I agree with Kevin Drum that criticism of the imprecision of Obama’s rhetoric regarding the Supreme Court on Monday and Tuesday is something of a tempest in a teapot. But I also agree with Drum when he writes:
Generally speaking, I’ve been a little surprised at how careless Obama has been on all this. His original statement that overturning ACA would be “unprecedented” was pretty sloppy…. And the Lochner stuff was sloppy too. I’m not sure why he hasn’t been a little more careful in his choice of words.
Maybe because he still has the self-image as a Con Law professor, and doesn’t realize that he’s grown rusty and should vet his Con Law related comments with staff?
UPDATE: For what it’s worth, to the extent I’ve heard Obama speak on constitutional law (via an old interview that cropped up before the 2008 election), looked at his syllabi and exams, and spoken to some of his former students, he seems to have been quite a successful teacher of constitutional law in his pre-Senate career, and also quite thoughtful about constitutional law, albeit from a very different perspective than I’d approach it. But (a) many good con law professors don’t teach from a “historical” perspective (especially when, like Obama, they only teach the 14th Amendment part of the curriculum), and deep knowledge of modern caselaw combined with a more general knowledge of historical trends doesn’t make you an expert on constitutional history; (b) even experts can grow rusty if they haven’t had occasion to engage with their field for a decade or more (it would be nice if Senators and Presidents of both parties occasionally spent their time thinking deeply about the Constitution, but who are we kidding?); (c) politicians grow used to talking in soundbites, but it’s not that easy to summarize complex constitutional history like the historical role of the Supreme Court in invalidating legislation into an accurate soundbite.