29 December 2018

Contemptuous Words

I've been minorly laid up for a few days, binge-watching old TV series because that's about all that my brain can handle. Specifically, The West Wing. I am no longer subject to Article 88 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, so I can… colorfully… express my despair that the political leadership of this nation (especially, but far from only, the Heffalumps) has turned that sober, enthusiastic series exploring and extolling the merits of governing in good faith, even through profound disagreements, into something with less plausibility than even the worst stuff on the SyFy channel. Even pro wrestling.

Here's an example: Can you imagine the following conversation occurring in Washington between members of opposite parties?

President Bartlet You want another Brady?

Judge Mulready Sure, just like you'd like another Ashland — who wouldn't? The court was at its best when Brady was fighting Ashland.

President Bartlet Plenty of good law written by the voice of moderation.

Judge Mulready Who writes the extraordinary dissent? The one-man-minority opinion whose time hasn't come but 20 years later some circuit court clerk digs it up at three in the morning. Brennan railing against censorship. Harlan's Jeremiad on Jim Crow.

"The Supremes" (Season 5, Episode 17, aired 24 Mar 2004).

So fuck you Senator Turtle and your minions, your coreligionists in the view that the object of power is power (who either themselves forget, or want everyone to forget, that that phrase is in the context of a totalitarian dictatorship and not a democratic republic). That the extraordinary dissent — and not just in judicial opinions — doesn't just matter to some recent law-school graduate at 3 a.m., but is central to the entire concept of a democratic republic. And so is compromise.

So perhaps I wouldn't be violating Article 88 because I hold them so far beneath contempt. Not much of a defense.