Says Brett Smiley at New York Magazine.
I agree. In the video — which appears in long form at the link — Obama is a Harvard Law student introducing a highly respected Harvard Law professor, and he does an outstanding job, displaying the now-familiar charm, and even breaking the tension and getting a laugh from a crowd of protesters that had been displaying a grim, aggrieved demeanor. I am impressed by Obama's mildness and moderation in this video, and I remember very well the controversy that led to Professor Derrick Bell's protest in 1990. I was a visiting professor at Boston University Law School in the fall of 1990, and I used to attend a reading group called "FemCrits" that included BU, Harvard, and other female law professors in the area. I saw and heard plenty of the radical lawprofs of that era, and Barack Obama does not come across as their acolyte. He seems independently well-grounded and perhaps even aloof from the controversy. Obama had just been elected president of the Harvard Law Review, its first black president. That put him in a position where he may have been called upon to do the introduction, and he handles the task with diplomacy and aplomb. What I see in that video is a great and natural politician, not some hardcore radical.