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July 21, 2012


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I guess it is lovely that God does not get the same kind of abuse when her plans do not work out as well as we'd hoped. The will of God can turn out super crappy and no problem.

Kevin Jon Heller

You are being too generous to the critics. They are not taking issues with Obama's insistence that all businesses benefit from the work of others and from the government through things like roads and the internet. They are intentionally distorting his words to make it seem like he is claiming that people don't deserve credit for building their businesses. Indeed, your co-blogger, Calvin Massey, embedded a Romney video that is built entirely around that intentional distortion.


Better yet, just ignore what Obama said in that speech and take one sentence out of context and then spend a week decrying an imaginary Obama position.

That is the approach taken by the right wing noise machine and, apparently, endorsed by Professor Massey when he posted the Romney campaign ad.

It's admirable that you think that such intellectually dishonest people are amenable to rational persuasion, but it's also probably unlikely.

Jeffrey Harrison

Obama's ill-advised phrasing may cost him the election.

Michael Duff

The real lesson to all of this is that it doesn't matter what Obama says it will be taken out of context and disseminated by the sound machine. If you say anything, it will be corrupted. If you say nothing, what is your campaign about? The question I have is how much of what is about to transpire has already been internalized by the electorate. For example, I presumptively don't pay any attention to a whole swath of opinion and I am confident my adversaries have the same practice. In this space what kind of debate can actually take place? What we obviously have are the two blocs and the relatively small slice of "independents" who will be seduced by appeals to their basest nature fueled by unprecedented boatloads of cash - substantially or even exclusively on racial lines. I doubt there will be much appeal to reason. As a 50 something observer who has been politically aware for a fairly long time I can say in all honesty that this feels SO new and I am viewing the landscape with fear and trembling.


This is the part that puzzled me:

"There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me, because they want to give something back. They know they didn’t -look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own. I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something – there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there. If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help."

So I'm wondering, aside from saying we have roads and a virtual highway and a "free" country, what was the point?

Think you're smart? Hey that always "strikes me" (as what? untrue?)

Think you work hard? So what? So do a lot of other people. (So?)

Question. To what does President Obama attribute his success? Not smarts ... not hard work.

Must be ... roads, a good teacher and the internet?

Yes, he mentioned individual initiative, but only after ruling out the role of hard work and brains. Again, what was he trying to say????

Funny thing is, what does he say to the big donors that he courts with unceasing efforts to obtain money to smear his opponent? (And, by this last comment, I don't suggest he isn't being smeared.)

Does he say, "Hey, I just have to snear at you if you think you are so smart." Does he say "You think you work hard? So do a lot of other people."

I'll bet that is not the approach he takes when courting Wall Street money, Hollywood money, etc.

If this blog is to be used as a forum to defend the Obama campaign, then it seems to me that the "faculty" should apply the same rigorous scrutiny to his positions and statements as the "faculty" applies to others. I know it is taken for granted that everyone in this country believes that it is appropriate to take sides and advocate like lawyers do (leaving out the contrary evidence, etc.) but, I would appeal to our better natures.

It seems to me, and I know this is perhaps fanciful, that this country is locked in poisonous debate because folks won't just see the truth: we are being manipulated.

Let the Faculty Lounge be a refuge!

Matt Campbell

The real story here is the hubris in comparing a Political figure or a man-made construct, "government," to God.

Logically, whether one believes in God or not, the comparison is just as ridiculous. It is gratuitously patronizing and demeaning to a great many people simply for holding a belief in God different than yours.

In any case, you have made your unwavering admiration of Mr. Obama, and the certainty in the infallibility of government's role apparent.

Michael Teter

I agree with President Obama's remarks, as well as those spoken by Mitt Romney, when he said:

"I know that you recognize that a lot of people help you in a business. Perhaps the banks, the investors. There's no question your mom and dad. Your school teachers. The people that provide roads, the fire, and the police. A lot of people help." (

Nearly the same sentiment.

Putting that aside, I just want to thank David O. for allowing people to comment to his post. This is unlike his colleague, Prof. Massey, who has taken to making blanket, unsupported, hyper-partisan statements (or now, who apparently is willing to just embed a candidate's advertisement as a post). If this were exclusively Massey's site, I wouldn't have any problem with that approach. But this blog is not his alone, and it's title is "Faculty Lounge," which suggests, at least to me, a willingness to engage with others who may agree or disagree with you. I would be deeply disappointed -- and shocked, quite honestly -- if I walked into my faculty lounge and encountered a colleague who was only wanted to spew or engage in an unchallenged ideological monologue.

I value hearing Massey's viewpoint, but if he isn't willing to take when he gives, perhaps it'd be better offered on a different, less collegial-oriented blog.


Michael: Couldn't agree more. This should be a civil discussion, not just hyper partisan statements by folks who won't really respond when challenged.

So, please allow me to repeat two questions, because I think we are focused on the wrong part of the President's remarks.

Question One. To what does President Obama attribute his success?

I’m always struck by President who thinks he got to be President, well, it must have been because he was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. I'm always struck by a President who claims that it must be because he worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something – there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there.

I'm leaving aside intelligence and hard work because lots of people are smart and work hard.

To what does the President owe his success?

(Can you really say the rule of law, roads and a good teacher somewhere along the way?)

Question Two. Equally important, when the President seeks out Hollywood money, and Wall Street money, does he say, "Hey, I just have to tell you, if you think you are so smart, or, if you think you work hard, well, so do a lot of other people."

I'd be very interested to know your views about how the President would respond to these two questions.

ALso, please try not to slam anyone else who post here in your answer. I find your attacking Massey sort of off point and impolite. He has a right to post a video that expresses his views, just like you have posted your views.

If we can't discuss the issues without personally attacking one another, then, as I said before, all is lost.


For believers, God created man. But man created government. In either case, the creation serves the creator. No credit is due the creation for serving the purpose for which it is created. Obama has reversed the roles, claiming that the citizen owes his success to the government when in fact the government owes its existence to the citizenry.

Kevin Jon Heller


Hear, hear. I occasionally lapse into hyper-partisanship on my blog, but I have never -- and I would never -- close comments on anything I wrote. It's cowardice, pure and simple, and beneath a blog run by law professors.

Paul Horwitz

I sympathize with Kevin but would like to add a little bit of perspective. I also prefer comments on my blog, and have a fairly liberal policy about moderating them. It is fair to say, however, that the trend in the last year or two, including among some people I respect, has been toward more law blogs disallowing comments, either altogether or more often. Some people have argued for this policy, including folks at Balkinization. From my perspective, there seems to be an even mix between those who write non-invective-laden posts but have decided a more cautious comments policy is worthwhile, and those who write more partisan posts and for whatever reason think they don't want to have to bother with what they consider unworthy responses. For reasons I've actually talked about in my scholarly work, I prefer the commenting norm; I think it's a better use of the medium. But Prof. Massey's policy--if it is a new policy, and not a one-off thing--is becoming more common, to my regret.


Oh please! President Obama is being held to the same standard that previous presidents have been held to. The "most eloquent president ever" said something stupid - perhaps not the sentiment but the way he said it.

He isn't the first president to get it and he won't be the last. Quit bending over backwards apologizing for him or have the decency to speak out against other presidents getting the business for saying stupid things.

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