John Sexton is normally an incredibly confident orator. As The New York Times put it this weekend, “A former debating champion, he has mastered the gentler rhetorical skill of conveying his thoughts through personal anecdotes. Like the hugs with which he greets even strangers, these stories can disarm opponents, either by setting a jovial tone for a conversation by deftly guiding it away from any minefields or simply by running out the clock.”
But in today’s sit-down video interview with The Grey Lady, Sexton seems uncharacteristically nervous and completely off-putting.
At the 1:18 mark in the video above, Times reporter Ariel Kaminer starts to ask Sexton about his past actions as President. “Looking back on a vote that was designed to unseat you, was there ever a time…” says Kaminer. Sexton then interrupts and asks Kaminer, ”Why do you keep saying that?” When Kaminer asks if the vote is meant for another purpose than to unseat him, Sexton stumbles over his words and says nothing.
He’s next asked if he would have done anything differently. Sexton seems back on his rhetorical game and slips in a neat aphorism: “the process of life is the process of learning.” But after arguing against the process of “rewriting history,” Kaminer cuts him down again and points out that he’s at a major university where history is a very worthwhile subject to be studied.
Maybe it’s the video’s eerie music, or maybe it’s just the low budget b-roll footage of Bobst that’s played in between scenes — but Sexton seems just straight up bizarre. It’s only day one of the no confidence vote and things seem to be a bit out of whack already.
Follow all of NYU Local’s No Confidence Vote coverage here.