Age Of Rage: Tribe Calls McConnell “McTurtle” And A “Flagrant Di**head!”

President Donald Trump’s penchant for personal and derogatory remarks about his critics and opponents is well known. Many of us have objected to how Trump’s tweets and attacks have tarnished the Office of Presidency. He has already given insulting labels to various candidates in the Democratic primary. However, such attacks are not just confined to Trump. Yet, as academics, such incivility runs against our tradition of civility in discourse. It often can take no small amount of restraint, but name calling and ad hominem attacks achieve little beyond joining a race to the bottom. That level of restraint was lost this week by Laurence Tribe, a renowned academic and the Carl M. Loeb University Professor and Professor of Constitutional Law at Harvard University. While name calling is now routine, this instance is notable, and alarming, from one of the nation’s leading academics.

Tribe went after Senate Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) this week after McConnell promised to fill any Supreme Court vacancy in 2020. McConnell had led the blocking of the confirmation of Merrick Garland in 2016 by citing that fact that it was an election year. When asked what would happen if Republicans faced a vacancy in 2020, McConnell was adamant: “Oh, we’d fill it.” That was too much for Tribe who attacked McConnell in what many would view Trump-like postings.

Prof. Tribe ridiculed McConnell as “McTurtle” and said that his “middle, first and last names are “hypocrisy.” He then added “What a flagrant dickhead!” for good measure.

Other professors have engaged in the same low-grade name calling.

I certainly understand Tribe’s frustration but people of good faith, and particularly professors, need to try to restore civil discourse in our public debates. Otherwise reasoned debate will be replaced by mere ridicule. Democratic candidates have already started to return personal insults from Trump. That may be a way to appeal to the extremes of our politics but it will do little to convince people on the merits of these issues. Moreover, for those of us who do not want this to become the “new normal,” the participation of professors undermines our efforts. If we are going to avoid a race to the bottom, we need to show a degree to restraint in listening to what Lincoln called our “better angels.” That also means that we must at times call out those people who, despite our respect, yield to the temptation to engage in name calling and petty attacks.

57 thoughts on “Age Of Rage: Tribe Calls McConnell “McTurtle” And A “Flagrant Di**head!””

  1. Civil discourse from the mouths of politicians, professors, media and others has given us a society unable to tell the difference between fact and fiction. We need to eliminate from our consciousness the presumption of truth based on who said it. I don’t know if incivility will be the shock needed, but given a choice between Lying Civility and Truthful Incivility, I’ll take the latter.

  2. Does Tribe have a law license or is he above that? I see this as a violation of RPC 8.4. VERY UNCIVIL

    Since tribe is one of those who support disbarring lawyers for politically incorrect speech under that rule, it should be used AGAINST TRIBE HIMSELF.

    i wonder, can anyone say if he has license and in what state?


      hate speech against mcconnel?

      there is a trend of license actions against lawyers deemed “racist”

      this may be such an example from WV

      where has mr free speech tribe been on this issue? i think he’s approving of the trend. correct me if i am wrong! now maybe will think he’s prejudicing justice and hoist him on that petard in turn

  3. Trump and his craven GOPers have long since exhausted our synonyms for ludicrous and shameful. Tribe, like the rest of us, is stuck for an adequate way to express DISGUST.

  4. Wow. Perhaps Larry should now be known as the Leopold and Loeb Professor of Constitutional Law, now that he is murdering his long-revered reputation.
    I remember listening to him back during the infancy of Cable news, almost 40 years ago. He was the best legal mind, providing legal analysis at that time. If you saw Larry Tribe’s face on TV, you stopped to listen.


    Tribe cheapens his own reputation by using terms like ‘dickh**d’ in a public forum. And his current employers should tell him to knock it off. Yet Tribe holds no public office or official government post. Therefore, comparing Tribe to our immature president is not entirely valid.

    What’s most interesting here is that Professor Turley prefers to address Tribe’s rudeness than McConnell’s hypocrisy. Mitch McConnell is, beyond a doubt, the most hypocritical figure in contemporary American politics.

    When McConnell said Merrick Garland’s appointment could not be confirmed in an election year, we all knew he was promoting a malicious charade. To many observers it seemed like McConnell was the classic southern bigot; making up rules to limit the rights of our first Black president. And now McConnell admits as much! But Professor Turley is more concerned with the rudeness of another law professor. ..Go figure..!

    1. That is a sadly thin argument. McConnell could and should have been more explicit about the partisanship of his denial of a vote for Garland, but only the slowest of people did not understand that there was an implied “when the opposition party controls the senate.”
      I doubt you fit that description. What republicans did was completely within the tradition of the senate. In fact, its called the “Biden rule.” And your claim of McConnell being a hypocrite is nothing other than another progressive trying to imbue every success of your political opponents and every failure of your political allies with religious overtones.
      Your comment is much more odious than any incivility engaged in by Trump or Tribe.

  6. “Federalist No. 62. THE SENATE For the Independent Journal. Wednesday, February 27, 1788.

    MADISON TO THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK: Having examined the Constitution of the House of Representatives, and answered such of the objections against it as seemed to merit notice, I enter next on the examination of the Senate. The heads into which this member of the Government may be considered are: I. The qualification of senators; II. The appointment of them by the State legislatures; III. The equality of representation in the Senate; IV. The number of senators, and the term for which they are to be elected; V. The powers vested in the Senate.”

    I’ve reprinted the first paragraph of Federalist #62, The Senate, because just by a casual inspection of the topics Madison covered in #’s 62 & 63 regarding the Senate you should be able to understand that the Senate is the Assembly of the States as Equals and each State has Equal Suffrage in the Senate, a point which is reiterated in Article 5 of the US Constitution; “…and that no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate.”!

    If that be true, that the Senate is an Assembly of the States as Equals with Equal Suffrage to reach Majority Consensus of the States, then how do you justify Assembly by Party Affiliation, Proportional Suffrage by Party Affiliation, and Control by Majority Party By Affiliation? McConnell is just one of the two Senators from Kentucky with the power and authority to vote Kentucky’s Equal right of Suffrage in the Senate, McConnell isn’t even a Member of Congress, as Kentucky’s Senator, McConnell is the Representative of the Member State, Kentucky, his Party Affiliation is moot and entities him to no leadership responsibilities or Powers!

    Now that we are past that fact, why are the States abdicating their responsibilities to assemble and govern as the Union!?

    1. Since I know that most who post comments on this blog operate at a comprehension deficit, I have reprinted the whole of Madison’s Federalist #62 Section III! This brief analysis of the equality of the Senate in actuality sums up the Legislative process of a Bicameral Legislature, something no one is willing to consider today!

      “Federalist No. 62. THE SENATE For the Independent Journal. Wednesday, February 27, 1788.
      III. The equality of representation in the Senate is another point, which, being evidently the result of compromise between the opposite pretensions of the large and the small States, does not call for much discussion. If indeed it be right, that among a people thoroughly incorporated into one nation, every district ought to have a proportional share in the Government, and that among independent and sovereign States, bound together by a simple league, the parties, however unequal in size, ought to have an equal share in the common councils, it does not appear to be without some reason that in a compound republic, partaking both of the national and Federal character, the Government ought to be founded on a mixture of the principles of proportional and equal representation. But it is superfluous to try, by the standard of theory, a part of the Constitution which is allowed on all hands to be the result, not of theory, but “of a spirit of amity, and that mutual deference and concession which the peculiarity of our political situation rendered indispensable.” A common Government, with powers equal to its objects, is called for by the voice, and still more loudly by the political situation, of America. A Government founded on principles more consonant to the wishes of the larger States, is not likely to be obtained from the smaller States. The only option, then, for the former, lies between the proposed Government and a Government still more objectionable. Under this alternative, the advice of prudence must be to embrace the lesser evil; and, instead of indulging a fruitless anticipation of the possible mischiefs which may ensue, to contemplate rather the advantageous consequences which may qualify the sacrifice.

      In this spirit it may be remarked, that the equal vote allowed to each State is at once a constitutional recognition of the portion of sovereignty remaining in the individual States, and an instrument for preserving that residuary sovereignty. So far the equality ought to be no less acceptable to the large than to the small States; since they are not less solicitous to guard, by every possible expedient, against an improper consolidation of the States into one simple republic.

      Another advantage accruing from this ingredient in the Constitution of the Senate is, the additional impediment it must prove against improper acts of legislation. No law or resolution can now be passed without the concurrence, first, of a majority of the people, and then, of a majority of the States. It must be acknowledged that this complicated check on legislation may in some instances be injurious as well as beneficial; and that the peculiar defense which it involves in favor of the smaller States, would be more rational, if any interests common to them, and distinct from those of the other States, would otherwise be exposed to peculiar danger. But as the larger States will always be able, by their power over the supplies, to defeat unreasonable exertions of this prerogative of the lesser States, and as the faculty and excess of law-making seem to be the diseases to which our governments are most liable, it is not impossible that this part of the Constitution may be more convenient in practice than it appears to many in contemplation.

  7. The age of hysteria, incoherence, chaos and anarchy is upon America. The Constitution has been abrogated. Congress is contaminated and feckless, and courts “legislate from the bench.” Abraham Lincoln seized power and ruled by executive order and proclamation to “Save the Union.” How will President Trump ever “Save the Republic?”

  8. “Prof. Tribe ridiculed McConnell as “McTurtle” and said that his “middle, first and last names are “hypocrisy.” He then added “What a flagrant dickhead!” for good measure.”
    And to think, Larry told us in 2010 that his brain tumor was benign.

    1. What is it with you? Do you hate America and want illegals, human trafficking and drugs crossing our border? What is wrong with you?

    2. Non-RINO Republicans love America under the dominion of the “manifest tenor” of its Constitution and without Central Planning, Control of the Means of Production (i.e. regulation), Redistribution of Wealth and Social Engineering.

      Understanding that general means ALL, America and its elected and appointed officials have the power to tax merely for “…general Welfare…,” omitting and, thereby, excluding any power to tax for individual welfare. Congress and courts which “legislate from the bench” have the power to regulate merely trade, exchange or “…commerce among the several States…” to preclude bias or favor by one state against another, and they have no power to regulate any other aspect of free enterprise and/or free markets. That’s why they call it “freedom.”

      The current entire American welfare state is unconstitutional.

      Republicans love America under its Constitution.

      To wit,

      Article 1, Section 8

      The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

      To borrow money on the credit of the United States;

      To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;

  9. One just doesn’t hear law professors use the term, ‘dickhead’ enough these days.

    1. The age of invasion immigration, welfare, affirmative action, hysteria and incoherence brought to you by the injurious and unconstitutional19th Dumbmendment and those of “Reconstruction.”

  10. “McTurtle?” “Flagrant dickhead?” I fail to see the problem. After listening to Trump’s endless rants and senseless tweets for years, perhaps the Prof can be given a pass for, in a weak moment, failing to follow the nice-nice Trump gets no matter what he does. It’s not as though he didn’t have sufficient examples from the leader of the free world and the greatest nation on earth.

  11. Sigh. I hate the name calling.

    The behavior that many find so shocking in Trump, is par for the course for many Leftists. Conservatives have been called every vile name in the book, merely for disagreeing with far Left policies.

    Academics have brought their far Left proclivities into the classroom. They often say such diatribes against Republicans, not only in public, but in the classroom. We have discussed the politicization of universities towards Democrat madrasses for years. That means namecalling Republicans on campus has been normal since I went to university. Sure, academics should have a higher standard, including their attitude towards free speech and rational debate, but they haven’t for a very long time.

    This is what it’s like to be either a Republican or any sort of conservative. You get called names. If you are a conservative woman, all forms of misogyny are acceptable. If you are a black conservative, racist slurs are fine. Black conservative women get it the worst. We saw a mob of white Liberals scream in her face, blow whistles in her face, scream insults, and throw water at her to drive her from a restaurant. There would have been mobs and hysteria if that had been a black Democrat woman.

    The problem is that we have been the subject of such widespread harassment for so many years, that many want to fight back. Then there’s two sides rolling in the mud. That’s why Trump does not alienate his base when he lashes out on Twitter. People say, about d^*^&* time. Changing hearts and minds? Effective? No. It doesn’t even stop the abuse, as it just keeps on keeping on.

    I don’t want anyone to act that way. I don’t want to keep accepting that behavior as normal from Democrats, either. They have lowered the bar on their own behavior while still expecting Republicans to take the high road, as they’ve historically done. That’s not okay either.

    Now, to properly combat this double standard, if I had any say on the matter, the name calling should stop by Republicans. I would blast montages all over the TV on PAC ads, showcasing Democrat unhinged behavior, and all the names. That kind of hatred drove the #WalkAway campaign.

    If we join in, then we inch closer to Civil War. That kind of wound never really heals. The bad behavior has got to stop. The absurd notion that if you are not far Left, you are evil has got to be exposed as a political lie. We MUST abolish the politicization of education, from pre-K to grad school. Any school acting as a political Madrassa should not receive any federal funding. No more politization on any publicly funding programs such as NPR and PBS. You want to get political, you go private.

    1. Should have proofread – I was referring to the Candace Owens incident.

  12. Turley, you have enabled Trump and his cult supporters every chance you get, and now you want civility? “restore civil discourse in our public debates” you must not read your own blog and what Trump supporters say, and push propaganda on a daily basis to justify Trump’s incompetence. Calling out Trump and McConnell and their brand of politics and hypocrisy is justified. McConnell’s ratings in Kentucky are down to their lowest in years, of course McConnell can sit back and reap the benefits of his Ukrainian buddy and his plant in Kentucky.

  13. Which “tribe” does Lawrence hail from? I hope that he is not Cherokee. As for use of the term “Dickhead”: Dick Nixon, Dick Gregory, Dick Jones. As “head” of the Senate the goof name McConnell can be linked to Tricky Dick. So I think we should call Mitch: Tricky Dickhead.

  14. What do you expect? We’re going as close to war as we can get without actually fielding a militia.

    1. Civil War means loss, families blasted apart, and wounds that never heal as family and former friends fight and kill each other. May it never come to that.

    2. “We’re going as close to war as we can get without actually fielding a militia.”
      Not really. I see plenty of heat in Washington but precious few other places. Antifa appears to be underground for good. The White Nationalist mustered 9 people at their last rally. BLM can’t even pick a leader — a death sentence for any group — and the Pro-choice crowd is reduced to “busibodying” people in Ga, La and Bama who couldn’t care less about them. If you lived through the 70s you’d know we’re not close to civil war.

      Now that said, try and strip away the Second Amendment protections, curtail free speech or raise taxes to pay for illegals and even I would invest in uniform manufacturers.

  15. Gee, it’s not like Trump has lowered the bar or anything.

    And what is a polite name for a d..khead who refused his constitutional responsibility in order to steal a SC seat?

    1. I always felt that if the SCOTUS seat is open, then the sitting president gets to nominate someone to fill it. Unless it’s 60 days until the next election, then Congress should approve it, or have a darn good reason not to.

      This may not be spelled out exactly, but it’s fair.

      If Congress wants to refrain from approving a SCOTUS nominee during an election year, then they need to encode that into law and stop making it arbitrary.

      And, Anon, I’ve been called a great many names on this blog, as well as elsewhere, for years, just for stating my Republican beliefs. Sometimes by you. It’s not justified, because I don’t think I’ve been cruel in stating my opinions. Unless you are a Democrat, you, and your beliefs, will be called all mannor of vile names in public, in private, on television, by Hollywood, by kindergarten teachers, by academia…People are sincerely afraid for their safety to wear MAGA wear, because they fear Democrat violence on a widespread, national scale. Ad hominem seems to be a knee jerk, thoughtless reaction by Democrats. It’s almost impossible to have a reasonable conversation with one on politics. Whenever I’ve tried to explain my position on any matter it often devolves into the Democrat insulting and then walking away, unable to debate.

      It’s a trend. Democrats really have to clean up their act on this.

      I do not like it when Trump fights back in the same vein, because then here are two people rolling in the manure. However, you should know that this did not start with Trump. This is how Democrats have spoken to us for many years. People are so tired of it that some actually cheer Trump when he insults back. I hate it. This is not how anyone should behave. Plus, insults are not effective and they’re not particularly witty. It’s not like they’re channeling Shakespeare or any of the other Great Insulters.

      1. ” Democrats really have to clean up their act on this.”

        The far left has badly infiltrated the minds of the Democratic Party and when have Stalinists or other far leftists ever cleaned up their acts? I think a good number of Democratics might not agree with the road the party is taking but they seem to go with the flow. The only way to change the Democratic Party without the nation succumbing to the failures of the left, like Venzuela just has, is to defeat them at the polls so the party reorganizes and acts responsibly.

      2. Just saw this Karen. We’ve discussed this before.

        You are blind.

        How many rural red towns do you think it would be OK to walk around in with an Obama hat and not expect push back and possibly violence?

        How many radio shows, listened to by millions talk in depth and repeatedly about conservatives as the enemy of America?

        How many times did Obama talk about having the police and military on his side if things got rough?

        How many times did Obama speak so personally and disrespectfully about opposing political leaders who in fact had been elected and represented millions of voters?

        How many leftists have gone on killing sprees and are listed as terror threats by the FBI?

        Partisan excesses are worse than ever, though in reality the disagreement on policy is no wider than it’s ever been in this centrist country. Very few favor racism or even retreating to segregation, very few favor no safety net, very few favor open borders, very few favor socialism (in the classic sense, the ownership of the means of production by the government), not even Bernie, very few favor ending ending government support for universal education or even of state universities, and now very few favor ending LGBT rights or some form of universal health care.

        Our differences are turned into war by self serving cable news shows, talk radio, and representatives in too safe seats immune to anything but primary challenges (that includes people like AOC). Our President relishes this stuff and everyday tries again to further divided, not unite the country and unlike any president in my memory, with a willing GOP, has targeted through legislation and orders states and constituencies deemed not on his/their side.

        Though I find your opinions often lifted in whole cloth from right wing sources and often factually wrong, you are obviously intelligent and no doubt of a good heart. I suggest you look a little further when you are feeling that right wing victim hood. It is not as you describe above.

        1. Anon:
          “How many rural red towns do you think it would be OK to walk around in with an Obama hat and not expect push back and possibly violence?”


          You live a fantasy. The hallmark of most small towns is folks leave you pretty much alone. Grew up, been in and worked in Virginia small towns from Big Stone Gap to Ware Neck. Lots more in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, West Virginia and South Carolina. Never had anyone even question what I wore, said or thought. There’s more freedom there than you expect. Try it and lose the stereotypes.

          1. Mespo, I live among small towns in a red state. I know what I’m talking about.

            Can you send us a picture of you with your Obama hat next to the courthouse Confederate Vet monument? I’d pay for that.

            1. PS To be clear. I have worked next to red state small towners and lived among them. I managed a small 130 acre farm and did all the small town stuff including hanging out in the hardware store, eating breakfast at The Rebel House, building fence, and cutting and baling hay with them. I have nothing but respect for most of them, and most of them may not like something you think but they wouldn’t bother you if they found out about it. People in big cities are the same, though they talk funny. There are others however who take this s..t too serious – some on this board talk that way but are probably drug store militia men – and are dangerous on both sides. Predominantly however, the real killers are on the right not the left and there are others who will beat the s..t out of those they think are the enemy. That’s who we all should worry about., and not just conservatives as Karen alleges.

              1. black gangs commit tons of murders and rapes a year, of blacks, whites, women, and men. but, they’re not a threat to you guys. you’re nuts!

            2. I stood next to plenty of courthouse monuments in Virginia and defended Obama’s policies I agreed with. Never had anyone even raise their voice in opposition.

              1. Good for you mespo. The danger still exists and about equally depending on where you are. The rural south is not noted for non-violence.

                Any pictures?

              2. Anon’s feeling on this reflect his hostility against ideas that differ with his own. His refusal to take note of all the violence perpetrated by the left against Trump supporters and his pretentions of being non violent support the view that though he wouldn’t personally use such violence due to cowardice he gets pleasure from such vacarious experiences.

  16. Again, the worthless collegiality from you. Twenty years ago, Robert Bork volunteered that constitutional law had been destroyed as a serious intellectual endeavour. Laurence Tribe has done his part in that exercise of destruction. That he has a fancy title and collects a handsome salary from Harvard is a scandal.

    1. As a somewhat right leaning (I) who has voted for 2 (D) presidents in the past, it reeks of hypocrisy on the turtle’s part. I’m so sick of that inside the beltway group of pols…i have bigly issues with trump and his not being factual pretty much all of the time… will i vote for him again…. probably. Believe me I’ve looked for an alternative but on the (D) side but i just can’t get in to identity politics and all the pc crap and not securing our border… come on now, does anybody really like all the (D) candidates, for example, going to nyc to kiss the ring of al Sharpton? Unfortunately, I’ll probably have to stay orange next time.

      1. That is the opinion of many Independents and swing voters.

        The hatred and destructive policies on the Left are alienating, but Trump is also alienating at times.

        And, you’re right, McConnell’s position is hypocritical, though accurate. Both sides would want to fill the position, and both sides would fight the opposing party doing so.

        It would help if SCOTUS was not politicized. Someone’s personal politics should not impact their ability to apply the Constitution to the cases before you. The Constitution does not mean what you can twist it to mean. There is a procedure in place if an amendment is in order.

        If personal politics didn’t matter, then appointing a SC judge would not be a blood sport that rips the nation apart.

        1. Karen S:

          “The hatred and destructive policies on the Left are alienating, but Trump is also alienating at times. ”

          Hell, Jesus was “alienating at times.” Ask those poor recipients of divine wrath in the Temple trying to sell a few measly doves or exchange some sheckles what alienating means. The question is who is Trump alienating: if he’s alienating illegals and their accessories before the fact, who cares?

  17. I agree the need for civility regardless the nature of the discourse. I disagree, the use of the word ‘debate.’ There are no longer debates w/ regard to (walk out) @potus and his party. A couple of ‘his people’ have been quoted saying they don’t care about the law; I believe it. MM seems to be among those who: ‘I don’t care.’ Very frustrating for us who want debate and healthy democracy. I’ll go w/ Hillary and add MM to the deplorable basket, where, currently, he certainly belongs. Disheartening.

Comments are closed.