We’re reluctant to devote too much time to covering Alan Dershowitz’s participation in the impeachment trial of Donald Trump.
Similarly, you should be reluctant to waste too much of your own time watching interviews with Dershowitz or listening to anything he has to say about the president’s current predicament.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t care about Alan. It’s just to say that he’s in the twilight of his career, and like most human beings, he’s becoming a caricature of himself in his old age. His animus used to serve a jurisprudential purpose – now, he’s just a cartoon.
As in all matters into which he inserts himself, Dershowitz’s reputation precedes him. Because Trump cares more about “name brands” than he does about optics, he figures Alan’s star status outweighs the stigma that goes along with being pseudo-defended by a man who has represented or otherwise involved himself with notoriously dubious characters including Jeffrey Epstein and OJ Simpson.
His pretensions to preserving the integrity of the Constitution notwithstanding, Dershowitz is after attention and notoriety in Trump’s trial. Everyone knows that. He’ll be plastered all over the national media for a couple of weeks, and he’ll get the satisfaction of adding “made arguments in Donald Trump’s impeachment trial” to his long list of career “accomplishments” (and the scare quotes are there for a reason).
Alan has been busy since Thursday making the TV rounds, and on Sunday, he chatted with George Stephanopoulos. Predictably, it was an eye-roll-inducing affair.
“Is it your position that President Trump should not be impeached even if all the evidence and arguments laid out by the House are accepted as fact”, Stephanopoulos asked.
You already know the answer. “That’s right”, Dershowitz said, in a tone that suggests his position is not only totally sane, but beyond refute.
“When you have somebody who, for example, is indicted for a crime, let’s assume you have a lot of evidence but the grand jury simply indicts for something that’s not a crime, that’s what happened here”, Alan endeavored to explain. “You have a lot of evidence … but the vote was to impeach on abuse of power which is not within the Constitutional criteria for impeachment and obstruction of Congress”.
Again, this can’t be taken seriously. Dershowitz surely has a scholarly interest in this, but as ever, it’s impossible to disentangle that from his obsession with high-profile cases and reputation as a publicity hound.
You might say Dershowitz’s brand of ostensibly rational antagonism still serves a purpose after all these years. We’d be inclined to argue that’s just a nice way of saying he revels in playing Devil’s advocate.
But hey, it could be worse. He could be Rudy Giuliani.