If you want to know why the Obama administration decided to pick a fight with the Catholic Church, read the New York Times' profile of Valerie Jarrett. I confess I took an almost instant disliking to Jarrett the first time I heard her interviewed. Her comments reminded me of a visit I paid to the southside of Chicago and some of the faux intellectuals I met there, the kind of people who will chase any intellectual theory provided it is novel. It was the one and only time in my life I heard someone defend Stalin. It was unfair of me to conflate that experience with my first impression of Jarrett, to be sure, but if the Times article is to be believed, it was prescient too.
Michelle Boorstein has a great profile of John Carr as he concluded his twenty-five years of service at the USCCB. Carr has been a consistent voice, perhaps the most consistent voice, for the voiceless in this town for those twenty-five years. Also, one of the most effective. Also, one of the most thoroughly Catholic - no cafeteria for him, as opposed to some of his critics.
To say that he will be missed at the conference is to state the obvious. To note that he will bring an unparalled stature to Catholic University is to state another obvious point. Less obvious, but well explained in Boorstein's piece, is the positive influence one man committed to the Church can make in the life of the nation, especially on behalf of the poor. That is not so easy to do in this hyper-consumerist, spread-eagle-capitalist, acquisitive, brutish culture of modernity, but Carr has done it.
Jonathan Cohn, at the New Republic, examines the media's coverage of Congressman Ryan's convention speech and the degree to which it was less than honest. Cohn is one of the smartest policy analysts I know of, and here he engages in the fine art of casuistry, which got a bad name in Elizabethan England and Port Royal, but which is nothing else than a concern for precision in moral analysis. Bravo.
As the Democrats gather in Charlotte, you would have thought that it might have occurred to them that they need a narrative to justify the case for re-election but, instead, they have seemed unable to even answer the simple question: Are you, and is America, better off than we were four years ago? David Plouffe couldn’t bring himself to say yes to this question. Finally, Vice President Biden said: “Of course we are. Osama bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive.” The narrative needs to be filled out, but there is the start of a narrative.
Last week, I published an open letter to Republican Catholics and today I do the same for Democratic Catholics. As mentioned, it is important to recognize the relationship of noun and verb: Catholic is the noun, party affiliation the adjective. If you are a partisan first, this is not for you. I am speaking to Catholics who, for whatever reason, have an allegiance to the Democratic Party but recognize that their prior allegiance is to their Catholic faith.
Dear Democratic Catholics,
I concluded last week that the GOP’s commitment to laissez-faire and libertarian economic ideas amply fulfilled Pope Pius XI’s warning about the “poisoned spring” such ideas represent in his 1931 encyclical Quadragesimo Anno:
Maybe all those years reading French Deconstructionists has finally run its course. A concern for truth is returning to our political life, and not a moment too soon.
This morning, Kathleen Parker, who is hardly a screaming leftie or Dem partisan, chastises both Mr. Romney and Mr. Ryan for running as someone they aren't, or at least as someone they have never been before.
And, Melinda Henneberger also jumps into the discussion of facticity with a column about the need for all of us to become fact-checkers.
Over at the Huffington Post, and just in time for Labor Day, Gerald Beyer and Jaroslav Makowski have an essay about the many ways Mitt Romney's ad invoking the memory of Pope John Paul II distorts the reality of what happened in Poland, not least the Pope's commitment to strong labor unions, a commitment that is, shall we say, somewhat lacking in Mr. Romney's resume.
Few Americans got to watch Cardinal Timothy Dolan’s benediction at last night’s GOP convention. I found it curious that the stage was cleared of the Romney and Ryan clans before Dolan was brought out to offer his prayer: Why wouldn’t the Republican nominees want that photo op?
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.