Who won last night’s debate in Iowa? In part, we will need to wait until the results of tomorrow’s straw poll in Ames to find out. As I mentioned yesterday, one of the principal objectives of the participants last night was to rile up their base to get to Ames and vote. More significantly, at this stage of the campaign, with so many candidates jockeying for position, what really matters is how the candidates performed relative to each other in the eyes of fundraisers and pundits.
During the health care debate, E. J. Dionne published a column entitled, "Listen to the Sisters" a reference to the women religious, many of whom work in hospitals, who were supporting the health care reform bill.
This morning, in the Des Moines Register, Sr. Paulette Skiba takes on the "Values Voters" bus tour, run by conservative Christian groups that is currently making its way around Iowa.
Robert P. Jones, CEO of Public Religion Reserach Institute, is the nation's foremost pollster when it comes to the role of religion in politics. He has a post up at Huffington Post that explains why religion will matter, in the small picture and the big picture, in the 2012 election.
Tonight’s Iowa debate on Fox will serve two purposes, which, in the event, are at cross-purposes with each other, one for those participating and one for the Obama campaign. The Republican candidates need to fire up their base in advance of the Ames straw poll this weekend. But, in an age when everything is videotaped, the candidates risk firing up the base by staking out extreme positions – it is the way you stand out on a stage with seven other people – and their statements could easily become campaign fodder for Democratic ads next year.
Over at Swampland, the always readable Amy Sullivan offers her take on Gov. Perry's Prayerfest. Read the whole thing but the key takeaway is this:
Jon Chait at the New Republic has a more detailed look at what did, and did not, drive yesterday's results in the Wisconsin special election. It is well worth the read.
According to a new poll from CNN, only 33 percent of Americans approve of the Republican Party while 59 percent disapprove. That is a ten point drop from June.
At the same time, the Democratic brand slightly improved its standing with 47% approving and the same number disapproving of the Democratic Party. In June, 45 percent of those asked approved of the Dems and 49% disapproved.
What is most surprising here is that anyone approves of either party.
The results from the special elections in Wisconsin were decidedly mixed yesterday. Six Republican state senators were subject to a recall election and four survived the ordeal. In two districts, the Democrats won the seats back, but the GOP maintained control of the state senate.
The vote was, mostly, a referendum on Gov. Scott Walker and specifically his union busting legislation that passed after much acrimony earlier this year. More than $30 million dollars were spent on the special elections, which must be some kind of record for state legislative races. That is a lot of ads, a lot of messages, and so it is difficult to say that this one message or another triumphed over the others, especially when the results were so mixed.
Mark Silk perceives the danger for Rick Perry that I do: By hosting, not merely attending, a prayer meeting that was not, in the American civic tradition, inclusive of many faiths, he has set himself up as "pastor-in-chief" a position that contrasts neatly with that pushed by Mitt Romney. That is a debate I want to watch.
Here is another word in the new translation of the Roman Missal that has been causing some degree of consternation: "consubstantial." We received in our Sunday bulletin last week some information on why this word is replacing "one in being with the Father" in the Creed we recite at Mass on Sundays. The information is fine, even useful, pointing out that "consubstantial" is more precise than the phrase it replaces.
But, I would go further. It is true that many, perhaps most, of the people in the pews do not know the word "consubstantial" but I am also guessing that most people in the pews do not know exactly what is meant by "one in being with the Father." Unless you took a college course in Greek philosophy, such concepts may be opaque.