Sunstein on Obama

There has been a parade of columns and articles in the last couple of days on whether Barak Obama sho

By Alec Brandon

There has been a parade of columns and articles in the last couple of days on whether Barak Obama should make a run for President. Essentially all conclude that Obama would make a good cantidate, but none are as convincing as Cass Sunstein’s apprasal (which is actually a defense of Obama’s talent, independent of his race, although it certainly comes off as vote for Obama to run, read it all):

After graduating from Harvard Law School, and serving as president of the Harvard Law Review, Obama taught at the University of Chicago Law School for about a decade, and I know him from his time as a colleague here. He first came to our attention when then-Professor, now-Judge Michael McConnell suggested him for appointment to the faculty because of Obama’s first-rate work on one of McConnell’s articles for the Harvard Law Review. (Is it necessary to add that McConnell is a conservative and doesn’t much like affirmative action?) Obama, we quickly learned, was a person of truly exceptional ability. We asked him to teach at the law school, and he turned out to be a terrific though part- time teacher of constitutional law (serving, for most of his time here, in the state legislature as well).Because of his evident excellence, and his academic potential, we would have been happy to hire Obama as a full- time faculty member. (Take away Obama’s race, and he was a complete star, hardly a relatively anonymous rookie.) But he declined, and the reason was obvious: He was interested in political life. The interest fit well with his personal characteristics; he has an extraordinary ability to connect with people, and he also has an exceptionally independent mind. How well I remember his (unsuccessful) race for the House of Representatives; members of the law school community (including people with very different political views) wanted him to win, because he is so excellent and independent- minded, but we hoped that if he lost, he might be willing to join us full-time. Alas he did lose, but he stayed in politics–ending up where he is now.Obama was elected to the Senate not only because of a weak Republican opponent, but also because his evident excellence, his rejection of narrow partisanship, his capacity to listen and to synthesize, and his independent-mindedness came as an extraordinary breath of fresh air to Illinois voters of diverse political views. (Many white voters in southern Illinois, including not-so-liberal ones, loved him.) He marches to the beat of no drummer; he’s tough (he definitely has a spine); he believes in respectful disagreement; and he thinks issues through on their own merits, not through simple categories. (As a member of the University of Chicago Law School community, where economic analysis reigns, he knows a lot about how markets work, and he is hardly committed to left-wing orthodoxies about either the economy or the culture.) He’s most unusual in politics — someone whose own expertise, and sheer capacity for work and creative thought, outstrip those of policy specialists in many domains. He’s also an exceptional public speaker (this comes as a revelation to those who of us who know him for his sheer ability; professors, even terrific ones, hardly ever (never?) have this kind of capacity to communicate to general audiences).

How could this guy not run?Obama in ’08!