Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Politicians and Simple Answers

The NYT has an interesting story today about Barack Obama's time as a teacher at the University of Chicago's Law School. Apparently, he was a really good teacher, and reminds me of the examples of good teachers that we were given in grad school, at least in our social studies methods class. (The short version of that ideal is that students shouldn't necessarily be able to tell what your political views are -- that class is about their learning rather than indoctrinating them to think like you.) According to the people that were interviewed for the article, it sounds like Obama was a good teacher, forcing his students to think in unconventional ways and debate ideas.

The end of the article:
"But as a professor, students say, Mr. Obama was in the business of complication, showing that even the best-reasoned rules have unintended consequences, that competing legal interests cannot always be resolved, that a rule that promotes justice in one case can be unfair in the next.

So even some former students who are thrilled at Mr. Obama’s success wince when they hear him speaking like the politician he has so fully become.

'When you hear him talking about issues, it’s at a level so much simpler than the one he’s capable of,' Mr. Rodriguez said. 'He was a lot more fun to listen to back then.'"

Although I know that the last quote is meant to be somewhat disparaging, it actually gives me hope. I would like to think that the President can think at a higher level than he gives out in his speeches. I like to think that a President Obama would recruit people to work in the administration who would offer competing points of view. I want a President who knows that the world and decisions about it are incredibly complicated.

(Ok, I admit it, it's a "West Wing"-fueled fantasy, but can't a girl have one or two feelings of hope about politics? I've spent an awfully long time feeling cynical.)


Liam said...

Actually... West Wing was inspired by Obama... in 2004 when they were writing the final season the writers asked a political operative if they knew someone... the political guy they asked? David Alexrod.

cmk said...

Well sure, the last season Jimmy Smits character. But I'm a Bartlet girl, so that's actually what I was thinking about when I posted.