Friday, March 28, 2008

Lecturing Team Hillary.

OK, I'm NOT talking to Hillary herself. Because we all know that it's wrong to blame Hillary for the trash her political allies talk, even as Obama is called out about anyone who's had a cup of coffee in a campaign office. Because that's just fair.

So I'm not talking to Hillary, but some apparently misbegotten campaign allies have been trotting out the argument that Barack Obama dishonestly stated he served as a Constitutional Law professor at University of Chigago Law School when he in fact was a lecturer.

No really.

Chicago's press release debunking the silliness should put this to bed. But Juan Williams, who is determined to squander all traces of credibility to be NPR's resident Hill Honk, insisted that the school was "just splitting hairs."

The context of Obama invoking his teaching experience is generally along the lines of "I've been a Con Law professor, so unlike the President I understand and respect the Constitution." In my experience, the primary difference between a lecturer and a professor is that a lecturer is paid relatively little. If someone says "I can afford that 5 Series because I lecture about Con Law," that's probably overclaiming. If someone says he has credibility about things constitutional because he's a law school lecturer, it's legit.

Every time I think the Hillary campaign is settling into a groove of merely harsh campaigning, they lower their own bar. This latest spasm of fratricidal zeal mimics that right wing noise machine the attacks on Al Gore. The methodology in 2000 was to take some statement Gore made about his accomplishments, deliberately misread it, and generate a narrative that he was a serial exaggerator. Seeing that particular flavor of slime thrown on a Dem by a Dem really hurts.

Scrying the net for news of all this, I ran across a post on the U of Chi Law Faculty Blog from October 2006 written by the estimable Cass Sunstein. Bear in mind that this is long before anyone questioned whether Obama was a real member of the faculty.

    There is a lot to say about Senator Obama and his time at the University of Chicago Law School. (He remains affiliated with the law school, and he has an office on the fifth floor -- though the list of faculty members notes, in a way that seems at once proud and forlorn, that he is now "out of residence.") He was, and is, widely admired by students and faculty alike -- and entirely across political divisions. How well I remember past elections in which faculty members, who disagreed on a great deal, agreed that Obama would be a magnificent addition to the United States Congress. I think their agreement resulted from Obama's character (he's a genuinely wonderful guy), his evident ability and sheer excellence (for example, he's a terrific teacher, and we tried to convince him to join the faculty full-time on several occasions), and his independence and unpredictability (he toes no party line; he knows how markets work, and how government can make things worse).
For those of you not in the know, a write up like this from Sunstein is tantamount to Michael Jordan saying you got game.


Jeff Hess said...

Shalom Scott,

I heard the same Diane Rehm show you did and I couldn't grasp why Williams would not just let it go. Rehm gave him every opportunity to shut up but even after she read him the press release he kept going.

I could only describe his behavior as deranged.



Anonymous said...

Sorry, but "Juan Williams" and "credibility" haven't belonged in the same sentence since 1997. Juan's real employer is Fox News. The only reason he's still on NPR is to provide some shred of legitimacy to his schtick.

Ben said...

Yeah FNC has no liberals - Colmes, Geraldo, Van Susteren. If MSNBC or CNN offered me a paid job id take it in a minute despite their general left wing leanings.

Mencken said...

Juan Williams,Colmes, Geraldo, and Van Susteren remind me of the Washington Generals... the "legit" team that plays the Harlem Globetrotters.

Stand around, wave your arms as someone dribbles
past you, put your Danny Ainge face on when someone commits an obvious foul... but don't mess up the game plan. It's fixed.