It was surprising on Friday to hear Attorney General William Barr use the gallant ethos to explain his decision to devote the twilight of his profession obstructing justice. Asked in a CBS interview if he thoughts very much that a lot of people have come to think a lot less of him, Barr memorandum philosophically 😛 TAGEND

I am at the end of my job. Everyone dies, and I am not, you are aware, I don’t believe in the Homeric idea that, you are aware, afterlife to come over here, you are aware, having odes sung about you over the centuries .

Barr was chuckling by the time he got to the part about Homer–genuinely mirthful, unselfconscious laughter, the sort you expect other people to join in with because they’re in on the joke. Up to that point, though, his behaviour had been somber if not extremely grave, sitting there up in Alaska, where “hes been” filmed before a crackling fervor in his plaid dress shirt and fleecy vest( the thinking-person &# x27; s Christmas catalogue model) and speaks in muted flavors carefully laced with vocal fry. Observing that at his time of life and in this partisan climate he didn’t care what people felt, he seemed roughly lamentable, or like a lover trying to appear nearly unfortunate. The subtext, anyway, was that he was taking one for the team.

He said he had known all along that he would be criticized for his stance on the Mueller Report and for what he was doing now in terms of launching a series of investigations into the former the researchers and their bad-faith efforts to bring this President down. It resonated, curiously, as though Barr was admitting that all along he’d been following a pre-determined script rather than responding dynamically to an evolving place as it unfolded.

It’s not clear to me what Barr procures so uproarious about Homeric significances.( I believed right-wingers were supposed to set a great store by” the Western canon .”) But the dismissiveness and the laughter are on-brand for him. Barr sacrificed exactly the same sort of patronizing laugh during his Senate indication following the release of the Mueller Report, when Kamala Harris confronted him over whether or not Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein had ever actually been cleared to supervise the Mueller investigation and prepare blaming decisions, given that he was himself a witness in the impediment examination should like to thank his persona in the firing of James Comey. Barr fenced and evaded and tried to filibuster, and had finally resorted to laughter, saying that that was the acting AG’s job.” To be a witness and realise the decision on being a prosecutor ,” Harris had pressed, and Barr had gone back to being flustered.

You might say that disdainful revelry( whether uttered or not) is the ruling ethos of the Trump administration. It informs the logic of everything they do: lie, circumvent, and speechify until, realised that you exactly don’t care, you say what you really think in a manner that uncovers at once how tainted and deceitful you are and, at the same time, that there isn’t a thing anyone can do about it. Which is the whole point: how potent you are.

But to get back to the code of the Homeric hero, Barr has it a little backward. Starting out with the notion that one does something daring with a view to being granted everlasting fame, Barr notes that he doesn’t care about that kind of fame. Ergo, he has no incentive to do the right thing. Barr’s value-system though is purely transactional.

It’s true that the epic hero’s fame, his kleos , is what will oblige him immortal. But that’s not his motivation; that’s his succour prize. You don’t do what’s right or precisely or courageous so people will sing about you. You do it–despite possible risks, although you might not earn or live, even when you know without doubt that you will fall or fail–because it’s the right thing to do and because that’s who you are. Because doing that thing characterizes all that is you or your party or the caucus or enterprise you represent stands for.

It’s something that perhaps Nancy Pelosi and Bob Mueller would do well to remember, the Speaker of the House who doesn’t want to embark on an impeachment investigation and the onetime Special Counsel who doesn’t want to testify before Congress. You do the right thing not so that parties will sing about you but so they may have something to sing about.

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