Dershowitz the Sophist

It’s late at night, snowing and the roads are slick. You are in the back seat of a car with Alan Dershowitz. His driver is doing 65, the speed limit, and the car is having trouble holding the road. You see on your maps app, there is black ice up ahead. You ask the driver to slow down but he throws a glance at Dersh and laughs. Alan begins arguing that he has the right to drive 65—that’s the speed limit and he is obeying the law.

In his many appearances on television, Dershowitz is not staking out his positions in a vacuum. His positions are used to defend Trump who, many of us believe, is completely corrupt, a danger to our country, democracy and the West (not to mention immigrants, black lives, women, gay rights, the liberal media and the rule of law). Could John LeCarré have created a better Soviet asset than Donald Trump?

Yet Dershowitz wants to argue against impeachment. 1) Is someone being impeached? 2) Is someone driving the country off a cliff? Despite making the wrong argument at the wrong time, Dershowitz wants us to invite him to the party and engage him in a lively debate so we can admire his rhetorical skills. What fun! How uncivil of us not to want to listen to him.

And where has our let’s-hear-all-sides-of-the-story approach gotten us anyway? Wasn’t it partly the fault of the mainstream media in attempting to present us with both sides of issues exploited by Trump and his team? On the one hand, we have facts and on the other we have “alternative facts.” On the one hand, we have Mueller, and on the other, we have Rudy Giuliani.On the one hand, we have an investigation against the president, on the other, we have DJT tweeting “no collusion…witch hunt.”

Mueller, a lawyer with that increasingly rare trait of integrity, is not talking, and his standing is falling by the day because the mainstream media gives Trump and his acolytes a voice. What’s wrong with this picture? We’re playing nice while Trump and friends are eating our lunch.

Meanwhile, we are quickly heading toward a country with one branch of government–an executive branch with administrative assistants doing the president’s bidding in the Supreme Court and in Congress. I believe this is what is referred to as a coup. We’re learning that the founding fathers never anticipated a situation like this in which the government is controlled by one party, and that party is controlled by one slightly unhinged, amoral man. At the same time, the 4thestate, which should function as check on the president, is under attack, or in the case of Fox, acting as a public relations firm for the president.

Dershowitz is a sophist. In ancient Greece, he’d belong to the school where rhetorical skills were taught without any grounding in morality. He would have argued along with Georgias that we should admire Helen. She had little to do with starting the Trojan War after all and she was a great beauty.Of course for someone out of the limelight, it is hard to resist television appearances, especially when one is being shunned.

 

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