In today's column, he defends State Rep. Tom Burch, who is facing possible ethics charges for using his influence to benefit a constituent in a child custody case, and appeals to the medieval poet Dante in doing it. Burch, says Hawpe, can be forgiven his actions since he was well-intended:
I invoke here the words of the one truly great president of the 20th Century, Franklin D. Roosevelt, who insisted, in his 1936 presidential nomination acceptance speech, "Governments can err, presidents do make mistakes, but the immortal Dante tells us that Divine justice weighs the sins of the cold-blooded and the sins of the warm-hearted on different scales."To Hawpe, liberals are by definition well-intended, unlike those distasteful conservatives, who are motivated only by greed and selfishness. But even greed and selfishness can be excused as long as it is a liberal who engages in it.
Not only does Hawpe defend Burch, he defends Don Blandford, the former speaker of the Kentucky House who was sent to jail for over five years for accepting bribes:
Now let me say right up front that Blandford, BOPTROT notwithstanding, is one of my legislative heroes.Why? Because Blandford pushed through the Kentucky Education Reform Act of 1990 (KERA). He did it by physically stopping the House clock on the last day of the legislative session to avoid that inconvenient little constitutional requirement that legislation can't be passed after midnight of the last day. But hey, he meant well.
It seems somehow fitting that, in arguing that liberals should be excused for their bad actions simply because they are liberals, Hawpe should invoke the author of a book called The Divine Comedy.
We doubt a judge would be as impressed as Hawpe if Burch appealed to his political ideology as an extenuating circumstance. And we doubt Blandford, who has served his sentence, is slapping his forehead wishing he had pled liberalism.
You wonder if it is arguments like this that caused Dante, in the part of his book about Hell, to place journalists where he did.