Commentary Magazine


The Missing Law Review Article

I had the same question as Ann Althouse: if Barack Obama did have a law review article why conceal it and perpetuate the misconception he had gotten through his tenure as Harvard Law Review editor without writing anything? She surmises that he was so afraid of the abortion issue he would rather take the hit for doing nothing as law review editor than have the article come to light. But is that right? He is, after all (more than we ever knew), an absolutist on abortion rights so how could a nondescript law review article make it worse? (Note that when the chips are down this is one of those supposedly wildly popular liberal positions that invariably needs to be hidden from view for the candidate to win.)

There are two other explanations. First, the Obama team is shockingly unprepared and lacks the basic data that even their opposition has. This is what happened with the Infant Born Alive voting records. It seems incredible, but perhaps they never vetted their own candidate. They simply took his word on a variety of matters which turn out not to be exactly as The One recollected.

The second is Clinton-itis: the propensity to lie when telling the truth would be easier. As others point out, secrecy and abject terror about the candidate’s past seem to have infected the Obama team. So it may be that the default answer for any question about Obama’s past is, “We don’t have anything.” Even when that isn’t right and disclosure would do no harm they seem to prefer a blank slate. Considering what is there, that may be a wise course. But if there really isn’t much to worry about — or even if there are non-fatal things to explain — the concealment and evasion may create more concern than the potential damage from the underlying issue(s). Even some on the Left agree that “at some point–and I think the Obama campaign got there in this case–the evasiveness gets out of proportion to the significance of the document and becomes a little self-defeating.”

Now since the law review article does exist maybe there is reason to believe some of the other data (e.g. law clients, state legislative documents) do as well. And it would be nice if the voters got to find out what is in them before they have to vote.