The Atlantic

Imagine If a Democrat Behaved Like Bill Barr

What would the attorney general say were a future administration to follow his lead?
Source: Kevin Lamarque / Reuters

On November 15 of last year, Attorney General Bill Barr gave a speech before the Federalist Society’s National Lawyers Convention, in which he addressed, among other things, respect for norms in our polarized times. “One of the ironies of today is that those who oppose this president constantly accuse this administration of ‘shredding’ constitutional norms and waging a war on the rule of law,” he said. “When I ask my friends on the other side, what exactly are you referring to? I get vacuous stares, followed by sputtering about the travel ban or some such thing.”

“The fact of the matter,” Barr went on, “is that, in waging a scorched-earth, no-holds-barred war of ‘resistance’ against this administration, it is the left that is engaged in the systematic shredding of norms and the undermining of the rule of law.”

From this observation, Barr extrapolated a more general theory across time of the confrontation between the children of light and the children of darkness, a theory that pits the zeal of the Jacobins against the restraint of the Burkeans. “In any age,” he argued, “the so-called progressives

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