"If a Republican candidate had launched his political career atthehome of an abortion-clinic bomber"
hchamber at richmond.edu
Tue Oct 14 06:22:42 PDT 2008
Krauthammer's question essentially asks what would happen if the tables were turned. A core problem is that the language of his hypothetical is not close to being a precise turning of the tables. Barack Obama did not do the Democratic equivalent of launching his political career at the home of an abortion-clinic bomber. It is comparing apples to oranges.
By the way, a fuller attack regarding McCain would be that he launched his political career at the feet of and using the connections of a convicted bootlegger who had been in business with bookmakers and had ties to organized crime. To be clear, this description takes fewer liberties with the truth than the claims the McCain-Palin ticket have made with respect to the Obama-Ayers connection.
Raising such issues, when they have little relevance to what is going on in the world, distracts the populace and makes serious public discourse on Constitutiuon-related issues that ought to be discussed in this campaign more difficult to have. I would like to hear the candidates talk about affirmative action, their philosophies on selecting judges, the limits of the President's powers in fighting a War on Terror and what effect the bailout might have on the future relationship between the government and private ordering once the fear has passed, among other issues.
Henry L. Chambers, Jr.
Professor of Law
University of Richmond School of Law
28 Westhampton Way
Richmond, Va. 23173
From: conlawprof-bounces at lists.ucla.edu on behalf of Volokh, Eugene
Sent: Mon 10/13/2008 11:37 PM
To: CONLAWPROF at lists.ucla.edu
Subject: RE: "If a Republican candidate had launched his political career atthehome of an abortion-clinic bomber"
Indeed, it would have been politically silly for Obama to raise
the point, because the felony was ...
... "falsifying records to conceal ... the illegal distribution
of hundreds of cases of liquor," apparently to avoid post-war liquor
So let me be the first to say: If Obama put out ads saying that
McCain was palling around with someone who had been convicted of
falsifying records to conceal the illegla distribution of hundreds of
cases of liquor, or even was palling around with a bootlegger, I would
think that was perfectly fine.
Of course, most people would also say that decades-old bombings
(which one apparently hasn't fully denounced) are different from
more-decades-old bootlegging. And McCain would also point out that
Hensley fought in World War II, was shot down twice, and was awarded the
Distinguished Flying Cross, which might be said to outweigh his
So I'm not sure that the analogy Prof. Chambers suggests is
really that strong. But I will stress again that I agree the items are
analogous in one important respect: It would be perfectly legitimate
for Obama to point out the bootlegging background of Henley, just as it
is perfectly legitimate for McCain to point out the terrorist background
I'd also still like to hear more about Krauthammer's actual
hypothetical that involved an actual bomber, not a war hero who was
convicted of bootlegging.
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Chambers, Hank [mailto:hchamber at richmond.edu]
> Sent: Monday, October 13, 2008 7:58 PM
> To: Volokh, Eugene; CONLAWPROF at lists.ucla.edu
> Subject: RE: "If a Republican candidate had launched his
> political career at thehome of an abortion-clinic bomber"
> Of course, "launched his political career" implies a larger
> role for Ayers than the facts warrant. Consequently, the
> hypothetical is not a particularly good one.
> Nonetheless, we may have a bit of an answer. John McCain's
> Arizona political career was pretty directly launched with
> connections from his father-in-law Jim Hensley, a convicted
> felon. There is a salacious angle there, but the Obama
> campaign has made nothing of it and should not given how far
> removed from his conviction Hensley was when he helped launch
> McCain's career and how irrelevant the issue really is.
> Of course, it would be politically silly for Obama to raise
> the point, but that is not the issue raised by Krauthammer's
> Henry L. Chambers, Jr.
> Professor of Law
> University of Richmond School of Law
> 28 Westhampton Way
> Richmond, Va. 23173
> (804) 289-8199
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