Feb

25

LectureHop: Financial Justice, Affirmative Action, and Columbia

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Thursday evening the World Leaders Forum hosted US Attorney General Eric Holder, who defended the Department of Justice’s policies on the financial industry, affirmed affirmative action, and gave attendees the opportunity to compare his impressive mustache to PrezBo’s hair. Government Guru Brit Byrd reports:

Thinking of PrezBo

As PrezBo’s introductory comments waxed even more glistening than his own silvery mane, it became clear that Thursday’s World Leaders Forum event was going to be a bit different. The speaker of the hour, US Attorney General Eric Holder (CC ’73, Law ’76) was clearly at ease at his alma mater, and he gave what amounted to a stump speech on the Department of Justice’s (DoJ) efforts against financial crime. The speech was confident, delivered via teleprompter, and rather boring in comparison to the chummy Q&A with PrezBo that followed.

Referring to the Attorney General by his first name, PrezBo began by asking the most sensible follow-up to the speech’s talking points: what about the widespread perception that most, if not all, of the perpetrators of the financial crisis have been unpunished? Holder responded by saying he does not know why the DoJ’s efforts “have not set in to the American conscience.” Reregulation, he reiterated, is a step in the right direction, citing the frustrating reality that some of the most abusive practices that led to the crisis were not, in fact, illegal. As he would go on to repeat, sometimes “morally reprehensible” is not synonymous with “criminal.”

PrezBo then quickly moved through a series of different subjects, each time seeming to already know the answers. As Holder dutifully responded, he would earnestly nod, say “yeah” repeatedly, and shift his weight in anticipation for the next question.

Finally, he broached the subject he seemed to be waiting for: the Supreme Court’s decision to reconsider the constitutionality of affirmative action. Holder agreed with PrezBo’s characterization of the court’s decision as “ominous”, and stated that he will continue to support the universities. He refuted the idea that diversity is a process whose time and place has passed, elaborating that he “can’t actually imagine a time in which the need for more diversity would ever cease.”

He pointed to the community at Columbia, both currently and in his time as a student, as an example of the vast benefits of diversity on a college campus. Such praise for his alma mater was a continuing theme throughout the event. Any time a Columbia alum was mentioned, especially President Obama, both PrezBo and Holder were quick to take note of it. In fact, during his speech, Holder probably seriously inconvenienced the teleprompter operator, as he often ad-libbed praise and reflection of his time in Morningside Heights.

Such praise of the university was part of the event’s generally self-serving purpose. In a tidy hour, the Attorney General had delivered his talking points, PrezBo got to vent about the Supreme Court, and Alma Mater was made to feel like the prettiest girl in Morningside Heights throughout.

Tasteful Portrait via Wikimedia Commons

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2 Comments

  1. Anonymous  

    Very insightful, thanks for this!

  2. Attendee  

    "PrezBo then quickly moved through a series of different subjects, each time seeming to already know the answers."

    I laughed out loud when I saw this because this is exactly how it happened. I don't know if PrezBo just woke up and decided not to give a fuck that day or if he's just a bad interviewer. I'm leaning toward the former, especially given his choice of attire. His shoes were completely unacceptable. Sure, they were nice and probably cost more than Holder's, but he looked like he was sitting next to his fireplace -- not next to the Attorney General of the United States of America.

    But PrezBo's representation of Columbia (albeit accurate) wasn't anything to be particularly proud of, even beyond his outfit. It wasn't horrible, but it wasn't great. The most representative example I can think of was the water situation. Holder, who explained he came from a humble background and worked his way to his remarkable position, opted for the flat water and drank it right out of the bottle. However, PrezBo chose instead to crack open the bottle of Perrier (right next to the microphone while Holder was speaking, of course) and drink it out of the water goblet.

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