Tricky Bernie. They're right, but they don't know why. The two dailies trot out apologists for Cardinal Law today -- Eugene Kennedy in the Globe and Joe Fitzgerald in the Herald -- and they each make the same breathtakingly idiotic analogy: Someday we'll all appreciate the good that Law did. Just like we did with ... Richard Nixon!
Neither Kennedy nor Fitzgerald is obtuse enough to assert that Law hadn't made serious mistakes (as Nixon might put it, "Mistakes were made"), or that he shouldn't have resigned. But they each argue that, over time, we'll see that the good Law accomplished outweighed the bad, just as it did with Nixon. Kennedy writes of Nixon -- who launched a secret, illegal war in Cambodia, who facilitated the assassination of Salvador Allende, and who repeatedly and flagrantly subverted the Constitution -- that he was "undone by one fatal misjudgment about Watergate." Fitzgerald notes that a lot of people turned out for Nixon's funeral. Well, there's nostalgia for Stalin in Russia, too.
This follows on the heels of the Reverend Peter Gomes's truly embarrassing defense of Law in Friday's Globe. Gomes offered his own analogy: "The news is bad enough, but when columnists and editorial writers weigh in with their shrill characterizations and cries for arch-episcopal blood, one cannot help but empathize just a bit with the Nixon-like figure who is damned at every turn."
As Hunter Thompson put it in his now-classic Nixon obituary, "He was a crook." Whether Law was actually a crook, or was simply an egregious enabler of child abuse, remains to be seen. What's certain is that he will mainly be remembered for the vigorous manner in which he helped pedophile priests rape kids again and again. That Law had a rational approach to Cuba policy, or that he reached out to the Jewish community, is nice but beside the point.
By the way, Dale Stephanos's Law cartoon in today's Herald is so good that you should go out and buy a copy just for that.