Samuel Alito has a long history of writing Supreme Court opinions that are utterly deranged, but are dressed up in a way that allows them to falsely sound reasonable. It’s why I’ve come to suspect the leaked memo was a first draft that he hadn’t yet rewritten into falsely “sounding” reasonable.
To be clear, I doubt the substance of his final draft would have changed one bit. But this memo was written in an inflammatory, cartoonish manner that immediately gives away just how deranged, unhinged, and un-American his side’s thinking is on this and related issues.
There was nothing the right wing could gain by leaking this draft version that turns off and enrages mainstream Americans even more emphatically than this same ruling would have if it were dressed up in a suit and tie, so to speak.
If the right wing did leak this, then it’s the biggest mistake in strategic history. When you’re trying to pull something like this off, you don’t give away the element of surprise – and you don’t hand the majority talking points by using such cartoonishly evil phrasing.
The people yelling “the right wing leaked this to lock it in” don’t appear to be familiar with how any of these things work. Alito wasn’t going to release THIS memo; he was going to release a ruling that did the same evil things but “sounded” less inflammatory.
Right wing leaders are very skilled at taking their derangedly extremist views and dressing them up in “moderate” language, so the media will falsely label their extremism as moderate conservatism. It’s how right wing leaders get away with most of what they get away with.
This leaked memo is a devastating blow to the right wing’s ability to sell this extremism to Americans in the middle. It was already going to be extremely difficult, and now it’s going to be impossible.
Some have suggested Ginni Thomas leaked this. Possible. But if she did, it means she’s not only deranged in her views, but also mentally incompetent in her behavior, given that the leak has sabotaged her own side very badly. Then again, her insurrectionist text messages to the Trump regime do suggest she is indeed mentally incompetent.
But the most overwhelmingly “sky is blue” obvious explanation continues to be that a liberal clerk leaked Alito’s deranged-language version of the ruling, both to give Americans time to preemptively fight back, and so moderates could clearly see the deranged nature of the ruling. Of course, because that’s the overwhelmingly most likely explanation (and the least “intriguing” explanation), it’s the explanation that gets talked about the least – even as the unlikely and nonsensical explanations are being shouted from the mountaintops by every pundit.
The point is this: the version that was leaked was obviously never supposed to see the light of day, so it was either leaked by a very helpful liberal clerk or a complete idiot on the right wing. Either way, it’s a huge advantage for us.
Imagine if this leak didn’t happen, and the Supreme Court just handed down the same deranged ruling but dressed up in “moderate” language, and waited until too late in the midterm election cycle to matter. We’d be in an infinitely worse position.
The real trouble with all these absurdist conspiracy theories about the leak being some secret evil genius right wing strategy, is that it takes our huge advantage on this and falsely frames it as “we’re doomed and they have us right where they want us.”
The “this leak is a right wing secret evil genius plan and we’re doomed” messaging makes it a whole lot harder to rally people to fight back against this. People are less willing/able to fight if they believe they’ve already lost. That’s so obvious, yet never talked about.
Smart and savvy right wingers are pissed off about this leak, because it’s like the other side finding out your secret battle plans before you launch a surprise attack (and learning of the war crimes you intend to covertly carry out during the surprise attack). Only the dumbest, most clueless of right wingers are mistakenly cheering this leak as some kind of victory.
Alito and the other right wing justices are now trapped. They, obviously, cannot just hand down this memo as written. And if they hand down a dressed up version of it, everyone will point out that it’s still the exact same ruling as the original psychotically written memo.
So what will they do? No way to know. They surely have no idea what they’re going to do, because their roadmap was just blown up by either a hero on our side or an idiot on their own side. But now they can’t roll this out how they were planning to do it.
There’s nothing good here. This is a travesty, dangerous, evil, unpredictable. But Thank God that psychotic draft memo leaked first. It’s the main thing we have going on our side here.
Let’s not fumble away our biggest advantage, by getting lost in a haze of defeatist conspiracy theories about how the right wing are such evil geniuses they’ve already defeated us by leaking this memo on purpose. Such conspiracy theories are inaccurate and unhelpful.
Instead let’s focus on seizing this opening that was just handed to us. Now we know precisely what right wingers are about to try to do to us, and how they want to do it – and we can show the people in the middle proof that what the right wing is doing really is as dangerously deranged as we say it is. The stakes are simply too high. We have to approach this from a standpoint of strategically fighting and winning, because the alternative is unthinkable. We simply don’t have time to indulge in defeatist conspiracy theories that only convince our side that there’s no point in fighting.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report