Saturday, September 20, 2008

At the expense of exhausting your patience

In my back-and-forth on election issues that matter, which is a necessary part of proportional reasoning with the objective of reaching a prudent judgment, I want to draw attention to an article in the conservative The Weekly Standard by Joseph Bottum, who is the editor of First Things. The piece is entitled More Catholic Than the Pope: Joe Biden's and Nancy Pelosi's ill-fated ventures into theological disputation.

While more partisan in tone than I would ideally care for, Bottum, as is his wont, pulls no punches and so ruthlessly seeks to refute the position that Democratic Catholic politicians have sought to take, with some variations on the theme, since Governor Cuomo's famous personally opposed, but . . . speech at Notre Dame way back in 1984. Near the end of the article, Bottum, turning his sights to the vexing issue of fetal stem cells, also critiques McCain's inconsistency. He ends where Angelo Matera begins:

"And yet, there remains that question of abortion. Things have tightened over the last few years, the Catholic position is firmer in the public's mind--firmer in the Catholic mind, for that matter. McCain was a long way from the pro-lifers' first choice for a Republican nominee, but the Democrats this election cycle are determined to force the issue. They've pushed, and they've pushed, and they've pushed, until Catholics are falling off the cliff. Poor Doug Kmiec and his sad question, 'Can a Catholic Support Him?' As a matter of good conscience, the answer looks increasingly like no, a Catholic can't support Obama. And as a matter of political fact--well, that's starting to look like no, as well, isn't it?"
While I do not accept Bottum's conclusion that a Catholic cannot in good conscience vote for Sen. Obama, I do think the question he sets forth at the beginning of the article is something for the candidates and campaigns to ponder: "What impulse makes Catholic politicians try to argue theology with their own church?" I know that the Obama/Biden campaign has a Catholic Advisory Committee that includes a good many people I admire, including theologian Richard Gaillardetz and legal scholar/theologian Cathleen Kaveny. Is the advice of these advisers being actively sought? If not, why? It seems that Sen. Biden, being a Catholic himself, would eagerly consult such an impressive group who have signed on to help. As a Catholic and a Democrat, I am interested both in the frequency that any of these advisers are consulted and what mechanisms exist to solicit their inputs on an on-going basis.

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