Distinctly Catholic

Dems For Life: The Politics


This weekend, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer and his colleagues were discussing their latest poll which shows that 11 percent of the American electorate remains undecided about the presidential contest. Blitzer noted that both campaigns have pursued the kind of scorched earth strategy designed to fire up their base but which may not be persuasive for this group, the very people who will decide the election. Indeed.

This week, as the Republicans gather in Tampa, you can bet that they will try to avoid talking about the issue of abortion. In the wake of Congressman Todd Akin’s comments about “legitimate rape,” the issue appears toxic. Besides, the GOP, at least Mitt Romney’s GOP, has concluded that their best chance at victory emerges if the campaign remains focused on the economy. How could it be otherwise with a nominee who has defined himself in the public square by his private sector experience, and whose position on abortion over the years would do an Olympic gymnast proud.

USCCB: Read This Please!!!!!


Commonweal has an essay up by Angus Sibley, whose book "The Poisoned Spring of Economic Libertarianism" was one of my top five reads this past year, about the economic vision of those who are currently informing the GOP. Bishop Boyea and Archbishop Naumann spoke up at the USCCB meeting in June, and seemed to be reading from the Father Robert Sirico playbook. Sibley's essay rebuts Sirico and his ilk with both economic good sense and a firm grasp of magisterial teaching. And, before anyone embraces Paul Ryan too closely, they should be aware of the ideas that animate him, not just Ayn Rand, but Hayek and von Mises and this crowd of Austrian economists and their American acolytes.

LifeSiteNews: Craven Pro-GOP Reporting


Check out this article at LifeSiteNews.com about how Cong. Paul Ryan has decided to "back off" the "Akin feeding frenzy." I am sure some in the pro-life community were a bit shocked to find how quickly the entire GOP leadership, including Mr. Romney and Mr. Ryan, threw Congressman Akin under the bus. Why they were shocked is a different matter. Fifty years after Roe, most of which years had a Republican in the White House, Roe is still the law of the land.

Kookier Than Akin


We have all learned more than we ever wanted to know about the genesis of the kookie idea that a woman's body can somehow "shut down" the possibility of pregnancy if she is raped, that is legitimately raped.

But, buried on page A5 of the Post was a story from Bloomberg News that Gov. Mitt Romney has said he would not re-appoint Ben Bernanke to the Fed. That scares the hell out of me. But, it was the last line of that story, which oddly is not on the Bloomberg site, that alarmed me the most. It read: "And a draft of the Republican Party platform calls for a "gold commission" to study the possibility of returning to the gold standard." Here is another report on the platform language.

+Dolan at the GOP Convention


The fallout over the news that Cardinal Timothy Dolan will give the benediction on the final night of the Republican Party Convention continues. It should not surprise Catholics that a symbol should take on such enormous meaning but, ask yourself: Can you name the priest or pastor who gave the benediction at the 2008 conventions? I can’t. So, why is this year different?

The nation’s politics could scarcely be more polarized. You have to go back many years, to 1800 and 1860 and 1932, to find a campaign in which the two competing parties are so divided on core principles and so willing to turn disagreements about policy into a meta-narrative in which the charge of “un-Americanism” so easily falls from the lips of our politicians. President Obama is not a European socialist who hates America. Paul Ryan is not an ogre. But, there are many people who think these things and their thoughts are nourished nightly on cable news.

Interesting Polling Numbers on White RCs


Faith in Public Life Action Fund has a new poll out that they commissioned that focuses specifically on white Catholic voters in the Midwest. These voters back Romney by eight points, 48% to 40% but they are also responsive to religiously inflected critiques of the Romney-Ryan budget plans and they do not believe that President Obama is hostile to religion.

Of course, a case can be made that the Democratic Party seems hell bent on making itself appear hostile to religion, cf. reaction to news that Cardinal Dolan is going to pray at GOP National Convention.

Cardinal Dolan & GOP Nat'l Convention


The news that Cardinal Timothy Dolan will give the benediction at the Republican National Convention has sent shivers up the spines of some of my leftie Catholic friends. They need to relax.

First, Dolan said he would be happy to give a benediction at the Democratic National Convention as well. Will he be asked? If asked, would he be greeted respectfully? I suspect the Democratic National Committee decided to give Ms. Sandra Fluke and Ms. Cecile Richards a turn at the podium because they will fire up the crowd. Is it likely that same crowd can be expected to even be polite to the Archbishop of New York?

Second, there is precedent. Going back to the days before Congress barred non-profits from partisan political activity, Msgr. John A. Ryan gave a famous radio speech in 1936, paid for by the Democratic National Committee, in which he expicitly endorsed Franklin Roosevelt's re-election campaign, something Cardinal Dolan will not do. Cardinal John Krol twice gave the benediction at Republican National Conventions held in cities other than his own.

Contra William McGurn on Ryan


William McGurn, writing on the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal, is the latest conservative Catholic to rush to the defense of Congressman Paul Ryan. In making his defense, he calls especial attention to the column I wrote the day Ryan was announced as Mitt Romney’s running mate in which I labeled Ryan a “Champion of Dissent.” Consequently, it is both a pleasure and an obligation to respond.

Obama: Culture Warrior?


Over at The New Republic, Nate Cohn looks at the ways the culture warrior model works for Obama in this election. I am not sure Cohn is right, but I fear he is, and that the long term conseqeunces for the Democratic Party are grim indeed. I have said it before and will say it again: The historic vocation of the Democratic Party is to fight for the interests of the working class. If it abandons that vocation to become a policy defined around preferences in the culture wars, I, for one, will no longer be interested in the Democratic Party.


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In This Issue

February 24-March 9, 2017