The general state of the economy, and especially the lingering high unemployment rate, will be the central focus of the campaign for the next two months. That debate is important, and as I have tried to argue, even while budgetary issues do admit an obvious role for prudential judgment, there are deeper, more philosophic and theological issues at stake in that debate. Over the next few weeks, I will be using my Monday column to look at some of the issues in this campaign through the lens of Catholic social teaching.
Some people seem upset that, as a male, I speak about the issue of abortion. So, I am happy to link to this morning's article by Melinda Henneberger on the Democratic National Convention's "Abortion-Palooza." Presumably, those who believe in privileged hermeneutics will find her arguments more agreeable than mine, even though they are remarkably the same.
The Department of Labor's monthly reports sometimes speak with all the clarity of the Delphic Oracle. The unemployment rate dropped last month, but the actual number of jobs added, 96,000, came in below expectations. And, the payroll company ADP said that some 200,000 jobs were added last month.
President Obama’s acceptance speech was certainly better than Mitt Romney’s last week, but that is a pretty low bar. It was not as good as Joe Biden’s which preceded it last night. It was most definitely not as good as President Bill Clinton’s the previous night. And, yet, it had all the hallmarks of a classic Obama speech: The uplifting oratory, the well-turned phrases, and the emphatic delivery. What was different was the circumstance. The magic is gone. It is 2012 not 2008. Americans were content with rhetoric four years ago but now they want results.
CNN's "Belief Blog" has a column up today by yours truly. You can find it here.
Vatican Insider has the story of the Archbishop of Buenos Aires' efforts to instruct his own clergy on why they are wrong to deny baptism to children out of wedlock. Next month, we start the Year of Faith. We are all focused on the New Evangelization. Kudos to Cardinal Bergoglio for recognizing that some of the evangelization needs to take place with the clergy!
The most awkward moment of the Democratic Convention - thank God, so to speak, it was not in primetime - came when the chair of the convention called for a voice vote on amending the Democratic platform to reinsert the party's commitment to Jerusalem's status as the capital of Israel and to mention the Godhead. Many people shouted "no."
In the case of Jerusalem, what to say? Jerusalem has been the capital of the Jewish state even when there was no Jewish state. Through the millennia, Jews did not pray, "Next year, in Tel Aviv" at Passover. Of course, the final status of Jerusalem is subject to negotiations with the Palestinians. Perhaps some arrangement can be made to accommodate the Palestinian desires. But, one thing is clear. If you get into a cab at David Ben-Gurion airport and say to the driver, "Take me to the parliament," he will not drive you to Tel Aviv. So, why the shouts of "No"? Because there is a growing hostility to Israel on the left. It is ugly. It is uninformed. But, it is there.
The Democrats have run a pretty smooth convention. Yes, they ran into trouble over the platform’s omission of God and Jerusalem, but that story will die quickly because it was corrected. But, they made one scheduling mistake last night. Sr. Simone Campbell’s talk came before the 10 o’clock prime hour, and Sandra Fluke’s was moved to come within the 10 o’clock hour. It was heartwarming to witness the great reception Sr. Simone received. Fluke’s speech seemed to fall flat, both in the hall and across the airwaves. Why?
Last night, the Democrats brought out the Big Dog from Arkansas to make their case, and, Lord, did he make it! No one has mastered the art of weaving together so much policy detail with so much folksiness in the history of modern campaign as Bill Clinton. And, I use the verb “mastered” advisedly. He did not always have that gift. Those who remember his rambling convention speech in 1988, or watched a still young Clinton on the stump in New Hampshire in 1992, will tell you that there was a time when he lacked this gift. He has it now. In abundance.
There were a couple of ironies in Clinton’s nominating speech. Bill Clinton knows something about divisive political environments. How quickly we forget, watching him bask in the role of elder statesman, with approval ratings through the roof, that the Republicans impeached this man! Ironic, too, that the man who was responsible for creating the New Democrat brand was brought into to bolster a president widely perceived as more traditionally liberal.
Our friends at Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good have launched a new blog for Millennial Catholics. Full Disclosure: Robert Christian, the blog's editor, is a colleague of mine at Catholic University's Institute for Policy Research and I happily encouraged this project! You can check it out here.