Rant: Barak Obama is no professor.

Rep Dennis Cardozo (D-CA) published some unkind words comparing President Obama to college professors.  He starts off by saying that he doesn’t want to disparage college professors:

Let me be clear — I’m not trying to disparage professors. But anyone who wonders why the president is not crushing the weak Republican field only needs to examine how President Obama has behaved more like Professor Obama:

And then he goes on to disparage both college professors and the President.


For one thing, both college professors and the President apparently have “Idea Disease,” which Rep. Cardozo defines as such:

Every week, and sometimes almost every day, the administration rolled out a new program for the country. There was no obvious prioritization and, after the rollout, very little effort to actually pass the latest idea/imperative/plan/edict. Instead, the new programs just kept coming, with the new proposals constantly stepping on the previous day’s message. 

Obama’s rule has also been characterized by “teaching moments:”

Early in his administration, President/Professor Obama repeatedly referred to “teaching moments.” He would admonish staff, members of Congress and the public, in speeches and in private, about what they could learn from him. Rather than the ideological or corrupt “I’m above the law” attitudes of some past administrations, President Obama projected an arrogant “I’m right, you’re wrong” demeanor that alienated many potential allies.

Apparently, Rep. Cardozo believes that both the President and professors like to speak down to their audiences, sharing their infinite wisdom and insights.


The President (and professors, by association, I guess), also don’t listen very much to ordinary people:

One former administration official told me directly that the people in the White House “NEVER TALK TO REAL PEOPLE.” Another former Obama staffer confided to me that it was clear to him that the president didn’t mind giving speeches (lectures), but really avoided personal contact with members of Congress and folks outside the Beltway. “He doesn’t seem to derive energy from spending time with regular people the way Clinton did. He rallies to give speeches for the big crowds, but avoids individual contact,” the former staffer recalled. This “arms-length” attitude extends to top decision-makers in the president’s administration.

I don’t know what the President is thinking and my life is sufficiently complete to where I don’t feel a compelling need to know what he is thinking.  I’m not sure where Representative Cardozo went to college, but good educators do not behave this way.


Good educators don’t get “idea disease.”  We study the important principles, but we also learn how to apply them to the real world.  


Good educators don’t lecture about “teaching moments.”  We try to approach the world with curiosity and humility.  We want to understand how the world works, and we accept that there is always more for us to learn about our disciplines.  That is why we conduct research.


Good educators listen.  We know our students and our colleagues.  We pay attention to them, and we try to understand their needs.


So with all due respect to Rep. Cardozo, Pres. Barack Obama is no professor, and if he were a professor, I don’t think he would make a very good professor.   If you want to see what an academic can do in the White House, one from New Jersey, no less, check out Woodrow Wilson.


Thanks, NF for the heads-up on this article.

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About Mark P. Holtzman

Chair of Accounting Department at Seton Hall University. PhD from The University of Texas at Austin. Worked at Deloitte's New York Office. BSBA from Hofstra University.

3 comments

  1. I agree that Obama would probably make a bad educator, at least if he applied the same methods as he is applying politically. Though, most of the "good" educators I have had through my life would probably fail miserably as a politician. Politics are an ugly, ugly game. If you aren't playing the game, you lose. That is the sad reality that I see in politics. I am only 33 but I can not remember a point in my lifetime that politics has been this divisive. I do find it amusing that depending on who you talk to Obama hasn't done nearly enough, and now as Cardozo suggests he actually did too much? Obama knows that the republicans have zero chance in 2012. That is why he isn't working to "crush them". If they had a chance, we would have seen a better group of candidates that would have included our own Chris Christie, and lets be honest… the only reason Christie isn't running is because he knows he can't beat Obama. I think we are starting to see the economy improving, reports around the new healthcare plan have been positive and after Obama wins the next election easily, he will have earned some political capital and we will be able to see what he is really like. He isn't nearly as good as some people would have us believe, though he isn't as bad as some others would have us believe either.

  2. First of all, why should we be comparing politicians and professors? Why would Obama, as a politician be a good professor? We went him to be a good politician. Professors should teach and inspire their students in the subjects that inspire them, and although much of politics involves persuasion and good public speaking, it is definitely not the same. Most of these candidates follow a campaign that is supported by their parties. The best professors wouldn't have these issues or concerns for winning over the majority, and would be happy to make a difference to one great student.

  3. It is so sad to read this article. We are forgetting one thing, politicians and professors are persons with deep convictions on a particular subject/issue; bold enough to say what they believe, in a way to persuaded their audience to get on board with their idea.

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