Fascinating piece in the Times about Obama's law school years

This article in the New York Times is a must read for those still trying to understand what makes the candidate tick. It details Obama's hiring as law professor at the University of Chicago and the impression he made on students and fellow professors.

Not surprisingly, Obama was extremely well liked by the young. But it was the comments of some of his colleagues that bordered on shocking:


Standing in his favorite classroom in the austere main building, sharp-witted students looming above him, Mr. Obama refined his public speaking style, his debating abilities, his beliefs.

"He tested his ideas in classrooms," said Dennis Hutchinson, a colleague. Every seminar hour brought a new round of, "Is affirmative action justified? Under what circumstances?" as Mr. Hutchinson put it.

But Mr. Obama's years at the law school are also another chapter - see
United States Senate, c. 2006 - in which he seemed as intently focused on his own political rise as on the institution itself. Mr. Obama, who declined to be interviewed for this article, was well liked at the law school, yet he was always slightly apart from it, leaving some colleagues feeling a little cheated that he did not fully engage. The Chicago faculty is more rightward-leaning than that of other top law schools, but if teaching alongside some of the most formidable conservative minds in the country had any impact on Mr. Obama, no one can quite point to it.

"I don't think anything that went on in these chambers affected him," said Richard Epstein, a libertarian colleague who says he longed for Mr. Obama to venture beyond his ideological and topical comfort zones. "His entire life, as best I can tell, is one in which he's always been a thoughtful listener and questioner, but he's never stepped up to the plate and taken full swings."



For Obama supporters, I would ask that you make note of that last observation by Mr. Epstein. The presidency is a place of decision, of action. This is not the first time that someone who worked with Obama either in school, in the state senate, or the US senate has made the point that Obama, while a good listener and someone who was good at discovering all sides of an issue, was not good at deciding where he stood. This is a very Carteresque trait and could cripple the presidency in a time of crisis. Decision is the essence of leadership and, according to this article, it appears that Obama doesn't have it.

Then there's Obama's ideas about "reaching across the aisle" in a post partisan paradise:

Liberals flocked to his classes, seeking refuge. After all, the professor was a progressive politician who backed child care subsidies and laws against racial profiling, and in a 1996 interview with the school newspaper sounded skeptical of President Bill Clinton's efforts to reach across the aisle.

"On the national level, bipartisanship usually means Democrats ignore the needs of the poor and abandon the idea that government can play a role in issues of poverty, race discrimination, sex discrimination or environmental protection," Mr. Obama said.

But the liberal students did not necessarily find reassurance. "For people who thought they were getting a doctrinal, rah-rah experience, it wasn't that kind of class," said D. Daniel Sokol, a former student who now teaches law at the University of Florida at Gainesville.


In other words, "Thanks for your input, GOP. Now get lost."

Read the entire article and gain a better understanding of just who Barack Obama really is.

Ed Lasky adds:

The NYT article on Obama was devastating-in my mind. Stripped down to its basics-after the obligatory "the students worshipped him" verbiage:

Barack Obama was an affirmative action hire granted a sweetheart deal-privileges almost never extended to others (tenure with no record to base it on, no teaching experience, no paper trail) when the U of C was under pressure from its surrounding community and others because of its lilly white faculty. He did not validate this dream deal by ever writing a legal article in his entire career there-and instead used a well paid sinecure to plot his political rise. While on the faculty he help plan and facilitate the redistricting that benefited him personally.
He refused to join others in the intellectual debate that is the hallmark of the U of C; he refused to take any stands that might generate controversy (a real Profile of Courage). The only times he seemed to do so was from the safety of his own classroom when he seemingly offered support for Lani Guinier's proposal to structure elections to increase minority representation.

He was ego-centric even back in those days (this 'good looking' guy named Barack Obama); and  "if I run for governor I would expect you to support me" - a statement that was a non sequiter in the context of the topic being talked about.

If this guy wins....
This article in the New York Times is a must read for those still trying to understand what makes the candidate tick. It details Obama's hiring as law professor at the University of Chicago and the impression he made on students and fellow professors.

Not surprisingly, Obama was extremely well liked by the young. But it was the comments of some of his colleagues that bordered on shocking:


Standing in his favorite classroom in the austere main building, sharp-witted students looming above him, Mr. Obama refined his public speaking style, his debating abilities, his beliefs.

"He tested his ideas in classrooms," said Dennis Hutchinson, a colleague. Every seminar hour brought a new round of, "Is affirmative action justified? Under what circumstances?" as Mr. Hutchinson put it.

But Mr. Obama's years at the law school are also another chapter - see
United States Senate, c. 2006 - in which he seemed as intently focused on his own political rise as on the institution itself. Mr. Obama, who declined to be interviewed for this article, was well liked at the law school, yet he was always slightly apart from it, leaving some colleagues feeling a little cheated that he did not fully engage. The Chicago faculty is more rightward-leaning than that of other top law schools, but if teaching alongside some of the most formidable conservative minds in the country had any impact on Mr. Obama, no one can quite point to it.

"I don't think anything that went on in these chambers affected him," said Richard Epstein, a libertarian colleague who says he longed for Mr. Obama to venture beyond his ideological and topical comfort zones. "His entire life, as best I can tell, is one in which he's always been a thoughtful listener and questioner, but he's never stepped up to the plate and taken full swings."



For Obama supporters, I would ask that you make note of that last observation by Mr. Epstein. The presidency is a place of decision, of action. This is not the first time that someone who worked with Obama either in school, in the state senate, or the US senate has made the point that Obama, while a good listener and someone who was good at discovering all sides of an issue, was not good at deciding where he stood. This is a very Carteresque trait and could cripple the presidency in a time of crisis. Decision is the essence of leadership and, according to this article, it appears that Obama doesn't have it.

Then there's Obama's ideas about "reaching across the aisle" in a post partisan paradise:

Liberals flocked to his classes, seeking refuge. After all, the professor was a progressive politician who backed child care subsidies and laws against racial profiling, and in a 1996 interview with the school newspaper sounded skeptical of President Bill Clinton's efforts to reach across the aisle.

"On the national level, bipartisanship usually means Democrats ignore the needs of the poor and abandon the idea that government can play a role in issues of poverty, race discrimination, sex discrimination or environmental protection," Mr. Obama said.

But the liberal students did not necessarily find reassurance. "For people who thought they were getting a doctrinal, rah-rah experience, it wasn't that kind of class," said D. Daniel Sokol, a former student who now teaches law at the University of Florida at Gainesville.


In other words, "Thanks for your input, GOP. Now get lost."

Read the entire article and gain a better understanding of just who Barack Obama really is.

Ed Lasky adds:

The NYT article on Obama was devastating-in my mind. Stripped down to its basics-after the obligatory "the students worshipped him" verbiage:

Barack Obama was an affirmative action hire granted a sweetheart deal-privileges almost never extended to others (tenure with no record to base it on, no teaching experience, no paper trail) when the U of C was under pressure from its surrounding community and others because of its lilly white faculty. He did not validate this dream deal by ever writing a legal article in his entire career there-and instead used a well paid sinecure to plot his political rise. While on the faculty he help plan and facilitate the redistricting that benefited him personally.
He refused to join others in the intellectual debate that is the hallmark of the U of C; he refused to take any stands that might generate controversy (a real Profile of Courage). The only times he seemed to do so was from the safety of his own classroom when he seemingly offered support for Lani Guinier's proposal to structure elections to increase minority representation.

He was ego-centric even back in those days (this 'good looking' guy named Barack Obama); and  "if I run for governor I would expect you to support me" - a statement that was a non sequiter in the context of the topic being talked about.

If this guy wins....