Los Angeles attorneys in the USC Gould School of Law Alumni Association gathered for a Breakfast With the Faculty event this morning featuring USC Law Professor Susan Estrich. Her topic was “Media, Politics & the 2016 Election” and Professor Estrich regaled the crowd with war stories from her 30 years in the world of politics.
Professor Estrich made a prediction for the upcoming 2016 presidential election: Neither Donald Trump nor Bernie Sanders would be the candidate.
Through a series of stories the Professor pointed to the increasing polarization of the parties and, perhaps more importantly, the media. Because the media wants a fight and the ensuing ratings, they often end up booking the crazy speakers on the far left and far right. This makes for better television but does not make for better policy discussions. Nuance and calm debate are frowned upon in the quest for ratings.
She also believes that this has taken place in the political world. She told the story of how she asked some recent students if they had ever heard of Chappaquiddick. None of them had. This of course is where Senator Ted Kennedy drove his car off a bridge late at night after partying with the “boiler room girls”–young women associated with Robert’s presidential campaign the year before. He walked away from the crash and the next morning reported it to the police. Mary Jo Kopechne was found dead in the car. Kennedy received a two-month suspended sentence for leaving an accident. Professor Estrich pointed out that if this were to happen these days, it would be on the news non-stop and Kennedy would never have been considered a presidential contender.
She also spoke of the days in the 1980s when Republicans and Democrats still had drinks together at the end of the day. She said that they had an understanding that they were all political hacks but they got along and socialized together. She thinks those days are gone now.
Professor Estrich bemoaned the money that is in politics but did not talk much about why it is a bad thing.
The best thing about a morning with Professor Estrich is that she is highly entertaining and tells stories. She is a lawyer, law professor and news commentator (Fox News). She also ran the presidential campaign of Michael Dukakis against George H. W. Bush. This was a fantastic event with the some great attorneys from the USC Law Alumni network. I highly recommend it.
Los Angeles business litigation attorney Laine T. Wagenseller is a graduate of the USC Gould School of Law (’93).