I have decided to embark on a mission to read a number of books on subjects that will be of great importance to the upcoming 2020 US Presidential Election. Many of these will focus on actors intricately involved in the process, in hopes that I can understand them better and, perhaps, educate others with the power to cast a ballot. I am, as always, open to serious recommendations from anyone who has a book I might like to include in the process.
This is Book #25 (a re-read) in my 2020 US Election Preparation Challenge.
Having read a great deal about recent topics surrounding presidential impeachment, I thought it appropriate to explore a little more about sentiments against the constitutional removal of President Trump. There are surely many Trump supporters who oppose impeachment talk, even those not employed by Fox and Friends. However, I sought something with more teeth and legally grounded. Enter, Alan Dershowitz, who makes strong and repeated assertions that talk of impeachment is not only premature, but also legally unfounded. Dershowitz presents arguments that he makes clear to the reader that he’s held for over fifty years and offers them repeatedly throughout this tome. Interestingly enough, I have read many of the texts Dershowitz hopes to debunk with his arguments, citing that these legal scholars and academics suffer from tunnel vision and could not support their assertions if the ‘shoe were on the other foot’, one of his tests to credibility. Dershowitz, an admitted civil libertarian, extols the necessity that impeachment and bringing criminal charges against opponents should not be a club to remedy ideological differences. Dershowitz also spends much time trying to erode the entire current impeachment process as being anything but supported by law. He cites strong concern about the hiring of a special prosecutor to undertake investigations into all the alleged activities that fuel the calls for impeachment, explaining that bias has rotted the core of the exploratory system. With a less than stellar Robert Mueller, an Attorney-General in Jeff Sessions who tried to play two roles, and members of Congress who are fixated on loose claims, Dershowitz goes almost so far as to call the entire process a sham. Narrow interpretation of the US Constitution is another area where Dershowitz tries tirelessly to nullify the need for considering Trump’s actions as worthy of impeachment. A firm believer of literal interpretation of the Founders’ words, Dershowitz cannot see where Trump has done anything to contravene the limits set out by those who created the political rulebook for the United States. The repetitive nature of Dershowitz’s arguments leaves the reader to wonder why he needs to constantly provide an air of self-aggrandizement, as though others could never contribute as effectively. Dershowitz shows why he is the ideal criminal defence attorney, pushing smoke into the eyes of the layperson while concocting bouts of browbeating to confound someone who simply wants some basic arguments to offset much of what is being said in print and on television. Dershowitz is to be applauded for holding firm to his ground, but makes few arguments that come across as substantial without being condescending. An interesting read for those who can comprehend his complex and highly academic views, though sure to miss the mark for many other readers.
I admit that my impeachment binge may have been one-sided, though I did learn quite a bit from the constitutional and legal areas of the matter at hand, which have helped shape my opinions. However, while I respect some of the sentiments made by Dershowitz, his approach seems to be very troubling or extremely narrow-minded. While there are some who assert that the US Constitution lays out rules that must be followed and we cannot stray from them, I have always been a ‘Living Tree’ believer, that laws, even of a constitutional nature, must grow with the society they oversee. I always marvelled at how former Justice Scalia could make rulings based on the Founding Fathers original intent without taking modernity into account, but he seemed to do so effectively. Dershowitz takes that same approach in that he tries to tie the reader into knots about believing those who call for impeachment without clearly defined reasons in the Constitution. Taking this approach not only confounds those who seek to have modern discussions, but also closes the door on having an evolving exploration, when one mind is stuck in the late 18th century. Additionally, Dershowitz offers up a rebuttal of those who speak of collusion or obstruction, refusing to see anything in federal statutes that supports claims. Again, he is happy to parse the laws to his literal favour, rather than allowing his mind to expand and work in the modern exploration of a living constitutional document. Infuriating as it is, this pales in comparison to his oft-repeated sentiment that he is the sole legal mind who has held firm and would sat the same things no matter who was being slandered. This self-aggrandizement does little to warm the reader up to his arguments, as they are forced to watch Dershowitz pat himself on the back, yet continue to call himself entirely neutral. This is likely because this text is a set of short essays published over a short time, in which Dershowitz repeats his key arguments. While this could be used effectively, the reader forced to hear that same arguments (i.e. shoe on the other foot) over and over, things quickly become mundane. I had truly hoped for some strong arguments refuting the sentiments made by the other side, but was subjected to inane arguments that chose more to mock others for being too invested rather than provide counter-claims that could sway arguments. For all this intelligence and the stellar work he has done in criminal defence, Dershowitz seeks not to help the common American turn their opinions, but wants to blather on in law school classrooms and in the clouds with those academics who can handle his banter.
Kudos, Mr. Dershowitz, for your long-winded arguments. If mockery and tying the reader in knots is your attempt to confuse people into agreeing with you simply to stop the circular arguments, you have succeeded. Heaven forbid that you change your mind and agree to help Trump on the Senate floor with the impeachment trial, for that could be as brain-numbing as watching them shampoo the carpets ahead of the trial itself.
A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons