Americans like winners, and so I thought that in the weeks since the midterm elections, we would see a rise in the approval ratings of the Republicans in Congress and a dip in the President’s job approval. I anticipated that GOP talking points would cause shifts, not seismic shifts but demonstrable ones, in public opinion. This morning, a Washington Post poll shows that in the year ahead the Republicans must tread as carefully as President Obama in navigating a treacherous political landscape that is suspicious of everyone and impatient for results.
Rick Hertzberg is the most elegant writer. Here are his reflections on Ted Sorenson, who was, as Hertzberg writes, much more than John F. Kennedy's speechwriter.
It causes great melancholy to read of the spirit that drove Kennedy and Sorenson, especially their commitment to avoid war. Both men helped make America more exceptional than it was, which is one reason they did not have to go to extremes when invoking American exceptionalism.
Josh Gerstein at Politico has an interesting profile of the judge who ruled that the individual mandates in the health care reform law were unconstitutional. It turns out, the judge in question likes strong government intervention, but only when the politics are right, in both sense of the word.
The Feast of Our Lady of Gaudalupe is now, as I observed yesterday and over the weekend, the biggest celebration day for U.S. Catholics. 60 percent of Catholics under the age of 30 are Latinos, so the vibrancy of the devotion to the Virgin is only going to grow. This is the future of the Catholic Church, as surely as John Hughes' ascent to the bishopric of New York in 1842 announced the fact that the Irish were taking over from the French within the American hierarchy.
But, the great Feast went unmentioned at InsideCatholic. The American Papist had not a word. Father Z made a passing reference in a post, from someone else, about the coronas of the sun. Nor was the absence of a mention unique to the rightwing blogosphere - our good friends at America had no coverage of the Feast either.
Politico.com has an article about how the state legislative gains made by pro-life candidates may affect various laws regarding abortion in the coming years. For example, there are now fifteen states, up from ten, in which the legislatures and the governor's mansions are in pro-life hands. Various state laws are being introduced to restrict the procedure, or to require that a woman be shown an ultrasound of her child in utero before making the decision to have an abortion. All these laws will be resisted by pro-choice groups, but their resistance is not just to the laws, it is to the facts.
There was long been an unwillingness among pro-choice groups to actually face the grim reality of what an abortion is. The word "fetus" is just odd enough from quotidian consideration to serve as a euphemsism, obstructing the reality of what abortion does and to whom it does it.
One of the great things about living in Washington, D.C. is that you have these occasional Forrest Gump moments where you find yourself in the company of important people at an important moment and not exactly sure if God is sending you a signal or not. My best Forrest Gump moment happened with Dick Holbrooke, who died last night after the most storied career in diplomacy in American history.
It was 1995. I was going to Rome to attend a speech Cardinal John O’Connor was set to give on Thanksgiving Day, which necessitated traveling on the day before Thanksgiving, something I had avoided up until that time and have avoided ever since. Sitting on the plane at Washington’s National Airport, there was only one empty seat, which happened to be next to me. We had all been seated for ten minutes, and still the stewards had not closed the door and the car remained parked at the terminal. Another five minutes passed. I began to get nervous about my connection in Newark to the flight that would bring me to Rome.
Generally, I think the WikiLeaks scandal has been a big yawn. In fact, the dominant fact that emerges from the cables is that American diplomats mostly say in private what the government says in public.
But, one paragraph in the cables from the U.S. Embassy to the Vatican did catch my eye. In a discussion of the Vatican's handling of the sex abuse crisis in Ireland, this appeared:
There is an argument to be made, and an argument that evidently won the day in a Virginia District Court, that the indvidual mandate to acquire health insurance is unconstitutional. I do not happen to think it is a very persuasive argument, but that is a separate issue.
But, I predict you will look in vain in the next few days for the conservative commentariat to abandon completely one of their decades-long staples: Their objection to "activist" judges.
The political branches decided the Commerce Clause was sufficient to justify the individual mandate. Now, an "unelected judge" has decided otherwise. I like a robust judiciary as much as the next liberal - and note that two other federal judges have ruled the individual mandate did pass constitutional muster - but the right wingers should be suffering backlash right now, and I suspect they will go to great lengths to conceal it.
AP is reporting that the Legionaries of Christ has ordered all of their houses to remove photos of their founder, the disgraced Father Maciel. I know a picture is worth a thousand words, but the rest of us are hoping for more substantial reforms from the Legionaries. Who would want a picture of a man the whole world now knows was as evil as evil can be.
If you haven't checked out the videos Rocco Palmo has assembled of the various celebrations around the country in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe, take a moment now. This is the future of the Church and it is vibrant, faithful, real.