The Decency Deficit

Joseph Welch, James Stewart, Brooks West, and George C. Scott in Anatomy Of A Murder.

Lawyer Joseph Welch became such a folk hero after the 1954 Army-McCarthy hearings that Otto Preminger cast him as a judge in the 1959 classic Anatomy Of A Murder. His fame rested on his willingness to stand up to the national bully of that era: Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy.

Welch stood up for common decency when Tailgunner Joe tried to drag one of Welch’s young associates through the mud. I’m sure you’ve heard and read the quote, but I can’t get enough of it:

Joseph Welch has been on my mind as senior Republicans and their depraved followers spin the Pelosi attack. I am not surprised but I *am* appalled by their response. It’s what about this, what about that. I halfway expect them to propose tax cuts or abolishing Social Security to deal with the situation. Those are their solutions for everything, after all.

Violence has been in air ever since the Charlottesville mishigas in 2017. The Dipshit Insurrection upped the ante, but the Pelosi attack feels like a turning point. It was an up close and personal attempt to assassinate Speaker Pelosi. She wasn’t there but the attacker (whose names I refuse to use) was willing to wait for her return. Nancy hunting was the point of this exercise.

GOPers have compared the Pelosi attack to the Scalise shooting. The analogy is inapposite. Then Speaker Paul Ryan and then Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi held a joint presser to denounce the attack. The attempt by the GOP and certain members of the non-right wing media to both sides this is infuriating. I’m talking about you Chuck Todd and Andrea Mitchell. What about it, Chuck and Andrea? Your sell-by date has clearly expired.

One of the nastiest responses came from Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake and her supporters. She’s one of the scariest Trumpers out there because she’s so damn telegenic. Lake, of course, turned the attack into a joke:

As our readers know, I often think in terms of old movies. As I pondered Paul Pelosi’s pluck, I thought of The Desperate Hours. It’s a home invasion movie that pits two great actors against one another: Humphrey Bogart and Fredric March.

It was the first villain Bogie had played in many years. He went full Duke Mantee in the movie as he and his gang invaded Fredric March’s home. It was chaos in the person of Bogart versus decency in the person of March. In the movie, decency triumphed. Real life isn’t so tidy.

The violent forces unleashed by the Kaiser of Chaos won’t just go away. They need to be stood up to at the ballot box and elsewhere. It won’t happen overnight. One step forward occurred yesterday when a federal judge ruled that armed thugs could not menace Arizona voters at drop boxes or polling places. As always, enforcement is the key. Stay tuned.

The 2022 election is America’s desperate hour. The forces of decency need to push back against Trumpism. It’s not a time for worst-case scenarists and Nervous Nellies to wet the bed. The only way to defeat bullies is to stand up to them by voting for the only national party that stands for Democracy. It’s certainly not the Trumpified GOP. It’s the party of the decency deficit. Eisenhower weeps.

The last word goes to REM with a song in which the voice of Joseph Welch can be heard:

4 thoughts on “The Decency Deficit

  1. You probably mean the despicable Andrea Mitchell not the wonderful Andrea Martin

  2. re: “Anatomy of a Murder”
    This is one of my favorite exchanges … the last line from the Judge is one of my all time favorites.

    Paul Biegler: Mr. Paquette, what would you call a man with an insatiable penchant for women?

    Alphonse Paquette: A what?

    Paul Biegler: A penchant… a desire… taste… passion?

    Alphonse Paquette: Well, uh, ladies’ man, I guess. Or maybe just a damn fool!

    [laughter in the courtroom]

    Judge Weaver: Just answer the questions, Mr. Paquette. The attorneys will provide the wisecracks.

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