On Meet the Press this morning, Senator Hillary Clinton accused her host, Tim Russert, of being ’Jesuitical’ in his argumentation. The Jesuit-educated Russert (Canisius High School in Buffalo, N.Y. and John Carroll University in Cleveland) was pressing Senator Clinton on her 2002 vote to authorize war in Iraq. Here’s the transcript:
MR. RUSSERT: Did he (Obama) have better judgment in October of 2002? SEN. CLINTON: You know, look, judgment is not a single snapshot. Judgment is what you do across the course of your life and your career. MR. RUSSERT: A vote for war is a very important vote. SEN. CLINTON: Well, you know, Tim, we can have this Jesuitical argument about what exactly was meant.Now according to the Oxford American Dictionary, "Jesuitical" has two meanings. The first is the more benign: "of or concerning the Jesuits." Okay, that’s straightforward. But the word has a second meaning, which is almost always pejorative and was born of the old anti-Jesuit canard that we can be a little slick with our reasoning. Here the word means, "Dissembling or equivocating, in the manner associated with Jesuits." It’s highly unlikely of course that any Jesuit will take offense. Mrs. Clinton is no Pascal and did not intend to be. But one does wonder where she picked up the word. Perhaps it came from her Georgetown-educated husband. Matt Malone, S.J.