Monday, January 20, 2020

Follow the Bouncing Ball

(The answer is: "No, probably not."  But the question does go to my conclusion.)

Honestly, this wouldn't make sense if I was just a rhetorician by profession now, and not a lawyer as well:

“Back then you said that it certainly doesn’t have to be a crime if you have somebody who completely corrupts the office of president, who abuses trust, and who poses great danger to our liberty, you don’t need a technical crime,” said [Anderson] Cooper.

“Well, that’s true. You don’t need a technical crime. That’s my position today,” said Dershowitz. “I’ve said right from the beginning you need criminal-like behavior akin to bribery and treason.”

As a lawyer and as a teacher of composition and rhetoric, I have no idea what "criminal-like" means.  It's too vague to base a criminal charge on, and too meaningless to base an argument on.

“But that’s not what you said then,” said Cooper. “You didn’t say criminal-like behavior. You said completely corrupts the office of president, abuses trust, imposes great danger.”

“I’ve done a lot of research. Back then I took the word of many academics who said that,” said Dershowitz.

So he's the victim of academics he shouldn't have trusted?  This is an admission of not being an academic oneself.  The keystone of academic work is research sufficient to reach an independent conclusion on the topic of study and the issues thereof; or at least to be able to defend one's conclusion without this cry of "Well, that's what some people said!"  That is such a non-academic defense it's actually indefensible.

“So you were wrong?” said Cooper.

“No, I wasn’t wrong. I have a more sophisticated basis for my argument now,” said Dershowitz.

I couldn't be wrong, I could only be unsophisticated?  Really?  That sounds like a sound argument to a former Harvard Law professor?  Man, their standards have fallen low, indeed.

“What is clear is Alan was right in 1998 and he is wrong now,” said Jeffrey Toobin. “I mean, the two — the two statements cannot be reconciled. One is right or one is wrong. And the one in 1998 is right. The idea — look, every single law professor that has looked at this issue except you seems to think there is a—”

“He just lied,” shouted Dershowitz. “Professor Bowie, who is a professor at Harvard takes my view. Read his article, Jeffrey … please withdraw that argument that no professor has said it. So you’re saying that Professor Bowie doesn’t exist?”

The appeal to authority is one of the most basic of logical fallacies.  One rests an argument on sound authority, but in law or academia only after showing a thorough understanding of the authority and its consonance with the issue at hand.  This is just plain hiding behind the skirts (sorry!) of Professor Bowie.  That's pathetic, in law or academia or just plain argument.

“I want to go back,” said Cooper. “Previously you said it doesn’t have to be a crime if the person in office completely corrupts the office of president and who abuses trust and poses great danger to our liberty, that is impeachable. Now you’re saying criminal-like. So corrupting the office of the president, is that in your criminal-like behavior?”

“No, it’s not. That was rejected by the framers,” said Dershowitz.

Whether or not it was rejected by the framers is actually irrelevant, since the Framers didn't set the Constitution in stone and holy writ and declare any deviation from their uniform conclusions (of which there aren't any; they just acquiesced to majority rule on the language that was approved) to be apostate and unmutual.  That's part of the problem with this whole argument:  that we can and must know what "the Framers" thought.  That's a chimerical pursuit that doesn't even answer the question of how many angels can dance on the nib of a quill pen.

“You were wrong back then?” said Cooper.

“I was saying that I’m much more correct right now,” said Dershowitz.

“Much more correct? What does that mean?” said Cooper.

I think it's something like "criminal-like behavior."  I'm still trying to figure that one out.

“Let me explain. Please don’t shut me off. Two against one here,” whined Dershowitz. “Let me make my point.”

I honestly don't think you can.  I don't think anyone can.

“No. I’m not on anyone’s side. I’m trying to rationally understand,” said Cooper.

You poor man. No wonder you're confused.

“I still don’t think you need a technical crime,” said Dershowitz. “And I think your viewers are entitled to hear my argument without two bullies jumping on everything I say … let’s talk what the issues are instead of trying to attack the messenger.”

You haven't been able to yet.  Whining is not winning, you know.

“I don’t think anybody’s attacking the messenger,” replied Cooper. “I think rationally, look, I’m not a lawyer, nor have I studied law, and I didn’t go to Harvard, but what you’re saying, the words you are speaking do not jibe with what you said in the past, and yet you’re not saying what you said in the past is wrong.”

Gets to the nub of it, doesn't he?

This is still true:

And so is this:
And also, so is this:
And the latter only matters if that bare majority exists in at least a few states with GOP Senators up for re-election and in states that will provide the electoral college votes to oust Trump.  Then again, this is true as well:
So that 51% may prove to be enough, after all.

Especially if the Democrats impress upon the people that the GOP wants a government of men, not of laws.

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