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Barack Obama and the Presidency of the Harvard Law Review:

Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, Autumn 2004 Kenneth Mack:

Barack had already made an impression on both the second- and third-year student editors. If I remember properly, he had already participated in a committee that would plan the annual issue devoted to some new development in law, and was also holding forth in the forum where impressions were formed quickly among the staff — the editors' lounge....Like all of us, he was ambitious, but he never seemed that way.

The African-American editors had been strategizing to elect one of our own to the presidency for several years, and it was not an easy task.... four black editors threw their hats in the ring for the election to the presidency in the winter of 1990. Seventeen editors eventually decided to run for the position.

There were many elements involved in Barack's eventual victory, but the one moment that stands out to me was a vote, taken among the editors a few weeks before the election, that divided liberals and progressives from conservatives among the editorial staff. The law review, like America today, was sometimes bitterly divided along political lines, although there the liberals and progressives were in the clear majority. We argued about everything from affirmative action to the politics of legal scholarship. The conservatives lost this particular vote and many of us, myself included, were inclined to talk no further with them about it. Yet Barack followed up the vote by publicly offering to discuss the issue further and to find common ground with the conservatives, while seeming to empathize with their views. Not everyone on the winning side agreed with that tactic, but it paid dividends.

I remember vividly a moment during the presidential election when a conservative editor whom I had never known to support a black editor or a black author rose to pledge his firm support behind Barack, who everyone knew was a liberal-progressive. Barack, of course, won the election handily with an incredibly broad range of supporters. It was a moment of triumph that crossed racial and political lines, as well as about every demographic line among the editors.

Jim Chen:

I remember Barack Obama as a very strong editor-in-chief of the Harvard Law Review.... He motivated a large group of editors, who were talented, headstrong, and often contentious, to produce what we sincerely believed to be the United States' best scholarly journal in law. His greatest skill lay in defusing conflicts and in encouraging colleagues of his to cooperate with one another, or at least to compromise... Was Barack considered an `affirmative action baby' by white students or faculty members? It never occurred to me to think of Barack as anything besides the president of the Review, and (as I have said) a very strong one at that. Even back in those days he plainly aspired to a high-profile political career, and the rest of us respected, even admired, him for his ambitions.

Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, Jan. 31, 2001 Barack Obama:

I had established a presence in the classroom and in other activities during my first year of law school serving as an editor on the Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Review, assisting several professors on their scholarly work, and campaigning actively on issues of diversity in faculty hiring. As a result, I think my peers and professors knew that I took my work at the law school seriously and were less likely to question my qualifications for a spot on the Review. Moreover, by the time I was elected to the presidency of the Review, the peers who voted for me had worked with me in close quarters for over a year and were pretty familiar with my accomplishments... I have no way of knowing whether I was a beneficiary of affirmative action either in my admission to Harvard or my initial election to the Review. If I was, then I certainly am not ashamed of the fact, for I would argue that affirmative action is important precisely because those who benefit typically rise to the challenge when given an opportunity. Persons outside Harvard may have perceived my election to the presidency of the Review as a consequence of affirmative action, since they did not know me personally. At least one white friend of mine mentioned that a federal appellate court judge asked him during his clerkship whether I had been elected on the merits. And the issue did come up among those who were making the hiring decisions at the [University of Chicago] law school — something that might not have even been raised with respect to a white former president of the Review.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. One More Post on Obama at Harvard:
  2. Barack Obama and the Presidency of the Harvard Law Review:
Steve:
I was on the editorial board at a top-5 law review and I seriously don't remember this degree of politics in the decision process at all. I don't remember the ideology of any of the candidates even being on the table, for one thing. I guess maybe the Ivy Leaguers do things a little differently.
3.14.2008 5:17pm
Cornellian (mail):
That he's a charming individual is hardly a shocking new revelation. This country has grown much too used to the idea that anyone who disagrees with you on some political issue is automatically the enemy and someone you couldn't possibly like or befriend.
3.14.2008 5:27pm
alias:

At least one white friend of mine mentioned that a federal appellate court judge asked him during his clerkship whether I had been elected on the merits. And the issue did come up among those who were making the hiring decisions at the [University of Chicago] law school — something that might not have even been raised with respect to a white former president of the Review.
Perhaps I'm reading too much into this, but it sounds as if Obama expects the reader to be shocked or offended by this. That sort of thing is a consequence of affirmative action, not of racism.
3.14.2008 5:28pm
MarkField (mail):

Perhaps I'm reading too much into this, but it sounds as if Obama expects the reader to be shocked or offended by this. That sort of thing is a consequence of affirmative action, not of racism.


No, it's the racist reaction to affirmative action. We should be shocked at it.
3.14.2008 5:35pm
alias:
No it isn't.
3.14.2008 5:42pm
emsl (mail):
I was an editor of the Harvard Law Review 79-81. While there were significant issues that divided the editors, those did not extend to the election of the president. I don't even recall that candidates for the elected positions were categorized as "conservative" or "liberal." I wonder how much of this is objectively true, and how much is seen through the lens of perception of some of the participants.
3.14.2008 5:54pm
anomie:
Perhaps I'm reading too much into this, but it sounds as if Obama expects the reader to be shocked or offended by this. That sort of thing is a consequence of affirmative action, not of racism.

Perhaps you are. Obama seems to stick pretty much to a recitation of facts in the excerpt you quoted. Notably, he does not express or ask you to feel shock at either racism or the consequences of affirmative action. Shock at either of those is something the reader is contributing.
3.14.2008 6:13pm
Stuart Buck (mail) (www):
That's got to be Kenneth Mack, right?
3.14.2008 6:24pm
anon252 (mail):
Persons outside Harvard may have perceived my election to the presidency of the Review as a consequence of affirmative action, since they did not know me personally. At least one white friend of mine mentioned that a federal appellate court judge asked him during his clerkship whether I had been elected on the merits. And the issue did come up among those who were making the hiring decisions at the [University of Chicago] law school — something that might not have even been raised with respect to a white former president of the Review.
Why would anyone raise the issue of affirmative action for a white president of the review? And as an aside, how many times has Chicago hired someone as a non-tenure-track lecturer in constitutional law who wasn't Barack Obama?
3.14.2008 6:24pm
bittern (mail):
I wish I too had been a Harvard Law Review editor like emsl so that I too could tell whether people make decisions on objectively true distinctions or just perceptions seen through their own lenses. Then I'd be smart, wouldn't I?
3.14.2008 6:32pm
bittern (mail):
anon 252 &alias,
The three quotes suggest (in and of themselves) that there's no need for y'all to fixate on whether someone got affirmative action. Unless you're grinding axes, what's the point of it? Obama 2001 and Chen suggest that if there was such a program, it works. If the beneficiary does good work, go forward from there.
3.14.2008 6:51pm
Some Racist (mail):
Mark:

>No, it's the racist reaction to affirmative action. We should be shocked at it.

Is it anti-athlete bias to ask if a athlete would have gotten in to [insert school that lowers standards for athletes] if they were not an athlete?

Logically, it is possible he got the job because he deserved it. It is also possible he got the job by getting lucky at birth. Without asking the question or otherwise investigating, it is impossible to know. What's wrong with asking?
3.14.2008 7:31pm
MarkField (mail):

What's wrong with asking?


To respond to both you and alias, there are two things wrong with it. The first applies to the specific case of Obama. The relevant question in his case is not "how did he get into Harvard?", it's "how did he get out?". The answer to the latter question is that he graduated in the top 10% of his class. How he got in is utterly irrelevant once we know that fact.

The other thing wrong with it is more general and applies to everyone. Let me give an example using women. If you meet a woman, is your first thought "she must be a housewife"? I assume you can see the sexism in that thought; if not, try verbalizing it sometime.

The fundamental problem is that any time you make assumptions about an individual based on factors common to race or sex, you're on slippery ground.
3.14.2008 8:14pm
Bender (mail):
The judge asked whether Obama had been elected president of the Harvard Law Review on the the merits. Based on all the different descriptions of the election process in Prof. Bernstein's starting post, Obama might have been elected Law Review president based on ideology, social ties, or racial politics. Since these factors are acknowledged, others having little to do with legal talent and knowledge might also come into play. Therefore, it seems to me that this is a reasonable question for the judge to ask if he's seeking to optimize the legal skills of his clerical staff.
3.14.2008 8:27pm
bittern (mail):
Bender,
Everybody elected to that position makes it on some combination of leadership ability, legal skills, knowledge, ideology, social ties and identity politics. Maybe athletic ability or tolerance for alcohol, too. Perhaps that federal judge asks the same question about St. Grottlesex alums, or maybe not. I wouldn't know.
3.14.2008 8:44pm
bittern (mail):

Logically, it is possible he got the job because he deserved it. It is also possible he got the job by getting lucky at birth. Without asking the question or otherwise investigating, it is impossible to know. What's wrong with asking?

SR, BHO got past a tough psychosocial identity problem in his youth that set him on course to wanting to pull the country together. That's the way I see it. He almost derailed. You want to call that getting lucky at birth, I don't really care. Me, I wasn't born biracial and maybe didn't get the right challenges? I deserve a better job than I have. Who should I complain to, why didn't I get a better shot?

By the way, after you ask your question and otherwise investigate, you still won't know anything. Maybe Poles are naturally stupid. It's impossible to determine, but what's the harm in asking? [plenty, dear]
3.14.2008 8:53pm
LM (mail):
emsl,

I was an editor of the Harvard Law Review 79-81. While there were significant issues that divided the editors, those did not extend to the election of the president. I don't even recall that candidates for the elected positions were categorized as "conservative" or "liberal." I wonder how much of this is objectively true, and how much is seen through the lens of perception of some of the participants.

At the last moment, the conservative faction, its initial candidates defeated, threw its support to Mr. Obama. "Whatever his politics, we felt he would give us a fair shake," said Bradford Berenson, a former associate White House counsel in the Bush administration. [...]

"I have worked in the Supreme Court and the White House and I never saw politics as bitter as at Harvard Law Review in the early '90s," Mr. Berenson said. "The law school was populated by a bunch of would-be Daniel Websters harnessed to extreme political ideologies."
3.14.2008 9:26pm
LM (mail):
Didn't he graduate magna cum laude? Isn't that a color-blind indicator of top 10% at HLS? If so, shouldn't it dispose of affirmative action as relevant to his ability and accomplishments, whatever part it may have played in his admission?
3.14.2008 9:36pm
anon252 (mail):
It's Obama who fixated on affirmative action, in supporting "diversity" on the faculty, and in apparently resenting that someone might that he was a beneficiary of it. I don't see how you can have it both ways: to want people to get special opportunities because of AA, but then not to have anyone notice that they got special opportunities. And btw, contrary to Obama's assertion that people who get AA generally thrive, AA students at top law schools mostly wind up in the bottom of their classes.
3.14.2008 9:42pm
NickM (mail) (www):
So basically the election for President of the Harvard Law Review is treated like most law school class president elections. Scholarship has nothing to do with it (how many Editors-in-Chief at top-tier law schools around the country did not have their Note/Comment published?).

Now why is this supposed to be a serious credential for Obama?

Nick
3.14.2008 10:02pm
bittern (mail):
anon252,
The resentment is eating at you more than it's eating Mr Obama. Give it up. It's not healthy. I've got no tally, but many of the people that I assumed were recruited minority students at my lil old alma mater have been very successful people following that experience. Good on them.

Obama isn't complaining that somebody might think he was the beneficiary of AA (you're not reading carefully enough). He says that may well be true. Instead, believing he's demonstrated talent and success, he's noticing that some people wonder how he got in the door.

i.e., what LM said
3.14.2008 10:24pm
LM (mail):
NickM,

If you think the class president, by doing his job poorly, can erode the value of the credential you're staking you're career on, then yes, I suppose they're pretty much the same.
3.14.2008 10:25pm
frankcross (mail):
Bender's post illustrates what's wrong with the question (ironically). A variety of non-scholarship things could go into selection. They asked in Obama's case about affirmative action, because he was black. Hence, his question about whether a white would be asked if he was selected because of, say, social ties.
3.14.2008 10:27pm
bittern (mail):
Nick, now you're getting it. While making head dude of the Harvard Law Review would have been a nice feather in the cap of a chump like myself, BHO is inherently so incredibly awesome and charismatic that the credential is indeed practically meaningless in his case. Well figured, indeed! But thank God he's only a candidate for president and not trying to be an academic department chairman where his type, with meaningless qualifications, doesn't belong.
3.14.2008 10:33pm
anon252 (mail):
Bittern,

You have the bitter name, not me! This has nothing to do with bitterness. Harvard Law Review instituted AA for the Review well before Obama got there. If your organization has AA preferences, you support those preferences, and you don't disclaim relying on such preferences, it's hardly surprising if people wonder if you were the beneficiary of such preferences. The idea put forth by other commenters that it's racist to assume that even very likely beneficiaries of preferences are beneficiaries of preferences is ridiculous.

In the case of the HLR, it seems irrelevant, because apparently becoming president is largely a popularity contest. But the judge in question obviously thought the credential itself meant something, as it did in the days when editorships were divvied up based on GPA.

And it's true that many people benefit from AA, and it may be a benefit even if you're at the bottom of your class at Harvard Law. But what Obama stated was that people who get AA "typically rise to the challenge," which, at least at top law schools, is false. A better response that wouldn't show such a naive faith in preferences would have been "I'm not embarrassed, because I didn't ask for any preference and I'm confident I did just as good a job or better than my rivals would have done."
3.14.2008 10:52pm
bittern (mail):
anon252, you betcha I'm bitter, but stick with me if you can. I'm always bitter; and it makes me see it in others; plus I musta got you mixed up with Geraldine. But you're the one first worrying Barack is all resentful, "apparently resenting that someone might [think] that he was a beneficiary of it" at 8:42. In 2001, he says, "If I was, then I certainly am not ashamed of the fact, for I would argue that affirmative action is important precisely because those who benefit typically rise to the challenge when given an opportunity." You and I might resent being thought of as AA, but he doesn't. You're probably right that it's only human to wonder how somebody got to where they are. Normal enough, but maybe not a good thing. Also, I'll stipulate that, on average, AA students may not make the same grades on the spot -- though clearly BHO himself did well. Where you and he may disagree is whether an affirmative action beneficiary is a good prospect for success at the next level. He's optimistic about that and so naturally notices when "some people wonder how he got in the door" (me at 9:24)

If you're right, and AA beneficiaries perform badly at the next level, then we're in a bit of a box. If, say, 60% of minority students at an institution come from tough situations and are chosen as being promising, and two thirds of those don't pan out well, then human minds, keen as they are to see patterns, are going to start wondering if the minority candidates are less qualified. Then we'll all be prejudging based on category, which I think is a pretty fair definition of racism, no? And since we don't want that, we instead want to dump the redemption of AA out with the bathwater, to mix metaphors very badly.
3.14.2008 11:34pm
RL:
The real racism is found in the jutification for racism: that any race is a perpetual slave race subserviant and dependant on the dominant race.

That's the best thing about the Democratic primary election. It is going to shine the racial spotlight on white liberals. For too long, they've been able to avoid the hard questions by simply pointing to the conservatives and libertarians as the "real racists."

I suggest that anyone more interested in this topic should pick up Shelby Steele's "Bound Man." It reads like a prophetic vision of the current idealogical collision between white liberals and black democrats.
3.14.2008 11:48pm
ScottS (mail):
Summary:

Kevin Mack reports that Obama was seen as the most fair liberal by the conservatives in the minority at the HLR.

Jim Chen reports that the Review was successful under Obama's respected leadership.

Obama graduated magna.

Obama believes he was elected on the merits and acknowledges that affirmative action in general caused people to question his credential more than a white HLR member or President, and he still approves of affirmative action "for I would argue that affirmative action is important precisely because those who benefit typically rise to the challenge when given an opportunity."

Now, if you define "rise to the challenge" as "graduate magna with the near-universal respect of your classmates and professors" then only a tiny few of potential affirmative action cases are successful. But that's an awfully twisted view of the value-added of law school, and I think a more fair reading of Obama's comment is that law school is a challenge and the minority admits do well enough to justify the potential influence of affirmative action.

If you view law school in general itself as an accurate arbiter of objective academic talent, with no margin of error in the cardinal rankings and full confidence in the validity of the criterion, then you might expect minority students to be randomly distributed across the class rankings. I think that's insane. You have no idea how much growth was achieved by each individual, nor any idea how good a lawyer they were in the next decades of their career. It is hard to believe that there isn't a little resentment factor going on here, clamoring for the opportunity to have been at the bottom of an elite law school class. To me, this just reinforces the absurdity of the rankings fetish. Not everyone who goes to law school, even an elite school, dreams of being a big swinging dick or Supreme Court Justice. If you don't graduate magna, it really doesn't count? If you don't care to sell your soul so you can graduate magna, you don't really belong? Really? Really??

Obama is obviously in the top .0x% of his generation in terms of intellect. He has a fair claim to being more respectful of differing views than most people for a longer period of time, even in a politically charged academic climate where conservatives saw themselves as an aggrieved minority. The rest is pure political bullshit.
3.14.2008 11:48pm
ScottS (mail):
Summary:

Kevin Mack reports that Obama was seen as the most fair liberal by the conservatives in the minority at the HLR.

Jim Chen reports that the Review was successful under Obama's respected leadership.

Obama graduated magna.

Obama believes he was elected on the merits and acknowledges that affirmative action in general caused people to question his credential more than a white HLR member or President, and he still approves of affirmative action "for I would argue that affirmative action is important precisely because those who benefit typically rise to the challenge when given an opportunity."

Now, if you define "rise to the challenge" as "graduate magna with the near-universal respect of your classmates and professors" then only a tiny few of potential affirmative action cases are successful. But that's an awfully twisted view of the value-added of law school, and I think a more fair reading of Obama's comment is that law school is a challenge and the minority admits do well enough to justify the potential influence of affirmative action.

If you view law school in general itself as an accurate arbiter of objective academic talent, with no margin of error in the cardinal rankings and full confidence in the validity of the criterion, then you might expect minority students to be randomly distributed across the class rankings. I think that's insane. You have no idea how much growth was achieved by each individual, nor any idea how good a lawyer they were in the next decades of their career. It is hard to believe that there isn't a little resentment factor going on here, clamoring for the opportunity to have been at the bottom of an elite law school class. To me, this just reinforces the absurdity of the rankings fetish. Not everyone who goes to law school, even an elite school, dreams of being a big swinging dick or Supreme Court Justice. If you don't graduate magna, it really doesn't count? If you don't care to sell your soul so you can graduate magna, you don't really belong? Really? Really??

Obama is obviously in the top .0x% of his generation in terms of intellect. He has a fair claim to being more respectful of differing views than most people for a longer period of time, even in a politically charged academic climate where conservatives saw themselves as an aggrieved minority. The rest is pure political bullshit.
3.14.2008 11:48pm
ScottS (mail):
Sorry for the double post, I only clicked once, and double sorry for the hideous editing.
3.14.2008 11:51pm
bittern (mail):
Nicely stated, ScottS. Worth the two-fer.

RL, I can't tell what you're talking about, since I don't read books on that sort of recommendation, but I can tell you you've got four spelling errors. Back to the salt mine, you! Leave that desk to a more deserving pupil!
3.15.2008 12:00am
SP:
I am confused - are we electing a law review editor?
3.15.2008 2:07am
emsl (mail):
LM and NickM -- Sorry if you are troubled by actual experience and if it interferes with your theories. The fact remains that for the two years that I served on the Harvard Law Review, the most important criterion for the president was whether he or she would be an intellectual leader for the publication. This claim of conservative/liberal simply was not true during my tenure. Perhaps it arose afterwards, but I tend to doubt that it was as important as people would now like to assert. Similarly, if the term "social ties" means anything other than the usual fact that in any organization, some persons interact better than others, that was not a factor either. Indeed, the managing editor (the second highest position) a couple years before me was considered to have been strict and something of a hard case, so he was not selected because of popularity but because of intellectual competence which he continues to demonstrate as Chief Justice of the United States.
3.15.2008 2:38am
Ohio Scrivner (mail):
One problem I have with testimonials about Obama being bipartisan is that they dont seem to come very often from conservatives. Kevin Mack, identifies himself as a liberal (while refering to conservatives on the law review as "them"), and talks about Obama reaching across the isle. That statement would be far more convincing from an actual conservative.

Likewise, Obama has very little history of bipartisanship during his time in the Senate. I do not find much evidence of Obama doing anything to meet conservatives half way on significant policy isues. His vote against CJ Roberts, in particular, stands out as a contrary data point. So too does his opposition to troop funding even on votes that passed the Senate by wide margins. See Vote 181. While Obama uses bipartisan sounding language, its not as easy to find that bartisanship in his voting record. The best example of bipartisanship that I could find was Obama voting in favor of CAFA (the Class Action Fairness Act). But that vote came in 2005, and he has been voting almost reflexively with the left of the Democratic party ever since.
3.15.2008 3:44am
LM (mail):
Ohio Scrivner,

Read my comment above at 8:26 PM.
3.15.2008 5:08am
LM (mail):
emsl,

LM and NickM -- Sorry if you are troubled by actual experience and if it interferes with your theories.

What theory would that be? I've argued that his record belies the theory that he was an under-qualified beneficiary of affirmative action. As for my reply to your comment, you reported your experience, and I quoted a well-known lawyer's contrary experience some years later. If that makes me troubled, then I guess I am.
3.15.2008 5:21am
John McCall (mail):
SP, you appear to find it convincingly unlikely that an organization of college students might have become very politically polarized between the early 1980s and the early 1990s. I, um, am curious about your source of confidence for that assertion.
3.15.2008 6:26am
Stuart Buck (mail) (www):
I really doubt that there was a "Kevin" Mack, unless there were two black guys named "Mack" on the Harvard Law Review at the same time, which seems unlikely. Kenneth Mack is the guy's name.
3.15.2008 11:37am
Stuart Buck (mail) (www):
Actually, there could have been a "Kevin" Mack -- there was a pair of brothers who were on HLR at the same time when I was there. Still, given that no "Kevin Mack" from Harvard Law turns up on Google, I'm betting it was really Kenneth.
3.15.2008 11:53am
Ohio Scrivner (mail):
LM,

I see the one comment from a conservative student, now attorney, Bradford Berenson, quoted in the NYT and cited in your prior post. That one comment offers scant support for Obama's bipartishanship. I took the quote to mean that Obama was simply not as extreme as the other left wing members of the Harvard Law Review whom Mr. Berenson described as "a bunch of would-be Daniel Websters harnessed to extreme political ideologies" that "were so ardent that they would boo and hiss one another in class." In any event, I am not sure that appearing reasonable among the left wing of the Harvard Law Review is comparing Obama to the relevant sample set. Finally, Mr. Berenson, given his biography and achievements, may at some point (again?, he was already assistant WH counsel) come before the Senate for confirmation. As a result, don't be too surprised if he offers the occassional verbal bouquet to sitting Senators.


I think the bigger problem crediting these anecdotal stories comes for the fact that Obama's voting record does not demonstrate much bipartisanship. While I mentioned a couple votes that stood out in my prior post, I would be glad to hear a counterargument that looks at his voting record.
3.15.2008 2:48pm
NickM (mail) (www):
emsl - I was an editor of the UCLA Law Review and 2 other law journals there in the early '90s. None of our selection meetings for new boards looked like a political contest, nor were people organized around ideological blocs in support of candidates for particular posts. I would have noticed.

I don't doubt that HLR made selections according to a reasonable intellectual process when you were on it; I'm saying that a decade later, by the public statements of people who were then part of that process, they had turned it into a political contest not befitting an academic honor.

Nick
3.15.2008 4:16pm
LM (mail):
I'm not going to delve into his voting record. You complained about not seeing testimonials to Obama's bipartisanship coming from conservatives. If you're going to disqualify anyone who might ever come before the Senate for confirmation, you're considerably narrowing the field of those likely to have been quoted in the press, aren't you? Kevin Mack and most of the liberals who have opined would be knocked out as well. The testimonials from conservatives are out there in number if you care to look. If you choose not to see or acknowledge them, that's your choice. Here's one more.
3.15.2008 4:27pm
LM (mail):
and I think that's Kenneth, not Kevin.
3.15.2008 4:30pm
Ohio Scrivner (mail):
LM,

I think part of the problem is that we are talking about two different issues. I don't dispute that Obama is likeable. What seems to be missing is actual bipartisanship on policy issues. That is one of the reasons that I focused on his voting record.
3.15.2008 5:11pm
LM (mail):
I think Berenson's Whatever his politics, we felt he would give us a fair shake clearly relates to politics. As does another Berenson comment, Even though he was clearly a liberal, he didn't appear to the conservatives in the review to be taking sides in the tribal warfare.
3.16.2008 1:16am
spider:
Look, candidates for the Harvard Law Review president have been law students for 1.5 years. They are usually 23, 24, 25 years old. (Obama was slightly older at 28.) It seems a bit rich to ascribe well-formed political ideologies to them, as though they've been laboring for years in the trenches of labor unions or evangelical missions. These are mostly spoiled kids! To the extent that they perceive "liberal factions" and "conservative factions" within their group, they are taking themselves a mite bit too seriously.

- HLS '07
3.16.2008 3:21am
LM (mail):
I don't get why you think distinguishing liberals from conservatives is beyond an HLS 2L.
3.16.2008 3:48am