The Spine

A Real Change


It actually staggers me that my friend and colleague Jason Zengerle
should put Barack Obama up for ridicule because the candidate for the
Democratic presidential nomination listed the fact that he had been a
professor of constitutional law (at the University of Chicago) as a
credential for office. I would think that teaching and writing about
constitutional issues and constitutional history would be an especially
germane item on a resumé for someone aspiring to the
presidency. Especially today, when the constitution is being thrown
around like a football by almost all parties to the many controversies that
have become questions revolving around what is, after all, our basic
law. In fact, the nation is in a constitutional crisis--not just a
political logjam over court appointments. A constitutional lawyer might
just sort this out, grasping history and the rapid pace of transforming change.

George Bush knows nothing about the constitution except that he is adept at
saying "original intent," which is a cliché but not guidance. At least he
is not a lawyer.

But both Bill and Hillary Clinton are, and graduates of Yale Law School, no
less. Yale has a magnificent tradition in teaching constitutional law and
expanding its perimeters. I don't really know what kind of law Bill
practiced, although he was adept at spinning petty law like a top. Hillary
practiced penny ante law in Arkansas, although the stakes were usually big

Not so Barack Obama. His experience as a constitutional lawyer is a
certificate of learning, which would be a real change in the

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