Posted by PrestoPundit on 08/21/2008

Now he tells us!  He did a good job keeping that one a secret.  (Here’s a suggestion for Obama — blame the editors!)

With Obama I’ve learned not to believe what he claims to be true until his claims are verified by some sort of independent source.  I can confidently say I’ve yet to come across any sort of independent evidence that Obama has ever read a single word written by Hayek or Friedman.  Obama can claim till the cows come home that he’s a reader of Hayek and Friedman, but you count me as someone who simply does not believe him.  It is possible at some point in his life Obama has read something written about Hayek or Friedman, perhaps by his left wing pal Cass Sunstein, but I have serious doubts that Obama has ever read more than a single sentence or two written by Hayek or Friedman.  Simply put, what possibly could Obama have read by Hayek or Friedman, and in what context would he have read it?  Hayek and Friedman are simply not mainstream figures in mainstream left-learning academia, certainly not at Occidental or Columbia. 

I can tell you I attended college in roughly the same time frame as Obama, both as and undergraduate and as a post graduate, and the ideas and works of Hayek and Friedman were simply not known or studied by anyone outside of the economics department, and even within an economics department it was purely random to find anyone who really understood and had studied the work of these two thinkers.  As for me, I discovered Hayek and Friedman on my own, outside of class.  And I didn’t go to institutions even nearly as left leaning as Obama.

I’m guessing at Occidental, which Obama attended first, there was nobody who knew or had studied the work of Hayek, and likely no one even in the economics department who was well schooled in the ideas of Friedman.  At Columbia, where Obama transfered, I’m fairly certain there was no one who knew anything about the work of Hayek, and only a handful of elite macroeconomists who knew the work of Friedman.  And there is no evidence that Obama studied upper division macroeconomics with any of these professors. 

Harvard Law School?  Are you kidding me?  Hayek is one of the great legal philosophers of all time, but this work in this area is utterly unknown to the Harvard faculty as far as I’m aware.  If there are exceptions, these are noteworthy for being utter outliers, not at all reflective of the temper and concerns of the faculty of the law school.

If Obama ever did come across some tiny bit of Hayek or Friedman in college, I can assure you it was within a hostile environment, taught by a teacher who neither understood nor had any sympathy for the profoundly alien ideas of these two thinkers.  I can’t tell you how many dozens of deeply shallow, utterly mistaken, and fundamentally fatuous “research” articles I’ve read by leftist who simply don’t know what they are dealing with, but are ever eager to take down “the ideas of Hayek”.  It gives me a headache to this day just thinking about reading all that academic tripe.  And I have every confidence that this — at best — is the sort of exposure Obama might have had with the profound and world changing ideas of Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman.

The rest of what Obama says below is clearly disingenuous.  What Obama would have us believe is that at the same time he was attending socialist conferences, seeking out Marxist professors, studying neocolonialism, and pursuing the ideas of radical writers like Franz Fanon, W. E. B. Du Bois, Saul Alinsky, Malcolm X, and Edward Said, he was also burning the midnight oil reading Hayek and Friedman.  Right.  And I was born yesterday, and just jumped off the turnip truck. 

But enough.  Let’s go to transcript, where we find Obama BSing two TIME magazine reporters on the topic of his supposed non-radical and deeply balance educational background.

TIME:  Do you agree that [you] were more exposed to left ideas than the average guy who ends up running for President? Hard to picture most of them reading Frantz Fanon or saying, ‘Stokely Carmichael is in town, I’m going to go hear him.’

OBAMA:  I’m not sure that what I was exposed to was all that different from what Bill Clinton was exposed to. He’s squarely a baby boomer. I’m sure that what I was exposed to was different from what John McCain was exposed to, because there’s a much bigger gap of years there. But you know, the truth is that my education was a pretty standard, liberal arts education. So I was exposed to thinkers on the left. At the same time, I was reading Milton Friedman and Friedrich Hayek, and I was growing up when Ronald Reagan was ascendant. So the political culture of my formative years was much more conservative.

It partly explains why, if you look at not just my politics, but also I think who I am as a person–in some ways, I’m pretty culturally conservative. I was always suspicious of dogma, and the excesses of the left and the right. One of my greatest criticisms of the Republican Party over the last 20 years is that it’s not particularly conservative. I can read conservatives from an earlier era — a George Will or a Peggy Noonan — and recognize wisdom, because it has much more to do with respect for tradition and the past and I think skepticism about being able to just take apart a society and put it back together. Because I do think that communities and nations and families aren’t subject to that kind of mechanical approach to change. But when I look at Tom DeLay or some of the commentators on Fox these days, there’s nothing particularly conservative about them.

Note well that TIME magazine spelled Hayek with an “a” instead of an “e'”, that is, they called him “Friedrich Hayak”.  Heh.  Wonder if the TIMEs sharpies even knew who Obama was talking about. (What would these ridiculous magazines look like without their five levels of editors?)

And did you catch how Obama sought to cement his argument by invoking Tom DeLay and Fox News, a person and an organization which the left and the MSM have successfully smeared, to the point that both are beyond redemption in the eyes of many Americans?  His use of hate objects of this sort as standard “conversation closers” when he’s making an argument is one of more contemptable tropes in Obama’s conversational arsenal.  Recall what Obama did with Clarence Thomas in answering a question on the Supreme Court this past weekend.  The whole trashing of Thomas depended upon and could only work given the prior relentless smearing of Thomas’s reputation by the left and the mainstream media.  For many Americans the very name “Clarence Thomas” is a place holder for “stupid” or “over his head incompetent.”  Completely manufactured by the left and the media, but there it is, and Obama knew it, and used it.  As he does here with “Tom DeLay” and “Fox News”.


  1. Nick said

    I suppose Obama’s experience (around 10 years?) as a faculty member at the deeply left-leaning University of Chicago has no bearing on this matter, huh?

    Reading and believing Hayek and Friedman and believing that Clarence Thomas is an idiot are completely intellectually compatible.

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