In late 1988, at the age of 27, Obama entered the elite Harvard Law School. How he got admitted, we’ll probably never know because the POS refuses to reveal his undergraduate graduating GPA at Columbia University (or any of his GPAs), nor his LSAT (Law School Admission Test) scores. At the end of his first year at Harvard Law, the POS was selected as an editor of the Harvard Law Review (HLR), the journal published by the Harvard Law Revue Association. The next year, 1990, he was voted president of HLR.
On the occasion of the Harvard Law Review‘s 103rd anniversary, the POS delivered the opening remarks at the celebratory banquet on April 20, 1990. The famous economist John Kenneth Galbraith was the banquet’s keynote speaker. Obama’s speech was a tongue-in-cheek “Self Tribute” on his philosophy of leadership as President of the HLR. 29 years old at the time, his “Self Tribute” reads more like a sophomoric attempt at humor by an undergrad.
FOTM’s beloved lowtechgrannie alerted me to a person named “obamalot” who posted the issue of HLR with Obama’s “Self Tribute” on Flickr. Obamalot has copyrighted the jpg images of the HLR pages, so we can’t post them on FOTM. Instead, I’ve transcribed Obama’s speech. You can see the actual HLR pages on Flickr by clicking here.
Here’s Obama’s “Self Tribute” in Harvard Law Review, vol. 103, no. 6.5 (April 1990), pp. 8-10:
Between Barack and a Hard Place: My First Hundred Days
by Baroque Yo Mama
Lots of folks have asked me, “Baruch, what’s it like to be the first Jewish president of the Harvard Law Revue?” Oi! This has gone a bit too far. It’s true that my background is a bit convoluted, but let me try my luck at clarifying these matters once and for all. I was born in Oslo, Norway, the son of a Volvo factory worker and part-time ice-fisherman. My mother was a backup singer for Abba. They were good folks. As you folks all know, I am extraordinarily mature, and at the age of fifteen I went off to California to enroll at Accidental College. After a couple of years, I decided to go to Columbia, but when offered a position as judge in Bogota, I fled to Chicago. There I discovered I was black, and I have remained so ever since. But I don’t want to bore you folks with matters of background and ethnicity. My purpose is the review the changes I have instituted in my first hundred days in office.
The first and most daunting task that I faced upon assuming power was to open the door to the President’s office. This was even more difficult than getting a piece through an Uhlrich EE-read, but it required the same tools: raw strength and vaseline. Upon entering this musty mausoleum, I was shocked to discover a startling collection of items. On the wall was a well-worn, inscribed nude photo of Justice Brennan. Scary! On the desk I found a red hotline phone. I picked it up and a voice answered, “Um, um, um, Peeeter! I thought we were going to Fenway tomorrow, and, I mean, by the way, did you read that article in the Wall Street Journal about …” I had the line rerouted to Griswold 307. Finally, in the closet I discovered 3000 pairs of shoes. I had had enough; I called the folks at buildings and grounds and had the place thoroughly fumigated.
With the new openness assured, I moved to consolidate my power. Now some folks may think I’m crazy for for appointing a bunch of conservatives to the masthead, and others may think I’ve been co-opted. Neither theory is correct: You see, back in Norway, I was raised to appreciate the value of narrow thinking and chilly demeanor. Next, I invited my underlings to join me for a “pot luck” dinner at my understated and mature apartment. As most of you read after my election, my mother is an anthropologist or something, and from her I have learned of the special bonding process that occurs when members of a group share indigestion. It worked like a charm, and now we are a happy, cohesive folk. Indeed, in a variety of areas I have come to depend upon similar methods of cultivating social cohesion at Gannett House: the use of apparently meaningless symbols to bewilder and befuddle, brutal puberty rites, ritual animal sacrifice, and incest taboos.
All of these projects came perilously close to interfering with my most important obligation at the time: empowering all the folks out there in America who didn’t know about me by giving a series of articulate and startlingly mature interviews to all the folks in the media. As I said at the time, I merely walked through doors that other folks had opened. (I have tried to put that adage into practice, by appointing a 2L editor to be my personal doorman here at the law school, but that’s another story.) Giving interviews and granting photo sessions has been a large burden, but when the movie rights are finally bought up I believe it will all be worth it.
What it all comes down to, folks, is this. There’s an old Norwegian saying: he who keeps Lutefish by the fire in November will find glaciers in his outhouse by March. The Revue is kind of like a Lutefish — smelly, slippery and fat. And I need your help in keeping us glacier-free. Everyone’s important: in some small way, we’re all President of the Revue. Sure, you don’t get your picture next to Eric Clapton’s in Time, but you do get plenty of pool assignments. That’s what I love about America, the land of opportunity. That’s all, folks!