Man of the Moment

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You really should read the transcript of Attorney General William Barr's interview with Jan Crawford of CBS News. I'm going to point out two examples of why Barr is exactly the guy we need at this moment:

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JAN CRAWFORD: You're saying that spying occurred. There's not anything necessarily wrong with that.

WILLIAM BARR: Right.

JAN CRAWFORD: As long as there's a reason for it.

WILLIAM BARR: Whether it's adequately predicated. And look, I think if we -- we are worried about foreign influence in the campaign? We should be because the heart of our system is the peaceful transfer of power through elections and what gives the government legitimacy is that process. And if foreign elements can come in and affect it, that's bad for the republic. But by the same token, it's just as, it's just as dangerous to the continuation of self-government and our republican system, republic that we not allow government power, law enforcement or intelligence power, to play a role in politics, to intrude into politics, and affect elections.

JAN CRAWFORD: So it's just as dangerous- So when we talk about foreign interference versus say a government abuse of power, which is more troubling?

WILLIAM BARR: Well they're both, they're both troubling.

JAN CRAWFORD: Equally?

WILLIAM BARR: In my mind, they are, sure. I mean, republics have fallen because of Praetorian Guard mentality where government officials get very arrogant, they identify the national interest with their own political preferences and they feel that anyone who has a different opinion, you know, is somehow an enemy of the state. And you know, there is that tendency that they know better and that, you know, they're there to protect as guardians of the people. That can easily translate into essentially supervening the will of the majority and getting your own way as a government official.

JAN CRAWFORD: And you are concerned that that may have happened in 2016?

WILLIAM BARR: Well, I just think it has to be carefully look at because the use of foreign intelligence capabilities and counterintelligence capabilities against an American political campaign to me is unprecedented and it's a serious red line that's been crossed.

Emphasis mine. Partisanship is one thing, but Barr points out the real danger, which is the certainty of thought that flows from Orange Man Bad. As I've observed the last 3-4 years, the greatest realization I've had to face is discovering that many of the things I believe weren't, ahem, adequately predicated.

The end of the interview is even more important:

JAN CRAWFORD: But when you came into this job, you were kind of, it's like the US Attorney in Connecticut, I mean, you had a good reputation on the right and on the left. You were a man with a good reputation. You are not someone who is, you know, accused of protecting the president, enabling the president, lying to Congress. Did you expect that coming in? And what is your response to it? How do you? What's your response to that?

WILLIAM BARR: Well in a way I did expect it.

JAN CRAWFORD: You did?

WILLIAM BARR: Yeah, because I realize we live in a crazy hyper-partisan period of time and I knew that it would only be a matter of time if I was behaving responsibly and calling them as I see them, that I would be attacked because nowadays people don't care about the merits and the substance. They only care about who it helps, who benefits, whether my side benefits or the other side benefits, everything is gauged by politics. And as I say, that's antithetical to the way the department runs and any attorney general in this period is going to end up losing a lot of political capital and I realize that and that is one of the reasons that I ultimately was persuaded that I should take it on because I think at my stage in life it really doesn't make any difference.

JAN CRAWFORD: You are at the end of your career, or?

WILLIAM BARR: I am at the end of my career. I've you know--

JAN CRAWFORD: Does it, I mean, it's the reputation that you have worked your whole life on though?

WILLIAM BARR: Yeah, but everyone dies and I am not, you know, I don't believe in the Homeric idea that you know, immortality comes by, you know, having odes sung about you over the centuries, you know?

Emphasis mine. This is a man who doesn't care if he gets dissed in the Washington Post, or doesn't get to hang at the cocktail parties in Georgetown. He understands there is no value in holding the esteem of jackals. He may look like a cross between John Goodman and Roger Ebert, but he is Shane. This is the man of the moment.

UPDATE: if you weren't certain that Barr is the guy we need, consider this: swamp denizen Jonathan Chait is terrified.