As the Republicans brought their convention to a close last night in Tampa, and I prepared for bed, I pulled out my legal pad to note one last, overall impression. I wrote the single word “underwhelmed” across the page.
Over at The New Republic, Jonathan Cohn, who actually does understand policy and budgets better than almost any journalist writing today, looks at the five biggest mischaracterizations of fact in last night's speech by GOP Veep nominee Paul Ryan. I touched on some of this in my post this morning, but Cohn really slams Ryan.
Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good has a beautiful set of Labor Day reflections from Fr. Clete Kiley, America's leading labor priest. You can read them here.
Nothing quite like being attacked by Bill Donohue to make a liberal Catholic’s day. Donohue is to informed discourse what Hurricane Isaac is to the Louisiana coast, all blustery and destructive wind. Yesterday, Mr. Donohue issued this press release attacking my post about the arrest of Archbishop-elect Salvatore Cordileone for driving while under the influence.
The key paragraphs are these:
The ideological diversity of the Republican Party was on display at their national convention yesterday, but the GOP’s central case – that “we have to stop spending money we don’t have” – as Veep candidate Paul Ryan put it, suffered from two difficulties. First, many speakers, including Ryan, surrounded this argument with mendacity as well as some well-crafted lines, but more importantly, the GOP convention had to battle with another story, Hurricane Isaac, in which the newly built, government-paid for levees kept New Orleans from turning into a nightmare. If you live in New Orleans or one of the surrounding parishes, my guess is you are pretty keen on some government spending, and government services also.
Sarah Posner, writing at Religion Dispatches, offers a bunch of reason why she thinks Sr. Simone Campbell and the Nuns on the Bus should not be featured at the Democratic National Convention. She argues, among other things, that the nuns are pro-life and not committed to LGBT issues, which is at least an ironic charge seeing as many conservative critics of women religious argue that are not pro-life enough and too silent on defending traditional marriage.
This morning, Father James Martin, S.J., was kind enough to send me this link to his post at America magazine in which he explains why he, not Cardinal Dolan or Sr. Simone Campbell, should be speaking at both political conventions. The article is more evidence that Fr. Martin justly deserves the title, "America's funniest priest."
Of course, I was similarly disappointed not to be asked by either party to lead a prayer at their convention. As I suggested before, if I had to go to the GOP convention, I would recite the Magnificat - "the rich he has sent away empty." If I had to pray at the Democratic convention, I would recite Jeremiah 1:5 - "Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you." I am guessing I am not going to be invited to either party anytime soon.
There is much that is troubling about the HuffPost item by Steve Krueger, president of the group Catholic Democrats. Like many Catholic Democrats who spent the six days between the announcement that Cardinal Dolan would give the benediction at the Republican National Convention and the news yesterday that he would also deliver the benediction at the Democratic National Convention complaining about the partisanship of Cardinal Dolan, Krueger now finds himself trying to explain his own carping and, unsurprisingly, his search for blame leads to Cardinal Dolan and not to himself and his fellow complainers.
The Republican National Convention opened one day late…and a dollar short, or was I the only person who found all the speeches either flat or strangely disconnected from reality? One thing was obvious, or better to say confirmed what has been increasingly obvious for some time: The Romney campaign may not be very good at running campaigns.
Surely, they vetted the speeches, yes? Then how to explain that Ann Romney, the nominee’s wife, began by invoking, repeatedly, the importance of love and the next speaker, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie began by saying, also repeatedly, respect was more important than love. Most of the speeches before the two main events portrayed Mr. Romney as supremely competent, the turn-around artist from Bain and the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics, but I couldn’t help thinking how the adjectives used sounded just like those I heard in Atlanta in 1988 when another Massachusetts Governor, Mike Dukakis, accepted the nomination of his party. He, too, was presented as “Mr. Fix It!” He, too, was the non-ideological candidate, the candidate of competence and technical know-how and hard work. He lost.
Today is the Feast of St. Augustine. Where would any of us be without him? Say a prayer of gratitude today to God for His gift of faith to the man of learning and wisdom whose writings are, to my mind, unparalleled in the Christian canon.