Jack Smith Is A Model For All Anti-Trump Forces
Democrats should emulate his willingness to force confrontation and expose duplicity
I’m going to make an exception to my person-of-the-year agnosticism because
Taylor Swift makes music for people that pronounce the Ls in tortilla one person in American civic life currently stands out among other powerful public servants in actually trying to bring Donald Trump to justice.
On Monday, Special Counsel Jack Smith jolted the news cycle by doing an end around the lengthy appeals process and petitioning the Supreme Court to rapidly adjudicate the question of “presidential immunity”—Trump’s last, best, but still frivolous hope to delay his criminal January 6 trial until after the election.wrote a good précis on why Trump’s arguments are weak way back when he set this all in motion. In essence, he claims presidents can’t be held criminally liable for their official acts, even after they’ve left office (a bonkers idea, but at least unsettled as a matter of constitutional law) and that his efforts to overturn the 2020 election were undertaken as official acts of the presidency, not as a desperate candidate trying to turn defeat into victory.
Smith’s impatient-but-considered move to subvert Trump’s delay tactics struck me as his way of saying “enough bullshit,” and as a direct challenge to the Supreme Court itself: Will you uphold the public’s right to a speedy resolution of this case? Or will you do Trump a big political and legal favor, knowing his objective is to contest the election free from the stain of a criminal conviction, then vitiate this case as president if he wins? The Court, so pressed, swiftly granted Smith’s initial request, and will decide whether to expedite a ruling on presidential immunity in short order.
I know an institution like Time would be loath to honor a beleaguered public servant if doing so would betray even a hint of partisanship. Plus, Taylor Swift did a bunch of concerts and whatnot. But I have a harder time explaining why other powerful people with an interest in stopping Trump or holding him accountable don’t act more like Jack Smith.
JACK BE NIMBLE
For all that’s at stake in 2024, Democrats seem completely frozen. They are buffeted by brutal polls, but have little power to legislate in divided government and few ideas about how to change public opinion outside the realm of policymaking. They know that Biden polls dramatically worse than many other high-stature Democrats but have no mechanism to replace him with one of them, and in any case it’s too late for any of them to challenge him. Democrats seem to recognize that abortion is the one issue the public would still entrust to them—and it is an incredibly salient issue—but they seem oddly uninterested in capitalizing on the ghoulish way powerful men are torturing pregnant women in ban states—except maybe for fundraising purposes. (Note to White House staff: Consider extending Kate Cox an invitation to the State of the Union address.)