Picking On A Democrat

Well, at least I think he’s a Democrat. After all, he was Barack Obama’s nominee for the Supreme Court.

I’m talking, of course, about Merrick Garland, who has finally convinced me that what I originally took to be prudence and respect for the necessary independence of the Department of Justice is really wishy-washy timidity bordering on incompetence. His performance as Attorney General reminds me of a long-ago insight/admission; when I was Indianapolis’ Corporation Counsel, a local political wheeler-dealer asked me if I would be interested in running for a judgeship. I told him that my personality tended more toward advocacy (I know–regular readers will be shocked!) and that I lacked the judicial temperament needed for a judgeship.

Perhaps that’s Garland’s problem, in reverse. Had McConnell not breached his duty and had Garland been seated on the Court, perhaps he would have performed well in that more measured role. But he’s been a huge mistake as Attorney General. The insight that evidently escapes him is that you don’t have to be impermissibly partisan to exercise proper control over the Department of Justice.

As Charles Pierce recently wrote in Esquire, Garland needs to be thanked for his service and shown the door.

I have come to the sad conclusion that, like Brian Wilson, Attorney General Merrick Garland just wasn’t made for these times, and, like Tom Hagen, he’s just not a wartime consigliere. I hung in there longer than most people I know. But, this week, the case against him got overwhelming. The man needs to be thanked for his service and then shown the door.

He is not equipped to use all the tools god gave the Department of Justice to thwart the genuine threat to the Republic that is El Caudillo del Mar-A-Lago, and the dangerous political climate he has created. The former president* should have been charged federally with insurrection literally years ago. (Hell, during Thursday’s oral arguments in the Supreme Court concerning the former president*’s eligibility under the 14th Amendment, even Justice Brett Kavanaugh wondered why he hadn’t been so charged, and Kavanaugh used to work for Ken Starr, if we’re talking about using all the DOJ’s tools at your disposal.) The DOJ should have gone hammer-and-tongs after all the members of Congress who had the slightest connection with the insurrection. Somebody higher than the bear spray crowd should have been arrested and held until trial. Some of the expensive loafers should have been confiscated during the booking process rather than all those duckboots.

Pierce praised Jack Smith, but noted that the appointment of a special counsel shouldn’t have been necessary. And then he got to what was “the end” for him–and for me.

Appointing a Republican hack like Robert Hur to “investigate” the non-crimes of the president was bad enough, but then to allow Hur to pile on a political hit piece about the president’s memory, thereby normalizing one of the former president*’s attack lines on DOJ stationery, is not admirably fair-minded, it’s constitutionally suicidal. God save us from the fair-minded. They’ll kill the country and wonder how they did it.

Garland evidently shares a widespread misconception harbored by pundits and many Democrats about America’s current politics: the belief that sane folks and MAGA extremists would be able to “work things out” if the sane folks would just be really, really “fair and balanced” in their responses to MAGA’s conspiracy theories, dirty tricks and lies. MAGA folks are just scared, and if we’re nice to them when they’re bludgeoning our Constitution and dismantling our government– if we just meet them halfway (or a bit further)– they’ll calm down and rejoin the ranks of the reasonable.

This is, to be polite about it, hogwash. The core MAGA cult is unreachable. They inhabit a different reality, one in which they are literally at war not only with the rest of America, but with the most fundamental idea of America.

Allowing Hur to include what was obviously a political hit job in a purportedly “investigative” report has been condemned by a number of prosecutors. It’s yet more evidence of Garland’s passivity–his utterly inadequate conduct of a position that requires more spine (okay, more balls) than he evidently possesses.

At some point, someone needs to tell Garland and other “make nice” Democrats that they are playing pickle ball against people waging war with AK-47s.


  1. Months ago I said something along the lines that we are in a bar fight with the Republicans for the retention of our democratic republic and the rule of law. This essay today underscores that comment. You don’t win a bar fight by waving a hanky. I’ve been pretty patient with Garland, but him not going after the insurrectionists until years after the fact was a HUGE error in judgement.

    I don’t think Garland would have been that stellar as a SCOTUS Justice either … except compared to the Republican appointees, at least he would be not corrupt.

  2. This “make nice” approach by Democrats took hold during Obama’s administration when the First Lady sold the party on “When they go low, we go high”. What horse shit!
    During Obama’s time in office the Republicans really went low… low enough to be in the sewers. Democrats should have, and still need to, pull on their hip boots and wade on into the fight because that is where the fight is.

  3. A while back, a friend recommended that I start reading your column.
    Reading your comments about Merrick Garland confirms that doing so was one of my best decisions, no exaggeration.

  4. And so we are conduct a legal pogrom to rid ourselves of the rightwing vermin?
    This sounds just like the despised radio jousters who inhabit Limbaugh Land.

  5. Maybe McConnell recognized a kindred spirit in Garland that President Obama and the party didn’t recognize as weakness and used it to aid the MAGA party he saw coming.

  6. Yep, I learned in elementary school that the only way to stop bullies is to fight fire with fire. Playing nice just gives them permission to be even more mean.

  7. While I agree that the self-serving lawlessness of Trump, King of Republicans, is a danger, what protects us from it is democracy, the Constitution, and civic literacy.

    Unfortunately, closing the deficit in civic literacy takes time, as compared to the speed of entertainment “news” about the antics of a spoiled infantile clown soiling his diapers with his mouth.

    However, I sense that progress is being made, and the casualty of his presence will be the GOP as it has devolved to and not the US.

    Of course patience maybe a virtue but our species is not generally skilled in it so anger, frustration, and panic are easy to fall victim to.

    The hand Democrats have been dealt is not a Royal Flush but doesn’t need to be. Republicans are bluffing out of desperation.

    I say we call them on it. Stay the course and let the permanent record of history have its way with the Trump-pets. Some R’s will go down with their ship. Enough will rescue themselves in honor of the Constitution they pledged to support.

  8. Perhaps people have forgotten, but Garland was only put out there as a supreme court nomination because he was seen as so center/conservative, so milquetoast, so totally unobjectionable to the (at the time we thought) peak lunatics that they would allow a democratic president to pick a justice. Remember? They literally said “well, if you picked Merrick Garland…” then Obama called their bluff and gave them the “democrat” they asked for – shocker, it was still no. Garland was the weakest choice possible even then. So… seems like we should have seen this weakness coming, yeah?

  9. You don’t play nice with sociopaths. They don’t have a conscience, allowing them to act without regret or wrongdoing. They will mow you over.

    Obama and then Biden wanted to unite Americans, but it’s too late for that in Washington. The only thing that brings Washington together is war; the House has shown signs of growing a spine, but I suspect that all the anti-Russia speak this past week will pressure them to pass the $60B to Ukraine.

    They also came together over the death of the CIA/MI6 asset, Navalny. X was full of politicians clamoring about this NeoNazi, calling him the opposition leader when he only polled around 3% — not exactly a threat to Putin, who has around an 80% approval rating in Russia. Talk about virtue signaling.

    Hur’s report was a gift to the MAGA crowd, but Trump dismissed Biden’s age as a weakness, maybe because he is only 4 years younger. Basically, what Hur said was Biden was guilty but too feeble to stand trial. Hell, we already knew that!

  10. “Well, at least I think he’s a Democrat. After all, he was Barack Obama’s nominee for the Supreme Court.” Sad when we start assuming/linking the judiciary to parties. Down and down we go…sucked into the sludge.

  11. Starting with refusing to let the transition team into the white house, we were into full blown insurrection mode. Why haven’t we charged someone?!?

  12. When the insane are running on high octane, there is no place for playing nice-nicey. Speaking as a retired M.H. professional, I will tell you that here are many times when schizophrenics , or bi-polar people are not “out there,” but there is no time when the MAGA-nuts are not “out there.”

  13. Navigating the edge between opposing evil and becoming evil to fight it is difficult and frustrating. I agree that the Justice Department has been a disappointment in its response to domestic terrorism, going after the foot soldiers instead of the leaders. I thought Garland was working his way up the ladder toward those leaders in classic gangster fighting fashion. Maybe he was but the trials of the higher-ups have dragged on so long that ordinary Americans rightly doubt whether equality under the law even exists.
    Is that the fault of Garland though? Under our system of laws, was it possible for him to have acted any faster? I don’t know. Expediting trials may be impossible when a powerful, rich defendant is willing to use every resource at his disposal to delay proceedings. I must defer to the legal scholars on that question.
    One thing is sure, however. The hit job carried out by Hur was beyond inappropriate. Fortunately, it seems that the general public sees it for what it is. There has been a lot of backlash against it and Biden’s fiery response has been well covered by the media.
    I think the tide against the MAGA extremists started turning a long time ago and is only building momentum. Time will reveal whether I’m right or just wishing.

  14. Buyers remorse?
    That sparkling shiny nugget was just a hunk of fools Gold? Wow, say it ain’t so.

  15. In re Navalny, his widow Yulia has promised to continue his work, and I have written elsewhere this morning that she should stay away from open windows.. Per topic, Putin doesn’t allow Maga-types to run free and there are no alternative facts or law in his dictatorial world. He and his thugs are the law, and there’s lots of room in his Siberian gulags for dissidents.

    Trump pulled his 1/6 exactly two weeks before he left office. A grand jury should have been called to consider his indictment shortly after Biden took office, and the 147 Republican legislators who voted approval of his 1/6 antics should have been removed from office. Likewise, his recent statement that (in re NATO) Russia (i.e., Putin) should do “whatever the hell they want to do” should come before a grand jury for possible indictment, as also his open statement that he wants to end the Constitution. We have grown accustomed to such treasonous statements and seem so fearful of acting against the “constitutional rights” of these flirters with treason out of fear for criticism that we resemble police officers who watch a bank robbery and do nothing about it, and by the way, since when has stealing elections and ending our Constitution become a constitutional right?

    Those who wrote the Constitution did not provide for its destruction, and those who tried their luck (Benedict Arnold, who escaped to England, and his buddy Major Andre, who was hung) are still the bad guys in American history, and rightly so, but we the people are providing future historians with such feeble thought and action in handling those who would destroy America today that we may (if we survive) collectively be labelled the bad guys for our failure to apply the rule of law to those who would destroy our Constitution, import dictatorship, and end the institutions that undergird the most precious asset we hold in common – our democracy.

    It’s late in the game, but we start from where we are, and we can start by assembling several grand juries to consider indictment of those who would destroy America irrespective of their station or wealth. Political harassment? No, we are talking existentialism and the American state and whether such determination should be in the hands of a psychotic real estate investor and his cult, an investor whose 91-count felony indictments currently charged are only the tip of the iceberg.

    Trump should have been indicted and the 147 Republicans who voted approval of his 1/6 treasonous antics should have been removed long ago, but you start from where you are, so let’s get on with it.

  16. Government and politics are inseparable. I remember an undergrad professor saying: “Conservatives are too backward to ever look forward. And Liberals are too polite to completely disagree.” Politics, and now governing, are blood sports. No quarter can be given and still expect to prevail.

  17. According to Maddow In the 1930’s the Justice Department’s trials against fascists in US government fell apart due to technicalities and interference. Can Garland help redeem himself by getting current cases to trial and getting iron clad convictions against trump? That result could help justify the wait?

  18. This is just an FYI, Garland was a Republican when he was nominated by Obama for SCOTUS. I don’t know if he changed his status before Biden nominated him for AG, but I doubt it. It’s almost an unwritten rule that Dems will look for moderate Republicans for DOJ positions.

    On another note, we need more prosecutorial tools to deal with home grown extremists and terrorists.

  19. And let’s not forget that he gave Gym Jordan (and others I think) a pass by not prosecuting him for ignoring the Jan 6 committee’s subpoena.

  20. Give the offenders 4 years and you have no friends. Give them 40 years and they have no friends.

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