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September 29, 2016 at 9:31 am

Mattson Authors ‘The Intellectual as President’ in Chronicle

Dr. Kevin Mattson authored “The Intellectual as President” in the Sept. 25 Obama Issue of Chronicle of Higher Education.

Dr. Kevin Mattson

Dr. Kevin Mattson

Mattson is the Connor Study Professor of Contemporary History at Ohio University.

I belong to a small group. Overeducated and often underemployed, we read small magazines and argue politics, and we try to elevate those conversations with forays into literature, history, and philosophy. We are the dreaded I-word — “intellectuals.” Rarely do we matter in public life. But back in 2008, it’s safe to say that Barack Obama seemed like one of us.

His biography screamed “intellectual.” Consider his liberal-arts education at Occidental College, then at Columbia University. He could parse Democracy in America, cite morally-complex fare like T.S. Eliot’s poetry, and chat about All the King’s Men. When he embarked on community organizing, he framed activism in big questions of democracy. Before becoming a politician, Obama was a writer — not just Dreams From My Father, but numerous journalistic pieces. Most of us recognized his wit but also a finely tuned mind that could see both sides of a given issue. Some credited his law-school training — from Harvard, no less — but I think it was his willingness to be playful about ideas.

Read the rest of his column in the Chronicle of Higher Education.

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