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Saturday, September 29, 2018

Yesterday's Victory for Justice, Democracy, and Reason Depicted on Lawrence O'Donnell's The Last Word

What I saw last night on Lawrence O'Donnell's The Last Word on MSNBC was one of the most inspiring things I've ever seen on television.   Republican Senator Jeff Flake being talked to in the elevator by Maria Gallagher and Ana Maria Archila.  Flake later listening intently as his Democratic colleague Chris Coons made the eminently rational case for an FBI investigation of the Kavanaugh sexual assault charges.  Flake standing up, walking by Coons, and signaling his colleague that he wanted to talk.  All leading to the result:  the FBI, ordered by Trump who had no choice - because Kavanaugh needs Flake's as well as Sen. Sue Collins' or Lisa Murkowski's votes to be confirmed - is now conducting this investigation.

Lawrence aplty called this historic moment in American and U. S. Senatorial history "a victory for decency".  Maria Teresa Kumar said "that's what democracy looks like".   Both true.   And as media historian, I would also add this was a wonderful moment for television.  Lawrence and his producers put the segment together perfectly.  Lawrence's narration was perceptive and sage, like everything else he says.  Only television, only with us in American homes since the late 1940s, could have done this.

And it also is a vindication of John Milton's view that if truth and falsity are allowed to fight it out in the marketplace of ideas, our human rationality will award the victory to truth.  Not for everyone all the time.  But for enough people enough times to make democracy work.  Were Milton able to be a guest on Lawrence's show last night, he would have no doubt said that Jeff Flake's decision was evidence of this power of our rational minds.   It's not easy being reasonable when emotions run high.  But Gallagher and Archila provided the wake-up call, making Flake realize that something had to be done, and Coons the path forward, with his focus on the FBI investigation.  Flake's mind was open enough to hear it all, and rational enough to be persuaded by it.

Democracy has been called, with due cause, the least worst form of government.  Yesterday demonstrated that in a way I've never seen before.  For those like me who view Kavanaugh on the Supreme Courts as an affront to everything we hold in high esteem in our democracy, his fate is still undecided.   But we pulled back from the cliff yesterday, and a way that all champions of justice, democracy, and reason should applaud.

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