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Is Obama Going to Pull a Tony Blair?

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The First Lady evidently let it slip that her husband keeps a prayer card of Our Lady, Help of Christians, in his wallet. Very RC.

A few months ago, in an address on the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, President Obama spoke movingly about the Blessing of the Fleet. Again, very RC.

And, the other day, when asked about his Christian faith, the President described his decision to become a Christian in terms that were, while not exactly Catholic, decidedly non-Protestant.

The President said:

“So I came to my Christian faith later in life and it was because the precepts of Jesus Christ spoke to me in terms of the kind of life that I would want to lead -- being my brothers’ and sisters’ keeper, treating others as they would treat me. And I think also understanding that Jesus Christ dying for my sins spoke to the humility we all have to have as human beings, that we’re sinful and we’re flawed and we make mistakes, and that we achieve salvation through the grace of God. But what we can do, as flawed as we are, is still see God in other people and do our best to help them find their own grace.”

Election Time: IN-2

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UPDATE (10/26): Cook Political Report changed its rating on this race six days ago, moving it from "Lean Dem" to "Toss-up." The district is centered on South Bend, and Joe Donnelly is playing the role of a fightin' Irishman. There is only one October poll and it shows Donnelly leading by nine points, but Indiana, like Arizona, is a state that is looking terribly red this year. In the Indiana Senate race, former Republican Senator Dan Coats is headed to an overwhelming victory, leading his opponent Brad Ellsworth by an average of 18 points so Donnelly will not get any help from hte top of the ticket.
Donnelly's opponent, Jackie Walorski, is a social conservative running in a year when the GOP is downplaying social conservative issues.
Indiana's polls close early, so if this race is called early, we will have a sense of how the winds are blowing.

Q & A: Rocco Palmo

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We continue our week long conversation with Rocco Palmo, the blogmeister at Whispers in the Loggia.

The question: What is the most important thing that will happen at the USCCB meeting in November?

Rocco Palmo: One of the perks of covering church politics is that, while the country has to wait four years between presidential elections, American Catholics get one every three. So yet again, this year’s “Fall Classic” -- the USCCB’s November Meeting in Baltimore -- will see the Making of the President, Church Edition.

That said, the top-ballot’s outcome is the least suspenseful part of the process. Following a custom that’s essentially been inviolate for the half-century since the US bishops began electing a president, barring anything apocalyptic the incumbent vice-president of the body, 69 year-old Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tucson, will be elevated to the top slot. As ever, the real race is the one that’ll determine his #2... and this time, a very changed scene since 2007 renders who makes the cut even more intriguing than usual.

Yahoo Watch: Kathryn Jean Lopez

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Not sure what Ms. Lopez is smoking, but her recent attempt to link the Tea Party movement with Pope Benedict XVI is bizarre. The ranters who carry racist placards that show the President as a witch doctor or the dumb with a captial "B" signs that say, "No government health care - Hands off my Medicare!" have nothing, repeat nothing, in common with the refined, thoughtful social and political analysis of Pope Benedict XVI. The Tea Party movement is in euqal parts inchoate and incoherent, two adjectives that do not leap to mind when considering the writings of Joseph Raztinger.

My friend John Gehring takes on the comparison at greater length here.

Note To Readers: Timing

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Regular readers are used to seeing the Q & A posted around noontime, but the past two days, our guest interviewee all week, blogger extraordinaire, Rocco Palmo, asked for more time to give fuller replies. Don't stand in the way of a great artist, I remember being told, so I apologize for the delays in posting but am sure you will agree that the wait was worth it. Check out Rocco's two posts below and look for more the rest of the week.

Election Time: CA-Senate

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UPDATE (10/25): The Real Clear Politics Polling average has Boxer leading Fiorina by 2.5 percent, with almost all polls showing a slight lead for Boxer. But, most polls are within the margin of error and the Cook Political Report and RCP both rate the race as a "toss-up." Nate Silver's model at fivethirtyeight.com nonetheless only gives Fiorina a 19% chance of taking the seat based on both the large number of polls conducted in this race and the nearness to election day.
Neither candidate has run a particularly noteworthy ad, nor produced a defining debate moment, and it is difficult to think at this late date any news would affect this race in particular. California is a blue state that, despite being hit hard by the recession, would need more of a reason to vote Republican this year.

Q & A: Rocco Palmo

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As mentioned, all this week at Q & A, Rocco Palmo, whose blog Whispers in the Loggia is a must read on both sides of the Atlantic, is answering questions about the state of the Catholic Church.

The question: Who is an up-and-coming bishop we should keep an eye on and why?

Rocco Palmo: Picking just one “up and comer” among the bench’s new crop is kinda like the potato chip ad -- “you can’t have just one.”

Being accustomed to its sprawling nature, many of us tend to give it short shrift, but globally speaking, the US church is an immense enterprise -- only Italy and Brazil have more bishops, and given the scope of the turf here, it’s impossible boil the situation down into a single column because, well, the culture of Catholicism in New England and New Mexico are two drastically different things.

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July 18-31, 2014

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