I grew up surrounded by lawyers, and not because I was always in trouble, which I wasn't. Not only that, they were of the honorable variety. I loved to listen to my dad -- I miss it regularly -- talk about the law. On the Oregon Supreme Court for a year, and then Chief Judge of the Oregon Court of Appeals from its inception, he was partial only to the law. It was clear to me that he was able to set aside his own point of view in favor of that of the law as written. Nor was he ever grandiose, or self-important. Brilliant, but sober.
That background has given me something of an ear for the law, and a smallish sense of how it works. Or would, if everyone were as principled as my dad. (I should mention my brother as well, since it's just as true of him. Quoting from a source I've never heard of: "In the 2008 Chambers USA guide, Mr. Schwab received a Band 1 ranking in securities litigation in California. Chambers wrote: "A 'masterful, creative and tough litigator,' (redacted by me) Schwab is a 'class act and a gentleman. You can take his word to the bank.'' So there you go.)
My point, however, is this: I agree with a column in today's NYTimes, in which Patrick Fitzgerald is taken a bit to task. As I heard him break the news of his investigation, I felt the same way as the writer. I admire the guy; I feel certain he's a man of principle: he went to Amherst College, ferchrissakes! But there was a bit of unseemly -- even unprofessional -- grandiosity in his commentary. It's clear he's properly on to ol' Blago (although I've also wondered about the nuts and bolts of the case: ought they have more than conversations about bribery and quids pro quo?) But the Lincoln-in-his-grave stuff? I thought it a bit much.
More than at any time I know, we need a little respect for the law. Having survived (so far) a president who believes he can legally kidnap an American citizen and hold him indefinitely without charges or access to a lawyer, our country can do with all the respectable US Attorneys it can muster. So I hope our man Pat isn't flying too close to the sun.