ALAN DERSHOWITZ FOR THE DEFENSE: L’ÉTAT, C’EST TRUMP
Susan B. Glasser / New Yorker
— Donald Trump’s lawyer says that the President can do just about anything he wants. — An hour into the Senate trial of Donald John Trump on Wednesday, the emeritus Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz came to the floor to answer …
Do you remember the Joe Biden/Sarah Palin debate?
“Mind if I call you ‘Joe’?”
The moment she said it, you knew the “fix” was in: some devious, demonic slur was just waiting, scripted, in the wings. But that was just the beginning.
Dumber than a post, there was no way to prep “barracuda” Sarah for an actual, semi-formal debate — a salient and vital part of public life going back to Athenian democracy.
The level of ignorance was shameful, but the party who pounded their chests braying their “morality” — while exhibiting a “shotgun” wedding couple on stage as some twisted nod to family values — had a plan: Sarah would just ignore public debate, rhetoric, facts and couth, and behave as barbarically as she could.
Nothing has changed. No one remarked on the disgusting and vile spectacle as adults or educated humans would. Somehow it was suddenly “normal” and her obscene performance was praised by those with zero standards whatsoever, i.e. the American public and punditry.
We now view an even MORE obscene spectacle.
As I noted in last week’s “An Egg Balanced At Roof’s Apex,” Adam Schiff (and the House Managers) presented a professional, polished and in-depth case of clear obstruction and extortion.
And the Trump Legal Defense went the Full Palin.
The “opening arguments” section was perhaps the single finest example of “lack of clash” in a debate that I’ve ever seen.
The House Managers presented the case. As cases have been presented for at least 2,500 years.
The White House Shysters presented a case that only “clashed” with the House case on one technical issue: science fiction writer and lawyer Alan Dershowitz came up with a “technicality” basically stating that since the terms “abuse of power” and “obstruction of congress” were nowhere clearly defined concepts, the entire case was bad and should be ignored.
Mr. Dershowitz has spent the intervening time creating even more otherworldly logical hoodoos, clearly stealing the center stage from a series of bland apparatchiks.
But the rest of the “case” consisted in nothing but whining, puling, ranting, raving, obsessing, obfuscating, coruscating bovine fecal matter.
And that’s a kind characterization.
It is the epitome of the old courthouse saying: if you got the law on your side, pound on the law. If you got the facts on your side, pound on the facts. If you got nothing on your side, pound on the table.
The “defense” has, thus far, consisted almost entirely of pounding on the table. Not ONE essential fact has been refuted, but assertions of anti-fact, or, what Kellyanne Conway of White House Spokeserpent fame calls “alternative facts” are rife.
In classical debate, we begin with a proposition: Resolved, that Donald J. Trump should be removed from the White House.
The articles of impeachment — abuse of power and obstruction of congress — represent the reasons FOR the forcible vacancy of pale abodes, and the evidence of each count is then provided by the “Affirmative,” the “Pro,” the “for” and the “prosecution.”
Evidence and arguments are presented and the team in favor of the proposition now sits.
The other side, the Negative, the Con, the against and the defense now attacks the Affirmative case.
That is, until THIS case, in which case, the brief case has nothing to do with the affirmative’s case.
The entire defense rests (after red herrings and wild geese aplenty) on two points:
- They didn’t say the name of the crime right and so the Occupancy of the Casa Blanca is left as is notwithstanding the crime.
- Even if it was a crime it’s not a crime if the President thinks it’s good for the public good, just like he sees his REelection as a public good, and, therefore, whatever crimes might have been committed cannot be crimes because they were done for the public good to some degree. Unless, of course, the crimes are illegal. I mean the quid pro quos, that is.
Please forgive my seeming inability to limn the outlines of the Klein bottle of an argument that forms a Moebius strip in the rhetorical air above our heads.
- I have left out the long counter-prosecution of the Bidens by the former Attorney General of Florida, who famously accepted campaign contributions from Trump’s charity and declined to investigate or prosecute “Trump University.” Pam Something.
- I have left out the long whining about how mean the House was to the GOPs and particularly to Mr. Trump, who was somehow bravely fighting corruption in Ukraine with his specially deputized police dog, Rudy “I used to be America’s Mayor” Giuliani, who is weirdly absent in this whole mess.
- And I have left out the clearly irrelevant snipe hunts that have been tossed out, along with semi-Biblical invocations of the sacredness of the Impeachment and the Apocalypse that would ensue were it to be casually invoked for crimes.
It is the ultimate and final notion of “getting off on a technicality,” and, though they wear thousand dollar suits and fly in private jets, they are, each and every one, two bit shysters. Petty mob mouthpieces. “I wanna lawyer” lawyers.
And no one remarks on what a travesty this is. What a mockery of everything fair and decent, just and impartial. A mockery of judges and trials and legal arguments, and, yes, of debates.
And I am reminded of the Joe Biden/Sarah Palin debate.
As Palin savaged the very notion of “debate” the Senate Republicans are savaging the very notion of a “trial” and of “justice.”
This is a kangaroo court, pure and simple. The glee with which Moscow Mitch announced that, after a day of arm twisting, he “has the votes” to STOP any consideration of witnesses or additional documents (that would conclusively end all factual quibbling) is nothing short of satanic. It represents the ultimate perversion of justice into partisan tribalism and makes civil war all but inevitable.
The constitution is about to be dealt a grievous wound from which it will probably never recover. Article I government is about to vote itself out of relevancy so that the GOP senators can grovel at the feet of Donald J. Trump like the toadies and sycophants they are proving themselves to be.
How far we’ve fallen. And of what the rest of the world is watching, as the pettiest of pettifogging petit bourgeois (noveau riche, perhaps, but petit bourgeois, indeed, they put the “petty” in petit bourgeois) petulantly prate on presidential perquisites and omnipotence.
And I am ashamed to see our hypocrisy and our increasing national stupidity on such open display.
And I wonder what it is about Donald J. Trump that would make these accomplished men and women of the Republican Caucus willingly sacrifice their eternal reputations and place in posterity for?
I sure as hell don’t see it.