I advocate in this space for thinking intelligently, which often means reversing the identities of the political parties in a given situation and deciding if the reversal would cause you to react differently.
So here’s today’s thought experiment: We don’t know which party controls the presidency. We therefore don’t know the party of the attorney general. We know only that someone in the Department of Justice wanted to obtain a search warrant. The situation was sufficiently high-profile that the attorney general personally had to sign off on obtaining the warrant. The warrant was then presented to a federal judge (or magistrate judge) for approval. That judge knew that this was a very sensitive search and thus probably fly-specked the warrant to within an inch of its life. The warrant was issued, and the FBI conducted the search.
What’s your reaction?
There’s only one sane reaction to this news: Let’s wait and see. We know nothing about the basis for the warrant. We don’t know what evidence the search unearthed. We don’t know what the high-profile individual whose premises were being searched might have done or what the evidence might show.
All we can rationally do is wait and see.
Now, suppose that a Democratic attorney general authorized applying for the search warrant, and the person who was searched was named Trump.
Every rabid partisan Republican screams that the search was an outrage. Kevin McCarthy says that Attorney General Merrick Garland should “preserve [his] documents and clear [his] calendar.” Josh Hawley, a graduate of Yale Law School, says that Garland “must resign or be impeached.” Fox News suggests that the FBI probably planted evidence, and most Republican politicians with an eye on the presidency quickly follow suit.
Why do we even listen to these people?
The folks make you madder, because they imply the opposing party has done something wrong, and they make you stupider, because they imply that you have a sufficient basis to make a judgment when in fact you’re in total ignorance.
But fair is fair; reverse my hypothetical. Assume that a Republican attorney general authorized applying for the search warrant, and the person who was searched was named Biden.
It’s entirely possible that every rabid Democratic partisan would engage in precisely the stupidity that the Republicans engaged in last week.
Which is why I’ve come to hate them all.
We shouldn’t elect these people. We shouldn’t listen to these people.
Where’s a politician who reacts thoughtfully to events?
And if you reacted to the search warrant by immediately assuming that it was either right or wrong, then what does that say about your ability to think clearly?
Mark Herrmann spent 17 years as a partner at a leading international law firm and is now deputy general counsel at a large international company. He is the author of The Curmudgeon’s Guide to Practicing Law and Drug and Device Product Liability Litigation Strategy (affiliate links). You can reach him by email at email@example.com.
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