Politics and Professors


Calling President Obama “professor” is proving to be a surprisingly effective tactic for his conservative detractors. According to an article by Jack Stripling at Inside Higher Ed:

Obama’s years on the University of Chicago’s faculty have proven a double edged sword. While his supporters accept his higher education experience as evidence of a thoughtful pragmatism, the “professor” label has just as easily been used as a bristly brush, painting the president as an out of touch dreamer who formed theories in the Ivory Tower that can’t be translated into concrete policies from the White House.

Or, as the former governor of Alaska said last week, “They [radical Islamic extremists] know we’re at war, and to win that war we need a commander in chief, not a professor of law standing at the lectern.”

A professor is generally a profession held in a measure of respect in American society because practitioners are supposed to be impartial, wise, and unruffled. Still, professor is a moniker Obama might well wish to avoid. The only other American president called professor was former Princeton administrator Woodrow Wilson, one of American’s more disastrous chief executives.

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Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer