It's Kathy Griffin, critiquing an Elisabeth Hasselbeck performance on "The View." The President had dropped in to share the couch with the ladies. The link goes to Donald Douglas's blog, where the big point is that Obama was not a Harvard law professor, and in fact, he wasn't even — technically — a law professor; he was a senior lecturer; and it wasn't Harvard, it was the University of Chicago; and so Kathy's a fine one to call Elisabeth a "stupid bitch." Video at the link.
All right. First, Kathy Griffin has a comic style. You either like it or you don't. She's all about bitchily ragging on celebrities. Second, "stupid" is not the key criticism from Griffin to Hasselbeck. It's that Hasselbeck is coming at the President with too much of a sassy, challenging edge. And Griffin is actually right about that. You need to treat the President — any President — with respect, even when you intend to give him a hard time and even when he deserves it.
Third — and here's where it gets really interesting to me — he was a Harvard law professor. Put aside the mistakes. This notion that you've got to pay special respect to law professors... as a law professor, I'm fascinated. Now, maybe it's just Harvard law professors that command this odd obeisance. Who knows how far down the U.S. News "Best Law Schools" list you go before Kathy's Etiquette of Respecting the Law Professor peters out? Maybe there's a gentle gradation of decreasing respect as you slide down through the top five, into the basement of the top 15 and beyond. I don't know if there are any shreds of servility to be strewn before those of us in the 30s. But the whole idea amuses me.
And, really, this is one of the great benefits to being a law professor. No, not that I get respect — to the extent that I do. (I mostly get haters who use the phrase "you, a law professor" somewhere in the middle of an attempted push-back.) What I like is that, as a law professor, I'm free of the awe of law professors. And yet, if any of them dropped by for a visit and sat down on my couch for a conversation, I'd be nice to them. But if that couch were really part of a TV set, and I owed my first duty to the people who were bothering to watch, I might go all Hasselbeck on them.
But the President... well, why is the President doing a show like this? Probably because everybody on that couch except Hasselbeck wanted to boost his reelection campaign — slathering the home viewers with amorphous feelings of love for the man who is so wonderful for women. He was there for a super-cushy time on the cushions. Hasselbeck was the only potential edge. Obama supporters would love to dull that edge. Show respect. They're kind of right, of course, as noted above. It's a problem built into the show, "The View." It's a view, all right, but from where? From deep in the cleavage of the mommy party.