With election season on us again, Evanston voters may be wondering what ever happened to Republican Joel Pollak, who two years ago posed the toughest election challenge of her career to incumbent U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky of Evanston.

Well, he surfaced in the national news this week as the editor in chief of the late Andrew Breitbart’s conservative political website, with what was billed as a “bombshell” video from President Obama’s days as a student at Harvard Law School.

But this Yahoo News story suggests that many observers thought the bomshell was a dud.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Joel Pollak is bonkers

    When did Joel Pollak become a lunatic?  His political evolution from moderate to far right conspiracy theorist is extremely disappointing.

    1. Pollak, Bell, and Obama

      Jonathan Chait has a nice commentary on Pollak, Bell and Obama in New York Magazine:

      "Pollak has launched a wild fusillade of attacks centered around his story that Barack Obama praised Harvard Law professor Derrick Bell at a pro-affirmative action rally in 1990. The whole effort has been comically inept and propagandistic. spent weeks promising it had acquired an explosive tape that would change the course of the election. Then Buzzfeed got the tape and published it. It was decidedly non-explosive. Pollak insisted that his video was vastly more explosive, and appeared on Hannity with his “exclusive,” which turned out to be the exact same video, plus a few seconds after the speech, in which Obama hugged Bell.

      Why is Pollak making such absurd charges? Because he is a smear artist immune to any journalistic standards? Well, certainly."

      (See the rest of it here.   Or, for a more comical look at Pollak and Breitbart's shrillness and hyperbole, see this update from Chait.)

      Now to answer the question:  When did Joel Pollak become a lunatic?   I don't think that he is a lunatic…I think he is completely rational.  I don't think that he believes most of the nonsense he spouts, but he is probably making a good living at it, and I think he enjoys being a minor celebrity.  As long as there are billionaires like the Koch brothers and Rupert Murdoch , there will be a market for pundits who spout right-wing nonsense.  Like Rush Limbaugh, Dennis Miller, Charles Krauthammer, George Will, John Kass…( .the list goes on….)…Joel has quite rationally seized upon this business opportunity.  He is not insane.

      1. Now tell the truth

        Anybody that gets their news from New York can't possibly know what the truth is. Bell is just another one of Obama's odd group of friends that preach an anti-american set of values or socialist values. Bell is a Farrakhon follower. The rally was not a one time meeting. He is a close friend of Obama and has helped form Obama's philosophy according to Obama. He has stayed at the whitehouse several times in the last 3 years and was an Obama invite to his inauguration.

        Bell is a very controversial character. Is he just another of Obama controversial friends and cabinet members in Obama's life or is he some special to Obama. That is for each individual to decide.

        Also, you probably owe Joel Pollak an apology. Your comments about him are as for from the truth as one can get.

  2. Was Pollak that much better than Schakowsky?

    Yes he was, by a mile. In the League of Women forum in which they both appeared Pollak shined while Schakowsky fumbled around trying to comprehend the questions being asked. That forum cemented Schakowsky's refusal engage Pollak in a real debate that she would surely lose.

    As far as the video, people got to see additional footage and segments that ABC refused to show. They got to see Obama embracing the controversial Professor Bell who suggested that Farrakhan was a better example to follow than Martin Luther King. Pollak also brought up the fact that when Obama was a lecturer at the University of Chicago he was assigning Bell's book and papers rather than the Constitutional assignments as he was paid for. Everybody should remember that Obama was criticized by law professors at the school and was forced to teach his class the subject matter.

    Pollak is not a right winger. He just appears that way when compared to progressive extremist like Schakowsky. Rather, he is an intelligent well reasoned man who is willing to explain in detail how he comes to his position. That is not something you see in the politicians in this area of the state, Republicans or Democrats.

    1. Law lectures

      skipw says:

      "Pollak also brought up the fact that when Obama was a lecturer at the University of Chicago he was assigning Bell's book and papers rather than the Constitutional assignments as he was paid for."

      I enquired to find anything to support this.  Here is what I found, on Breitbart's page:

      In 1994, Barack Obama taught a course at the University of Chicago Law School entitled, "Current Issues in Racism and the Law." The reading list and syllabus for that class were made available by the New York Times in 2008, though there seems to have been little analysis of its content by Jodi Kantor, the Times’s Obama correspondent. Obama routinely assigned works by Bell as required reading, including Bell's racialist interpretations of seminal civil rights laws and cases. No other scholar’s work appears as often in the syllabus as Bell’s does.

      So, Skippy….Obama taught a course on "Current Issues in Racism and the Law", so wouldn't it be reasonable to assign readings by one of the leading scholars on racism and the law, like a professor at the Harvard Law School who focuses on race issues?  I would expect Bell's work to appear frequently on the syllabus of such a course.

      1. Obama and Bell

        Dear Anonymous,

        Is that your real name?  Why not Jones, Smith, or Doe?

        Obama was also lecturing a class on Constitutional law and he assigned the same books. It was a good number of law professors the University of Chicago that objected along with some students.
        Bell has taught at Harvard for a good number of years but his teaching, book, and papers are basically promoting the philosophy of Louis Farrakhan. This is not someone most people admire but apparently Obama does admire him along an endless list of other controversial people in his strange life.


    1. Speak of fools

      He made Jan Schakowsky look like a fool but it didn't matter, people still voted for her.

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