The Washington Post's Melinda Henneberger has a great column up today about the issue that dare not speak its name in this campaign - poverty. Henneberger attended an event this past Sunday at Catholic University, co-sponsored by CUA's on-campus think tank, the Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies, where I am a visiting fellow, and the American Jewish Committee.
Scoring debates is never easy. Watch a debate with a room full of partisans and they will almost always say their candidate won. (Two weeks ago, one need not put in the qualifying adverb “almost” but even Dems had to admit two weeks ago that President Obama was off his game.) And, the strangest phenomenon is that when the debates are actually clarifying, when the candidates are criticizing each others’ policies, undecided voters don’t like it, even though those are the moments that should impart the information they are looking for.
This weekend, the Boston Globe had an article by Renee Loth on the GOP's demographic problem. In short, the party has become more and more beholden to a shrinking demographic, white men, and more and more objectionable to the fastest growing demographic, Latinos. This is a recipe not only for a potential Obama victory, but for the long-term marginalization of the GOP.
At "The Catholic Thing," Robert Royal has an essay on Vatican II that avoids some of the histrionics of the right, but offers, too, a thoughtful criticism of some of the ways we on the left have interpreted Vatican II. I do not always agree with Royal, in this piece or generally, but he is thoughtful and he avoids calumny. These days, that is an increasingly high bar for some on the right.
Over at Commonweal, Grant Gallicho has done the heavy lifting in exposing Professor Robert George's latest self-indulgent article at First Things, criticizing the statement from a group of Catholic scholars "On All Our Shoulders." It is telling that George does not engage any of the arguments the scholars put forward. It is ironic that he, of all people, accuses them of being tendentious.
As President Obama and his debate team get ready for a make-or-break performance tonight, here are some things I would like to hear him say.
The former presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Bishop Herbert Chilstrom, has published a remarkable essay in which he criticizes St. Paul Archbishop John Nienstedt for advocating for an amendment that "imposes" the Church's views on all the citizens of Minnesota.
Another U.S. bishop has weighed in on the issue of poverty in the 2012 campaign. Bishop Kevin Farrell posted this at the website of the Dallas diocese he leads. The - pardon the expression - money quote:
"Poverty in America is a scandal, certainly not to the poor. There is no scandal to being poor. The scandal is for those of us who could help by using our influence and resources to promote community and government programs to assist and do not do so."
At the Washington Post, Jacques Berlinblau, a professor at Georgetown, criticized Martha Raddatz for the question she asked the VP candidates about abortion. specifically asking them to speak about the issue in person terms. He writes: "The problem is that such an appeal, inadvertently and subtly, bolstered a core conviction of the Religious Right.
Distinctly Catholic: Who would have thought the Catholic idea of subsidiarity would have central role in the political debate this year?