May 10, 2010

"A couple of times when she was so focused on her work, she would park her car and leave it running overnight. She just forgot to turn it off."

Said Lawrence Lessig, about Elena Kagan, with whom he taught at the University of Chicago Law School.

What would this world be like if we were all utterly hard-working and focused? Fortunately, most of us are infinitely distractable and intermittently lazy.
As a scholar, Ms. Kagan’s interests were narrow, somewhat technical, and steered clear of ideology. She was interested in questions like when the government could limit free speech. “This is not a subject about which there is any ideological slant,” [lawprof Geoff] Stone said. “It’s an intellectual puzzle.”
She was granted tenure in 1995, despite the reservations of some colleagues who thought she had not published enough. 
Isn't it strange that she's said to be so ambitious and hardworking, yet she didn't produce scholarship? That worked out well for her, though. For Obama too!

[I]n 2003, Harvard’s president, Lawrence Summers (now Mr. Obama’s top economics adviser) named her dean. She took charge of what was, in effect, a dysfunctional family stuck in the legal Dark Ages.

The faculty was at odds with itself. The curriculum was out of date. The gym and the dining facilities were old and run-down. The professors were aging, the students unhappy and the law school was trailing Yale in the all-important school ranking in U.S. News & World Report.
Of course, Harvard is still behind Yale in U.S. News. (I wonder how many deans and lawprofs are agonizing over the NYT's calling the ranking "all-important." And "the legal Dark Ages" has got to be hurting a few law school egos.)
Ms. Kagan undertook a top-to-bottom transformation, making the faculty more diverse, at least ideologically...
"At least"... that's funny given the left's attack on Kagan for failing to hire women and members of racial minority groups.
Critics have noted that most of the hires were white men. Of the 43 new hires, four were minorities and nine were women.... 
As for getting agreement on the new hires, one Harvard law professor who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal politics at the school said that Ms. Kagan was more of a coalition-builder than a consensus-builder. The faculty was essentially divided into three blocs, this person said: conservative, liberal and one in the middle that usually went along with the dean.
Extrapolate that and apply it to the Supreme Court.

59 comments:

Scott said...

How is the Chief Justice selected? It is a lifetime appointment? Just asking.

Dead Julius said...

What a load of sheep shit!

Look at the first line that you quote, Althouse:

As a scholar, Ms. Kagan’s interests were narrow, somewhat technical, and steered clear of ideology.

Her interests steered clear of ideology... back then... decades ago...

Why are her interests narrow and harmless and non-controversial like this? BECAUSE THEY NEED TO BE! Obama & Co need to rewrite the history of her scholarship to fit the proper mold of a SCOTUS nominee.

I wonder if Obama & Co sent a memo to the NY Times earlier today, demanding that they present Kagan in this particular way.

Keep on believing in the dream, people. Soon you will wake up and the Big O will be the Emperor.

Original Mike said...

"A couple of times when she was so focused on her work, she would park her car and leave it running overnight. She just forgot to turn it off."

The new Supreme Court nominee is an air head? Great [/sarcasm].

AllenS said...

Extrapolate that and apply it to the Supreme Court

She forgets to turn her car off? It looks like there will be an air-head on the Supreme Court. Her car runs all night? What a fuckin idiot.

AllenS said...

Me and you, Original Mike! Heh!

Methadras said...

"A couple of times when she was so focused on her work, she would park her car and leave it running overnight. She just forgot to turn it off."

Is she going to do this with the law too?

Hagar said...

How is a coalition different from a consensus?

Quayle said...

Justice Cellophane.

Original Mike said...

I couldn't imagine being in better company, Allen.

AllenS said...

Not once, mind you, but a couple of times. Sure, give her the keys to the Constitution.

Chip Ahoy said...

Shut up. It was a quietly-running car and a noisy parking area.

AllenS said...

Looks like someone else is dumber than Joe Biden.

Triangle Man said...

How is a coalition different from a consensus?

Seems like a set up for an interesting punch line, but my read is that she would work to build majority support rather than trying to convince everyone.

Palladian said...

Dear God, think of the carbon she needlessly sent into Gaia's lungs! Criminal! Murderer!

Triangle Man said...

PS Her carbon footprint must be huge.

David said...

Extrapolate that . . .

She prefers to keep her ideological powder dry.

Can she do so on the SC? Will she?

She concluded that she could be more effective in complex and contentious institutions by revealing her views on controversies only when required.

I'm not sure this approach will work so well on the Supreme Court.

We are in a time when everyone thinks that their own opinions matter. (Apparently me too. Why else would I be writing this?) Only a very few of us have individual opinions that are actually consequential. Kagan will now be one of those.

Collective opinion is an entirely different force. We will also see how much account Kagan takes of that.

Triangle Man said...

Damn, all synchronized with Palladian and stuff.

rcocean said...

Forgot to turn the car off?

Most would be called stupid for doing so, but Kagan is just "so focused on her work"

That's Brilliance for you.

TheThinMan said...

Imagine all the hoopla in the media if it Sarah Palin who forgot to turn off her car and kept it running all night. Absent minded professor is magically transformed into dumb bimbo!

t-man said...

Hear that all you "centrists" (David Brooks) you all just follow authority.

Pogo said...

Weird.
Elena Kagan, who forgets to turn off her car, is just like Courtney Love, who forgets to eat.

'Yeah, they really want you
They really want you
They really do'

paul said...

Isn't it strange that she's said to be so ambitious and hardworking, yet she didn't produce scholarship?

Perhaps she produced so little scholarship because she was ambitious. Nowadays it does not behoove a would-be appointee to the Supreme Court, or even to a court of appeals, to have a long paper trail.

Triangle Man said...

Imagine all the hoopla in the media if it Sarah Palin who forgot to turn off her car and kept it running all night.

Imagine the hoopla if Sarah Palin were appointed Dean of Harvard Law School!

Larry J said...

What would this world be like if we were all utterly hard-working and focused?

Well, for one thing, car thieves would have an easier time making a living.

Let's see, a scholar who has almost no published literature, a soliciter general with only a year on the job, never been a judge and doesn't apprear to have much court experience of any kind, served a stint as the dean of HLS who forbade the military from recruiting on campus because the military has to obey the DSDT law. Sure sounds like a brilliant selection to me (sarc), about as qualified for the job as Obama himself.

Andrea said...

I've never left my car running, but once I left the door wide open in the pouring rain. I didn't discover my mistake until the next morning. The inside of the car was soaked, and as I lived in Miami at the time it took forever to dry, and I never entirely got rid of the smell of mildew. I will now claim that I was so hardworking and focused as the reason for this memory lapse. Yeah.

paul a'barge said...

Ah, Lawrence Lessig ...

You know there a bundles of folks out here in the real world who can almost effortlessly focus deeply on one life task and yet still spin on a dime to take care of basic activities.

Just bundles of them. They walk the streets in droves.

But you get one USSC nominee who can't manage to accomplish maintaining an intense focus on her vocation and remember to turn off the car? Oh boy, she's just a freakin' rocket scientist, isn't she?

I thought they called these folks idiot savants. What am I missing?

mesquito said...

I was once so focused on my work, I put Preparation H on my toothbrush.

EDH said...

“A couple of times when she was so focused on her work, she would park [it] and leave it running overnight,” said Lawrence Lessig, a longtime friend who taught alongside Ms. Kagan in Chicago. “She just forgot to turn it off.”

Now, doing the same with your vibrating dildo would really be embarrassing, especially at a faculty meeting.

Drew said...

She forgot to turn off her car?

I guess what our elites would call "focused on work" I'd call "scatterbrained."

rcocean said...

I thought 'Brilliant' people could focus on more than one thing at a time.

And if she was so 'focused on her work' - why wasn't she working, instead of driving her car?

I have a feeling she's just "Obama Brilliant".

Fred4Pres said...

That is when she was dreaming of getting on to the Supreme Court and rechanging the entire American system. Oh...and what a sweet dream it was.

AllenS said...

The faculty was at odds with itself. The curriculum was out of date. The gym and the dining facilities were old and run-down. The professors were aging, the students unhappy...

and then

Ms. Kagan undertook a top-to-bottom transformation, making the faculty more diverse

What The Fuck? She made the faculty more diverse, and then the problems of an old and run-down
gym and the dining facilities
disappeared? How intelligent is Lawrence Lessig?

avwh said...

"Forgot to turn the car off?

Most would be called stupid for doing so, but Kagan is just "so focused on her work"

That's Brilliance for you."


That's because she was at the Univ. of Chicago & Harvard.

Now, if she went to, oh say, the Univ. of Idaho and forgot to turn the car off, she'd be stupid & absolutely unqualified for office.

WV: "sycheshe".
What Kagan was upon hearing of her SCOTUS nom: sycheshe.

Pogo said...

I hope she doesn't forget to turn off her car in the garage at home.

TheThinMan said...

She couldn't think clearly because she parked near an outdoor fish market.

Roger Sweeny said...

She was interested in questions like when the government could limit free speech. “This is not a subject about which there is any ideological slant,” [lawprof Geoff] Stone said.

I hope that remark was taken out of context. It is an incredibly foolish thing to say.

Smilin' Jack said...

""A couple of times when she was so focused on her work, she would park her car and leave it running overnight. She just forgot to turn it off.""

Note the present perfect tense, indicating a state of focus continuing for some time before parking, i.e. while driving. Forget the SC, I don't want this woman on the road!

The Drill SGT said...

Here's how CNN scored her hiring practice:

Guy-Uriel Charles, founding director of the Duke Law Center on Law, Race and Politics, has heavily scrutinized Kagan's hiring record as head of Harvard Law School. In a scathing blog post, he has said that of the 29 positions Kagan had a chance to fill, 28 were white and one was Asian-American. And of the group, only six were women -- five white and one Asian-American.

No white male Dean could survive those numbers

ricpic said...

She was interested in questions like when the government could limit free speech.

Since congress shall make no law...abridging the freedom of speech isn't the issue settled?

traditionalguy said...

Let's see how fast we can confirm her. She is an intellectual grounded in tradition. That is 100 times better than her predecessor who was a liberal dedicated to eliminating known rules so that people will be FREE.She is another Roberts brand of baseball umpire calling balls and strikes.

Pogo said...

A couple of times my Grandma would turn on the oven and leave it running overnight. She just forgot to turn it off.

We had to put her in a nursing home.

And to think all this time she was just focused on her work.

AJ Lynch said...

I wish I could forget to eat.

Adam said...

It is now abundantly clear that Geoff Stone is dumb as a rock. Or else he thinks the rest of us are.

Also wondering why Larry Lessig seems to think that turning an ignition key drains more brain power than driving and parking a car.

holdfast said...

Is the state of the gym really such a big deal at a law school? Is there a joint JD-Phys Ed program?

Oh, and Kagan is an environmental criminal on par with Goebbels (I would have said Hitler, but assumed that in the early 1980s she did not have an SUV).

Palladian said...

"Is the state of the gym really such a big deal at a law school? Is there a joint JD-Phys Ed program?"

Man, at Yale the law students have to use the same gym as everyone else. Up there at Harvard Law, that's how the other half live.

An Edjamikated Redneck said...

Any body for a new rule that Supreme Court nominees need to retired Federal Judges over the age of 65, with over 10 years on the Federal Bench?

I don't see where anybody else has said that a white man with a resume this thin couldn't get appointed to an appeals seat, much less the SC. Just who does Obama thnk he is?

Oh wait; nevermind.

JAL said...

@ Roger Sweeny 4:39

She was interested in questions like when the government could limit free speech. “This is not a subject about which there is any ideological slant,” [lawprof Geoff] Stone said. “It’s an intellectual puzzle.”

It isn't an intellectual puzzle when you are given the power that might allow you to do that; assuming the reasoning behind yelling "Fire!" in a crowded theater when there is no fire is somehow insufficient.

This better not have been the times she left her car running. (Air head. Realy.)

And the claim that this subject has no "ideological slant" is freaky. How old is Geoff Stone? Young or really stupid. Maybe both. Or someone with an "idealogical slant."

There are days when I think we are in deep doo-doo and I wonder how these people migrated to the top so easily.

wv adharams
One of those Latin legal short cuts. Probably has something to do with having 4 wives.

Penny said...

"Ms. Kagan said. “I like to think that one of the good things about me is that I know what I don’t know and that I figure out how to learn it when I need to learn it.”"

Given what's been written so far about Kagan, this just might be a correct self-evaluation. The trait she describes is impressive, and one we would all do well to acquire.

Serious damage occurs when groups of people zealously unite around convenient "facts" that support what is often a much too narrow view. It's like holding a ball and choosing to only see the circle facing you.

edutcher said...

Does this mean Ginsburg can expect an elbow in the ribs every time she nods off?

rcocean said...

Forgot to turn the car off?

Most would be called stupid for doing so, but Kagan is just "so focused on her work"

I thought 'Brilliant' people could focus on more than one thing at a time.

I have a feeling she's just "Obama Brilliant".


Maybe that's what he wants, a legal lightweight, but a committed ideologue, just like himself.

Trouble is, there are way too many Assistant Democrats eager to reach across the aisle to their friends in the democrat party to allow this woman to go the route of Harriet Miers.

Paul said...

Another time she was so focused on her work, she ran over an elderly nun in a wheelchair at a pedestrian crossing and didn't even stop. She was pioneering some really pragmatic, non-ideological legal thinking at the time.

Kirby Olson said...

That must have been before car bombs.

bagoh20 said...

"I was once so focused on my work, I put Preparation H on my toothbrush. "

Brown noser.

knox said...

OK, I suspect Mr. Lessig is actually trying to sabotage Elena Kagan. "She leaves her car running overnight when she's focused" is about the most backhanded endorsement I've ever heard.

Slow Joe said...

Harriet Miers is starting look like Aristotle in comparison.

And really, I feel terrible for her. She had no judicial experience, which was the huge ding on her. But she was a brilliant woman. First woman to run the Bar in Texas, first Texas partner, etc. She had a lot of success and was absolutely not this idiot she's thought of as. I thought she was a very poor nominee simply because how can she possibly handle appeals at the very top of the chain, where no one can scrutinize or repair her errors, on lifetime appointment basis, with absolutely no judicial experience?

But she had taken many public stands and could hold her own in a debate. She is no Kagan style airhead or cypher, but since she was conservative, she must be perfect to avoid ridicule.

As my whimsy leads me.. said...

I agree with Pogo. The only person I've ever heard of who forgot to turn off his car all night was a guy who passed out drunk after driving the car into the garage. Unfortunately, he killed himself, his wife, and child that way. That was a story someone at the UKy Medical Center told me years ago.

I've known people who left their cars running and accidentally locked the car--once with a baby inside. But they realized what they had done almost immediately. I left the house once with something cooking on the stove, and also with the iron on (thank goodness for irons with automatic shut-offs). I've left the dome light on a couple of times. So, as a serial offender (over the course of >30 years) in the distracted mom category, I can understand a lot of scenarios, but to leave a car running all night? Twice? Very strange.

Toy

rastajenk said...

I was going to mention the baby-in-the-car thing, too. We've had seriously focused women around here so focused they left kids in the backseat so hot they died. They aren't candidates for the Supremes; they are borderline criminal.

What an odd endorsement for such an important position.

AllenS said...

Again, she didn't do it once, but a couple of times.

Original Mike said...

"I've known people who left their cars running and accidentally locked the car--"

I had a friend who did that once. Pot was involved.

Hey, do ya think ...?

former law student said...

I don't see where anybody else has said that a white man with a resume this thin couldn't get appointed to an appeals seat, much less the SC. Just who does Obama thnk he is?

It's the Republicans' fault.

Had they let Kagan come up for a vote when Clinton nominated her, she'd have a decade's worth of appellate court experience.