The Daily

Dick The Butcher & The J6 Committee

[Aside] He was an honest man, and a good

It was not his most famous line from Henry VI, Part 2, but at least it’s a positive contribution to the plot. In the end, we want people to like and respect us. Reputation is an important – but not the only – thing.

These are extraordinary times. The J6 hearings yesterday focused on the Department of Justice and how the Attorneys General there responded to the pressure applied to them by the country’s leader to overturn a national election. It made me think of Dick the Butcher in Shakespeare’s Henry VI. The hearing also made me proud to be a lawyer. Not in the sense that DOJ lawyers were heroes – they clearly were not. They could have come forward at the time – when our democracy’s knees were buckling – and told the Congress what was happening. Or they could have stepped forward as Impeachment witnesses. After all, they don’t represent the President and there is no privilege to protect. But they did not. At least they didn’t save it for a book advance (like some of the non-lawyers).

Back in 2018, I wrote a post called The Lost Badge Of Innocence. Looking back on it is kind of cringeworthy. My writing style changed a lot over the last few years (I worked hard on it). But I still like this part.

My family’s Appalachian experience is a composite of Catholic and Protestant steel foundry workers, circuit riders, train flagmen, coal miners and barons, lawyers, teachers, car salesmen, card sharks, and housewives. We are descendants of early American settlers, farmers, merchants, Revolutionary and Civil and Spanish-American War soldiers. We brokered steel, commanded Navy vessels, prosecuted rural crime, led communities and traveled the world seeking adventure. These American ancestors are, in turn, hodgepodge heirs of European descent: English tanners, Irish horse thieves, Flemish dyers and one or two “touched” uncles hiding in castle towers in the European tradition.

Dick the Butcher’s staged advice about “killing all the lawyers” was more than a little cynical and, for a King, certainly self-serving. Even back-handed compliments are compliments, after all. And when you think about it, there may be an implied put-down when Dick opines on the honesty of “good bricklayers”. At the end of the day (or the play), the best characters are, in fact, characters – real, human, and full of contradictions and surprises.