This charming e-mail from a law student at Columbia is illustrative:
Dear Professor Leiter,
I noticed you've received a number of emails from people thanking you for your decision to continue with political commentary after the election. Normally I don't go out of my way to get in touch with editorial writers or bloggers, but your writings have sparked in me that particular swell of emotion that all passionate and opinionated people get in their throat and chest when they read something particularly provocative.
Let me preface my statement with this note: I am a Democrat. I support abortion rights, same-sex marriage and a responsible economic policy that doesn't involve giving huge tax breaks to the ultra-rich. I would describe myself a liberal on most national issues (although I might define the term in a somewhat more classical sense than it is often used on this side of the Atlantic). I supported Senator Kerry, and I have an very low opinion of President Bush's wisdom, intellectual curiosity and general competence.
Although I -- along with most New Englanders (I'm from Amherst, Massachusetts) and New Yorkers (and a 1L at Columbia) -- have spent these last few weeks questioning the collective wisdom of the American electorate, one thing keeps my spirits up in these dark days: the fact that you, Noam Chomsky, and your "slimy ilk" remain on the fringes of American political discourse.
Enjoy your Sunday,
New York City
Put aside the psychological peculiarity of going to the trouble to send such a message (I can only assume the author is particularly partial to Andrew Sullivan or Christopher Hitchens, and felt this was the best he could do to defend the honor of his boys), what is really striking--what, in a weird way, sums up the intellectual and moral poverty of the Democrats in America today--is that in the midst of the recent resounding victory for fascist theocracy--in the midst of continuing bloddy carnage in Iraq and talk of new horrors to be visited on new countries, renewed plans to dismantle the minimal protections afforded by the civilized world's stingiest welfare state, continued assault on Enlightenment values by the most reactionary Administration in anyone's lifetime, and unabashed demands for theocracy by those who put Bush in office--this individual, this Democrat, takes solace in the marginalization in the U.S. of serious and honest people like Noam Chomsky. Nothing like having your priorities straight.
One might be forgiven for thinking that, under these circumstances, America is doomed.