It’s not often I take pen to hand to praise the heroes of our times, but I have always had a hankering for heroism. The people who rise to the occasion— as Churchill rose to the occasion to be a hero in turning back the rising tide of cruel fascism.
Our present “occasion” is that the Rule of Law is under attack in the United States like it has never been before. Even before Trump, some of the basic structures were crumbling (like stealing a Supreme Court nomination). But with Trump, we have blatantly lawless man — 91 criminal indictments — being the almost certain nominee of one of the two major American parties.
Rising to the occasion can take various forms.
- Liz Cheney has been a hero in sacrificing her office to honor the oath she took to defend the Constitution that Trump has attacked.
- Jamie Raskin has been a hero in denouncing the lawlessness with a clear, prophetic voice.
- Adam Schiff has been a hero in the telling it like it is, calling a spade a spade.
- Jack Smith is a hero for the disciplined, strategic, assertive way he is going after the most serious crimes in American history.
I appreciate how a whole group of former federal prosecutors and investigators have stepped up to give voice to the ideals our system of justice is supposed to represent and further, and to outline how the forces of the right are jeopardizing those values.
Among those, I want to single out two legal authorities that regularly on MSNBC: Neil Katyal and Andrew Weissman, both men with vast experience near the summit of the American system of Justice. MSNBC jokes about the two of them together as the network’s “legal firm,” and regularly has one or both of them on to comment about the process by which their justice system is working to hold Trump accountable for his many crimes.
Both of them are excellent teachers, and I feel grateful for their reliable maps of the legal terrain. (Especially Weissman who clearly sees the legal chessboard clearly, and even somewhat three-dimensionally.)
Clarity and fairness are among their virtues. Their devotion to the Rule of Law — even to the point of moral passion — is clear.
They are warriors to preserve the Rule of Law, and they are arming a wide public to fight to preserve truth, justice, and the American way. (One doesn’t need to be faster than a speeding bullet, or more powerful than a locomotive, or able to leap tall buildings in a single bound to be a hero.)