In the UK we are contemplating the possibility that we might eventually be ruled by the Bullingdon (aka Bollinger) Club. But a conversation at lunch in college today made me realise that Obama’s administration is likely to be critically affected by a more cerebral outfit, namely the Chicago law school, where Obama once taught constitutional law. One of his buddies is Cass Sunstein, for example, a legal scholar who has written in recent years about the Internet as an echo chamber, the deficiencies of deliberative democracy and — most recently — about how discreet ‘nudges’ can effect social change. Then there’s Jack Goldsmith, who was from the outset of the Net a sceptic about the extent to which the technology was genuinely transformative (in the sense of being able to slip the surly bounds of territorial jurisdictions) — views which later found expression in the book he co-authored with Timothy Wu: Who Controls the Internet? And of course there’s Richard Posner, a senior judge who is also a polymath, an academic and one of America’s most prolific public intellectuals (and indeed the author of a study of public intellectuals). Posner also co-maintains a highly cerebral blog with another Chicago academic, the Nobel laureate Gary Becker.
Rather puts Dave Cameron, George Osborne and the rest of the Bullingdons into perspective, doesn’t it?