Wednesday, October 5, 2016

That Ain't What The Word Means

Shaking off the dust on this blog.  My apologies for the lack of output;  it's been a very busy time.

And right when all the great blogging issues come before us:  the election, baseball postseason, Pope Francis' in-air press conferences, football, the start of a new semester...

All of that will receive due consideration.  This Wall Street Journal op-ed by William McGurn, though, merits a quicker response.  Mainly because it lays out clearly, that for all the reasons why Donald Trump is not a fit candidate--let alone acceptable choice--for the Presidency, and all the reasons casting doubt on Hillary Clinton's candidacy, one of the real problems is actually Virginia Senator Tim Caine, Clinton's vice-presidential candidate.  Look up "devastating take-down" and you'll find this post.

When he walks onstage Tuesday night for this year’s vice-presidential debate, the junior senator from Virginia will carry with him a résumé that shouts respectability. ...
In sum, Mr. Kaine is a garden variety Catholic Democrat of the early 21st century. In this capacity, the orthodoxies that now define his party and might once have disturbed a practicing Catholic bother him not at all. These include abortion on demand, underwritten with taxpayer dollars.
In some ways Mr. Kaine’s rise represents the yielding of the old pro-choice Catholic Democrat represented by Mario Cuomo—“I am not implying that we should stand by and pretend indifference to whether a woman takes a pregnancy to its conclusion or aborts it” said he at Notre Dame in 1984—to the brave new world where son Andrew Cuomo says that those who oppose abortion “have no place in the state of New York.” Whatever else this is, it marks a comedown from the high hopes of liberal American Catholicism in those heady days before JFK became the first Catholic president.
We have heard this before.  Kaine embodies the "Cafeteria Catholic" approach so loved in America:  I'll have some of that liturgy, a big serving of spirituality, a sprinkling of Mary, but no thanks, none of that pro-life stuff.  I'm trying to cut back.  All the while Kaine touts his "Catholic" identity.  To which McGurn and everybody else responds:

More McGurn:
Those were the years when Paul Blanshard could write a best seller arguing Catholicism was fundamentally incompatible with America. And ultimately find himself answered by Jesuit John Courtney Murray, whose own book—“We Hold These Truths”—argued that Catholicism offered America a firmer philosophical grounding for the self-evident truths about God and man that undergird the American understanding of freedom.

Two sentences and McGurn summarizes a crucial period in American Catholic life.  Blanshard's popularity could not have been higher after World War II...and it took a substantial book response from one of the nation's leading Jesuit figures to squelch the debate.  More McGurn:
These many years later, Mr. Kaine has proved both men wrong. Blanshard could hardly object to a Catholic who campaigns on the proposition that his faith is so personal it will never influence his political positions. JFK at least promised those preachers in Houston he’d resign in the event of a clash between the two. As for Father Murray’s hopes of leavening the American experiment, Mr. Kaine’s recent assurance on same-sex marriage—the church, he says, will eventually come ’round to the Democratic Party’s view—reflects the Hillary Clinton principle that religious conviction must yield when it collides with secular dogma.
In this sense, Mr. Kaine might be best understood as the byproduct of a decades long effort by liberal Catholicism to make the world safe for pro-choice Catholic Democrats. This endeavor has been a major public enterprise of institutions such as Georgetown and Notre Dame. It has also been successful.
McGurn concludes:

Here’s a test: Put politics and policy aside. When do those who proclaim themselves “personally opposed” ever speak about the violence to the most defenseless among us? Or question a definition of compassion that is reduced to showing women with an unplanned or unwanted pregnancy the cold front door of an abortion clinic?
Has Mr. Kaine ever raised his voice to say he dissents from a worldview in which one life can be taken if it is deemed inconvenient to another’s? To the contrary, Mr. Kaine is that new model of Catholic politician who believes it is the church that must take its creed from the secular culture.
How humdrum and disenchanting. Back in the 1950s and 1960s, the liberal promise was that an American Catholicism coming into its own would help rescue the world’s most hopeful experiment in liberal democracy from the emerging excesses of materialism, relativism and militant secularism. This new birth of freedom would be led by a new generation of modern Murrays and Tocquevilles.
Instead, we got Tim Kaine.

The devastation wrecked here has two thrusts:  1) the association with Blanshard's old anti-Catholic battleaxe;  if the Clinton-Kaine campaign has any historically-aware Catholics on staff, they'd be wise to counter that particular argument quickly and concisely.  Blanshard represents the "intelligent" anti-Catholic voice that replaced the older, more violent anti-Catholic bigotry of the Ku Klux Klan and the Know-Nothings.  Rest assured, though, Blanshard wanted an American political discourse freed of any intruding Catholic influences.  Kaine, as McGurn wisely notes, has served up just the sort of Catholic candidate Blanshard longed to see:  one eagerly ready to jettison any element of Catholic identity and teaching that doesn't fit established norms. Just look at how Kaine spoke confidently about the Church's future change of its marriage teachings. 2)  McGurn raises an important--and yet unanswered question: when do the "pro-choice" voices ever defend somebody who has chosen life instead of abortion?  Or does "pro-choice" really mean, as some critics insist, "pro-killing"?  We wouldn't accept that--certainly Democrats do not--when applied to the death penalty or certain military endeavors.  So if not there, then why elsewhere?

Eye of the Tiber posted this on Twitter.  True enough, Pence, who went to college a Catholic and graduated as an evangelical Christian, actually spoke to the Church's pro-life message much more clearly than the self-professed Catholic himself, Senator Kaine.  This is the postmodern world in which we live.  Hence McGurn's critical post.

Exhibiting a moral consistency rarely found these days on the Internet, EOTT paid Trump homage with this:

We need critical voices like McGurn's and others and we also need humorous voices like EOTT to keep our sanity and humanity about us in this craziest of elections.  

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