There is theology. And there is economics. And then there is what Michael Novak does. It lacks the intellectual rigor we associate with the term theology. And, it seems strangely unrelated to anything we have learned about economics in the past few years. What is it? It is a craven apologia for capitalism that borders on idolatry.
Bishop Tobin of Providence, Rhode Island, has penned a column in his diocesan paper in which he writes why he was "unimpressed" with President Obama's speech in Tucson at the memorial service for those killed in the assassination attempt on Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.
He writes, "The problem, at least for me, is that President Obama’s persistent and willful promotion of abortion renders his compassionate gestures and soaring rhetoric completely disingenuous....And, I confess, abortion policy is the prism through which I view everything this president says and does."
The adjective "disingenuous" means "insincere" and Tobin's use of that adjective shows why he and his like-minded bishops have failed to evangelize the culture with the Gospel of Life. Instead of asking the complicated question of why liberals, so historically attuned to speak for those who have no voice, saw no need to raise their voice - and their votes - on behalf of the unborn, he simply casts an aspersion at the President's motives. Obama is not wrong, he is insincere, the bishop tells us.
The House voted yesterday to repeal the health care reform law passed last year. The headline said so, but I wonder why it was a headline at all. After all, there is no immediate consequence to the vote, nor any prospect of a consequence. This was Kabuki, not governance.
The purpose of the vote was exclusively PR and, in that case, I suppose it worked. It is easier to give a dog whistle on the right than on the left because of Rupert Murdoch who has created a vast echo chamber where news stories that don't matter nonetheless have legs. But, there is a danger in holding out the prospect of repealing health care - or any other prospect, for that matter. At some point, people want to see some achievements, not just Kabuki. The more rabid in the GOP base will not want to move on to something other than repealing "Obamacare," and they will get frustrated and eventually turn on their GOP dance partners. How long will it take before charges of betrayal? (Answer: within five seconds of the vote to extend the debt limit!)
That is the problem with echo chambers. You only hear yourself.
Discussions of conscience rights for Catholic hospitals and health care workers invite as much confusion as any topic in contemporary political discourse, and that confusion is beginning to spill out into the wider culture. If you doubt those claims – about the confusion or the spillage - check out the front page of this morning’s Washington Post.
Sen. Joe Lieberman announced his intention today not to run for re-election in 2012. In the event, there was no clear path, or unclear path for that matter, to a victory for the four-term senator. He burned almost every bridge to the Democratic Party in 2006 when he lost the Democratic Primary and ran as an independent. The few remaining bridges to the Democrats were burned when he endorsed John McCain for the presidency in 2008 and spoke to the Republican National Convention on McCain's behalf. Look for Democratic Congressman Chris Murphy to be the next senator from the Constitution State.
The AP is reporting on the arrest of a Philadelphia abortion doctor who is charged with eight counts of murder. The man is charged in the death of a woman and seven children who were born alive, only to be killed when the doctor plunged a pair of scissors into the back of their necks to sever their spinal cords.
The report is gruesome. But, then again, abortion is gruesome. And, before the enactment of the Partial Birth Abortion ban in 2003, what the doctor did to the children would have been legal if the children had been left partially in the womb.
Sadly, it will be as predictable as day following night that pro-choice groups that opposed the ban on partial birth abortion will be denouncing this doctor, even though what he did was little different from what they fought to defend.
How pathetic that it takes a horrific story like this to demonstrate the horror of abortion itself.
Jonathan Cohn knows more about health care, and the health care reform law, than just about anybody. He gives a long, detailed, and frightening analysis of how the legal efforts to attack the new law have a real chance at crippling it, unlike the Kabuki-vote that will happen in the House later today.
It is worth noting that his article appears in the New Republic, which has published most of Cohn's writings on the subject. Back during the debate over the Clinton plan to reform health care, TNR ran a scathing, and it turns out largely unsupportable, article by Betsy McCaughy that attacked the Clinton plan and was widely credited with helping doom the legislation. It was TNR's most irresponsible moment. Cohn's fine work has redeemed the magazine.
There is nothing I can add to Colman McCarthy's beautiful tribute to Sargent Shriver. It seems fitting, however, that Shriver went to his heavenly reward just days before the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy's inauguration as President.
This past weekend, while flipping channels, I came across a rebroadcast of Kennedy's Inaugural Ceremmony on C-Span. How different the temper of the times were then from today! The call to sacrifice and service has vanished from our political speech. The sense of national possibility and purpose is a rare commodity. This is the first Congress in more than fifty years in which no member of the Kennedy clan is serving in the U.S. Congress and although the heirs to Camelot, too, lacked the forceful vision of JFK it is sad to think that this family which personified public service is not represented in either chamber of our national legislature.
Politico is reporting that Randall Terry, the founder of Operation Rescue, is planning to challenge President Obama for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination.
Usually Terry is both offensive and crazy, so this latest news is, in its way, an improvement. It is just crazy.
The USCCB yesterday released two letters to members of Congress. The first from newly installed USCCB President Archbishop Timothy Dolan outlined the conference’s objectives for the upcoming Congress. The second letter, sign by Cardinal DiNardo as head of the Pro-Life Committee, Bishop Stephen Blaire, chair of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development and Archbishop Jose Gomes, chair of the Committee on Migration.
Dolan’s letter certainly breaks no new ground, although the inclusion of an entire paragraph dedicated to Internet access was curious. The letter perfectly shows how most bishops prioritize their socio-political agenda: They lead first with their concern to protect life, followed closely by their concern to defend traditional marriage, and then they take up a variety of concerns about social justice and the poor that range them more on the political left than the political right. The most disappointing aspect of the letter is that immigration comes near the very end, as if it was not a real priority for the bishops and a pressing issue for the country, more than, say, internet access.