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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Over the next few days and weeks, the media will take to describing the Apostolic Signatura as the Vatican's "Supreme Court" but the analogy is not a strong one. The Prefect of the Signatura, Archbishop Raymond Burke, was named a cardinal this morning as expected.
If by "Supreme Court" one means that the Signatura is the highest tribunal in the Vatican, that is true. But, the Signatura is quite different from the U.S. Supreme Court. In the U.S. system, the Supreme Court is an independent branch of government and its members are appointed for life. In the Vatican, the Pope himself holds all legislative, executive and judicial authority. The Pope is the final tribunal at the Vatican, not the Signatura, and its prefect serves at the pleasure of the Pope.
It is said that when, in 1911, James Cardinal Gibbons learned that Archbishop William Henry O'Connell was named a cardinal, Gibbons cried. O'Connell was refered to at the time, by a woman who worked at the Vatican, Ella Edes, as "Monsignor Pomposity." He was most known for his efforts to have the U.S. Bishops Conference disbanded and his opposition to laws against child labor.
Today, Archbishop Raymond Burke of the Apostolic Signatura, was named a cardinal. In heaven, I am sure that Gibbons is weeping anew.
Burke is the most controversial prelate in recent American history. He told Sen. John Kerry he would be refused communion in St. Louis. He attacked Archbishop Donald Wuerl, also named a cardinal this morning, in an interview with Randall Terry and, then, was forced to apologize for it. He suggested that Cardinal Sean O'Malley was acting at the behest of the "Father of Lies" for allowing a Catholic funeral for Sen. Ted Kennedy and presiding at it.
Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good sent an email to its board members yesterday, announcing that this week they will launch a new website, the first step in a planned rejuvenation of the organization. The new website will feature a “Common Good Forum” with articles from a host of prominent Catholics.
CACG has been relatively quiet since it played a vital role in the passage of health care reform, one of a number of religiously motivated groups that joined the effort to garner the final votes to secure passage of the landmark legislation. In the email to the Board and Advisory Council members, Fred Rotondaro, Board Chair, recalled the work CACG had undertaken on behalf of environmental issues, immigration reform, anti-poverty efforts and its signature efforts for health care reform. “We also all surely agree that our country remains at a critical juncture where the voice of the Alliance should be clear and loud,” Rotondaro wrote in the email.
Okay, this is a little unfair. Ms. O'Donnell is something of a walking, non-stop, yahoo watch unto herself. But, even I was flabbergasted when, during a debate, she asked: "Where in the Constitution is the separation of church and state?" Correct Answer: The First Amendment.
It is more than a little ironic that the Tea Party that launched Ms. O'Donnell into the spotlight, and which makes a great deal over their commitment to the Constitution, should have one of their darlings mess up on something so basic. Of course, her opponent did not distinguish himself when he could not name the other freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment. I guess that's why we have a Supreme Court.
As mentioned yesterday, this week at Q & A we are featuring participants in last week's panel on Catholics and the midterm elections, sponsored by Catholic University's Institute for Policy Research and Catholic Studies.
The video of that panel can be seen here.
Today, CUA politics professor Matthew Green looks at the Nevada Senate race.
Professor Green: The race I find the most compelling is the Nevada Senate race between Harry Reid and Sharron Angle. This election campaign has it all: a "Tea Party" challenger, tons of spending, amusingly gaffe-prone candidates, and the strong possibility that the most powerful Democrat in the Senate could be sent home packing.
What really surprises me is how close the race is -- especially given the many weaknesses of Angle, the Tea Party Republican challenging Reid. She has repeatedly made statements that are, shall we say, outside the mainstream: that Social Security should be eliminated (or at least privatized); that Obama and Reid want government to replace God; and that the city of Dearborn, Michigan is ruled by Islamic religious law.