"Why Chicago Booth is Different from Washington DC
When you’re a reporter in Washington, you earnestly ask questions, hoping to get from someone what they really think, some acknowledgement that the problem is complicated, and talk about what the solutions might be. What you too often get instead is something more akin to theology: prepared talking points, with no acknowledgement that anything about this point is difficult, because you just subject it to this quick, binary litmus test: yes, no, blue team, red team, Dems, Reps. Conversations get flattened and simplified at the most complex time in the history—well, since the Civil War.
It was refreshing to be on stage with serious people who recognize that some of this stuff is complicated, who have very strongly held beliefs accumulated over a lifetime of how the world ought to work, and yet when you ask them a tough question, they don’t simply revert back to theology and give you their talking points, but play with what makes an idea hard.
They’re ready to defend their turf, but they’re also ready to concede in some cases that they don’t have a one-size-fits-all answer for some of the tough problems. They’re a lot easier to work with than senators, I’ll tell you that. The thing I love about a gathering like that is that they do with ideas what the Harlem Globetrotters did before a game. They stood in a circle and they spun the ball on their fingers and rolled it around their heads, shot it back and forth across the circle. Just being a witness to that, as people who are very well schooled in some of the toughest things to explain about human behavior, took an idea, turned it upside down, looked at the bottom, looked at it from the other side, shot it back to the other guy who then passed it to the woman next to him…. It’s that kind of willingness to discuss things that are hard and make it look easy, that is a great joy of being in a gathering like that."