So the lawyer tells me that some lawyer asked whether my friend really believed that I helped them out of unselfish motives. There of course had to be some motive, it couldn't be just...that...I like this lawyer and was there for the advice.
And that motive is?
To become a judge.
Let's get one thing straight off the top. If there's anything the absolutely precludes any possibility of a future judgeship, it's expressing any strong opinion publicly. It's not just that judges are supposed to be devoid of thought and opinion, a fallacy that we embrace so we can get up in the morning and pretend there's a chance of winning an argument. It's that opinions are never universally embraced. Someone is going to disagree, and be upset with you for having an opinion they don't share.
You've made an enemy.
If there is one quality that everyone who takes the bench shares, it's having avoided making enemies. I hate to be the one who breaks this to Tannebaum, but he has a few enemies. Not that he's done anything wrong, from my seat, but others see things differently. And he really is such a nice guy. No, I mean it. He is. He's just misunderstood.
I'm informed all the time why I write this blawg. I'm told that my purpose is to market myself. I'm told that my purpose is to establish my credentials as an "expert," which I can then bootstrap into some more "important" position, judge, law professor, TV pundit. Mostly, I'm told this by children and marketers, but even some experienced lawyers who get tweaked by my harsh words attribute nefarious motives to my writing.
How can I put this as inoffensively as possible? They're morons. They haven't got the slightest clue what makes my type in the morning. They haven't got the slightest clue what I get out of this, or what I hope to get out of this. At best, they project their motives onto me. At worst, they make crap up to give me a hard smack.
Last week, I had a pleasant email exchange with a "lecturer" at a law school who, inter alia, told me she enjoyed SJ. She went on to say that she appreciated that I went out on a limb to write things she wished she could write. But as academics know, a "lecturer" is like dirt beneath the fingernails of tenured faculty, something to be reviled and excised as quickly as possible lest their baby-soft hands show signs of hard work. She couldn't do what I do unless she wanted to be swiftly shown the door.
With surprising frequency, I hear from judges who tell me that they too appreciate my writings. Because of their position, they feel it would be inappropriate to opine publicly, suggesting bias that would be used against them. They're glad that someone else is saying what they wish they could say.
But I don't write for the appreciation of lecturers or judges. I don't write to impress potential clients with my expertise. If anything, this blawg chases clients away, fearful that I won't love them as they want to be loved, that my lack of emotional devotion to lost causes, my refusal to engage in lies or deception will limit their likelihood of winning, my slavish adherence to integrity will thwart their dreams of pulling a win out of their butts.
No one has offered me a judgeship or chair at Harvard because of this blawg. I get calls from reporters constantly, but turn most of them away because I have nothing useful to add. The few interviews I do amount to time lost from real work, and then disappear in the black hole of the next quasi-interesting law story.
Ironically, the closest anyone has come to explaining why I bother is Seth Godin, a marketer.
"I had no choice, I just couldn't get out of bed."
"I had no choice, it was the best program I could get into."
"I had no choice, he told me to do it..."
It's probably more accurate to say, "the short-term benefit/satisfaction/risk avoidance was a lot higher than anything else, so I chose to do what I did."
Remarkable work often comes from making choices when everyone else feels as though there is no choice. Difficult choices involve painful sacrifices, advance planning or just plain guts.
I make a choice, every single morning, when I wake up, make a pot of coffee, then sit down in front of a computer and start to read, then type. My choice isn't going to win me any robes. It's not going to get me a chair at Harvard. It isn't going to earn me a friggin' dime. My choice is to exist.
I'm going to die one of these days. Maybe sooner rather than later, and likely sooner than most of my readers. I'll be damned if I die without having anything to show I was here. I lack the skills to build the Taj Mahal, or write a symphony, or create a tourbillon. But I can type words onto a computer screen fast enough to put some ideas on virtual paper that serve to demonstrate, at least for a day, that I was here.
Most of my enemies don't exist. They can complain about me all they want, disagree with me and be angry with me until spittle flies out of their mouths. They can impute evil motives to me and this blawg to anybody who will listen. I don't care.