Not all conservatives are like all other conservatives. In an article in the UK's Catholic Herald, William Oddie sees much to like about Sen. Rick Santorum, whom he aptly describes (borrowing from another Brit commentator) as a "turbo-Catholic." But, Oddie, who is no liberal, insists that Santorum is "deranged" about the National Health Service and the neo-liberal attack on such government-run social programs more generally.
A few things jump out at me from the New Hampshire results and the state of the GOP nominating race. In no particular order, these are the main take-aways:
1) Is Romney 2012 the McCain of 2008? John McCain used his win in New Hampshire to propel himself to victory in South Carolina and on to the nomination, but he never won the love of the GOP base. Indeed, the whole rationale for the GOP keeping New Hampshire at the front of the pack is that its voters pull the party back towards the center. But, in 2012, the base is more assertive – ask Mike Castle! And McCain could channel the patriotic meme better than almost any candidate in living memory. On the other hand, Republicans are united by, and worked up about, their venom for President Obama in a way they weren’t in 2008. Will the GOP base jump on the Romney bandwagon or will a third party challenge emerge?
Just as in the case of the group Catholic Democrats whaling on Sen. Santorum, it is not really very surprising to find our friends at CatholicVote.org endorsing Santorum's candidacy.
"Republicans hoping to win back the White House in November must unite behind the candidate most dedicated to the foundational issues of faith, family and freedom," the group's statment concludes. "If the GOP hopes to defeat President Obama, it takes a Rick Santorum to get it done." The rest of their statement of support is equally fulsome in its praise of Santorum.
The Maryland Catholic Conference, which represents the Archdioceses of Washington and Baltimore as well as the Diocese of Wilmington, has issued an "action alert" via email calling on all Catholics to contact their state legislators during January, which is Poverty in America Awareness Month.
A few months back, I had a conversation with a state senator here in Maryland who said that the lobbyists for the Maryland Catholic Conference were among the best in Annapolis, that they were always well-informed, knew the policy issues inside and out, and most importantly, that they were virtually the only people in the state capital consistently and fervently arguing on behalf of the poor.
This latest action alert shows that the Maryland Catholic Conference is not, as some have charged, only interested in opposing gay marriage. It also shows that in addition to having competent lobbyists working the halls of the legislature, they are serious about getting Catholics in the pews pushing the Church's social justice agenda. Kudos to our friends at the MCC.
I suppose it is not really "news" that the group Catholic Democrats has decided to come out swinging against former Sen. Rick Santorum. In a press release yesterday, the group said Santorum "had among the worst voting records in the US Congress on issues related to the Catholic social justice tradition and the family, despite his efforts to portray himself as a 'pro-family' Catholic who is concerned about poverty."
Catholic Democrats looked at Santorum's ratings from both the Catholic social justice group NETWORK and the Children's Defense Fund, and found his rankings were lower than even most other Republicans. Graphs of the rankings can be found here.
There is an old chestnut in politics: An election will be won by the candidate with whom the voters would most like to go to a BBQ. Reagan over Carter. Papa Bush over Dukakis. Clinton over Papa Bush. Bush fils over Gore. The idea is that a successful candidate needs to come across as comfortable in his or her own skin, and someone with a common touch, someone who can, in Clinton’s famous phrase, “feel your pain.”
Mitt Romney has a problem with the BBQ test. He is so highly scripted and, in those few instances when he speaks extemporaneously, he says things your neighbor wouldn’t. For example, “corporations are people” and “want to bet $10,000?” Yesterday, in an attempt to establish something resembling empathy, he asserted that “I know what it’s like to worry whether you’re going to get fired. There were a couple of times I wondered whether I was going to get a pink slip.” Of course, as the son of a multi-millionaire, even if Mr. Romney had been fired, the consequences from such an event would be different from what they would be for you or me. If he lost his job, that did not mean he was going to lose his health insurance or his house.
The University of Dayton's Vincent Miller takes on two recent essays by Michael Gerson and David Brooks, both of whom held out the hope that Sen. Rick Santorum's candidacy might breath the fresh air of Catholic Social Teaching into the GOP debate. Miller's conclusion: Nice try. Here is a link to his essay over at America.
I was surprised when, after I wrote about the Archdiocese of Detroit's announcement that they had not given permission to "Real Catholic TV" to use the designation "Catholic," that many acquaintances were completely unfamiliar with the show and its host, Michael Voris' ouevre.
I admit, it is not easy to watch. But to give you some flavor of this man's ugly rantings, here is one of his segments on the Jews:
Life is filled with dangers, but there is one danger that Professor Mark Silk need never fear: being charged as an example of the adage that a little learning is a dangerous thing. Silk has been studying the role of religion in American politics in greater depth and with greater precision than almost any acdemic I can think of. He has the capacity, which I utterly lack, of being patient enough to pore over the cross-tabs on polling data to ferret out key kernals of information. And so, readers are advised to go to his blog Spiritual Politcs and see some of his revent posts on the role of religion in the NH primary, good news for Romney in polling of evangelicals in SC, and Silk's takedown of a recent their put forth by a less learned member of the press corps at the Washington Post. Good, good stuff.
Last week, the Obama administration proposed to change the means by which undocumented spouses and children of U.S. citizens get a waiver from the rule that imposes a ten-year penalty on those who entered the country illegally. Currrently, the waiver must be applied for abroad and the waiting time to receive can run for months. (90 percent of the waiver applications are granted.) The rule change would allow undocumented spouses or children to apply for the waiver here in the U.S., cutting down the amount of time needed to return to the country from which the person emigrated from months to days.
The change is humane and should be endorsed by everyone. Keeping families together would be precisely the kind of thing you would think would appeal to pro-family Republicans. Cong. Lamar Smith, chait of the House Judiciary Committee, however, took a moment from repeating the GOP's refrain that the President is engaged in "class warfare" to say this about the change: “Who is the president batting for — illegal immigrants or the American people?” Nice.