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.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

In Further Defense of Senator Casey

Sorry, friends, I do not seem to be able to get myself as exercised about the meaning of the word 'attack' as John Breen does, but I nevertheless stand by my characterization of the blog post targeting Senator Casey as an attack upon the Senator that I hope Mr. Stricherz will reconsider. 

John asks me to cite where the attack on Casey occurs.  I ask that John look again at the second paragraph of my post, wherein I quote the language of attack. Want the locations of occurrences of that language?  Here they are:

Mr. Stricherz accuses Senator Casey of 'lacking courage' (see title of post, and paragraph six).  He accuses Senator Casey of not making his decision in re the pending legislation 'on principle' (see paragraphs four, five, and seven).  And finally, he at the same time suggests that Senator Casey is making the decision he does on the basis, not of principle, but of mere electoral politics (see paragraph five: 'He's likely worried about pro-choice suburban voters in the Phildelphia suburbs...').  Moreover, and indeed ironically in the present context, that last attribution of motive is precisely what Mr. Stricherz offers by way of follow-up to what John curiously labels his 'acknowledgment' that '[c]oming up with Casey's possible objections to making a bold stand on behalf of the unborn is not difficult.' 

I am sure John will appreciate that, to any person of principle, for whom it is always a cardinal imperative to act courageously in behalf of her or his principles even at the possible expense of unpopularity among suburbanites, the impugning of her or his motives, and the accusation that s/he is uncourageously disregarding her or his principles, all in order to curry favor with suburban voters, is apt to qualify as an 'attack.'  Leveled at, say, Aaron Burr, such accusations might have qualified as high praise.  But levelled at a courageous and principled public servant such as Senator Casey, they constitute an attack.  And this attack was, for reasons adduced in my previous post, anything but 'thoughtful.'

I might note also, while at it here, that there is no inconsistency what ever between making the conciliatory remarks cited by John in his third paragraph, and going on to attack the person about whom one has made those remarks.  John is accordingly correct that the kind words he cites in his third paragraph are 'hardly the stuff of an "attack,"' but the point is quite free of relevance.  If I say, 'I have a soft spot for you because you used to be principled, courageous, and free of opportunistic concern with currying the favor of pro-choice suburbanites, but now you are unpricipled, lacking in courage, and chasing after the votes of pro-choice suburbanites,' I shall simultaneously have made conciliatory remarks about your past and attacked your present behavior -- particularly in impugning your motives as Mr. Stricherz's accusations do Senator Casey's.  I think that's a shame. 

Attributing the motives that he does to Senator Casey, instead of the more plausible -- and principled -- motives that I attribute to Senator Casey in my post, then, Mr. Stricherz attacks Senator Casey even while flattering him.  I think that requires either reconsideration or fuller substantiation.  I hope that one or the other or both will be forthcoming. 

 Thanks again,



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