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Gerson, O'Donnell & the First Amendment

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Christine O’Donnell now claims that she thought she had bested her opponent Chris Coons in their discussion of the Constitution, during which she asserted that the separation of church and state was not found in that founding document. To be sure, the phrase “separation of church and state” does not appear in the text of the First, or any other, Amendment, but it is there. As Michael Gerson writes in this morning’s Washington Post, the real problem is that O’Donnell “seems unmotivated by any strong, developed views of the Constitution.” Ya think?

Q & A: Stephen Schneck on Texas-Gov

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This week at Q & A, I asked the participants in last week's panel on the Catholic vote to pick a race they think is really interesting and write about it. As mentioned previously, you can find a video of that panel here.

Professor Stephen Schneck was not on the panel, but as the Director of the Institute for Policy Research and Catholic Studies, he was the sponsor. Today he looks at the governor's race in Texas.

Stephen Schneck: Governor Rick Perry (R) of Texas is going for a history-making third term. It’s increasingly looking like he’ll succeed, with polls now showing about a ten point lead over Democratic challenger Bill White, the popular former mayor of Houston.

Perry got to this point by playing a tricky game, dancing enough with the Tea Partiers to co-opt their momentum and marginalize their fringe—but disentangling himself from their clutch in time to keep enough independent moderates and Texas Latinos in play. Only an unprecendented turnout by Latino voters could disrupt Perry’s endgame at this point.

The College of Cardinals

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Some have already remarked on the fact, mostly unfavorably, that the new batch of cardinals to be created at the consistory next month, is weighted very heavily towards curial officials. It is stunning that only two Hispanic bishops made the grade, one of whom is retired from episcopal ministry, when Latin America has more of the world's Catholics than any other continent.

Douglas Johnson v. MSW on Driehaus v. SBA List

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Douglas Johnson, Legislative Director of the National Right to Life Committee, has replied to my post yesterday about a press call sponsored by Catholics United regarding anti-abortion ads in Ohio and Pennsylvania. In that post, I wrote that Mr. Johnson interrupted the call, presenting his side of the argument. By using the word “interrupt” I did not mean to suggest that Mr. Johnson was in any way rude in his questioning. I did mean to suggest, and repeat now, that Mr. Johnson had no business being on a press call and that his presence there constituted an interruption. Mr. Johnson's full reply is printed in the Comments section after my article.

How Scary is Joe Miller?

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Ah, what a year. Christine O’Donnell dabbling in witchcraft. Sharron Angle suggesting “Second Amendment Remedies.” Ken Buck equating homosexuality with alcoholism. The inimitable Alvin Greene suggesting that action figures of himself might fix the nation’s unemployment woes. Could it get any more weird? And, dangerous. O’Donnell appears headed to a well-deserved defeat, and Greene is going to become a Trivial Pursuit question, but Angle is tied in her race and Buck is leading in his.

Still, kookie though they are, there has emerged in recent days someone who is dangerous in a different way from the danger posed by the prospect of Sharron Angle pontificating in the Senate about her devotion to the Constitution. Joe Miller, the GOP nominee for Senate in Alaska, has emerged as the most frightening candidate in 2010, a designation with more competition this year than any year I can remember, because he seems completely unaware of the dangers of violence to democracy, provided the violence works for him.

Q & A: Mark Rozell on VA-11

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We continue our look at more midterm races at Q & A with this submission from Mark Rozell, Professor of Public Policy at George Mason University.

Rozell moderated a panel held last week at the National Press Club on the Catholic vote that was sponsored by Catholic University's Institute for Policy research and Catholic Studies. (Video of the panel can be seen here.)

Mark Rozell: One of the most closely watched races in the Washington, DC region this year is the Virginia 11th congressional district. First term incumbent, Gerry Connolly (Dem.) is seeking reelection in a rematch with his 2008 opponent Keith Fimian (Rep.). The district comprises most of Fairfax County, all of Fairfax City, and parts of Prince William County as well.

Abortion Politics Still Boiling

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The progressive group Catholics United held a press call to discuss the implications of an Ohio Elections Board ruling which held there was probable cause for an injunction against an ad campaign sponsored by the Susan B. Anthony List. The ads claimed the health care reform law permits federal funding of abortion and Congressman Steve Driehaus, running for re-election in Ohio’s First District, sought an injunction on the grounds that the ads violated an Ohio law that prohibits ads that are factually inaccurate.

But, the fireworks on the call came when Douglas Johnson of the National Right to Life Committee joined the call and, instead of asking questions, argued his case that the law does entail abortion funding. Mr. Johnson, of course, is entitled to his views. He is also entitled to have his own press call to explain those views. But, it is rude and wrong to crash somebody else’s press call to advocate for your own cause.

Early Voting: Will It Matter?

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This morning's Washington Post has an article about early voting, which now exists in 32 states, including in some of the states with the most contentious contests such as Nevada.
It remains to be seen what effect this early voting will have on the midterm results, but it is clear from the Post report that the Democrats have been organizing in an effort to get their voters to the polls early in a way the Republicans have not. Historically, in a midterm election, many voters do not exercise their franchise. Many of the people who turned out for Obama in 2008 were young voters and minority voters, who are especially prone to sit out a midterm.

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