I'm not a big believer in karma, but if you happen to be one, you sure had a good couple of weeks. Here are a couple good karma stories for you.
We'll start with David Frum. The blogosphere has been alight over David Frum's recent defenestration from the conservative American Enterprise Institute. Frum was fired for making a few comments disparaging Republican tactics on health care reform - specifically, the decision by Republicans to simply oppose the legislation rather than to try to remake it in a conservative image. Frum thinks, with good reason, that the Republicans not only missed an opportunity to get some pieces of conservative health care reform enacted but also that Republicans took a big PR hit as a result of their obstructionism.
While I'm sympathetic to Frum's plight - seems like the absolute last thing a think-tank should do is fire someone for putting out a contrarian viewpoint - there's some poetic justice here. Seems like Frum, back when he was fresh off his job as Bush II's speechwriter, put out this article condemning Republicans and conservatives who disagreed with Bush's approach to the "War on Terror." He ends the article, "Now we turn our backs on them."
Seems to me that Bush's terrorism policy was the beginning of movement conservatives seeing the world in an "us vs. them" light, where if you don't hew to the orthodox position you're with the enemy and thus should be exiled. Frum was right there at the forefront kicking out dissenting voices, and now the monster he helped create has turned on him. Karma.
The other victim of karma this week? Pope Benedict.
Seems His Eminence, back when he was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, was personally involved in a cover-up of a child abuse scandal in California in 1985. He refused to allow the diocese of Oakland to fire the priest even though he had previously been convicted of child sexual abuse by American courts. There are several other cases where the future Pope's office tried to cover up sexually abusive priests, but none have Ratzinger/Benedict's fingerprints on it in quite the way that this does. In the letter linked to by the BBC story, Ratzinger says that the offending priest should not be fired quite yet because "the good of the universal Church" wasn't served by doing so.
Now there's no doubt in my mind that the erstwhile Cardinal and current Pope are horrified by priests sexually abusing children. Nor do I believe that he didn't take such allegations seriously - I mean, how could you not, especially when they concern someone who is supposed to be a direct conduit between a lay Catholic and God? Rather, Ratzinger's crime was hubris - he thought he could keep this whole thing under wraps and not have the Church take a PR hit for hiring someone who ended up being an abuser. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that an organization with a billion or so members in hundreds of countries worldwide isn't going to be able to cover something of this magnitude up for long, but Ratzinger thought so. And now it's blowing up in his face - bloggers I respect are calling for his arrest, for fuck's sake. We haven't seen a Pope in this much hot water since Alexander VI. And all because he, as a Cardinal, thought that he could keep the whole situation under wraps.
The sad irony here is that the Church would have been much better off had their leadership come clean from the very beginning. Indeed, had the Church leadership just fired the guy and cooperated with other investigations, they might have come out of this whole mess as the good guys who helped get the bad apples out of the bunch. After all, with the sheer amount of priests in the world, some of them are bound to be bad ones, right? You can't hold having bad priests against the Church. But defending such priests after the point of defensibility has long passed? Yeah, you can hold that one against them.
So maybe poetic justice is still alive and well. I'm not holding my breath though.
Update: Apparently the Pope's second-in-command is blaming the whole scandal on gayness. File this under "some people never learn."
Update II: I suppose it was only a matter of time before this happened too: an Italian bishop is now blaming the Jews for the Church's troubles. Some people sure love their whipping boys, eh? (Sorry, couldn't resist.)