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Not Everything Law Professors Say Is Interesting:

David Hoffman at Concurring Opinions ponders why so many law professors (particularly those of us who blog) assume that they (we?) have the ability to offer interesting and worthwhile political commentary. Among other things, he thinks law professor bloggers have drawn "the wrong lesson from their students' willingness to write down every word they say." He adds:

Not everything a professor says is interesting. When 40, 60, 100, or more students laugh at your jokes, I guess it becomes easy to forget. Generally, people add value by writing and talking about things they know something about. . . . Most law professors have no personal experience with the innards of a modern political campaign (serving as an consultant on a committee about a substantive legal issue isn't the same at all). We aren't well positioned to know what commercial will appeal to lower-middle-class voters, or what song will inspire youth turnout. But we've blogged about it anyway.

Hoosier:
IANAL. But I'm guessing--what?--6-8%.
11.7.2008 4:18pm
arthur (mail):
This post proves itself.
11.7.2008 4:26pm
Steve:
I thought the law professors were just an excuse to have a comment section.
11.7.2008 4:36pm
Asher (mail):
Yeah, it would be nice if certain law professors cut out their ruminations about how well Republicans were going to do with the Jewish vote this year, or how Palin really wasn't as dumb as she looked. She's not stupid, you see, she's just rationally ignorant as to whether Africa's a country or a continent.
11.7.2008 4:38pm
Michael Kessler:
There have been a few interesting posts here, but a fair bit of the commentary has demonstrated how ideology can cloud scholarly detachment. The best have been legal analyses of the impact of various programs. For my money, E. Volokh, O. Kerr, R. Barnett (the few times he has posted in the past year), and E. Posner excel at this. Some of the others succumb to overstretches and overdetermined interpretation.

But of course, it's your blog, not mine.
11.7.2008 4:40pm
Elliot123 (mail):
I think it starts in the second year of law school.
11.7.2008 4:44pm
ASlyJD (mail):
Why can't more profs be like my Civ Pro II prof?

"There's very little I say in class that's important." -- Prof. Achtenberg.
11.7.2008 4:45pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
The same argument could be made about blog commenters, but since most of them post anonymously, it's PRESUMED no one cares about their opinion.

Yet here we are.

Post away, guys... the whiners in your comment sections just show you're still relevant enough to draw drive-bys from Kos during election season.
11.7.2008 4:47pm
Ex-Fed (mail) (www):
Why is it reasonable to expect lawprof bloggers to behave any different than any other bloggers? Blogging by its nature carries more than a whiff of hubris and incipient blindness and hairy palms. That's no more regrettable in a lawprof than it is in the guy who wants to make sure we can all find out what he thinks about the B-plot on Battlestar Galactica this week.
11.7.2008 4:52pm
Calderon:
There are plenty of prominent political bloggers who seem to have no real professional background (e.g., Kos, Ezra Klein, Matthew Yglesias, Ross Douthat, etc.) yet they still offer up their opinions. Why not law professors, who (one would hope) could at least bring critical thinking skills and be able to evaluate the various sides of an issue?
11.7.2008 4:53pm
ARCraig (mail):
I am very much hoping that the end of the election also means that VC will stop being a mediocre political blog and focus on what y'all are actually good at- being a top-notch legal commentary blog.

Of course law and politics often overlap, but over the past few months VC has veered into analysis of purely electoral politics and even worse, the soundbite-of-the-day. There are plenty of people running around the Internet doing that. There's a lot less people out there doing what VC is really good at- picking apart legal questions and opining on things like Constitutional law.
11.7.2008 5:43pm
Xanthippas (mail) (www):

We aren't well positioned to know what commercial will appeal to lower-middle-class voters, or what song will inspire youth turnout. But we've blogged about it anyway.


Well to be fair, there are all kinds of people in numerous professions who have a similar lack of insight, and yet they blog anyway. I suppose what Hoffman is really saying is the credibility or purpose of your blog is premised on your status as a law professor, you should probably stick to things you know something about (like the law) and not damage that credibility by weighing in on matters like whether Obama is wearing an ear piece during a debate or the extent to which Obama is personally responsible for the actions of Bill Ayers. Really though, I don't see why law professors shouldn't be allowed to make fools out of themselves to any lesser extent than the rest of us do by putting our opinions in such a public format.
11.7.2008 6:10pm
Glenn W. Bowen (mail):

She's not stupid, you see, she's just rationally ignorant as to whether Africa's a country or a continent.



If you repeat this lie one more time it will perpetuate, and you'll be made a Glorious Hero of the Soviet Union. We're all pulling for you.
11.7.2008 6:36pm
Matthew K:
Next VC will discover how to hide the body of overly long postings behind cuts to make the front page more readable :-P.

*cough cough* Carpenter *cough cough* Adler
11.7.2008 6:40pm
Sagar:
Asher,

did you pick up the line about Africa at Kos? or do you think it may be fake but sounds accurate?
11.7.2008 8:17pm
Asher (mail):
did you pick up the line about Africa at Kos? or do you think it may be fake but sounds accurate?


It was reported on Fox, and I don't read Kos... of course it may be fake, but what makes me think it's true is that a lot of the other things they reported her not knowing about were rather unremarkable. For instance, she was completely unaware, they say, of the concept of American exceptionalism. Now, you wouldn't make that up, because it's not that shocking. So it makes me think there's a greater chance that the rest of it is true.
11.7.2008 8:31pm
Hoosier:
"If you repeat this lie one more time it will perpetuate, and you'll be made a Glorious Hero of the Soviet Union."

Heh!

I can imagine the socialist-realist propaganda posted as we speak.

Asher

"of course it may be fake, but what makes me think it's true is that a lot of the other things they reported her not knowing about "

"she was completely unaware, they say, "

"Now, you wouldn't make that up, because it's not that shocking. "

So . . .

You tend to believe a rumor about Palin's ignorance, based on the experience of . . . hearing other rumors about Palin's ignorance. And you tend to believe THOSE rumors because of reports that she didn't know something that you would not expect her to know.

OK. Good.
11.7.2008 9:34pm
Snarky the Ferret (mail):
Luckily, this blog has Todd, so there's no danger of Volokh Conspiracy readers ever forgetting that law professors can be boring.
11.7.2008 10:26pm
David Warner:
Asher,

"For instance, she was completely unaware, they say, of the concept of American exceptionalism. Now, you wouldn't make that up, because it's not that shocking."

It would be for the target audience of the leak*. It was an attempt to make sure she stays dead. My guess is that she is regardless, but it is clear that certain people perceived it to be in their, or the country's, interest that there be no doubt.

* - This guy, too, knows how important it is:

"And to all those who have wondered if America's beacon still burns as bright --tonight we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from our the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity, and unyielding hope."
11.7.2008 10:43pm
David Warner:
"Not Everything Law Professors Say Is Interesting"

Close enough for libertarian work.
11.7.2008 10:44pm
NickM (mail) (www):
Asher - give it up already. A couple former Romney staffers who had transitioned to the McCain campaign are making up outrageous, demeaning stories about Palin in an effort to preemptively take out a major rival to Mitt in the 2012 primaries.

Mitt picked up the sleaziest GOP operatives (think McCain and the "black baby" calls from 2000). There's a reason that most of the rest of the GOP primary field couldn't stand him.

Nick
11.7.2008 10:50pm
Asher (mail):
Well Nick, that's quite possible, but I don't see why these rumors would surprise anybody. You saw the Couric interview, right? If she's actually this reasonably well-informed person, why couldn't she name Boumediene or Kennedy v. Louisiana or Kelo when she was asked what decisions other than Roe she disagreed with? Anybody on here could name those, and she ought to at least be as informed as a random blog commenter. Anyway, all I meant to say is that Not Everything Law Professors Say Is Interesting, especially when What They're Saying is some convoluted defense of a transparently not very bright vice-presidential candidate.
11.7.2008 11:02pm
Asher (mail):
Oh, and here's the Atlantic Monthly's Marc Ambinder throwing water on your Romney theory.
11.7.2008 11:20pm
Glorious Hero, First Runner Up:
Glenn W. Bowen,

Sarah Palin does not know that Africa is a continent. She thinks that it is a country.

Where's my Glorious Hero medal?
11.8.2008 12:33am
David Warner:
Asher,

"You saw the Couric interview, right? If she's actually this reasonably well-informed person, why couldn't she name Boumediene or Kennedy v. Louisiana or Kelo when she was asked what decisions other than Roe she disagreed with?"

Because she was unfamiliar with the political implications of those decisions (remember, there were several levels to keep in mind: her own position, McCain's position, the position of target voters, et. al.) and she was trying too hard to avoid gaffes. She misjudged the extent to which "no comment" itself would give her opponents' fodder to feed the prejudice against her.

Her job (as the campaign perceived it, and so she carried it out) was to attack Obama and she actually carried that off with some aplomb. Obama was just too good to make himself vulnerable to her attacks.

If she wanted a future in national politics, however, she needed to more competently articulate a positive vision or better exhibit her mastery of topics she knew well. This she failed to do.
11.8.2008 1:52am
lucia (mail) (www):
Is posting political commentary evidence any blogger thinks their commentaries are interesting? I think most bloggers blog for themselves. Some attract audiences; others don't.
11.8.2008 7:35pm
Asher (mail):

Because she was unfamiliar with the political implications of those decisions (remember, there were several levels to keep in mind: her own position, McCain's position, the position of target voters, et. al.) and she was trying too hard to avoid gaffes. She misjudged the extent to which "no comment" itself would give her opponents' fodder to feed the prejudice against her.


Now that's a ridiculous excuse. You honestly believe she had Kennedy v. Louisiana in mind, but decided not to mention it because of the position of target voters, or McCain's position? Gee, what might these positions be? Even Obama denounced the decision. I wonder how target voters feel about it. I wonder how target voters feel about governments snatching up their property for use in a redevelopment plan. What could their position be? What could McCain's position be? What's the chance that he actually defended the Court on that one? One in a million?
11.8.2008 10:27pm
ReaderY:
You don't say?
11.9.2008 3:46pm