative movement. During
Roche's tenure from 1971 to 1999, Hillsdale College -- in the words of William F. Buckley
Jr. -- "became the most prominent conservative college in the country." Roche
was a movement hero, adored by his followers for savaging a system of higher education
hopelessly infested by government money and political correctness. He was propelled to
right-wing stardom after the Supreme Court's 1984 Grove City decision, which ruled that
colleges enrolling students who used Pell grants, veterans' benefits and other forms of
government aid were "recipient institutions." Grove City forced all recipient
comply with Title IX provisions, which prohibited sex discrimination.
Grove City would have allowed the government to monitor the race, age, sex and ethnic
origins of Hillsdale's employees and students, which was ideologically unacceptable to
Roche and Hillsdale's conservative backers. To keep the government off its back, Hillsdale
announced it would no longer admit students receiving government aid, thereby eliminating
itself as a recipient institution.
Roche figured that Hillsdale's refusal to accept students with government funding would
attract big money, enough to replace the government's cash with private aid. By all
accounts, Roche excelled at coaxing conservative fat cats to open their wallets for
Hillsdale. A former senior-level employee of Hillsdale calls him "one of the great
fund-raisers in the history of political ideologies." Roche had hauled in nearly $325
million by the time he resigned -- enough to increase Hillsdale's endowment from $4
million to $184 million, build modern facilities and provide ample student aid to any of
Hillsdale's 1,200 students who needed it. If Roche seldom made rounds on campus, it was
understood: He was out raising money to beat back the liberal devils lurking outside
Conservatives were delighted with their school, which
they referred to as the "bastion of freedom," the "citadel of
conservatism," the "city upon a hill." They praised its traditional Great
Books curriculum. And, as the student body became more hardcore Christian right, some may
even have sung hallelujahs to God for sending George Roche III to Hillsdale College.
This attitude has understandably softened a bit since the Lissa affair went down. While
Roche says he's innocent, it would take hard work to fill a country church with believers.
Hillsdale supporters may now deem George Roche a lecherous beast cloaked as a
family-values conservative, casting him with the lot of Dick Morris and Henry Hyde.
Reflecting on the news coming from Hillsdale, Chicago Tribune columnist John McCarron
wrote, "It was enough to make a secular humanist believe in divine retribution."
Roche had syndicated several ethics oriented columns just
before the story broke. It makes for somewhat poignant reading. For example, one of
his columns under the general heading "Views From a Heartland Campus" is
subheaded: "The Importance of Moral Standards."
"In an age increasingly removed from any fixed standards or individual codes of
conduct, removed, indeed, from the individual capacity to choose, we must take a
hard look at the source from which ethical systems derive their author-ity," writes
Roche, who certainly comes on as a windbag, even if his hypocrisy is only alleged.
In what could be read as a dig at President Clinton, Roche states that we live in an age
when men often no longer acknowledge any spiritual authority. He thinks that the
separation of church and state doesn't mean the exclusion of religious values from the
"A fixed moral code in no way limits individual freedom of choice," Roche
argues. "People without moral codes are free from moral problems in exactly the same
way that people who have never learned to count are free from mathematical problems."
There's more of these "heartland views" from the pious Dr. Roche. It's all
neatly word-processed and camera-ready to go in the newspaper. But we can't get past the
idea of his poor, dead daughter-in-law maybe helping him prepare the material and reading
it with him as they labor to get his message out to the great unwashed.
For many who have dealt with Roche, the Lissa affair is
simply the crowning hypocrisy of his reign. "This man," says one Hillsdale
professor, "is a phony and a fraud." The Roche family member explains,
"He's not really the type of person that everybody thinks he is. He's kind of like a
Jekyll and Hyde." Roche had a reputation for possessing a free-range phallus rumored
to have visited students and college employees. The senior-level employee who marveled at
Roche's fund-raising skills claims to have fled Hillsdale when he suspected Roche was
putting the moves on his wife. Roche was considered downright ruthless by those
unfortunate enough to cross him.
"What a study in the use of almighty power," says another Hillsdale professor.
"The meanness and the spite of Roche are beyond any human being I've seen." In a
1996 interview with the Detroit Free Press, Hillsdale spokesman Ronald Trowbridge told the
paper that Hillsdale's trustees "think George walks on water." In other words,
Roche could do whatever the hell he wanted -- like allegedly screw his son's wife for 19
years -- as long as it didn't embarrass the school.
The result of Roche's attitude was students and professors who claim they were unjustly
kicked out of Hillsdale. The most prominent example is Mark Nehls. According to Hillsdale
officials, Nehls got the boot in 1991 for improperly signing a business contract while he
served as treasurer of a student organization. Over the years, the school's
explanation for expelling Nehls has evolved. Trowbridge told the Detroit Free Press that
Nehls was expelled for misrepresenting his off-campus newspaper, the Hillsdale Spectator,
as an official school publication. The school has always denied that it expelled Nehls
because of the Spectator, which ran editorials illustrating how Hillsdale was a land of
hypocrisy. But the school's denials, which have evoked laughter and mutterings of
"bullshit," have never carried much weight among those at Hillsdale. According
to Nehls, "Everyone with enough awareness to realize the United States was
carpet-bombing Iraq knew I was expelled for publishing the Hillsdale Spectator."
Students at Hillsdale can't protest or disseminate literature without administrative
approval. And the student newspaper is censored by the administration. Dean Carol Ann
Barker was the designated censor while I worked for the Collegian, Hillsdale's student
newspaper. She killed a piece that argued Hillsdale needed a faculty senate. Editors were
also warned not to print the names of professors who had "disappeared," meaning
their contracts were terminated.
"It's a legal matter," Barker told Lingua Franca in a 1996 interview about her
censoring duties. Barker implied that such censorship was necessary to avoid potentially
libelous stories and that students were ignorant of liability law.
"The stated reason is often lawsuits," said David Bobb, who edited the Collegian
in 1995. "The unstated reason is embarrassment to the institution." Indeed,
Hillsdale's imitation of Pravda was enough to make some conservatives wonder if a state
university swarming with the most rabid breeds of feminists, multiculturalists and gays
could be any worse.
Hypocritical, holier-than-thou platitudes are de rigueur for Roche, who pocketed one of
the nation's highest salaries for a college president. In 1999, Forbes magazine reported
that Roche's total 1997-98 compensation package came to $524,000. Yet in his 1994 book
"The Fall of the Ivory Tower," Roche points to generous presidential salaries as
an example of corruption in higher education. "In 1990-91, at least three
universities paid their presidents more than $400,000 a year in salary and benefits,"
complains Roche, "and twelve paid more than $300,000."
Critics also claim Roche mythologized some aspects of Hillsdale's past in order to attract
donors. The most serious allegation -- that Roche lied about Hillsdale taking direct
government funding -- was made by Robert G. Anderson, a professor at Hillsdale during the
first two years of Roche's presidency. Roche "began a publicity crusade, both in
written advertisements and public speaking, declaring that the college had never accepted
'one cent of government funds in its entire history,'" writes Anderson in
"George and Me," an essay published at LewRockwell.com. Roche "knew, and he
knew we knew, that this was a lie."
Hillsdale spokesman Frank Maisano admits the school participated in a work-study program
from 1969 to 1977. Hillsdale received only a "small amount of dollars, mostly for
low-income families," stresses Maisano. Even so, Hillsdale's participation in the
program overlaps a period in which Roche proclaimed to the world that Hillsdale was free
of the government's tainted money.
As a committee made up of trustees, William F. Buckley and others, seeks a new president,
Hillsdale's conservative critics warn that the scandal isn't over yet. "Central Hall
[the college's administration building] must be reformed before any real change will take
place at Hillsdale," says Marc Kilmer, a 1999 Hillsdale graduate. "The problems
were much deeper than George Roche." Indeed, tyrants like Roche typically surround
themselves with sycophants, henchmen, cowards and other lowlifes. Until Roche's boys are
flushed out of Hillsdale College, the school will continue to be a boil on the
The Religious Freedom Coalition finds the goings on at
Hillsdale College more than a bit strange. It's hard to imagine that neither Lissa's
husband, nor anyone on the college board of trustees had a clue that President Roche and
his son's wife were carrying on an affair for 19 years. Generally, we feel that private
relationships between consenting adults should remain private. However, if one plays that
game there should be a few rules. First, it is extremely bad form to have such a
relationship with a subordinate employee. Colleges and universities less independent than
Hillsdale have rules against this sort of hanky-panky. Second, it is even worse form
to be playing around with your son's wife, particularly if your son is also your
subordinate. The family that plays together doesn't necessarily stay
together. One doesn't need to be a $188,000 a year college president to figure that one
If there is any good to come from this most sordid of affairs, it is that the students at
Hillsdale probably have learned a lesson in Christian Pseudo-Ethics that they will
not soon forget. Undoubtedly, it's going to take some time for the campus to recover
its equilibrium. Those Judeo-Christian principles are a bit battered right at the
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