There are two types of Church observers in the world, the casual observer and the serious observer. And if you are a serious observer, you begin your morning one way and one way only, with a visit to the website Whispers in the Loggia. Rocco Palmo has been off the grid for a few weeks: His grandmother grew gravely ill and then went to her eternal reward. He has a beautiful tribute to her on the mainpage. Now, his "page three" links are back and running. Welcome back Rocco. Blessings upon and prayers for your family and for the repose of the soul of "The Boss."
Over at Commonweal, Notre Dame law professor Rick Garnett has an article that is mostly bipartisan in its criticism of politicians in both parties for their willingness to do end-runs around the cumbersome legislative process. Instead of picking on Newt Gingrich, Garnett might have considered the Bush administration's penchant for signing statements. But, nonetheless, Garnett does an admirable job reclaiming an important point from the rantings of the Tea Partyers and the ambitions of executive branch officials: Our constitutional system was designed to be cumbersome.
Democrats for Life of America may not have gotten a coveted primetime speaking slot at the Democratic National Convention, but they generated a lot of media coverage with their panel yesterday in Charlotte. This article in the LA Times tells the story.
The nation is engaged in a great debate about who can best be trusted to run the country for the next four years, President Obama or Governor Romney. But, comparing the first night of both conventions, there is no doubt which party runs a smoother convention: The Democrats.
Last week, at the GOP convention in Tampa, speaker after speaker mentioned their nominee in passing or as an after-thought. Perhaps it is unsurprising that the next generation of GOP leaders, who are rising in Tea Party Times, would celebrate the culture of “I’ve got mine!” but one had the suspicion in Tampa that the paramedics would need to be called in for all those strained shoulders and elbows resulting from so much patting of one’s own back.
If you want to know why the Obama administration decided to pick a fight with the Catholic Church, read the New York Times' profile of Valerie Jarrett. I confess I took an almost instant disliking to Jarrett the first time I heard her interviewed. Her comments reminded me of a visit I paid to the southside of Chicago and some of the faux intellectuals I met there, the kind of people who will chase any intellectual theory provided it is novel. It was the one and only time in my life I heard someone defend Stalin. It was unfair of me to conflate that experience with my first impression of Jarrett, to be sure, but if the Times article is to be believed, it was prescient too.
Michelle Boorstein has a great profile of John Carr as he concluded his twenty-five years of service at the USCCB. Carr has been a consistent voice, perhaps the most consistent voice, for the voiceless in this town for those twenty-five years. Also, one of the most effective. Also, one of the most thoroughly Catholic - no cafeteria for him, as opposed to some of his critics.
To say that he will be missed at the conference is to state the obvious. To note that he will bring an unparalled stature to Catholic University is to state another obvious point. Less obvious, but well explained in Boorstein's piece, is the positive influence one man committed to the Church can make in the life of the nation, especially on behalf of the poor. That is not so easy to do in this hyper-consumerist, spread-eagle-capitalist, acquisitive, brutish culture of modernity, but Carr has done it.
Jonathan Cohn, at the New Republic, examines the media's coverage of Congressman Ryan's convention speech and the degree to which it was less than honest. Cohn is one of the smartest policy analysts I know of, and here he engages in the fine art of casuistry, which got a bad name in Elizabethan England and Port Royal, but which is nothing else than a concern for precision in moral analysis. Bravo.
As the Democrats gather in Charlotte, you would have thought that it might have occurred to them that they need a narrative to justify the case for re-election but, instead, they have seemed unable to even answer the simple question: Are you, and is America, better off than we were four years ago? David Plouffe couldn’t bring himself to say yes to this question. Finally, Vice President Biden said: “Of course we are. Osama bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive.” The narrative needs to be filled out, but there is the start of a narrative.
Last week, I published an open letter to Republican Catholics and today I do the same for Democratic Catholics. As mentioned, it is important to recognize the relationship of noun and verb: Catholic is the noun, party affiliation the adjective. If you are a partisan first, this is not for you. I am speaking to Catholics who, for whatever reason, have an allegiance to the Democratic Party but recognize that their prior allegiance is to their Catholic faith.
Dear Democratic Catholics,
I concluded last week that the GOP’s commitment to laissez-faire and libertarian economic ideas amply fulfilled Pope Pius XI’s warning about the “poisoned spring” such ideas represent in his 1931 encyclical Quadragesimo Anno:
Maybe all those years reading French Deconstructionists has finally run its course. A concern for truth is returning to our political life, and not a moment too soon.
This morning, Kathleen Parker, who is hardly a screaming leftie or Dem partisan, chastises both Mr. Romney and Mr. Ryan for running as someone they aren't, or at least as someone they have never been before.
And, Melinda Henneberger also jumps into the discussion of facticity with a column about the need for all of us to become fact-checkers.