Murphy’s Law

April 12, 2007

Murphy’s Law tells us that whatever can go wrong, will go wrong. And the recent situation involving Professor Walter Murphy, emeritus professor of Princeton University, gives us its new corrollary: When something goes wrong and the blame can traced to the Bush administration, legions of right-wing pundits and bloggers will leap to assure everyone that nothing bad actually happened and anyone who says otherwise is a shrill conspiracy nut.

I’m open-minded on this matter. Maybe it really was just an unfortunate misunderstanding that led to countless potentially incriminating e-mails to and from White House staffers being erased. And those U.S. Attorneys who were purged? I’m sure there’s a reasonable explanation that has nothing to do with them being reluctant to abuse their powers in order to file politically helpful charges against Democrats.

So if a wildly respected legal scholar like Walter Murphy finds himself on the Terrorist Watch list, I’m perfectly prepared to believe it may not have been because Murphy has thoroughly criticized the Bush administration for its habit of wiping its feet on the Constitution.  It’s just another one of those funny coincidences. That’s what the Wall Street Journal and a gnat-swarm of winger bloggers and concern trolls would have us believe, anyway.

Over at the site that got the whole ball rolling, however, the situation seems a little more ambiguous than that:

I do not know James Taranto, who wrote the Wall Street Journal piece, or Kip Hawley, the administrator in question. I have every reason to believe that Mr. Hawley, in particular, is making a good faith effort to place the Transportation Security Agency in the best possible light. And there are a good many explanations as to what happened. But there are also a good many mysteries and they ought to trouble everyone, even as we do not yet know the answers. Professor Murphy appears to have made some list for some reason. Persons on the ground seemed to have observed that a fairly common characteristic of persons on that list is some opposition to Bush administration policies and being on this list appears to have some consequences. Most important, while I am not a student of Walter Murphy’s or a member of the Princeton School of Constitutional Thought, Professor Murphy ought not be depicted as “so blinded by hatred” to be “gullible enough to believe anything.” Walter Murphy is not a political ideologue. The last message I recall him sending on the lawcourts listserv was a strong endorsement of Samuel Alito. Perhaps he has lost his mind or his judgment has gone horribly awry. But that would strike me as the least likely coincidence in the above account.

How shrill. How delusional. Imagine suggesting that anyone connected with this administration would abuse his powers of office to harass a political opponent or critic.

I’m sure that if someone approached James Taranto and offered to sell him the Brooklyn Bridge, Taranto would be smart enough to refuse the offer, even if the seller offered a receipt.

But what makes him think he can sell the same bridge to the rest of us?   


One Response to “Murphy’s Law”

  1. Chucky Says:

    The Liberal Media have finally come around to this police-state incident. See the latest (4/13) issue of the Princeton Packet.

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