The president’s sycophants have seized on an excuse for why their candidate was stammering and incoherent last night: Barack Obama is just too darn “professorial.” The Huffington Post lamented Obama’s “professorial demeanor.” A New York Times editorial bemoaned the fact that the president chose to be “polite and professorial.” Reuters, in an ostensibly objective write-up of the debate, said that Obama sounded "professorial."
Perhaps, like the old joke about a stupid person’s idea of what a smart person sounds like, Obama sounds like a “professor” to philistine journalists. Or perhaps it's just a convenient excuse for Obama's sorry performance, one that "laments" his debating skills while actually flattering him and his fans. Either way, it's nonsense. In my own experience, college professors – while often politically, er, misguided – are some of the most erudite and fluent people out there. They’re typically unusually skilled at making logical arguments. And, unlike the president, they keep their “ums” and “uhs” to a minimum.
Of course, there’s a simple reason why President Obama sounded far from professorial last night: Despite his scholarly reputation, Obama never was a professor at all – he was a senior lecturer.