The Corner

Paperless Trail

Is O’Bama’s the Campaign About Nothing? If the guy is not an empty suit, he’s been playing a   l-o-n-g   game. Several bloggers have been digging into his legal/academic career in hopes of turning up some paper he published, some forthright opinion he committed to paper. So far, next to nothing. For someone with O’Bama’s résumé, this is wellnigh incredible.

Either O’B made a long-strategic decision very early on in life that he was going to climb the political ladder, and that therefore the less of a trail of opinions he left behind him, the less trouble he’d get into; or he really is a quite exceptionally empty suit. Which is it? Which is scarier?

A reader:

Mr. Derbyshire, as a law student, I find it amazing that Obama could leave Harvard without a pretty serious paper-trail. I side more on commercial law stuff when comes to selecting classes, and yet I’ve written fairly substantial (30+) policy papers on religion in the public sphere; the death penalty; Gitmo; Supreme Court justices, etc. And that’s for a guy who tries to avoid the fluffy stuff.

I find it impossible to believe that the editor of the Harvard Law Review doesn’t have anything substantial with his name on it from then (the George Washington Law Review requires not 1, but 2 essay contests each requiring 20+ papers on various public policy and legal questions to be an editor).

Now granted, these papers aren’t completely reliable as indicators of the man’s beliefs then or now (as I reader of NR, I often find myself writing the complete opposite of what I believe because I know that it will get me a better grade). Nevertheless, such lengthy works have to give you some insight into how the guy thinks.

A different reader suggests:

maybe someone can track down U. Chicago students who might have retained notes of his lectures, from which perhaps something can be gleaned of where he might want to take the Supreme Court.

Notes of his lectures? There is a funny satirical piece to be written there somewhere – by The Onion, perhaps? or maybe our own Rob Long could pick up on it. I’d do it myself, but I’m way backed up on stuff I’ve promised to various people (including NR’s Mike Potemra – I’m on it, Mike! Stop panicking!)

“Good morning, class. Today we shall continue our exploration into the constitutional and jurisprudential aspects of HOPE! and CHANGE! Is everyone feeling suitably audacious? Then let’s begin! …”

John Derbyshire — Mr. Derbyshire is a former contributing editor of National Review.

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