Kristol serves up yet another bizarre column in the Times. Today, he offers a moral defense of Dick Cheney via nefarious comparison to Rod Blagojevich. It's like comparing Lucky Luciano to John Gotti. You don't know which man, if either, is supposed to feel offended. But, I'm not interested in fisking the entire piece. The commenters did a nice job of dismantling Kristol's inane drivel. I'm just going to deal with Kristol's opening gambit--a claim that Dick Cheney shows evidence of a "well-considered sense of justice":
O.K., O.K. ... you don’t have to. But consider this exchange with Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday”:
WALLACE: Did you really tell Senator Leahy, bleep yourself?
CHENEY: I did.
WALLACE: Any qualms, or second thoughts, or embarrassment?
CHENEY: No, I thought he merited it at the time. (Laughter.) And we’ve since, I think, patched over that wound and we’re civil to one another now.
No spin. No doubletalk. A cogent defense of his action — and one that shows a well-considered sense of justice. (“I thought he merited it.”) Indeed, if justice is seeking to give each his due, one might say that Dick Cheney aspires to being a just man. And a thoughtful one, because he knows that justice is sometimes too harsh, and should be tempered by civility.
How in the world do Cheney's words reveal his well-considered sense of justice? Cheney's "cogent defense" was nothing but a bluntly subjective assertion. Just why Kristol treats this as evidence of a well-considered sense of justice is unclear.
Was it because Cheney used the words "I thought," as if those words magically prove that Cheney gave the matter a great deal of consideration? Or, does Kristol regard Cheney's subjective assessment (Leahy merited it) as an established fact--that the bitch did, indeed, have it comin'?
It doesn't seem to occur to Kristol that Cheney's response--that Leahy deserved it--could also be the rationalization of an ill-tempered narcissist who blows his top when he's challenged. Maybe Cheney really is a just and thoughtful man who was fed up with some truly awful behavior on Leahy's part. But just and thoughtful people usually have second thoughts about blowing up at others. Cheney says he had no second thoughts, which isn't exactly a resounding affirmation of his well-considered sense of justice.
But, eager as he is to defend Cheney's snarling character, Kristol blithely skips over the obvious problems with Cheney's response. Instead, Cheney's refusal to be answerable to the American public is portrayed by Kristol as an admirable willingness to be unpopular for the sake of upholding moral virtue. In other words, Kristol would have us believe, Dick Cheney is unpopular because he's sort of like Jesus--so good that mere mortals tend to despise him.
Well, if Kristol is offering Cheney's best defense, God help Dick Cheney.