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The GOP Presidential Field

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The GOP presidential field is beginning to take shape, and it has all the warmth and attraction of a jello-mold. This sad fact tells us nothing about President Obama’s political vulnerability: He is incredibly vulnerable. Like all presidents, Obama’s re-election chances hinge largely on the economy and even as the recovery gains steam, most economists are not predicting the kind of increase in employment in the next year that would turn Obama’s campaign in 2012 into a repeat of Reagan’s 1984 “It’s morning in America” campaign.

Furthermore, Obama does not have until November 2012 to bring down the unemployment rate. People’s sense of the economy has a lag time, as George H.W. Bush found out in 1992. Even though the economy really was rebounding by election day, people’s views of the state of the economy start hardening in February and by the end of March, barring a catastrophe, those views are set. Certainly, filing income taxes is always a cold shower for every family, inviting them to take off any rose-colored glasses when assessing their economic status.

Christian Ethics Meets Peter Singer

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Professor Charles Camosy has a post up at the Catholic Moral Theology blog about a recent meeting at Oxford at which a group of Christian moral theologians dialogued with Peter Singer. There was, it appears, no profound meeting of the minds, but Singer admitted some common ground on issues of global poverty and the like. Such encounters are necessary if we Catholics are to do more than preach to the choir.

Crisis Responds to Academics Who Criticized Boehner

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The newly reborn Crsis Magazine has an article up by Stephen Krason who responds to the letter sent to Speaker John Boehner by more than 80 prominent Catholic academics in advance of his commencement address at Catholic University.
The central theme of Krason's article is that there are many different ways to help the poor, and Boehner and Ryan et al., are simply trying new means to that shared objective. The problem with this is that Boehner and Ryan have not been claiming their policies will help the poor - at least not until Cong. Ryan decided to write a letter to Archbishop Dolan, a letter that was filled with assertions but no facts. Ryan has been having his staff read Ayn Rand who was not known for her commitment to the poor. No, the argument put forth by Boehner and Ryan has been that we face a massive mudget crisis, not so massive that we need to raise taxes on the super-rich, mind you, but big enough to end programs upon which people have come to rely.

Weigel on John Jay Report

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There is much that is unimpeachable in George Weigel's look at the John Jay report published at National Review Online.
Still, a couple of items stand out as more than a little objectionable. The first occurs in the very first paragraph in which Weigel writes of "the revelations that began in the Long Lent of 2002." Alas, Mr. Weigel is not an NCR reader, or he would know that the "revelations" began in the mid-1980s, got a big bump in the early 1990s, and only became a tsunami in 2002. Of course, Weigel was still heaping praises upon serial predator Father Marcial Maciel after 2002, so perhaps he did not fully wake up after the 2002 wake-up call.

Ryan, Medicare & NY-26

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Paul Ryan’s budget proposal is not on the ballot in the special election today in New York’s 26th congressional district. But, it might as well be. This rock-ribbed Republican seat, once held by Cong. Jack Kemp, is in danger of going to the a Democratic candidate. If it does, the Ryan plan will be dead.

Kathy Hochul is the Democratic candidate in NY-26 and she is leading in the latest polls. I still doubt she can win the seat. If the GOP turns out its voters, and all the national attention could result in a higher than usual turnout, their candidate, Jane Corwin should be able to hold. After all, this is a district that voted for George W. Bush in 2004 and John McCain in 2008, even while the rest of the state of New York was handing large victories to John Kerry and Barack Obama. The third party candidate, Jack Davis, who ran previously as a Democrat but has now positioned himself as a Tea Partyer, complicates the scenario to be sure, but it is unclear what effect his candidacy will have.

Huntsman: Mormon or Not?

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Joelyn Singley, of Utah, was pleased to find that the question she sent into ABC actually made it into their interview of former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman: Is he a Mormon or not?
She wasn't as pleased with the response. "I feel he’s dancing around it. It’s not important to me if he’s a practicing Mormon or not. I just want a straight answer. He just sounds like every other politician out there who dances around hard questions. It’s really not a hard question," Singley said.
This is a classic case of a politician's in-bred caution gets the better of him. People can understand that when discussing complex policy issues, sometimes it is the better part of wisdom to hedge an answer. But, when asked about something this straightforward and personal, why the hesitation?

TNR's Cohn on Ryan-Dolan Exchange

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For a sense of how the letter exchange between Cong. Ryan and Archbishop Dolan is playing out in a non-Catholic world, Jonathan Cohn at the New Republic has an interesting take. Cohn has written admirably about how devoted Cong. Ryan is to Ayn Rand. My favorite video is this one in which he defends Rand's vision of the "morality of capitalism." And, in case you think, as Newt Gingrich does, that quoting someone's own words, taken in context, is somehow unfair, I will point out that Cong. Ryan not only made there remarks, he posted them on his own Facebook page.

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July 18-31, 2014

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