One of the more common criticisms of Barack Obama as a presidential candidate is his very, very thin resume’. The guy just hasn’t done very much that gives us a solid indicator of what he believes, what he thinks, how he thinks, how he performs.
One of the points on that resume’ is his tenure as a professor of Constitutional Law at the University of Chicago Law School, where he taught for twelve years. Very little has come out about Obama as teacher, but I have to say that based on his statements in the last year, I have some serious doubts about his qualifications to teach that subject.
When the Heller case challenging the Washington, DC absolute gun ban was wending its way to the Supreme Court, Senator Obama said that he supported the measure. He said, on numerous occasions, that he thought that the 2nd Amendment did not prevent the District of Columbia from preventing individuals from owning handguns.
I happen to have disagreed with that stance, but it’s an arguable one. I will cheerfully debate the merits of that position, but I will never say that the 2nd Amendment is absolutely cut and dried. Indeed, I’ve argued that it is probably the worst-crafted portion of the entire Constitution the Founding Fathers approved, with an annoying ambiguity that should have been caught and clarified before final approval.
Anyway, the Supreme Court, in its infinite wisdom, recognized my sagacity and agreed with me, and struck down the DC ban. How did former professor of Constitutional Law Obama handle that development?
He supported the Court’s ruling.
Apparently ex-Professor Obama missed the part of American Constitutional history when people whose positoin was shot down by the Supreme Court reacted by saying they disagreed with the Court’s ruling. One superb example is Roe V. Wade, where over 30 years after the ruling, people STILL say the Court got it wrong. (And I’ve yet to find anyone who will say, in all sincerity, that the ruling in and of itself is well-crafted and on solid Constitutional footing.)
Or, alternately, one can admit that one was wrong and that the Court got it right. There’s little shame in saying that the Court’s reasoning was sound, and helped you see the issue in a new light.
But ex-Professor Obama didn’t do either. He says he still supports the District’s policy, but he also supports the Court’s ruling. So we have the case of a man who taught Constitutional Law for a dozen years, shaping lord knows how many future lawyers and judges, that he had no problems supporting an unconstitutional policy — and still supports it today, along with the ruling that declared it unconstitutional.
On a slightly less serious (but still troubling) front, last week Senator Obama showed his ignorance of another aspect of the Constitution — more specifically, the 22nd Amendment.
During his grand tour of the world, Senator Obama said that it was important that he get to know certain world leaders, because he may have to deal with them “for the next eight to ten years.”
Under the terms of that Amendment, Senator Obama simply can not be president for “the next eight to ten years.” In most cases, a president is limited to eight years in office. In the freakest of freak circumstances, a president can serve for ten years less one day (a sitting vice president assumes the presidency after the president serves two years and one day of a term, then wins election twice on their own), but Senator Obama isn’t running for vice president, so those circumstances don’t apply.
And even if he was talking about continuing to hold some sort of power after he leaves office after two terms, that flies in the face of history and tradition. Only two presidents have held major federal office after leaving the White House, and both of them took some time off between the two jobs. John Quincy Adams lost the presidency in 1828, and was elected to Congress in 1830, while William Houward Taft spent eight years out of office before being confirmed as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
I suppose that Senator Obama could be thinking of more recent examples of ex-presidents gettting involved in politics and international diplomacy, but even Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton took a few years off, out of the limelight, before violating the long-standing tradition of ex-presidents minding their own business and staying out of sight.
Try as I might, I can’t see any way of interpreting Obama’s “eight to ten years” remark as anything but either sheer ignorance, utter cluelessness, or the sign of a man who lets his mouth run ahead of his brain — and doesn’t care about what he says, because he’s used to those who report his words acting as the “interpreter” of what he really meant.
However you spin it, though, it doesn’t strike me as the sign of a good teacher of Constitutional Law.
Or, for that matter, someone who wants to take an oath that requires them to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” Because it’s kinda helpful to know what the Constitution actually says and means if you’re going to do that kind of stuff.
(Numerous typos corrected)