Never Turn Things Over to a Law Professor

Big trouble for Italy now.

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

CNN (Hilary Clarke & Lauren Said-Moorhouse) report:

Italy's populist parties have tapped a political unknown to become prime minister and lead a new coalition government.

Giuseppe Conte, a law professor with no political experience, emerged as the frontrunner on Monday as Five Star leader Luigi Di Maio and Matteo Salvini, the League leader, met separately with President Sergio Mattarella at Quirinal Palace in Rome.

A law professor? (Note that, while Presidents Clinton and Obama had taught law before their political careers began, their primary pre-Presidential careers had been as elected executive or legislative officials: state Attorney General and Governor in Clinton's case, and state Senator and U.S. Senator in Obama's.)

And, for fans of Roman history, think of it as the passage from the ivory tower to the ivory chair (though I don't think modern Rome uses those any more).


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  1. Woodrow Wilson was an academic who helped found the discipline of political science.

    Wait, that’s not helping.

    1. And his initials were WW, which was an obvious predictor of for the two oncoming great wars.

  2. “with no political experience”

    When is this supposed to be a negative thing? We’ve seen what the experienced politicians do.

    1. And we are seeing what inexperienced politicians are doing right now in the White House. I’ll take the experienced one, with all the flaws that come with that experience. YMMV.

      1. Unemployment at 30 years low levels, excellent judges confirmed at a record pace, lower taxes, tearing up the Iran scam, cementing our alliance with Israel.

        Horrible, I know.

        1. If any politician is to be thanked for the current unemployment levels, it should be Obama. When he took over, it was at 9.9%. When he left office, it was 4.7%. And Trump is supposed to get credit for 3.9%? I call BS.

          The only reason Trump is able to confirm as many justices as he has is because Senate Republicans didn’t even entertain Obama’s nominees. Also, the timing is cyclical. Many judges wait until someone from their party gets elected. After eight years, it was bound to happen.

          Don’t confuse getting out of a bad agreement (JPOCA) as being a good thing. It would likely be better to stay in even though it is bad.

          Last I heard, Trump kept saying “America first.” He would drop them in a heartbeat if the situation demanded it. Oh, wait . . . he already did. Don’t think he won’t do it again.

  3. Hey, you got a problem with Michael Ignatieff?

  4. Clinton’s teaching experience was pretty modest. He graduated in 1973 and was the state attorney general in 1976 (and ran effectively unopposed. Can you imagine pulling that off now a days?)

  5. I know this is pedantic, but … I am going to point it out anyway.

    Reference is made to this sentence: “Note that, while Presidents Clinton and Obama had taught law before their political careers began, their primary pre-Presidential careers had been as elected executive officials: state Attorney General and Governor in Clinton’s case, and state Senator and U.S. Senator in Obama’s.”

    President Obama’s “primary pre-Presidential career” was not as an “elected executive official” but an “elected legislative official.” May I suggest the following nits: either (1) delete “executive” or (2) add “and legislative” after “executive” and “respectively” after “officials.”

    1. Yes, sorry, meant to say that, but somehow messed it up in editing the post. Fixing.

      1. I had assumed that was intentional, signaling to the obtuse that you do not want to be similarly selected in the US.

  6. Calling Obama’s legislative positions a ‘career’ is kinda stretching it. More like perfunctory steps unto his anointed position as President given that he ran effectively unopposed for the majority of elections he was in. He didn’t even finish his US Senate term.

    1. He was a legislator for 12 years before he was elected President at the age of 42. I think that qualifies as his “primary pre-Presidential career.”

      Saying he was “anointed” President overlooks the glaring fact that he was a huge underdog in the Democratic primary and he was, you know, a half-black guy with the name Barack Hussein Obama born during a time when his parents’ marriage would have been illegal in a large number of States in this country. Not exactly a guy born to be President.

      Hindsight bias is a hell of a drug.

      1. I disagree…a black activist dressed up with the appearance of sufficient academic credentials, unlike all those dumb and oppressed I mean underprivileged and oppressed minorities liberals alternately despise and pity, who is committed to staying on the prog plantation makes him the ideal Presidential candidate for many.

        He was born to a fairly prominent politician and academic and spent his formative years around and maybe guided by other prominent left wing figures. Maybe not the ideal way to spend a youth but not exactly slumming it. Numerous strings were pulled for him, at least in his higher education career. His early political career likewise. His State Senate seat was pretty safe. Once you’re in with the Democrats you could be an inert potato and still win. His Senate seat was also won pretty much unopposed. Its true he had Clinton to contend with in the primary but there are often different factions with different puppets.

        Overall when you look at the trajectory of Obama, the phrase self made man is not one of the first that come to mind. Actually a better argument could be made that he was raised to be and went through life fully expecting to take his rightful place as President.

        I will give that while he’s not particularly good after elections he is fantastic at running for them. Maybe that’s his true passion since he spent so much of his career in office running for the next highest office. He’d probably have been running for World President if he could.

        1. This is like a masterclass in motivated reasoning.

          Sounds like the stuff from liberals about how Trump didn’t *really* earn his money.

          1. sarcastro,

            I’m withholding judgment as to whether Trump really earned his money until I see the books.

            I don’t think it is wise to rely on his claims, or those of his lackeys.

        2. “a black activist dressed up with the appearance of sufficient academic credentials”

          Dressed up with the appearance of sufficient academic credentials? OK then. I think we know where you are coming from …

          1. The bigots are never going to get over the fact that their betters beat them with a black guy. Twice. And would have beaten them again, and again, and again, if eligible to run.

        3. Last time I checked, Harvard and the University of Chicago were considered pretty good schools. A law degree from Harvard and 12 years as constitutional law professor at the University of Chicago is just “the appearance” of academic credentials? Really?

          Come on. You may not like or agree with Obama or his record. But calling his academic credentials fake is a bit much.

          1. You must think Bush II is a genius. Trump too. Wharton is after all perhaps the top business school in the country. I eagerly await your impassioned defense of both of them against the relentless media insinuations of how they are dumb to the point of retardation.

  7. Italy: A beautiful country, spoiled by Italians.

    1. Everyone gets an F?

  8. The coalition here is a left populist party and a right populist party with Silvio Berlusconi’s party as a junior partner. Very interesting.

    Its like an alliance of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump with Bill Clinton waiting on stage.

    1. That sounds more like a wacky sit-com than a governing coalition. But we’ll have to see, won’t we?

  9. By Jove, sir, that meatball certainly is spicy.

  10. By Jove, sir, that meatball certainly is spicy.

  11. Relax, Professor. Not every Law Professor is a liberal.

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