Reactions To My Interview With Harvard Law Professor Lawrence Lessig?


  1. Jim Manning says

    Lessig’s a defensive dissembler. The gist or sting of his article is as you stated; a reader would go back two paragraphs to search for his cramped definition of corruption. For him to re-define corruption to the point of meaninglessness is intellectually corrupt itself. But, academicians, by and large, are walking bags of cranial and corporeal corruption. (Sorry, my paltry poetry powers are way off tonight; better hire Tarzana Joe!) (BTW, even if his comments weren’t about public officials, I doubt a defamation claim would fly [I’m not saying you suggested one would]; an anti-SLAPP motion almost certainly would be granted for the defts in CA; don’t know about other jurisdictions.)

    • Nadine Carroll says

      It was convenient for Lessig to remember that the auto dealers donated to John Campbell but forget that Fannie & Freddie donated to Barney Frank, Chris Dodd and Senator Barack Obama.

      • Nathan Hansen says

        I also found his targets rather convenient. For someone trying to make a broad argument against the culture of Congress he left out those how rhetorically support a progressive agenda.

  2. conservative_organizer says

    I am a Tea Party “elite”. Lessig said I couldn’t go to a Constitutional Convention.

    Listening to Lawrence Lessig’s convoluted definition of corruption reminded me that the liberal mind is “5 miles wide and 1/2 inch deep”. The shallowness of the assumption that all Congressional votes have a quid pro quo For Sale sign on them is ludicrous without documented proof. Lessing is a perfect example of how dialectic thinking has convinced people who lack common sense that white is black and 2 + 2 = 5. His logic is totally circular in nature, and paints pictures in broad strokes where a calligrapher’s pen is required.

    People like Lessig are dangerous because they are taken seriously. The American people are rejecting this Sophist government filled with deranged social scientists. They have shown us that they waste our money creating rules and regulations like a Sims World for the rest of us to live by. We must break this assumption that the Lessigs of this country have a “higher” insight because of their long hours of training in critical thinking. They must be made to understand that not only do they give us a headache, but they themselves are suffering from headaches from their exaggerated theorems.

    Bully for you Mr. Hewitt in showing the way to stay on top of an imposter, who, in his high minded way, was really selling a message that a democratic republican form of government is antithetical to his higher “moral” way. Isn’t it time for Progressives to drop this false sense of outrage over every human foible in God’s Creation? They must stop indicting everyone who doesn’t measure up to their unattainable standards?

    Finally, Lessig’s premise should be taken with the same grain of salt as when Captain Renault in Casablanca exclaimed that he was “shocked, shocked” that gambling was taking place at Rick’s Cafe American.

  3. Chuck Sholdt says

    I sorry but I believe that Lessig won the debate. I don’t agree with his solutions but I do agree with his conclusion that the American people are fed up and distrust ALL the political elites, Democrats and Republicans.

    This is why I won’t contribute to the NRC or the national Senate campaign. I believe they are, nearly to a man, fundamentally corrupt and corrupted by a system that lends itself to corruption.

    The overt distain that Obama shows those of us in flyover country is not limited to the Democrat Party. It infects them all. They all think they know better how to live my life than do I. I don’t care if they are Democrat or Republican, if they are an incumbent, I’ll vote against them. We need to throw every last one of them out and start from scratch.

  4. Nick Sanders says

    Even we allow for his slippery definition of “corruption”, we still wind up with another silly prescription from the left:

    Global Warming — The mere idea of it is enough that we must take extremely RADICAL action to stop it.

    “The Fundraising Congress” — The mere idea of it is enough that we must take extremely RADICAL action to stop it.

  5. Warren Wheeler says

    Hugh –
    While rushing to the defense of your friend (Congressman John Campbell) is on some level admirable, does it really blind you to the larger point about the “Fundraising Congress” that Prof. Lessig eloquently and forcefully makes in “How to Get Our Democracy Back”? (February 22, 2010 edition of The Nation)?

    I’m a proud Hughniverse member and avid podcast listener who admires you as the best conservative talk show host in the country. I’m fairly certain that I favor the opposite policy from that preferred by Prof. Lessig on most every major topic—from healthcare to GITMO to global warming.

    But it’s a huge disappointment to find you quibbling over whether Congressman Campbell’s independent wealth or other motivations were determinative of his Legislative actions. You missed the forest for the trees.

    You’ve always made it clear that you are a Republican first and a Conservative second. That’s your prerogative, although it reverses my priorities. But is there no room left in you for small ‘c’ conservatism of the sort that abhors moneyed interests overrunning the People’s House?

    Although I probably could not be more opposite from him on policy, I’m apparently rather close to Prof. Lessig politically. Were I from Massachusetts, like the Professor I would have voted for Senator Brown.

    Professor Lessig should be commended for his thoughtful and penetrating analysis of Obama’s first year, not to mention his well-reasoned set of reforms—-public and small-donation campaign financing; 7-year lobbying ban for ex-Congress members; and a Constitutional Convention for some much needed touching-up to our foundational document.

    • Duane Patterson says

      however, if the good professor is basing his argument against john campbell solely upon a negative hit campaign the trial lawyer union, of which lessig is a part, conducts, and professor lessig does not make that little admission public, does that not make the professor look somewhat hypocritical?

      • Warren Wheeler says

        Lessig is perhaps more analytically shallow than hypocritical, but your point is well taken nonetheless. Rep. Campbell’s subsequent (Friday) explanation of his role in the legislation in question, I thought, was both credible and illuminating. It certainly appears as though Prof. Lessig reached for an anecdote to enliven his narrative and—perhaps due to his own affiliations as you suggest—came up with a weak one for making his point, leaving himself open to the charge of merely parroting those from his own tenacious special interest.

        The larger point is that, Rep. Campbell’s particulars aside, we are still left with Prof. Lessig’s central observation that:

        “(T)his democracy no longer works. Its central player has been captured. Corrupted. Controlled by an economy of influence disconnected from the democracy . . . Congress has developed a dependency foreign to the framers’ design . . . a dependency upon interests that have conspired to produce a world in which policy gets sold.”

        As far as I’m concerned, Exhibit A in Lessig’s case is the federal Tax Code. Congressional control over arcane minutia in the tax code serves as a vehicle for legally shaking down campaign contributions.

        Congress came up with its (military) Base Realignment And Closure (BRAC) process because it couldn’t be trusted to do the right thing all on its own. BRAC introduces a significant measure of analytical independence to closure recommendations and (crucially) makes Congress vote it up or down in its entirety, eliminating the possibility for back-room deals driven by the biggest special interest of all: incumbency.

        Lessig proposed specific solutions. Hugh should talk more about those and other solutions. We won’t get our democracy back until we do a better job of firewalling our lawmakers from their self interest in raising campaign funds.

        • Douglas Sheena says

          I must say I agree totally with Mr. Wheeler. Taking a rather small part of the essay, and endlessly questioning the details, did not serve Mr. Lessig or Mr. Hewitt very well. The heavy influence on American government by lobbyists is one of the huge obstacles to a responsive government.
          I was greatly disappointed.

  6. Eric Burkett says

    Listening to him try to explain what his words really meant made me wonder why he did not write it that way in the first place.

  7. Jason Hansford says

    Lawrence Lessig proffers the premise that the “system is fundamentally flawed”….. That’s a warning right there that by “Fundamentally”, he means the Constitution.

    People like Lessig thought Obama’s mere presence would part the political waters and all Americans would be struck by his conviction and thus he could “fundamentally change the way Washington works.”… However, One year on. Obama has presented nothing except amateurish Marxism while wandering the halls of power dripping wet.

    Lawrence then blames the Democrats for blunting Obama and diverting him from changing the “broken system”….. Despite the fact the guy has appointed Czars up the ying yang and down the Khyber, most of them radical, some of them outrageously so… Van Jones the Green Jobs Czar, etc.

    Lawrence, now disillusioned by Obama’s ineffectiveness, abandons him.

    He declares that the system is corrupt as well as broken and fundamentally flawed… He bemoans that Obama is part of it, or at least seduced by it, or at best a helpless victim of it. (the Left always keep a victim clause open).

    Lawrence then smites his fallen hero with his own book….Saying.

    “Obama has accepted the power of the “defenders of the status quo” and simply negotiated with them. “Audacity” fits nothing on the list of last year’s activity, save the suggestion that this is the administration the candidate had promised.”

    ….. Ohhh the Humanity!

    Anyway, what’s so corrupt, broken and fundamentally flawed about the system that has Lawrence hopping about all distraught?

    ….Congress apparently.

    Congress and Money appear to be the root of all Lawrence Lessig’s evil, as these sentences of his highlight…..He says.

    “That is either because Congress is filled with idiots or because Congress has a dependency on something other than principle or public policy sense. ”

    “The point is simple, if extraordinarily difficult for those of us proud of our traditions to accept: this democracy no longer works. Its central player has been captured. Corrupted. Controlled by an economy of influence disconnected from the democracy.”

    “That Congress is the core of the problem with American democracy today”

    “Some see our troubles as tied to the arcane rules of the institution, particularly the Senate….”

    Could Lawrence’s reasoning behind this be that Obama had a Super majority in the Senate and couldn’t do a thing with it?…. See! Congress is broken. Won’t work for Democrats! Then added insult to injury. Obama had all the money but he still couldn’t do a thing with it except waste it. Money doesn’t seem to work for Democrats… That’s how truly evil it is.

    So….. What’s to be done with such a obviously broken system that won’t work for Democrats, Tyrants and Chavez types????

    We gotta change it, Lawrence reckons.

    Yup, he would.

    Lawrence continues in his essay. “What would the reform the Congress needs be? ”

    Oh. Is he asking for suggestions?……

    ” At its core, a change that restores institutional integrity. A change that rekindles a reason for America to believe in the central institution of its democracy by removing the dependency that now defines the Fundraising Congress. Two changes would make that removal complete. Achieving just one would have made Obama the most important president in a hundred years.”

    ….. Er, nope. Just waxing lyrical and crying over what might have been….

    So what’s he up to? OK, hit me. What’s the great idea Lorrie. [drum roll]

    ……”citizen-funded elections.”

    Oh!….. really?

    Sorta has the same ring to it as “Peoples Democratic Republic of [insert any Communist regime here]….;-)

    I can just picture Obama and other Marxist Leninists bursting out with a guffaw, while gleefully finishing the punchline while pounding the table…
    “Under our systems the Citizens don’t have any damn money to fund anything….Bwhahahahaha.”

    So the moral to this long and extended post?…. Remember what Vladimir Ilyich Lenin said. ” The best way to control the opposition….. Is to LEAD IT ourselves.

    So don’t let the likes of Lawrence Lessig, talk your conservative grass roots movements into aligning with their socialist causes. Because their causes, have nothing to do with Fundamental American exceptionalism and Capitalism…. Because that’s what Lawrence and Obama are trying to “Fundamentally Change”. They just plumb don’t believe in YOUR America….. and Theirs, isn’t America at all.

    I’m Jason Hansford and you know it makes sense;-)

  8. W Brian Martin says

    I really didn’t like this segment. Hugh, your point was made early, but you kept beating a dead horse. Mr Lessig did have a point about regulators taking money from those they regulate. Maybe you friend Mr Campbell (he isn’t a on a regulation panel is he?) was a bad example of that, but you spent too much time brow beating Mr Lessig and not enough time on the greater point that I agree with.

    • Nathan Hansen says

      I believe Hugh’s larger point was that Mr Lessig was so misinformed about what he was talking about that further discussion was somewhat pointless – if Mr Lessig couldn’t be bothered to gather the facts then his conclusions are suspect.

      This was borne out when Hugh talked with Mr Campbell the next day: Campbell had very good (e.g., honorable and non-corrupt) reasons for amending the bill in question the way he did.

      • W Brian Martin says

        Mr. Lessig statement on John Campbell does not dismiss the concern over politicians taking funds from those they regulate. Mr Hewitt made his point and should have moved on or told Mr. Lessig that his article didn’t merit further discussion because it was so flawed and dismissed him.

  9. Nick Stuart says

    If Lessig didn’t exist, it would certainly not be necessary to invent him.

    That said, the general point that it really stinks that legislators take campaign money from the people they regulate is valid.

  10. Sauni-Rae Dain says

    There are 3 things I hear in the discussions has with the “less than conservitive” lefty guests —- It always seems to boil down to these, no matter what the topic is.
    1. Every evidence is couched in a GENERALITY
    2. Conclusions seem to be based on the STEREOTYPE or URBAN MYTH version of a thought — ie. “Dr.’s make too much money,” is the myth or stereotype that is tossed around by most people as a casual comment, but used as PROOF by the Left’s spokesmen
    3. When called on the rug for what they have written, said or someone in their circle has said, the quote is, “That is not what I meant… You are reading into it too much… I was trying to say…” Which leads me to want to ask – why didn’t you/he/they say that in the first place? {As an elementary school teacher and administrator – I try to impart the concept that if you have to say, “just kidding,” you probably should not have said it in the first place…Same applies here.

    conservative_organizer made a great opening statement about the shallowness of the thinking on the Left. I think Generalities, Urban Myths, Stereotypes, and That is not what I meant to say…. all show this shallowness in abundance.


  11. Carter Mackley says

    Lessig won, and Hugh was unnecessarily rude. And it pains me to say that since I agree with 95% of what Hugh has to say. But in this case nothing he said challenged Lessig’s basic point — that when politicians take money from those they regulate it corrupts government. Hugh should go back and read his copy of Jonathon Rauch’s “Government’s End”.