Deal Hudson v. Sr. Carol? Not a Hard Choice

So, NOW Deal Hudson decides he likes the USCCB! Just the other day, he was attacking their anti-poverty program, the Catholic Campaign for Human Development. Now, however, the USCCB is opposing the final health care bill, he is scandalized that some Catholics have reached a different conclusion. He is shocked – shocked! – that the Catholic Health Association, in a statement from CHA head Sr. Carol Keehan, has taken a position that “puts them in direct opposition to the Catholic bishops, who have stated unambiguously that the Senate health-care bill leaves the door open for federal funds to be used for abortions.”

In Hudson’s Manichaean world, if you share the same goals but adopt a different strategy, you are in “direct opposition.” It is often commented that one of the problems with religiously motivated people getting involved in politics is that they bring a mindset attuned to establishing orthodoxy to a political system that is designed to adjudicate interests. But, there is an additional difficulty. People like Hudson, who worked for George W. Bush, also bring back into the Church the habits of mind that are characteristic of the zero-sum game of contemporary politics. Another person reaching a different conclusion cannot simply be different, they must be wrong, and they are not merely wrong, they are somehow bad. Just because this way of reasoning is childish does not mean it doesn’t work sometimes in the poisonous world of partisan politics.

Hudson gives another example of how his either/or worldview limits his undoubted intelligence a few graphs down. He writes: “The willingness of such an intimate partner [CHA] with the USCCB to break with the bishops on the health-care bill is just another sign of the conference's failure to negotiate powerfully with Congress and speak loudly and clearly to the media on this legislation.” Again, must the difference of opinion be “just another sign of the conference’s failure…”? I think the USCCB has been plenty loud and plenty clear, but with Sr. Carol, I think they may be wrong in their factual analysis of the bill. In fact, I posted about just this point earlier today.

For the record, Sister Carol’s statement did not “call out" the bishops. She did not say they were wrong. She did not say they were bad. She just pointed out some of the benefits, including the pro-life benefits, of the current legislation. She was respectful, as she always is. I suspect her lack of vitriol also has something to do with the fact that, unlike Hudson (or me for that matter) Sister Carol knows more about health care than any ten other people, certainly more than any ten Catholic opinion writers, certainly more than any ten bishops. When it comes to analyzing health care facts, she is at the top of my list of experts. Hudson is busier analyzing motives, and imputing bad ones to anyone with whom he disagrees. I suppose someone has to do it. But, leave Sr. Carol alone, Mr. Hudson. She does more for the Church in a day than you or I do in a month!

Join the Conversation

Send your thoughts and reactions to Letters to the Editor. Learn more here