Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Brian Tamanaha and Josh Marshall

What's the relation of this
When you think about it, the situation we have created is bizarre: law students attend law school to become lawyers (paying tens of thousands of dollars for the privilege); however, as the Report indicates, many law professors do not see it as their job to train lawyers—they are, rather, legal scholars; meanwhile, many judges dismiss the vast bulk of legal scholarship as useless for their purposes; and tons of articles are being published every year, 43% of which are not cited at all and almost eighty percent of which are cited fewer than 10 times. One final tidbit: it is an insult within legal academia to be branded as a school that “teaches for the bar”—notwithstanding that the daunting threshold hurdle every law student faces coming out of law school is to pass the damn bar exam.
to this
But I've always thought (and this is what I meant when I said that this is something that I've thought a lot about since well before I started TPM) that there's something a little 'eat your spinich-ish' about folks who cry out, in the thick of a campaign, how everyone's focusing on the 'horserace' rather than 'the issues'. I associate it a lot with the work of Thomas Patterson, a fellow up at the Shorenstein Center at the Kennedy School and others of a similar bent. And in that vein of thinking there's an always implicit and often explicit belief that investment and interest in politics itself is somehow discreditable or that there was a pristine before-the-flood time in our history where politics was a matter of disinterested mandarins dishing out and serving up issues to an attentive citizenry -- much as lawyers do to juries. But I don't think that's true.
"Much as lawyers do to juries." Does Marshall still believe this? If so he's more caught up in academic rationalism/rationalization than he thinks. He is, of course. The rationalism of American intellectual liberals is rooted in academia. Call it American academic exceptionalism.

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