Ethics & Public Policy Center

Ted Sorensen, Invincibly Ignorant or Just a Jackass?

Published in National Review Online on March 22, 2010



Amidst this weekend’s numerous examples of perfidy, moral treason, cowardice, and self-serving, all in aid of passing Obamacare, let’s not lose sight of a brief “review” of Karl Rove’s recent memoir, penned by Ted Sorensen for the March 21 Outlook section of the Washington Post. Sorensen averred that Rove’s was likely among “the least accurate of all political memoirs,” for he had “served a presidency known for prevarication.”

Well, that takes what the Italians call palle corazzate (which I translate, for the sake of easily shocked readers, as “cast-iron cojones”). “Least accurate of all political memoirs”? This, from the author of Kennedy, from which one would never learn that the White House had been turned into something resembling a seraglio, or that the official story of the deal that concluded the Cuban Missile Crisis was a fabrication? This, from the real author of Profiles in Courage, an admittedly nifty book, but one for which the Pulitzer Prize ought to have gone to Sorensen, not to his employer, John F. Kennedy, for whom he wrote it?

After a half-century of Kennedy apologetics, the only interesting question about the apologists is whether they suffer from a variant of that disease known to classic moral theologians as “invincible ignorance.” In this instance, it would mean that you’ve bought your own baloney for so long — the baloney that, in Sorensen’s case, he helped grind — that you actually believe it, and are therefore not morally culpable for propagating it further.

If that’s in fact the case, then it may tell us something about the length of Ted Sorensen’s sentence in Purgatory. But an attack on Rove’s veracity from a man who has been instrumental in maintaining the Big Lie about Clan Kennedy for over half a century tells us all we need to know, objectively speaking, about the character of Ted Sorensen.

George Weigel is Distinguished Senior Fellow of Washington’s Ethics and Public Policy Center, where he holds the William E. Simon Chair in Catholic Studies.

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