Professor Bobbitt

use this philip bobbitt resized Professor BobbittOn a recent Tuesday morning, Philip Bobbitt was sitting in his grand but sparsely furnished Park Avenue apartment, smoking a cigar and drinking a caffeine-free Diet Coke.

“Most of my life is inside my head,” said Professor Bobbitt, who, when he is in New York, and not at one of his other homes in London or Austin, Texas, teaches Legal Methods at Columbia Law School. LM is a three-week introductory course for first-year students, and Columbia regularly pulls out its biggest guns for it—the shock-and-awe tactic law schools often employ to stun their 1Ls into thinking they’re enjoying themselves. This year you could’ve had Justice Ginsburg’s daughter, or a former president of the university! But you wouldn’t have known it from the campus chatter.

“Did you get Bobbitt?” was all you heard throughout August. “Did you get Bobbitt?”

“I wanted to yell at them and say, ‘How do you know this? You’ve been here 10 minutes,’” said Craig Greiwe, co-chair of the orientation committee and himself one of Professor Bobbitt’s most fervent student admirers. “But apparently they’ve been researching this for months on end.”

Through some combination of gossip, online stalking, hounding their teaching assistants and perusing the Facebook group “Phillip [sic] Bobbitt is Our Hero,” students piece together the following:

Professor Bobbitt, who is 60, arrived at Columbia only 18 months ago, after three decades at the University of Texas. He is an eminent scholar of the Constitution and used to teach modern history at Oxford. He’s a former member of the Carter, Bush I and Clinton administrations and an adviser to foreign heads of state.

Henry Kissinger and Tony Blair blurbed his latest book on terrorism, which both current presidential candidates have reportedly read.

He’s the nephew of Lyndon B. Johnson.

He can blow smoke rings, and sponsors a national poetry prize in honor of his late mother.

Also: He rotates seasonally among his homes, and can’t shake his habit of a nightly cigar and scotch-and-soda.

He claims to be oblivious to all the attention, but he says he likes teaching first-years, who are, as he told them on the final day of class in August, “embarking on an important voyage in conscience.”

“My classes are pretty authoritarian, and pretty rigorous,” he said. “But I have changed. And now when the students want to know something about my life, I’m not quite so standoffish.”

Article continues below
More from Politics
STAR OF DAVID OR 'PLAIN STAR'?   If you thought "CP Time" was impolitic, on July 2 Donald Trump posted a picture on Twitter of a Star of David on top of a pile of cash next to Hillary Clinton's face. You'd think after the aforementioned crime stats incident (or after engaging a user called "@WhiteGenocideTM," or blasting out a quote from Benito Mussolini, or...) Trump would have learned to wait a full 15 seconds before hitting the "Tweet" button. But not only was the gaffe itself bad, the attempts at damage control made the BP oil spill response look a virtuoso performance.  About two hours after the image went up on Trump's account, somebody took it down and replaced it with a similar picture that swapped the hexagram with a circle (bearing the same legend "Most Corrupt Candidate Ever!"!). Believe it or not, it actually got worse from there. As reports arose that the first image had originated on a white supremacist message board, Trump insisted that the shape was a "sheriff's star," or "plain star," not a Star of David. And he continued to sulk about the coverage online and in public for days afterward, even when the media was clearly ready to move on. This refusal to just let some bad press go would haunt him later on.
Donald Trump More Or Less Says He’ll Keep On Tweeting as President