Friday, April 27, 2007

UNQUALIFIED. Eugene Volokh on a columnist who complained about St. Rudy Giuliani's Vote-For-Me-Or-Die-in-a-Terrorist-Attack bullshit:
Now Giuliani's speech may well be unsound; I'm not a Giuliani partisan, and I have no desire to defend it on the merits. But I'm puzzled, as I often am about such arguments, by the claim that "milking one's 9/11 reputation for crass political gain is, obviously, despicable"...

Imagine a surgeon who, in the wake of some disaster, does what many see as a superb job of saving many patients. He then goes to hospital managers and says that the hospital's patients will do better if he (rather than his rivals who he thinks haven't shown such skills) were given a promotion to an even more responsible surgical position.

Would we fault him because "milking [his] reputation [formed during a deadly disaster] for crass [careerist] gain is, obviously, despicable"?
Well, this analogy holds only if the surgeon's record includes the following:
  • A spotty performance including some exceptional saves and many incredible bonehead errors, costing the hospital millions of dollars every year.
  • Alienated the hell out of nearly the entire hospital staff, patients, benefactors, etc.
  • On one exceptionally trying day, found the super-special operating room he'd built (at great expense to the hospital) for such days was completely useless; still, performed his duty as dictated by his office without shitting his pants.
  • Tried unsuccessfully to avoid mandatory retirement by strong-arming the doctors who were in line for his position.
  • In applying for a more prestigious hospital leadership position, declared that an operating room should be run every day the way his was on that Great Day when it was blown up -- that is, in crisis-triage mode, with lots of fear, panic, and running around. Also let it be known that he no longer believed in any of the shit he pretended to believe back when he was at that other hospital -- except for the part where he was hailed as America's Surgeon.
Also, if I were Volokh I'd be careful about defending Giuliani with the image of an angry, lisping duck.

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