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"I told him that it was obvious his (Obama's) political career was going nowhere"

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Pirate Smile Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 06:56 AM
Original message
"I told him that it was obvious his (Obama's) political career was going nowhere"
Edited on Wed Jul-23-08 06:56 AM by Pirate Smile
Con Law
What the University of Chicago right thinks of Obama.


by Jason Zengerle
Post Date Wednesday, July 30, 2008

In the spring of 2000, not long after Barack Obama was trounced in the Democratic primary for a South Side Chicago congressional seat, Daniel Fischel staged an intervention. Meeting with Obama in the main lounge at the University of Chicago Law School, where Fischel was then dean and Obama was a part-time senior lecturer, Fischel offered Obama some unsolicited advice. "I told him that it was obvious his political career was going nowhere," Fischel recalls, "and that he really ought to think about doing something else."
The particular "something else" Fischel had in mind was a full-time tenured professorship; to sweeten the offer, Fischel said the law school would even hire Obama's wife, Michelle, to run its legal clinic.
Although the move would require Obama to give up his state Senate seat, Fischel tried to convince his junior colleague that Chicago professor might be a more natural role than Chicago politician for a cerebral guy like him. "I mentioned people who'd been faculty members like Scalia and Posner and Easterbrook and many others who had gone on to very distinguished careers outside of academia or in combination with academia," Fischel says. "I told him he could be a faculty member as well as a public intellectual."

Obama declined Fischel's overture, saying that he wanted to give elected politics another shot. And today, of course, it's hard to find any fault with the wisdom of that decision. Still, the episode is interesting not only as a counterfactual (how much does Hillary Clinton wish Obama had spent last December grading Con Law exams instead of stumping in Iowa?) but as a window onto Obama's relationship with those who don't share his ideology. The University of Chicago Law School, after all, is a famously conservative institution--the birthplace of the law-and-economics movement and the incubator of numerous conservative intellectuals; Fischel himself literally wrote (with Easterbrook) one of the fundamental books on law and economics, in addition to another book arguing that the government's prosecution of Michael Milken was unjust. Yet, eight years ago, there was something about Obama that made Fischel and other Chicago conservative legal scholars want Obama to be their colleague--and today, at least for some of them, maybe even their president.

-snip-
For the next eight years, Obama taught upper-level constitutional law courses on equal protection and voting rights. He was a huge hit with his students. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, which reviewed students' evaluations of Obama's courses, he was almost always rated one of their favorite instructors during his time at Chicago. Given the subject matter of Obama's courses, one might assume that students in the classes--which were electives--would have been disproportionately liberal. But Chicago's reputation for producing law professors tended to mitigate against that. "Anybody who's thinking they want to go into academia, conservative or liberal, kind of knows they have to take equal protection," says Kenworthey Bilz, who took equal protection from Obama in 1997 and is now a professor at Northwestern Law School. "I can very confidently say he didn't strike me as liberal or conservative."

-snip-
Obama's closest colleagues at the law school tended to be the more liberal members of the faculty--such as Cass Sunstein and Geoffrey Stone--but many conservatives were fond of him, even though they often didn't see eye to eye. Saul Levmore, the school's current dean, whose politics are hard to characterize but generally right-leaning, says, "We were intensely interested in him. We were looking for him to say, 'I'm giving up politics, I want to be an academic.' We were always in recruiting mode with him." Epstein, who once almost sold his Hyde Park home to Obama and would buttonhole him to talk about things like state mandates for health insurance, offers one reason why: "He was always a terrific listener. He'd sit there and cock his head, take it all in."
"What you don't get, alas and alack, out of all this is a change in point of view," Epstein says. "If you ask me whether I had any influence on his intellectual or moral development, I'd say no, not even a little."


But other Chicago conservatives seem content with the fact that Obama tried to understand their point of view, even if he didn't wind up adopting it. "What I know from my dealings with him at the law school is that he does really attempt to understand the points of view of other people who look at the world or a particular issue differently than he does," says Fischel. "He's much more intellectual, much more thoughtful, much more interested in discussion, debate, and dialogue than the typical politician. And that gives me some confidence about him, even though from my perspective he's much too liberal. I've never voted for a Democrat in my entire life. He's the first one I might vote for."

http://www.tnr.com/politics/story.html?id=86dd0277-c6ee...


Talk about being the "anti-Bush".
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Pirate Smile Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 08:12 AM
Response to Original message
1. kick
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BeyondGeography Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 08:15 AM
Response to Original message
2. K&R
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The Backlash Cometh Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 08:47 AM
Response to Original message
3. Well, I'm glad I read this.
I'm also glad to see he fully understands the scope of our constitutional rights. But it also means that Barak understands the breach that just occurred with the FISA bill.
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Me. Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 09:27 AM
Response to Original message
4. Wrong Thread
Edited on Wed Jul-23-08 09:38 AM by Me.
oops
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DevonRex Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 09:36 AM
Response to Original message
5. What a great article. Thank you. nt
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seasat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 10:13 AM
Response to Original message
6. Very good story
It answers some "concern trolls" that have tried to smear Obama with his tenure with the University of Chicago.
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undeterred Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 10:20 AM
Response to Original message
7. I was in Obama's Senate and Congressional district
Edited on Wed Jul-23-08 10:25 AM by undeterred
and I voted for him in the 2000 primary when he ran against Bobby Rush. Nobody takes down an incumbent in one try! The University as a whole was just getting to know him, and the law students loved him. Its obvious he knew what he was doing. Academics don't give the best career advice.

University of Chicago Law School has given us Antonin Scalia and John Yoo, the torture attorney. I would like to see University of Chicago pay its debt to society by giving us Obama.

Edit: This story confirms what I've heard before, that Obama has the disposition of a 'judge' in that he carefully considers all angles. How unusual that will be for a president.

"What I know from my dealings with him at the law school is that he does really attempt to understand the points of view of other people who look at the world or a particular issue differently than he does," says Fischel. "He's much more intellectual, much more thoughtful, much more interested in discussion, debate, and dialogue than the typical politician. And that gives me some confidence about him, even though from my perspective he's much too liberal. I've never voted for a Democrat in my entire life. He's the first one I might vote for."
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FKA MNChimpH8R Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 05:36 PM
Response to Reply #7
14. Yoo and Tony the Fish may have taught at Chicago
but Yoo is a Yale law grad and Big Tony went to Harvard Law.
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undeterred Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 05:45 PM
Response to Reply #14
15. Well, I think Chicago will be happy not to be associated with them.
Scalia was teaching at the UC law school when he was appointed, so there was lots of mundane stuff about him in the student paper, like: "Women should be mothers, and mothers should stay home and bake cookies".
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babylonsister Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 11:28 AM
Response to Original message
8. Thank you for sharing this; it's terrific and very informative. nt
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wyldwolf Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 11:34 AM
Response to Original message
9. "I think you ought to seriously consider going back to driving a truck..."
said to Elvis Presley after his audition for the Grand Ole' Opry - Oct. 2, 1954
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newmajority Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 05:30 PM
Response to Reply #9
13. And there's always the guy at Decca Records in London who rejected The Beatles
Edited on Wed Jul-23-08 05:32 PM by newmajority
"Oh those guitar groups, they're on their way out...."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UoDRZ_vG1-E
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Spazito Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 12:07 PM
Response to Original message
10. Very interesting article!
Many of the photos of Obama show him with his head tilted or his hand on his chin while he is listening to someone speak, this article shows that this mannerism is there naturally and not a "pose" for the camera.

Thanks for posting this, it is much appreciated.

Recommended.
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Cha Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 12:12 PM
Response to Original message
11. Fate had other plans and
I'm glad we got 'im! I bet he was popular with the kids.
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Pirate Smile Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 05:26 PM
Response to Original message
12. kick
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Demeter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 07:09 PM
Response to Original message
16. I See a Sinister Attempt to Stop a Force of Nature, Myself
but then, tinfoil goes with everything these days!
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Pirate Smile Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 10:49 PM
Response to Original message
17. kick
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BrklynLiberal Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 11:42 PM
Response to Original message
18. The thought of having a thoughtful, intelligent president almost brings tears to my eyes.
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RNdaSilva Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-24-08 12:05 AM
Response to Original message
19. Great...
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liberalla Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-24-08 05:12 AM
Response to Original message
20. Kicking - reminder to read later.
:kick:
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dbmk Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-24-08 05:35 AM
Response to Original message
21. hmm
I wonder what that last guy saw in Bush that made him confident in him...
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bklyncowgirl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-24-08 05:58 AM
Response to Original message
22. Mrs. Tweety, that Secretariat colt is never going to make a race horse
You might get a couple thousand bucks for him from someone looking for a show horse.
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Pirate Smile Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-24-08 07:51 AM
Response to Original message
23. kick
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