Grace In Defeat

Not from Donald Trump, for whom the word grace is wholly unfamiliar. It’s not in his makeup to admit that he’s a loser, which is understandable given his toxic combination of ignorance and cynicism. After all, when one views the world as a game between liars and manipulators, only losers concern themselves with anything but not losing.

There was never any doubt by lawyers who weren’t intentionally delusional that the State of Texas’ attempt to get the Supreme Court, with two very conservative justices and three more nominated by Trump, would reject the case. Like the 50-plus other state and federal cases that failed miserably, it was doomed. And it was obvious that it was doomed. It was that bad, that devoid of merit on every level. And so the Supreme Court, a court as “friendly” as Texas and Trump could possibly hope for, crushed his dreams.*

No doubt Trump will keep spewing, and his believers will keep believing because that’s what Trump does and that’s what believers do, reality notwithstanding. Pressure will be brought to bear on state officials and congresspeople to do something, to simply ignore the vote and law and anoint Trump president. The weirdest part is that they would do this for Trump, of all people, who wouldn’t be bothered to pee on them if they were on fire.

But Trump lost. And lost and lost. And lost some more. For Trump, his combination of cynical idiocy and gracelessness is nothing new. This is Trump at his finest. But what about the others, the 17 states attorneys general who joined as amici, the 126 House Republican, who made the decision to insert themselves into this fiasco?

Republicans are establishing a new standard for elections that anything short of a fight to the death amounts to not trying hard enough. The old norm of graceful concession was not just an act of good manners. A concession has no legal force, but it has considerable value as an affirmation that the democratic process is more important than the result.

Conceding leaves the nation’s political and social systems functional for the winner.

While there are no doubt some who were so willfully blind as to believe that there was the remotest chance of succeeding, if even for the blatantly cynical reason that justices had been bought by Trump and would do his bidding no matter what, most of these officials aren’t so foolish and ignorant as to believe there was any merit to the claims or any hope of success. They knew it was doomed, yet backed it anyway, willing to burn down the most significant feature of the American experiment, the peaceful transition of power.

This isn’t really about Mr. Trump anymore. He lost, and his ruinous tenure will soon be over. This is now about the corruption of a political party whose leaders are guided by the fear of Mr. Trump rather than the love of this country — and who are falling into dangerous habits.

Some contend that the attorneys general and representatives who back this idiocy knew it would fail, fully expected it to fail, and did so only to create the appearance of being supportive for the sake of Trump’s unduly passionate base. Essentially, no harm, no foul, since this would ultimately change nothing as it was just loony nonsense to begin with. That would leave these “joiners” with the appreciation of Trump supporters while doing nothing to change the ultimate outcome of the election, which they knew to be a foregone conclusion.

To be clear, being cynical is not the same as being stupid. Most knew it was doomed with absolute certainty. They did it anyway. Most knew the damage this would do to governance. They did it anyway. Most knew and did it anyway.

That’s too hard to swallow. While it’s hardly insurrection to engage in litigation, whether as litigant or amici, as courts are the mechanism by which we resolve disputes under the Constitution, the effort did two unforgivable things: it undermined our faith in the electoral process and it demonstrated a lack of integrity so flagrant as to be unsalvageable.

There is good reason to desire some purple in government as a check on the potential excesses of the progressive wing of the Democrats. One might hope that we could have a government of people of reason and good will, with differing views on how best to serve a nation but with a shared willingness to find a way to do exactly that. But given the polarized state of politics, this isn’t our status. Instead, the best we can hope for is a government that doesn’t do too much structural damage to the nation until the fringes go silent. When and if that happens is unclear.

But what can be made of the Republican Party that didn’t stand up and say no, this Trumpian idiocy must end and we will not be party to supporting this vulgar, amoral, deceitful ignoramus anymore?

They can now demonstrate a modicum of their professed patriotism by mustering the courage to say these simple words: “Congratulations, President-elect Biden.”

It’s an odd and uncomfortable place to find oneself less willing to let it go than the New York Times editorial board, but I do. Expectations of integrity in politics are, at best, minimal, but they remain minimal. Here, the attorneys general and House Republicans have forfeited any and all integrity. They bet their souls and lost.

Integrity, once lost, is lost forever. And they squandered it for Trump, of all people.

There is no reasonable expectation that Donald Trump will suddenly discover grace and concede defeat. He’ll never be that big a person. It’s not in him. As for the rest of them, they made their choice, and they should be forced to live with it.

*Some misguided dolts believe that Justices Alito and Thomas were sending some secret message by adding in their own statement. They were not. Rather, they were noting a procedural disagreement relating to whether there is discretion in denying leave in a case of original jurisdiction. They are of the view that the Court must grant leave, and so they would, and thereupon would deny relief.

31 thoughts on “Grace In Defeat

  1. PML

    What I find amusing is that the same people who now are criticizing Trump for not conceding are the same ones that spent the last 4 years claiming Trump was not their president.

    For me, Trump lost, like Hillary lost. So now Biden will be president, but who’s president is going to be the question for a lot a people.

    1. SHG Post author

      I’m criticizing Trump for not conceding. I did not spend the last 4 years claiming Trump was not the president. There is no question who was elected president, then or now. Do I amuse you?

      1. Ed

        There is a concrete knowledge that Biden was selected not elected, a knowledge held by eighty plus million. Biden hid in his basement knowing the “fix” was in. America knew that when the counting suddenly stopped election night.

      2. Harvey Silverglate

        The best service that the Supreme Court could now do for the nation would be to accept review in one of these election-related cases, and take the opportunity, much as a predecessor SCOTUS did in BUSH v. GORE (2000), to declare the election is over and that Biden won. Not everyone believes that BUSH v. GORE was correctly decided, but the Supreme Court, although not always right, is widely accepted as final. The high court has an historic duty to do, and it should not shirk it by exercising its power to deny review.

    1. Guitardave

      “…but the path of grace and goodwill is still here for those of us who may be considered among the living.”

  2. Skink

    We’re lawyers, so we read. I read most of the petitions and the Court’s entire file. After reading the petitions, I had no need to read the responses. They were that bad. What was presented as legal argument was of a type that should get a first-year lawyer fired for incompetence. That a slew of attorneys general and members of Congress, mostly lawyers, joined in the legal dipshittery was far beyond disappointing. That lawyers chose to tear-down the rule of law in favor of combat leaves a sadness that I don’t have the words to describe. The rule of law is only the thing that makes this experiment of a republic work.

    But we’re lawyers, so we get it. Tens of millions non-lawyers don’t. They are frothing at the mouth–both camps. Read any media outlet that allows comments, it’s all “Trumptards” and “Commie Joe”. It’s about the politics of the Court. Us lawyers know better. I really wish the Court spent a few more sentences explaining stuff to them.

    1. SHG Post author

      What could the Court have said that would get through the insanity of the true believers on either side? Like you, I would have appreciated a unanimous Court stating unequivocally that there is no factual, legal or rational basis to question the outcome of the election. But even if they had, it would only birth the next insane conspiracy.

      1. PseudonymousKid

        A little more explanation could help. Yes, conspiracy theories are unavoidable, but the Court needs to show a little more work to preserve that rule of law thing I keep hearing about. If that means a few will claim alien bugs have infected their minds, then so be it. Or maybe the Court should just have said “denied” and let everyone wonder why but those in the know.

        1. SHG Post author

          Empty words, PK. What explanation? Saying “a little more” is worthless. What exactly should they have said that would make a difference?

          1. PseudonymousKid

            Have me appointed for life and I might tell you. Would any of it matter to Ed? Absolutely not. But you can’t tell me everyone is that lost. I won’t believe it.

            1. SHG Post author

              The Supreme Court needed to decide this swiftly, unanimously and correctly. It did.

              Given that it’s people like Ed who need the explanation, would you have held up a decision to draft an opinion, get all nine to sign on and hope it’s sufficiently persuasive that it gets through Ed’s “concrete”?

            2. Guitardave

              The name wasn’t for PK, it was for you.

              I was referring to people like me…not a brainiac lawyer, but also not a block head, and still willing to learn things and question my own conclusions. We’re not unicorns you know.

            3. SHG Post author

              My wit is waste here.

              There are guys like me (et al.) for reasonable guys like you who want to learn things and question your own conclusions. But guys like Ed won’t believe me, the Supreme Court, or anyone else. In Georgia, you’ve got a Republican secretary of state and governor, who have explained that the vote wasn’t “rigged” and that they’ve done three recounts, each of which produced the same result.

              But if you want to know, did you read Texas’ paper? The replies? The amici briefs? When the Supreme Court decides cases, do you read the opinions? Do they explain things, or do they mostly talk legal mumbo jumbo? Courts don’t write for the benefit of non-lawyers or to explain things to soothe the public’s fevered brow. They’re courts. Their job is to resolve disputes based on law, facts and logic. In this instance, there was nothing but a steaming pile of lies and bullshit, and incredibly bullshit legal args. So they decided it.

            4. Guitardave

              OK. I get it.

              I have read some opinions, some I get fairly quick, some puts me on the wiki Latin phrase page.
              I do appreciate the time you take to explain things to those of us who are not lawyers and not ideologically (ideo-illogically?) bound.

      2. Skink

        It wouldn’t stop the ignorant ravings altogether, but it would bring some enlightenment to the less fervent. Consider the conversations all of us have with non-lawyers over rum or scotch. We explain the rudiments of standing and jurisdiction and some get it. But we can only provide that to a few, and some of those few are lawyers. With a few paragraphs, the Court could have done so much more than our feeble opportunities provide. So those that might get the lightbulb from the Court get only what wrongness comes from the media or the net.

        1. SHG Post author

          Take a look at dear Ed below. He believes that the election was stolen, doesn’t want to hear about standing, jurisdiction or laches, and the mere detail that there is no evidence whatsoever to show the election was stolen, and he’s been lied to shamelessly, will not change his mind.

          Like you (and even PK), I wanted the Supreme Court to crush this once and for all. But it may also be true that nothing will ever change Ed’s mind except Trump admitting it was all a big scam, and that will never happen.

  3. L. Phillips

    Going with the argument that lawyers are, in part, wordsmiths who craft language to honestly advance the interests of their clients in public and in court proceedings, the following gives me some pause.

    ” As for the rest of them, they made their choice, and they should be forced to live with it.”

    As an individual who found Trump from a distance to be personally problematic but his administration to be largely attempting policies that appeal to me I wonder now what I am to be “forced” to do as penance.

    1. SHG Post author

      The “rest of them” refers to the attorneys general and congresspeople who signed on to this inane action knowing full well that damage they were doing by lending legitimacy to Trump’s lies. I take no issue with people who supported what Trump was doing, if not the individual.

      1. KP

        They did no damage. You need new cases of original jurisdiction decided to draw the boundaries of the laws involved. They’ve decided one State can’t sue another, and overall the Courts decided that cheating was not proven.

        Isn’t this how its all meant to work? Certainly the often complicated words on this page will not change any voters minds, they either believe someone hauled out a few boxes of fake Biden votes at 3am, or they believe in amazing coincidences.

        1. SHG Post author

          Each state gets to decide for itself how its electors will be chosen, and that state’s courts will decide whether that state’s laws or constitution has been violated by the administration of that mechanism.

          There are two separate things going on: First is that people who have no understanding of law are believing the nonsense being spewed by Rudy, Sidney and Jenna. Second, they are throwing wild and false crap against the wall to see who will believe it, when they lack the evidence to prove their social media and press conference claims in an actual court that does actual law.

  4. David

    Regarding your footnote, I thought Alito and Thomas were sending a message. While the others stopped at standing, they made it clear that they would have allowed the filing and then kicked it because it was “devoid of merit on every level” as you stated.

    1. SHG Post author

      They’re of the view that the Court has no discretion to deny leave in a case of original jurisdiction (here, a suit between states). It’s not tricky message, but has been their legal view for a while. That said, it’s a minor procedural quirk that would change nothing about the outcome. It’s more a technical matter that lawyers and judges might consider, but of no meaning for anyone else.

      1. Onlymom

        Or they might have been ready to teach him a lesson. Acceot it order immediate briefs and evidence that he has mountain’s of. Then issue the “Denied” ….. Let him taste it then shoot the nut down.

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