The curious case of Laurence Tribe.
Let’s face it, nobody likes lawyers. We all have our favourite jokes about them; my personal favourite being do you know what the difference is between a mosquito and a lawyer? One is a blood-sucking parasite and the other is an insect. Har, har but of course there’s an element of truth there. However, a good one can be a gladiator for you, and that’s whether you’re guilty or innocent, and of course we’re all innocent anyway.
You spend the best part of four decades teaching law at Harvard to the best and brightest. It’s all roughly modelled on English common law but the real bedrock of American law is the constitution. Everything else is mere skirmishes over that tectonic plate. Battles are won or lost on it but if we ever lose that plate, we’re all truly lost.
We have a president who’s actually done nothing much and if you look over the wreckage of two administrations, it’s all carnage. The foreign policy is a bloody disaster with the only face saver being Kerry taking an occasional one up the butt from Putin. Domestically, well, ask the people of what used to be the great city of Detroit how they’re doing. Vast swathes of what can only termed Amerikanistan are in ruins. That’s the little bit between media intensive Washington DC and Los Angeles. Quite a few people live there. Seriously, they do.
The great blunderer has decided his legacy is to be remembered as the saviour of the planet. The problem of course is that most people with two brain cells to rub together, never mind Congress, realise the planet doesn’t need any saving but thank you very much anyway.
Undeterred, he’s determined to save it even if that means circumventing Congress and utilising an obscenely outrageous extension of the clean air act to in effect de-industrialise America. It is a president indirectly trying to rule by diktat using a federal agency. The EPA is already a sullied brand and in the coming years, some scores will be settled. It comes with all the sins of a compromised organisation – lies, fraud, FOI evasion and politics trumping any appurtenance of science. Nobody has any illusions when dealing with that dog.
All that stuff that couldn’t be crammed down the throat of either Congress or the electorate slowly starts to appear piecemeal as excruciating bits of regulations coming out of an innocuous federal body. There is nothing more dangerous than a placeholder president who’s achieved nothing much coming to the end of a second term. He doesn’t have to live with any feel-good legislation he leaves behind him.
Someone, somewhere has to make a stand, so you become the lead counsel for Peabody Coal, the biggest coal company in America. Eeek, you’ve just dropped off so many invitation lists. It’s got to be for something. What’s that about?
It’s all about defending the constitution and that thing called the Office of the President of the United States.
It’s not for climate scepticism, though I’m sure he’ll be adopted by that faction. It’s not about thwarting the Democratic party’s electoral ambitions. Go for it Hilary and God help America but I feel the timing has not been good for you. A little bit of research shows his politics would be left of centre. He even had a research assistant called Barack whom he’s always been careful to praise without going over the top.
Spotting right from wrong when it’s in your face is easy. It’s somebody hurting or killing someone else for no moral or legally defensible reason. What’s really difficult is picking out that point on the sliding scale from where the violence is being done for some sort of moral, legal or some obviously justifiable reason on its way to just being simply indefensible cruelty on any of those fronts, and while those reasons may overlap, none of them are the same thing.
Laurence Tribe has simply decided enough is enough. Because of that, the mob are coming after him, his reputation, his body of work and anything he ever was. His life work. They’ll go to great efforts to trash the lot, and probably will. He knew all of that up front, and yet made a decision to stand anyway. A good and honourable man taking a bullet for the constitution is where we’ve been dragged down to. It’s called integrity.
That, ladies and gentlemen, is the state of what’s called the debate.