UPDATE (10/25): This race has narrowed since I first looked at it. In fact, the most recent poll from the Denver Post/Survey USA has the race all tied up. Republican Tea Party candidate Ken Buck had a six point lead just a few weeks ago.
Welcome to Distinctly Catholic, a blog by Michael Sean Winters that examines politics, religion and the estuary where the two meet, all from a distinctively Catholic point of view. The blog is small "c" catholic as well as big "C" Catholic, examining a wide range of issues but always from the perspective of Catholic history and theology.
Kudos to Rocco Palmo of Whispers for finding the recording of Newman's other great hymn, "Praise to the Holiest in the Height" from his Dream of Gerontius. It is a great hymn.
So, Jimmy Carter thinks his ex-presidency is "superior" to that of other ex-presidents. The former President has since tried to qualify his statement, but let's be honest. The man is regularly praised for being a better ex-president than he was a president, a claim made for no other president in recent memory. Still, it was clumsy of Carter to pat himself on the back so obviously.
This week, Q & A examines the effect the Tea Party will have on the GOP's prospects in the upcoming midterm elections. Today, we hear from Mark Silk, who writes the blog Spiritual Politics and is a contributor at BeliefNet. Silk is a professor at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut.
The question: Will the Tea Party be a blessing or a curse for the GOP in the upcoming midterm elections?
Mark Silk: I predict that come November the Tea Party will be a blessing for the Republican Party -- unless the Democrats can manage to hang Tea Party extremism around GOP necks. As a constituency, the Tea Party represents little more than the social conservative base of the GOP, re-energized. What distinguishes it from the religious right of yore is that the leadership -- and especially the money boys at Tea Party Express -- has fixed the messaging firmly on low taxes and small government. But it’s never been a movement of libertarians.
Bill Galston is always worth reading and his post over at The New Republic highlights the Democrats' dilemma precisely: They can't run on their record nor can they run from it.
Anne Applebaum has an important article in this morning's Washington Post. She argues that the Pope's critics did him a favor, guaranteeing wall-to-wall coverage of a papl visit that might otherwise have been a yawn.
UPDATE: The race in PA-10 has not really focused on issues, and incumbent Democrat Chris Carney needs to keep it that way. The district ranks a +8 GOP rating on the Cook Partisan Index, so Carney would have a tough time in this district in the current climate with so many energized GOP voters. But, unlike the race in PA-3, Carney has drawn a deeply flawed opponent, Tom marino, whose previous ethical problems have damaged his candidacy.
Cook Political Report still has the race rated as a toss-up, in part because Marino's fundraising has also been lackluster. Outside money has poured into the race, but it may not be enough. Real Clear Politics rates the race as "Lean Republican." Only two polls have been published in October. A public poll showed Marino up by 6 points and a Democratic poll had the race a tie. This will be a classic case of Democratic GOTV vs. GOP-friendly political environment. How it turns out will give us an early indication on election night as to how big the GOP wave will be.
Earlier, I mentioned the great tradition of hymnody. At the prayer vigil in Hyde Park, the congregation sang Newman's beautiful hymn "Lead, Kindly Light" at the conclusion of the service. Here it is sung by the Wells Cathedral choir. (And, if anyone can find me a video of "Praise to the Holiest" from the start of the Mass at Birmingham next day, I shall be grateful.)
President Obama went to church yesterday, and the American Papist has decided to guess at his motives for doing so, among which a desire to pray does not figure.
This week at Q & A, we asked five experts to submit, by email, their thoughts on the Tea Party and what it means for the November midterm elections. Our first respondent is Professor Matthew Green, a politics professor at the Catholic University of America and a fellow at the Institute for Policy Research and Catholic Studies.
The question: Will the Tea Party be a blessing or a curse for the GOP in the November midterm elections?
Professor Green: Recent Tea Party election victories show why direct primaries are both a blessing and a curse for political parties. On the one hand, the primaries worked just as they were intended by progressive-era supporters: they forced a party organization (the G.O.P. in this case) to be more responsive to voters and gave people a greater say in who represents them. On the other hand, the primaries circumvented the ability of the Republican Party to select candidates most likely to win general elections.