Day By Day

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Obama at Chicago Law

The New York Times ran a story on Obama's teaching experience at the University of Chicago [here]. It is revealing in a number of ways:

First of all, it was obviously a sweetheart appointment. Universities frequently do favors to politicians as a way of building support for their institutions. This has all the trappings of such a deal.

Obama was paid $60,000 for a part-time teaching assignment. That is a lot of money to throw at an instructor. Beyond the classroom he had absolutely no duties and spent his non-classroom time promoting his political career. During his time at Chicago he did no committee work, produced no scholarship, and was on campus only for his classes.

The Times notes that Obama was frequently critical of liberal positions on a number of issues. It also points out that in the past the University of Chicago has hired a number of major conservative figures. They use this to suggest that Obama has conservative or moderate tendencies. But, as Ann Althouse points out [and I can confirm from my own experience] left-wing academic ideologues voiced basically the same criticisms of liberalism as did Obama. His critique of liberalism brands him as, at that time, a hard-core lefty, not a moderate. And, as Brian Leiter points out [here] the University of Chicago has a lot of important left-wingers on its faculty and the local institution favorable to conservatives is Northwestern, not U. of C.

The Times obviously slanted the story so as to quiet fears raised by "The One's!" past radical associations. Unfortunately, for me at least, the story only strengthens those concerns.