In his last academic post the president was even more aloof than the average academic, according to one of his colleagues there.
Economist John R. Lott, Jr., remembers a Barack Obama at the University of Chicago who was nowhere near as open to new ideas as he now claims to be. Lott famously showed that gun-related crime rates are markedly reduced in regions that have less gun control.
“States with the largest increases in gun ownership also have the largest drops in violent crimes,” Lott stated in 1998. “Thirty-one states now have such laws—called ‘shall-issue” laws. “
“These laws allow adults the right to carry concealed handguns if they do not have a criminal record or a history of significant mental illness.”
“When I was first introduced to Obama, he said: ‘Oh, you’re the gun guy,’” Lott remembered in a passage which appears in Debacle, the book he recently co-authored with Grover Norquist. “I responded: ‘Yes, I guess so.’”
“‘I don’t believe that people should be able to own guns,’ Obama replied. I then suggested that it might be fun to have lunch and talk about that statement sometime. He simply grimaced and turned away, ending the conversation. That was the way numerous interactions with Obama went.”
Both Lott and Obama were on the faculty at the University of Chicago at the time. “At the one faculty seminar that I saw Obama attend, he asked a question, but it didn’t appear that the speaker understood the point,” Lott recalls. “After the seminar, I went up to him telling him that I thought that he had an interesting point but that it might have been clearer if he phrased it differently.”
“Obama’s response was simply to turn his back.” Congressional operatives from both sides of the aisle might recognize this behavior pattern.
“It was very clear that Obama disagreed on the gun issue and acted as if he believed that people who he disagreed with were not just wrong, but evil,” Lott concluded. “Unlike other liberal academics who usually enjoyed discussing opposing ideas, Obama simply showed disdain.” Arguably, he was in the vanguard of the new Left on campus. Students might recognize the politics of disdain from their own classes.
It should be noted that John Wilson of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), who this correspondent had the pleasure of debating both at the AAUP and at an Accuracy in Academia author’s night this summer, remembers Obama the professor differently. “Professor Obama (whose class on “Race, Racism, and the Law” I took at the University of Chicago Law School) was a consummate listener, a professor unusually interested in hearing what his students thought, and encouraging them to develop their own point of view,” Wilson remembered on his academe blog.
We should also point out that, unless others come forward, Wilson’s is virtually the only student evaluation of the president that survives on the internet. Although The One was rated by students on RateMyProfessor. com, those ratings no longer appear there.
Malcolm A. Kline is the Executive Director of Accuracy in Academia.
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