Mirror of Justice

A blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory.
Affiliated with the Program on Church, State & Society at Notre Dame Law School.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Which Party is Worse? (plus remembering Gov. Robert P. Casey)

I am grateful to Bob Hockett for his comments.  I found much in them to agree with, but much to disagree with, too.  Bob and I think very differently about which political party poses the greater overall threat today to justice and the common good.  We also disagree about who is telling more and bigger lies and who is behaving more thuggishly--conservatives and Republicans or liberals and Democrats.  I suppose, though, that if we began listing the offenders and offenses on each side, both lists would be impressive and depressing.  A game of tit-for-tat would likely go on a very long time.  If the game starts, I'll play; but with doubts about its value.

I was pleased to learn that Bob wrote in the name of Governor Robert P. Casey for President in 1996.  Casey was a truly great man.  Politicians of his character and ability do not come along very often. I had the honor of working for him as an informal advisor and writer.  I helped with the speech he was denied the platform to deliver at the Democratic National Convention and ended up giving at a pro-life rally outside the hall.  My dear friend John DiIulio and I co-chaired the issues committtee of his exploratory presidential campaign, before the effort had to be dissolved due to the Governor's poor health.  (He had undergone a heart and liver transplant only a couple of years earlier, and had been unable to conquer the infection that eventually took his life.)  Casey was an economic liberal of the old-fashioned FDR school, and a full-bore social conservative.  He was pro-marriage and pro-sexual moraity as well as pro-life, and he had something bordering on contempt for the "life-style liberalism" that had by the 1990s become orthodoxy in his party.  He called it "the cult of the imperial self."  He asked me to introduce him to Fr. Richard John Neuhaus, which I did, and to Irving Kristol, which, alas, I failed to find the opportunity to do.  He had read a piece by Kristol on the social harms of pornography which he found deeply insightful.  He was also more of a hawk on foreign policy than most people knew.  As a governor, he rarely had opportunities to speak publicly about such matters, but privately he expressed admiration for Ronald Reagan (especially for his willingness to call the Soviet Union an "evil empire") and for his fellow Democrat Henry "Scoop" Jackson. 


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