Ralph Waldo Emerson once memorably wrote: “The louder he talked of his honor, the faster we counted our spoons”, at a time when spoons were often made of silver and thus valuable and the target of thieves. Emerson was likely adapting a sentiment attributed to Samuel Johnson by his biographer James Boswell. The sentiment expressed a warning about those who spoke too much about their own virtues, that it should make their claims to virtue suspect. It is similar to the Shakespearean “The lady doth protest too much, methinks” in Hamlet to signify that one loses credibility by being too insistent.
I am reminded of the Emerson quote whenever I read anything about Alan Dershowitz, one time professor of law. He has long ago shredded his credibility by taking opportunistic stances when it suits his ends, and his main end is to get as much media attention as possible. So he signs up to any and all high profile cases with anyone who asks him to and can pay him, such as O. J. Simpson and Jeffrey Epstein and defending the massive surveillance by the intelligence services over the public. He then tries to justify his decision by asserting that he is a liberal. The latest is his decision to join Donald Trump’s legal defense team for the impeachment process.
This move did not surprise me in the least because he has been one of Trump’s most vociferous defenders. But for some reason, it seems to be extremely important to Dershowitz that people do not see him for what he is, a craven, right-wing, Trump-defending opportunist, because presumably that would alienate some of the people in his elite social circle. So at every opportunity, he tries to have it both ways and tells people that that he is a ‘liberal Democrat’, like today.
The Harvard legal scholar Alan Dershowitz, a member of Donald Trump’s team for his impeachment trial, has said he will not vote for the president in November and that Trump’s acquittal by the Senate “would produce results that make me unhappy as an individual”.
But Dershowitz said acting “for the survival of the constitution” was more important than “the short-term partisan advantage of getting my person elected to be president”.
“I think the country is helped,” he added, “when they hear from someone like me who is a liberal Democrat, who has always voted Democrat.”
But, he said: “I want the impeachment to fail.”
Note that the most inconsequential parts of his statements are calling himself a liberal Democrat and saying that he is not voting for Trump (even assuming that is true) but the most consequential are his defense of Trump and right-wing issues.
Message to Dershowitz: Having to remind everyone over and over that you are a liberal Democrat not only does not make you one, it is a sign that you are not. Just ask Emerson and Johnson.