A Day in the Life

 

People often ask me what it’s like to teach at Berkeley as a conservative. This gives you an idea:

DC: One moment that you’re probably more remembered for among members of my generation is your appearance on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart in 2010. Stewart later described talking with you as something “like interviewing sand,” it was so hard.

JY: Do you feel like you’re interviewing sand right now?

DC: I don’t — but I think I have a slightly different objective than Stewart did.

JY: You know, he has this piece of paper in front of him. When you go on most interview shows, there’s a producer who writes up all these questions and (the host) asks them. (Stewart), to his credit, I think read my book — but then he had no written questions. He had this piece of paper in front of him that actually had nothing on it.

I’ve spent 20 years at Berkeley dealing with smart, unprepared people. And that’s how I treated him. People tend to think I did better than him, but that’s the way I am in class, too. I didn’t do anything especially different to prepare for going on his show. In fact, I didn’t prepare at all.

Read the whole piece and let me know what you think in the comments.

There are 12 comments.

  1. Nick Stuart Inactive

    Interesting interview. Thanks for bringing it to our attention.

    • #1
    • September 19, 2014, at 4:17 PM PDT
    • Like
  2. danys Thatcher

    Your comment regarding the economics professor critical of you perhaps because he read blogs about your work rather than reading your work is an important reminder. I’ve read many blog posts containing strange or weirdly ideological quotes that are infuriating. Often, when I’ve bothered to click through to the source work & read it, the ideas are less incendiary although still unsettling.

    Out of curiosity, what items handmade by liberals did you miss while in Washington, DC?

    • #2
    • September 19, 2014, at 4:36 PM PDT
    • Like
  3. Roberto, Crusty Old Timer Member

    I’ve always lived in liberal environments. The only time I’ve ever worked in a conservative environment was two years in the Bush administration, and I can’t say I enjoyed it all that much. I’m used to being surrounded by liberals. Liberals make better food, they have entertaining cultural activities, they’re good at making handmade items.

    Amusing.

    A rather interesting interview.

    • #3
    • September 19, 2014, at 5:17 PM PDT
    • Like
  4. Aloha Johnny Inactive

    Very entertaining interview. As a fellow Bay Area resident (I live in Sonoma County) I am used to being the only conservative at many events. But like you, I also enjoy being outnumbered and behind enemy lines. Several years ago I was “outed” at a the same sex wedding of some dear friends (thanks honey) and very much enjoyed the shock of those sharing my table. I find many people are conservative in most of their positions, but they can’t seem to take the shame of wearing the label.

    • #4
    • September 19, 2014, at 10:48 PM PDT
    • Like
  5. reidspoorhouse Inactive

    Aloha, I’ve so often seen similar results in conversation and find many times that the “liberal” holds conservative values in many aspects and is surprised when I point out that fact!

    • #5
    • September 20, 2014, at 6:31 PM PDT
    • Like
  6. Fred Cole Member

    If there’s one thing that John Yoo is not, it is a weather vane. John Yoo is constant as the northern star.

    • #6
    • September 21, 2014, at 3:51 AM PDT
    • Like
  7. Hammer, The Member

    Stewart made a complete fool out of himself the minute he realized that you had good (and perfectly sensible) answers to what he believed were gotcha questions, and he fell back on trying to play stupid, acting like you were talking over his head so he couldn’t understand.

    • #7
    • September 21, 2014, at 7:14 PM PDT
    • Like
  8. MACHO GRANDE' (aka - Chri… Coolidge

    That was a pretty fair set of questions from the Daily Californian. You’ve talked about teaching in the Law Talk podcasts a number of times, but I would think the most sort of pushback a conservative professor would receive on a daily (show) basis is from the students. I’m assuming their preconceptions about, well, everything, are a difficult thing for them to get past, simply in order to consider a different point of view.

    Conservatives are no fun? You don’t see a lot of hippies skeet shootin’.

    • #8
    • September 22, 2014, at 3:31 AM PDT
    • Like
  9. FeliciaB Inactive

    Pixielicious doesn’t seem to like you that much. Poor Pixie.

    • #9
    • September 22, 2014, at 4:52 AM PDT
    • Like
  10. Hammer, The Member

    Chris Campion:Conservatives are no fun? You don’t see a lot of hippies skeet shootin’.

    I was going to say… I think Yoo was joking when he said that, but I’ll pile on. My wife and I live in “liberalville,” and there is a lot we like about it. The food, the music, etc… of course, I grew up with very conservative parents, where I learned how to cook, how to play the violin and enjoy classical music. These are cultural things not even remotely unique or exclusive to liberals. In fact, I’d say that they are equally common among conservatives. I’d argue that conservatives have even more fun, because they don’t spend every waking hour thinking/talking about how politically righteous they are. I love the activities of Seattle, but the people leave a bit to be desired.

    • #10
    • September 22, 2014, at 8:41 AM PDT
    • Like
  11. Tuck Inactive

    John Yoo: He had this piece of paper in front of him that actually had nothing on it.

    When Sen. Joe McCarthy did that, it discredited him. Ah, the good old days…

    You’re always an excellent interviewee, in all the interviews of you I’ve heard. Imperturbable is the best word.

    • #11
    • September 22, 2014, at 9:38 AM PDT
    • Like
  12. MACHO GRANDE' (aka - Chri… Coolidge

    Chris Campion:That was a pretty fair set of questions from the Daily Californian. You’ve talked about teaching in the Law Talk podcasts a number of times, but I would think the most sort of pushback a conservative professor would receive on a daily (show) basis is from the students. I’m assuming their preconceptions about, well, everything, are a difficult thing for them to get past, simply in order to consider a different point of view.

    Conservatives are no fun? You don’t see a lot of hippies skeet shootin’.

    Better yet, you don’t see ’em skeet surfin’!

    • #12
    • September 22, 2014, at 5:28 PM PDT
    • Like