Cheap shots against Palin
s-gerber at onu.edu
Fri Nov 7 13:24:40 PST 2008
I always benefit from Marci's posts. However, I hope she isn't suggesting that only people who teach at, or were educated at, Harvard, Yale, Princeton, etc., are educated and intelligent. That is elitisim. My sense is that President-elect Obama is an elitist in this regard.
Scott Douglas Gerber
Ella & Ernest Fisher Chair in Law
Professor of Law
Ohio Northern University
Ada, OH 45810
From: conlawprof-bounces at lists.ucla.edu on behalf of hamilton02 at aol.com
Sent: Fri 11/7/2008 2:55 PM
To: kbergin at stcl.edu; rs at robertsheridan.com
Cc: CONLAWPROF at lists.ucla.edu
Subject: Re: Cheap shots against Palin
What I find most troubling about this topic on this particular listserv is that we have had law professors at very good schools arguing that intelligence does not matter, education does not really matter, and that drawing distinctions between educational institutions is empty elitism. James Madison would have disagreed, among others. He despaired that the Constitution could not create a workable system without enough "virtuous" (read: knowledgeable, educated, and aristoratic) leaders to take the positions in government delineated. Why would anyone get up in the morning to teach in a law school if they truly believed that education is not a marker of talent or ability?
As David Brooks has pointed out more than once, the Republicans have descended from a party of ideas that emphasized achievement and excellence for whom the erudite William F Buckley, Jr., was a standardbearer and leader, to one in which intellectuals are defending a literal know-nothing. Charles Krauthammer this morning in the Wash Post asserted that Palin was a victim of "elitism." Not so. She was a victim of her own shortcomings, and judged appropriately in the rough and tumble of American politics.
The American Dream, which Obama embraced and the Republicans torpedoed, is based first on education, its ability to lift people out of their current circumstances, and a belief that high achievement at competitive schools is an important marker of quality. It was a particularly unfortunate time for the Republicans to choose someone so ill-equipped in this arena. These values were never more important, because the economy and the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and against terrorism generally, are far too complicated to be capable of being resolved through good handlers, expert advice, or Berlitz lessons on world geography, history, constitutional law, or political theory. It will take a President who has been trained to think critically at every level. That is what good education does. Whether Palin was briefed adequately or not before the Couric interview, she displayed a dazzling incapacity to ! solve problems because she could not even lay the groundwork to describe the problems she might have been elected to solve.
It is not elitism to say that Palin was and is incapable. In addition to rejecting Pres Bush and the Bush years, the moderates who moved from the Republican ticket to the Democrat ticket, especiallly in response to the Palin choice, like myself, were rejecting the Republicans' demonization of intelligence and education. That's a crucial element of the suburban vote. The Party should not expect to get those voters back until they have changed this poisonous element.
Marci A. Hamilton
Paul R. Verkuil Chair in Public Law
Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law
55 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10003
From: kbergin at stcl.edu
To: Robert Sheridan <rs at robertsheridan.com>
Cc: CONLAWPROF Prof list <CONLAWPROF at lists.ucla.edu>
Sent: Fri, 7 Nov 2008 12:08 pm
Subject: Re: Cheap shots against Palin
In the middle of a "war on terrorism" the possible would be Commander in Chief can be expected to have something to say, anything, about what the SCT itself has said on the topic. We don't need case names. We don't even need a Con Law profs understanding of the analysis. How about "you know Katie, in the midst of a war on terrorism, deference to the executive is important, and I would hope that the SCT would . . . . "
Or how about this, "you know Katie, more important than cases where the SCT went wrong, are the case where they got it right, like . . . (insert case of choice, and if the mind goes blank throw out Brown v. Board for good measure. Maybe she's heard of that one?)
I agree that she is now getting thrown under the bus for what were colossal strategic blunders on the part of McCain and his managers. And that's where the focus should be. But I can't agree that asking a potential VP to name one, any, case besides Roe falls under the category of 'gotcha' journalism.
Kathleen A. Bergin
Associate Professor of Law
South Texas College of Law
1303 San Jacinto Street
Houston, TX 77002
----- Original Message -----
From: Robert Sheridan <rs at robertsheridan.com>
Date: Friday, November 7, 2008 10:02 am
Subject: Cheap shots against Palin
To: CONLAWPROF Prof list <CONLAWPROF at lists.ucla.edu>
> NPR this morning broadcast a clip from the Katie Couric ambush
> interview of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (who was meeting diplomats at
> U.N. as part of her positioning process as McCain's VP choice) in
> which the question asked was (not an exact quote) in essence:
> from Roe v. Wade, what Supreme Court decisions do you disagree
> and she was stuck for an answer.
> Earlier in this list we kicked around whether she should be
> briefed on
> such arcana as, for example, who the president of Turkmenistan
> One position was that she should be briefed on arcana and another
> that there was no time and that she should turn the question on
> questioner in order to duck it since it was an unfair "gotcha"
> It was likely that Sarah from Alaska (as she referenced herself
> other day) didn't know who the Turkmen strongman was. Yet, she
> running for an office where such knowledge was of potentially
> considerable importance. She could be briefed when it became
> important, however. This is one of the reasons we have a State
> Department which, I presume, has a Turkmenistan desk, or at least
> stool, along and a guy who sits on it and can do the briefing.
> As I recall from the news, John Roberts, when a White House
> helped brief Pres. Reagan's nominee to the Court, one Sandra Day
> O'Connor, on what she needed to know in the way of Supreme Court
> decisions she was expected to know and either agree or disagree
> before her Senate Judiciary Committee hearings. When he was
> to be Chief Justice, he received briefings, despite years of
> Court practice under his belt.
> Yet here we have Sarah Palin being mocked, implicitly when not
> explicitly, for ignorance, which is not the same as stupidity.
> And some of the people who do the mocking among the general public
> the chattering class, probably have no better idea of Conlaw than
> Katie Couric or me, for that matter. I'd hate to be put to a test
> all of the many cases I'm unfamiliar with, or who the president of
> country apart from the current big three is. They change, you
> One day it's Chirac and the next it's Sarkozy. And suddenly it's
> longer Putin but Medvedev, unless you still count Putin, which may
> no mistake.
> The fault, if it was a fault, was that McCain selected a person
> likely to have been well-briefed in advance as to such things.
> fault was his, knowing full well that candidates for the White
> must be perfectly knowledgeable about everything or suffer being
> mocked, not hers. She's a normal human being who rose to become
> elected mayor and governor of her state, which makes her
> extraordinary. It's also far more than I can claim despite some
> familiarity with Supreme Court gotcha questions. This might make
> feel superior, but that's a false and prideful position to have,
> that there's any lack here.
> As noted in other threads, there are no intellectual
> for these high offices. The public is supposed to be able to
> out how well qualified their choices are. Yet the public is being
> asked by the national media to disqualify candidates who fail the
> "gotch" test of ambush journalism. Palin was in N.Y. on one
> when asked in a hallway by a nationally known media personality (a
> celebrity journalist who negotiates for $15 million in salary per
> annum) bearing a microphone and backed by a TV camera to speak on
> subject that was currently off-topic and not briefed. The
> of the United States doesn't appear before the cameras for a press
> conference w/o being briefed by the world's greatest experts of
> moment. The fault was the campaign's for letting her get ambushed
> like that. Who had her back? No one.
> It's not as though Couric didn't know about Palin's lack of
> That was the whole point, to make a monkey out of her for her
> lack of sophistication.
> Was this wonderful journalism, exposing Palin's lack of briefing,
> knowlege, or familiarity with what participants on this list
> regard as
> important, or was it partisanship? Or a service in exposing
> judgment as reflected in a choice of running mate who was weak in
> important areas?
> The thing that seems to be missing in the Couric interview is any
> clear indication as to why Palin should be expected to know Conlaw
> having taken the course, where it is nowhere written that she was
> required to take the course, any more than McCain took the course,
> beyond his OJT.
> Not a great moment in journalism, Couric.
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