When President Obama yesterday thumbed his nose at the due process of law by refusing to answer a congressional subpoena (in the stirring tradition of Richard M. Nixon), he put a wonderful spin on it. Obama is above the law because ...
"I can only conclude that your decision to issue a subpoena, authorized by a party-line vote, was driven more by partisan politics than a legitimate effort to conduct a responsible investigation."
Now this is really a masterful way of winning while whining. The argument, you see, is not "executive privilege" but something more personal and more petty.
And this is exactly the way some self-styled Conservative Catholics think.
The argument is simply a twist on the end justifies the means. It's an argument that not only allows you to do whatever you want if your heart is in the right place, it also allows you to ignore and ridicule your neighbor because his heart isn't.
Does Congress have the right to subpoena the President? Of course it does, but you may ignore the rule of law if Congress is, in your estimation, poorly motivated.
Has Bishop Finn behaved abysmally in the Fr. Ratigan case in Kansas City? Of course he has, but you may ignore that if his critics, in your estimation, are out to get him.
Is the Church clear that Lying and Torture are Intrinsically evil? Of course it is, but you may lie and torture anyway if, in your estimation, you're a good guy doing these things for the right reasons.
Mark Shea quotes G. K. Chesterton at length here, the most telling quote being ...
"When Religion would have maddened men, Theology kept them sane."
Our theology teaches us that we must obey the moral precepts of the Church even when we don't feel like it and even if it hurts to do so. For what is right is more important than our self-sufficiency, our mistaken notion that good people always do good if they mean well - and our inane conviction that we are always good people.
Take a look at the arrogance of President Obama, flouting law for personal reasons. And then take a look in the mirror.
ADDENDUM - I just read the full letter written by a White House attorney rejecting the subpoena. The argument the White House makes is actually more rational than the sentence above quoted, which is the one sentence being reported in the media. The argument is not simply that congress is behaving politically (which it always does) but that the subpoena is too broad in scope. The first argument is utterly beside the point; the second argument at least addresses a legal issue and is a valid argument to make.
But my point stands. Smearing your opponents' intentions (which you can never know for sure anyway unless you can read minds and hearts) is as much beside the point as lauding your own intentions. But we have fallen into such tortuous paths of subjectivism that we really think if one means well from his own point of view, one may do simply anything and be justified in doing it. The contrary to that is the notion that anyone who gives us grief must perforce have bad intentions. And that's the only sin left under the Dictatorship of Relativism - bad intentions.
The end justifies the means - as long as one "means well".