Cass Sunstein on Obama

/ 15 March 2008

Cass Sunstein’s description of his interactions with Obama:

Those of us who have long known Obama are impressed and not a little amazed by his rhetorical skills. Who could have expected that our colleague, a teacher of law, is able to inspire large crowds?

The Obama we know is no rhetorician; he shines not because he can move people, but because of his problem-solving abilities, creativity and attention to detail.

In recent weeks, his speaking talents, and the cultlike atmosphere that occasionally surrounds him, have led people to wonder whether there is substance behind the plea for "change" -- whether the soaring phrases might disguise emptiness and vagueness. But nothing could be further from the truth. He is most comfortable in the domain of policy and detail.

Transparency and accountability matter greatly to him; they are a defining feature of his proposals. With respect to the mortgage crisis, credit cards and the broader debate over credit markets, Obama rejects heavy-handed regulation and insists on disclosure above all so consumers will know exactly what they are getting.

Expect transparency to be a central theme in any Obama administration, as a check on government and the private sector alike. It is highly revealing that Obama worked with Republican (and arch-conservative) Tom Coburn of Oklahoma to produce legislation creating a publicly searchable database of all federal spending.

I've noted often that you can find way more detail than you'd ever want at Obama's campaign site, but I think it's also helpful to have these kinds of thoughtful descriptions, too.