John Broderick vs. the Deplorables

A Fisking

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I still subscribe to the local newspaper on Sunday. It has coupons, and I have high hopes that by careful planning, I might save enough money using them to cover the cost of the subscription. It also carries crossword puzzles from the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times. I do them in ink, in honor of … well, never mind.

I also scan through the editorial section, which occasionally provides something to write about. Hence I read this op-ed column by John T. Broderick (" the former dean of UNH Law and the founder of the Warren B. Rudman Center for Justice, Leadership and Public Policy"), published in the January 2 newspaper. Yesterday, I dismissed it as an "incoherent hate-filled rant." I stand by that description. But it kind of stuck in my craw, even after getting that off my chest, and I'm unfortunately still irritated enough to break out the old fisking template.

So what follows is my lengthy response. Broderick's column is reproduced on the left with a lovely #EEFFFF background color; my remarks are on the right.

Make no mistake. America is broken. Listen John, I'm old enough to remember the 1960s and 1970s. Riots, assassinations, scandals, stagflation, pointless war, realistic threats of nuclear annihilation, … Things are worse now? I don't think so, but let's hear what else you have to say.
The entire idea behind democratic rule is subverted every day by a minority of our population […] I am breaking up a very long sentence. It (and what follows, see below) is essentially an inflated version of Hillary Clinton's famous "basket of deplorables" line, into which she put "half of Trump's supporters", characterizing them as "racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic – you name it."

And I'm not kidding about "inflated". Hillary was, at least, pithier than Broderick. Note the gassy prose. Not just democracy is being "subverted", but "the idea behind democratic rule." No, wait, it's but "the entire idea behind democratic rule". And it's not simply being "subverted" but "subverted every day".

"Hey, Cletus, have you subverted the entire idea behind democratic rule yet today?"

"No, man, been shoveling the driveway."

"Well, get to it, dude. And don't forget to subvert the entire idea. We ain't gonna half-ass this."

So who's doing all this subverting? Well, Broderick has a number of litmus tests. There are those…

[…] who distrust any government they don’t control, […] Issues of control aside, I'm in with the deplorables here. And with George F. Will, who back in 2005, noted the "timeless truth" that "no matter how deeply you distrust the government's judgment, you are too trusting."

I think the evidence here is on my side.

[…] ignore science they don’t understand yet don’t like while callously putting others at risk, […] Appears to be a COVID reference. Broderick is apparently pointing to Andrew Cuomo here.

Ha, just kidding! Seriously, I'm vaccinated, boosted, and masked where required. I'm fine with science. I'm not OK with the "science" that suddenly shortens a post-COVID isolation period of 10 days to 5 days. That's bureaucratic admission that they are making it up as they go.

[…] disparage and restrict voters of a color different than their own […] I'm pretty sure I've never done that.

I'm also pretty sure it's an invidious reference to people (like me) who want increased safeguards against voting fraud.

[…] and despise immigrants striving to be free. And this is an invidious reference to people who'd like beefed up security on the southern border. (I'm on the fence myself.)

But wait, Broderick's not done. He's not close to done.

Their view of our Constitution is most often fanciful, contradictory and uninformed and their idea of freedom is twisted and self-absorbed. They live in a self-interested, imaginary world with no social compact and no reciprocal responsibilities. They disgrace the service and sacrifice of so many Americans who unselfishly gave so much to protect rights they neither understand nor honor. Well, when you're demeaning a bunch of people, it's convenient to think that they're ignorant, irrational, irresponsible, selfish, delusional, and ungrateful. And to assert that without example or evidence.

Or it could just be a cheap insult. Hard to tell.

They support the Big Lie with zero proof; a Lie that any rational American would reject. Every federal judge found no evidence because there was none. It is the same Big Lie that even President Trump’s hand-picked Attorney General William Barr disowned. Incredibly, according to some recent polls, sixty percent of Republicans still believe that the election was stolen, too. They have zero proof as well. Yeah, that's bad. Trump's a delusional narcissist (not only about the election), and so are a lot of people who worship him.

Had Broderick restricted his criticism to those folks, I wouldn't have much to disagree with. But his "deplorable" pigeonhole includes many more.

Do facts matter anymore? Is truth too inconvenient to be honored? For an increasing number of Americans, facts don’t exist or at least facts that don’t serve their ends. Yes, John, confirmation bias is a well-known issue. ("Fortunately, everything I've seen says I'm immune.")

It's bad, but it's nothing new. And in fact…

Too many Americans live in a conspiracy-laden echo chamber of their own creation and embrace the American flag while supporting those who used that same flag as a spear to attack Capitol police in an effort to subvert our democratic election. These are the same people who allegedly support the police 100 percent. Many of those people presented with clear and graphic proof that misguided Trump supporters attacked our government on January 6th have concocted the bizarre notion that the FBI or Antifa were behind the insurrection. They have zero proof of that as well yet they hold to it senselessly even as the Proud Boys and others are being prosecuted or plead guilty. I'm not a fan of the pathetic losers who did 1/6. But note my bolding over to the left. I think Glenn Greenwald (back in October) had a good point when he compared overheated rhetoric to legal reality: "It must be infuriating and baffling to a large sector of the population to have been convinced that what happened on January 6 was an unprecedentedly dangerous insurrection perpetrated by an organized group of seditious traitors who had plotted to kidnap and murder elected officials, only for the Biden DOJ to have charged exactly nobody with any criminal charges remotely suggesting any of those melodramatic claims."

John, if you're complaining about others' "conspiracy-laden echo chamber", it's a good idea to check first to make sure you're not living in one of your own. As a lawyer/judge/ex-law school dean, you should know that insurrection is a crime with a legal definition. And a year later nobody's been charged with that crime in relation to 1/6.

Could that be a sign of ignoring facts that don't serve your ends, John?

How far have we fallen? How dangerous is our descent? How much destructive nonsense, ill-will and subversive conduct can we tolerate and still sustain democratic rule in America? Free speech is protected and cherished under our Constitution but not efforts in plain sight to subvert or destroy our country. Actions speak louder than words. "Actions speak louder than words"? This is not, to put it mildly, sophisticated legal analysis.
The Republicans in Congress and in Republican-controlled legislatures across the country are actively working to grind our democratic process to a halt and replace it with autocratic rule. Where are the Republican voices with the courage to speak up? Why are so many good Republicans remaining silent or objecting only in whispers or among a small circle of safe friends? Where are they? Wow, he got pretty partisan there. Would have been a lot more credible had he acknowledged the creeping illiberalism on both left. and right. wings, reflected (regrettably) in both parties.
Conservative Republicans cheer Kyle Rittenhouse, who, whatever the verdict, took two lives with an automatic weapon. Cheering seems tone deaf and classless to me. I have never heard a police officer cheer if he/she takes another life in self-defense. I’ll bet you haven’t either. For someone who wonders if "facts matter anymore", Broderick is kind of sloppy with them. Rittenhouse's weapon was an AR15-style semiautomatic, not (of course) an automatic weapon.

And there was no cheering here for Rittenhouse, just relief that he wasn't railroaded, and disgust for the misinformation promulgated by the media.

Where have all the statesmen gone? When did truth die? When was finding out who organized and funded the January 6th assault on our free elections a petty partisan exercise to be disparaged by virtually every elected Congressional Republican? Unless things change, America will continue its sorry decline from being a democratic beacon to a world yearning to be free to just a sad example of a noble yet failed experiment in self-government. I take nothing for granted. In current circumstances silence is dangerous. Rapidly approaching full incoherence…
Putin must be smiling in Moscow. … with cheap demagoguery at the finish. But, to be fair, I'd guess that Putin is smiling even more broadly when he remembers that the USA is in the hands of (according to Gerard Baker) a "husk of a leader, a dangerously debilitated figure, who oscillates between displays of vacuous incoherence and weird, angry outbursts, like a confused old man at the wrong bus stop."

OK, so I'm all better now.