Monday, July 07, 2008

"Quandary for Catholics At Election Time"

Catholic Online has a couple of new commentaries concerning the quandary Catholic voters face this election year. I don't agree with all the analysis (especially in the second piece), but both editorials provide an interesting perspective that scrutinize what they see as both presidential candidates' weak points when it comes to Catholics.

"COMMENTARY: Quandary for Catholics At Election Time"
... Obama has opposed every effort to protect unborn human life, including the Supreme Court’s upholding of The Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act. Obama even voted against an anti-infanticide bill to protect the lives of babies who survive an abortion and are born alive.

Here are Senator Obama’s own words on the subject:

"Throughout my career, I’ve been a consistent and strong supporter of reproductive justice [i.e., abortion] and have consistently had a 100% pro-choice rating with Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-choice America…. I will continue to defend this right [to abortion] by passing The Freedom of Choice Act as president."

For those who do not know about it, the Freedom of Choice Act is a federal bill that would mandate all 50 states to permit abortion on demand, without restrictions. Even Bill Clinton did not go this far in his support for abortion rights. Obama would clearly be the most pro-abortion president ever elected in US history, and would nominate Supreme Court justices with these commitments in mind. In short, the election of Barack Obama as President would certainly be the most serious setback to the Pro-Life cause since the Roe v. Wade Supreme court decision [35] years ago.

These facts can and should give any Catholic voter cause for concern. Are there any circumstances at all in which a Catholic could in good conscience vote for such an extreme pro-abortion candidate?

Yes, but they are rare.

***
However, by laying down this challenge to Catholic potential-Obama-supporters, I am not pretending that McCain’s record on the Life issues is “squeaky clean.” For example, while Sen. McCain has always voted against abortion, he has at the same time supported (along with Sen. Obama) stem-cell research and experimentation on human embryos. This is a clear contradiction of his stated Pro-Life principles. As the Editor of Catholic Online, Deacon Keith Fournier has written:

"When human persons become objects to be disposed of for parts, we embrace a new form of slavery where an entire class of persons has become less than human. It is intrinsically evil to “manufacture” human embryonic life and to then kill that life for spare parts."

In essence, McCain is for the legalized killing of unborn children in such exceptional circumstances, while Obama essentially supports it “across the board.” Neither one is fully in accord with the Catholic Social teaching on this issue — but Obama is far worse.


[More]
Becoming the Creative Minority
... Under a President McCain we could be in Iraq for decades, 50 or even 100 years. All of his foreign policy advisors, his close friends with whom he trusts and depends on, are Neocons. Does anyone doubt a President McCain wouldn't invade Iran?

In my opinion we need a return to a realistic foreign policy like that advocated for by Brent Scowcroft and others. And what about the economy, the mortgage crisis or the price of gasoline? Does anybody think a President McCain will manage the economy better than President Bush?

No there's not much hope to be seen or heard in someone I compare to stagnant pond water. Does he move anyone?

***
Now let's briefly discuss Sen. Barrack Obama, one of the most if not the most liberal members of Congress. With his radical support of abortion rights including partial-birth abortions he is totally unacceptable.

He is also a major advocate for and supporter of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights. Pay attention to the address of his website on this topic. As Catholics faithful to the teachings of the Magisterium we must support and defend traditional marriage and families.

The success or failure of our civilization, of our society, of our culture is rooted in the the strength and vibrancy of our marriages and families. Popes PJPII and B16 really understood that.

We are so close to really tipping the balance of the Supreme Court in our favor it's truly sad. The 1-2 justices that Obama will appoint to the bench will not be in the image of Scalia but move the court back to the center left.

Remember though salvation does not come through the Supreme Court or politics in general but in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Having to pick between these two choices, these two very fallible human faces, really puts a Catholic in a jam. I feel as if I'm doing the limbo between the City of God and the City of Man.


[More]

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22 Comments:

At 7/07/2008 8:13 AM, Anonymous crankycon said...

Under a President McCain we could be in Iraq for decades, 50 or even 100 years. All of his foreign policy advisors, his close friends with whom he trusts and depends on, are Neocons. Does anyone doubt a President McCain wouldn't invade Iran?

Wow. This is just . . . uninformed. Once again, McCain's "100 year remarks" are completely misconstrued, the term "neocon" is bandied about with no clear meaning (though at least in McCain's case more than Bush's it has a ring of truth), and we hear the same drivel about the inevitability of war with Iran.

 
At 7/07/2008 8:17 AM, Blogger Donald R. McClarey said...

Agreed. And how about this doozy:


"Let us begin with Sen. John McCain, a.k.a. John McBush. Electing him will equal a third term of Bush."


There are few members of the Republican party in Congress who have supported President Bush less than John McCain. The author appears to be grossly misinformed.

 
At 7/07/2008 11:54 AM, Blogger Father Martin Fox said...

I think in all the focus on Obama's positions on abortion and "gay rights," many conservatives are underestimating the terrible consequences of McCain winning.

Under 8 years of Bush, the GOP has gone from a strong position to a much weaker one, and we shall see what happens this fall. Leadership matters, and Bush has led the GOP to the precipice. Where will McCain lead it?

I believe McCain will complete the de-conservatization of the GOP. Look at how he's campaigning, now--his talk about how green he is, his bashing of corporations for their wicked profits, his stance on immigration--it all reminds of me of the "kinder, gentler" talk of Bush I.

People talk about how Obama will ram through lots of bad legislation. Bush had majorities in both houses, how much did he ram through? A president gets the top items of his agenda, but has to trade away most of the rest of it to do it.

But, yes--Obama will likely get some of what he wants.

On the other hand, if (and when) the Democrats have strong enough majorities in the Congress, the GOP President will go along with a fair amount; and don't forget veto-overrides. They weren't that unusual under Reagan and Bush I. When they come back under McCain, where will the advantage be?

In fact, it may be in every way worse, to have bad policy advocated by both parties, where will the opposition be?

I realize how unpalatable it is, but--there are times when you are better off letting the other team's offense on the field, particularly if your offensive unit does a great job of giving up points.

And, no, I'm not going to vote for Obama; I'm just explaining the other side to the "what's bad about Obama winning" argument.

 
At 7/07/2008 12:42 PM, Blogger Donald R. McClarey said...

"I believe McCain will complete the de-conservatization of the GOP."

Not possible. The GOP is a conservative party not because of the President, but because a clear majority of the people who vote Republican are conservative. Both Nixon and Ford were not conservatives and they had zero impact in even slowing the transformation of the GOP into a conservative party.


"Bush had majorities in both houses, how much did he ram through?"

Bush never had 60 sure votes in the Senate which is necessary to invoke cloture. After the Fall elections I suspect a President Obama would be very close to that magic number. In his first year I suspect that many attrocious pieces of legislation would become law, including the Freedom of Choice Act.

"On the other hand, if (and when) the Democrats have strong enough majorities in the Congress, the GOP President will go along with a fair amount; and don't forget veto-overrides."

Veto overrides require 2/3's in both Houses. The Democrats on almost all issues wouldn't come close.

 
At 7/07/2008 12:46 PM, Blogger James H said...

"Let us begin with Sen. John McCain, a.k.a. John McBush. Electing him will equal a third term of Bush. With our current conflicts (two undeclared wars) now lasting longer than World War II there seems to be no end in site.

Under a President McCain we could be in Iraq for decades, 50 or even 100 years. All of his foreign policy advisors, his close friends with whom he trusts and depends on, are Neocons. Does anyone doubt a President McCain wouldn't invade Iran? "

HE lost me right here. Sadly thought I like and think there is a lot valid to the so called Crunchy Con view they have way too much Paelo Conservative thought inter mixed with it right now. We see an example here.

THe throwing the term NEO cons around like a voodoo hex is absurd and getting tiresome.

 
At 7/07/2008 12:51 PM, Blogger James H said...

Father Fox,

Perhaps it is not that McCain is not conservative enough but we have various factions in the party that wishes to conduct purity test and declare that they are the true conservatism.

For instance you say:

"--his talk about how green he is, his bashing of corporations for their wicked profits, his stance on immigration--it all reminds of me of the "kinder, gentler" talk of Bush I.
"

This all seems to be what I was hearing when Huckabee and his supporters were called Chrisitan Socialist.

As to immigration and McCain's position it is the same as I have. IS being for immigration reform like McCain and Brownback were for now a liberal position? I was told it was as I was insulted left and right on it. I guess that means CATO is liberal. WHo Knew?

THis article illustrates quite well the problem is not McCain. It is that this party of Conservatisms and its factions are each other throats

 
At 7/07/2008 1:38 PM, Anonymous crankycon said...

Fr. Fox hints at something that has been echoed in other corridors. It's a variant of the, "If it's going to go to pot, then let the other guys be in charge when it does" school of thinking. It has a certain appeal, and I have had times where I have agreed with it.

I think Donald did a great job explaining the flaws in that theory, and I would just add another couple. Though I have always maintained that the US can survive bad presidencies - as it has in the past on countless occasions - there are reasons to be concerned that an Obama presidency can do a lot of damage to our country. I think he will be much more able to impose a radical agenda than Bill Clinton was able and willing to do as he will likely have a fairly significant legislative majority.

Then there's the Court. While he probably will only get to replace other leftists on the Court, it may be another 30 years before we get to replace those justices that he appoints, making it much more difficult to alter the Court's composition over the long haul. I would grant that we can't be certain that McCain will do as well as Bush with his appointments, but I have a reasonable expectation that they woudl be fine. The real issue is whether or not he can get them confirmed. But I'd rather roll the dice with McCain on judges than with Obama.

 
At 7/07/2008 1:59 PM, Blogger Father Martin Fox said...

Donald:

I am dubious Obama will have "60 clear votes" . . . but if he does, it's because of having the wrong sort of Republican in the White House.

Given that, what do you think happens if we elect another wrong sort of Republican?

That's why I spoke of veto-proof majorities down the road. Plus, it becomes more likely when the GOP President governs like a liberal, and thus a lot of Republican members of Congress go along -- why should many of them fight then?

The Republican Party was not always friendly to conservatives, and it's getting less so all the time. I concede McCain can't wreck it all himself, I overstated that; but I reiterate he will make it worse. In that sense he likely will be Bush's third term.

Crankycon: my point is more subtle than that; it's not, let things get worse, but in fact, putting the defense on the field and you can actually do better.

For all the moaning about Clinton, if you look at the whole picture, conservative policy advanced significantly during the Clinton years.

Not because Clinton wanted it, but because of the alignment of various forces at work. Clinton did what he was going to do in the first two years, he got pushed back in a big way in Congress, and -- this is what so many fail to see -- meanwhile, conservative, particularly prolife, policy advanced in most of the states, because of who got elected there.

Yes, the first two years of an Obama Presidency will feature his top agenda items being put forward; but then, the vast numbers of conservatives Don talks about (he's right) will not be sitting on their hands. They will be mobilized such as you haven't seen since, well, the Clinton years. Remember how his health-care bill was "sure to pass"? Whatever happened to that?

In the first two years, I think Obama gets very little -- versus what the Dems would get, over the longer haul, from McCain. It's not as if McCain means little liberal stuff passes vs. Obama equals the floodgates. They BOTH advocate liberal policy, and they will BOTH face trade-offs and pushbacks.

But if the bad policy that gets dangled (and most won't pass) has a "D" on it...the GOP is in a position to rebuild. But if it's wearing a "bipartisan" -- then what? Third party? Good luck.

In the end, the argument always seems to come down to the Supreme Court. Assuming -- a huge if -- that McCain really names another Alito and Roberts. There are two very strong reasons he won't: because they will be on the wrong side of the legislation he likes, and he'll argue, when the time comes, that he'd like to, but the Democratic Senate won't support them, instead another O'Connor -- dressed up to look good -- will be "the best we can do."

 
At 7/07/2008 2:03 PM, Blogger Father Martin Fox said...

"In the first two years, I think Obama gets very little -- versus what the Dems would get, over the longer haul, from McCain."

That expresses badly what I meant to say. What I meant was, the sum total of what Obama gets passed, particularly in the first two years, is not significantly more than what the Dems would pass under McCain.

I do think it won't be all that much, substantively -- as was in fact the case with Clinton. But my point was comparative.

 
At 7/07/2008 5:13 PM, Blogger Donald R. McClarey said...

"I am dubious Obama will have "60 clear votes" . . . but if he does, it's because of having the wrong sort of Republican in the White House."

Actually I think it occurs mostly due to the failure of Republicans in Congress from 1994-2006 to control spending and morphing into Democrats in regard to spending. Bush didn't help, but I think the blame is more widespread.


Currently the Democrats have a 51-49 majority. Assuming a narrow McCain win over Obama I think the Democrats are almost certain to flip these seats: Virginia, New Mexico, New Hamphire, Colorado and Alaska. It is possible that the Republicans would pick up Landrieu's seat in La: Net gain for the Dems: 4.


Assuming a win of at least 4 points by Obama over McCain and I think the Democrats would hang on to La and pick up Oregon, Alaska, and Mississippi: Net gain for the Dems: 8.

If Obama wins by at least 6 points I think you could also toss in Kansas: Net gain for the Dems: 9.

If Obama wins I think he will almost certainly have close to 60 votes in the Senate. Toss in a few RINOS like Collins and Snowe, and I think it is almost a certainty.

 
At 7/07/2008 5:51 PM, Blogger Donald R. McClarey said...

"Assuming a win of at least 4 points by Obama over McCain and I think the Democrats would hang on to La and pick up Oregon, Alaska, and Mississippi: Net gain for the Dems: 8."

In the above I should have inserted North Carolina in place of Alaska.

 
At 7/07/2008 6:02 PM, Blogger Donald R. McClarey said...

"In the end, the argument always seems to come down to the Supreme Court."

Many Republicans deserted Bush I because of his broken pledge on taxes. We got Clinton and, as a result, we also got Ginsburg and Breyer in Clinton's first term in 1993 and 1994. If Bush had been reelected he would have made those two appointments and the odds are that Roe would be history. Lose the Presidency and you also lose the judiciary. I am not completely confident that McCain would nominate justices as good as Scali, Thomas, Alito and Roberts. However I am absolutely certain that Obama would nominate justices as committed to Roe as Ginsburg and Breyer.

 
At 7/07/2008 6:06 PM, Blogger Donald R. McClarey said...

"Remember how his health-care bill was "sure to pass"? Whatever happened to that?"

A point, however the Left is much more organized today, there are fewer conservative Democrats in Congress and I suspect that Obama has learned lessons from the ham-fisted way that the Clintons tried to ram through national health care. I doubt, for example, he would be foolish enought to place his wife in charge of the initiative.

 
At 7/07/2008 8:25 PM, Blogger Bender said...

We got Clinton and, as a result, we also got Ginsburg and Breyer in Clinton's first term in 1993 and 1994. If Bush had been reelected he would have made those two appointments and the odds are that Roe would be history.

Let's not be too quick here. I wish it were so, but we must also remember, not only the WAR over confirming Justice Thomas, but the fact that Casey was handed down in 1992, in the midst of the Bush-Clinton election season.

Make no mistake, Casey DEVASTATED the pro-life movement, setting us back 10-15 years, while invigorating the pro-aborts. A re-elected President Bush Sr. would have had an even harder time confirming a nominee if he or she were even hinting at being a possible anti-Roe vote. And the Senate, made up of the same worthless, spineless Republican worms that are still there now, would not have had the stomach for a fight. Hence, we would have gotten two stealth candidates, who could have gone either way.

Fast-forward eight years to 2000. Nominate John McCain instead of George W. Odds are that he would have lost to Gore, resulting in more pro-Roe justices. But let's assume a McCain win over Gore.

In 2000, McCain was campaigning on statements that he was NOT in favor of overturning Roe. And even if he was, does anyone think that President Gang-of-14 would have had the stomach for war to push through anti-Roe nominees? Would he have nominated Roberts or Alito if he were president instead of George W.?

This much is clear -- McCain is proving himself to be the DISASTER that many of us said he would be. And just like there were those who said "trust us" when Souter was nominated, so too did we have certain "elites" (whose comments have been highlighted on this blog) push and promote McCain, saying "trust us," that McCain was "most electable," the best candidate, and an excellent candidate and he was a sure thing, not only to win, but to promote all things conservative.

These conservative, pro-life, Catholic "elites" have brought nothing but disaster down upon our heads. Jurassic McCain is going the way of the dinosaur.

 
At 7/07/2008 8:54 PM, Blogger Donald R. McClarey said...

"And the Senate, made up of the same worthless, spineless Republican worms that are still there now, would not have had the stomach for a fight."

Your comment is self-refuting. The Republicans did fight, and win, confirmation for both Roberts and Alito. They also won confirmation for Roberts. The only vote for confirmation of a Surpeme Court appointee that the Republicans have lost in the past five decades is Bork, a true tragedy, but not a bad win-loss record.


"This much is clear -- McCain is proving himself to be the DISASTER that many of us said he would be."

Incorrect. McCain is down 4-5 points in an election year tailor-made for a Democrat land-slide of epic proportions. He is still in the game in a year when almost any other Republican would be certain to lose. I agree with McCain on little other than his opposition to abortion and his foreign policy. I did not support him in the primaries, and I would much prefer Fred Thompson for example as the standard bearer. However I do think he stands a decent chance of defeating Obama in the Fall and I will do what I can to help in this effort, because I believe Obama would be a disaster for the nation.

 
At 7/08/2008 2:11 PM, Blogger Father Martin Fox said...

I think the fortitude of the GOP Senators to consent to the nomination of a GOP president will vary, particularly with who controls the Senate. The GOP controlled the Senate when Roberts and Alito were put forward; they did not when Bork was put forward, nor Thomas, and he was an extremely close call.

A major factor will be when it comes down to the "fifth vote" -- as it will when one of the pro-Roe votes is replaced. Then you'll see how many GOP Senators have spines.

Don, I think its presumptuou to assume Bush Sr., if re-elected, would have named only solid justices.

The next two vacancies were White and, if I recall correctly, Blackmun or Brennan; one anti-Roe, one pro-Roe. In order for those nominees to have effected an overturn of Roe would require both to be Thomas-like, none to be Souter-ish.

Given that Bush was 1-and-1 with Supreme Court picks, the most natural assumption is that his next two would follow the same pattern. (Indeed, it's only fair to point out that Bush Sr., much criticized for his High Court picks, actually has a better track record than Reagan, who is 1-for-2.) And in that event, Roe would not have been overturned.

Indeed, everyone seems already to count Roberts and Alito's votes against Roe; and those chickens have yet to hatch. Truthfully, we may have hints and hopes, but we do not know how they actually will vote. One of them may yet prove to be (Anthony) Kennedyesque.

The best analogy may be a friend's: he points out that one can turn a possible-winning chess game into a losing game by focusing on saving the queen at all costs. Yes, losing the queen costs you something, yet the goal is not saving the queen, but winning the game. Ideally you win without losing the queen; but that's not always the situation you find yourself in.

 
At 7/08/2008 3:30 PM, Blogger Jay Anderson said...

Fr. Fox,

I think you know that I am sympathetic to your position, and, in fact, am still ambivalent about whether or not I will hold my nose and vote for McCain.

Nevertheless, should a Democrat Congress pass, and a Pres. Obama sign, the Freedom of Choice Act, it will likely set back the pro-life movement (and I describe the pro-life position as one that actually protects the unborn in law, not one that merely seeks to reduce the so-called "need" and incidence of abortion) ... well, forever (or at least for several generations).

That is, short of a Supreme Court decision striking it down on federalism grounds, which I deem highly unlikely.

If I vote for McCain, and that's a very big IF, it will only be to prevent FOCA from becoming law.

 
At 7/08/2008 8:15 PM, Blogger Father Martin Fox said...

Jay:

I understand, and I won't tell you how to vote.

That said, I think we stand a very good chance of filibustering the so-called Freedom of Choice Act, or watering it down until it isn't much of a gain for the pro-abort side.

If anyone thinks the Democrats will be solid on things like that, I say think again. The closer the Democrats get to 60 votes, the more D's they'll have from states where they won't want to be too radical, and they'll be very pressurable on such a high-profile vote.

A lot of things get lots of votes when it can't be passed -- then, voila! -- suddenly there are problems getting all those votes when it really can pass.

 
At 7/08/2008 9:53 PM, Blogger Donald R. McClarey said...

For those who wish to read the text of the Freedom of Choice Act, here is a link:


http://www.govtrack.us/congress/billtext.xpd?bill=s110-1173

One of the interesting features of this Act is that it is an unintentional tribute to legislative efforts, usually initiated by Republicans, to fight abortion:

"8) Even though the Roe v. Wade decision has stood for more than 34 years, there are increasing threats to reproductive health and freedom emerging from all branches and levels of government. In 2006, South Dakota became the first State in more than 15 years to enact a ban on abortion in nearly all circumstances. Supporters of this ban have admitted it is an attempt to directly challenge Roe in the courts. Other States are considering similar bans."

It also highlights the importance of the Supreme Court:


"9) Further threatening Roe, the Supreme Court recently upheld the first-ever Federal ban on an abortion procedure, which has no exception to protect a woman's health. The majority decision in Gonzales v. Carhart (05-380, slip op. April 18, 2007) and Gonzales v. Planned Parenthood Federation of America fails to protect a woman's health, a core tenet of Roe v. Wade. Dissenting in that case, Justice Ginsburg called the majority's opinion `alarming', and stated that, `[f]or the first time since Roe, the Court blesses a prohibition with no exception safeguarding a woman's health'. Further, she said, the Federal ban `and the Court's defense of it cannot be understood as anything other than an effort to chip away at a right declared again and again by this Court'."


If Obama is elected, he will do everything in his power to implement everything in the Freedom of Choice Act, de facto if not de jure. Losing elections is not the way to win this fight.

 
At 7/09/2008 1:08 PM, Blogger Father Martin Fox said...

Don:

I'm not saying it's not a bad bill, and I'm not saying Obama isn't for it, but...

Obama is going to have 100 things he wants to do, and even with Democrats controlling both houses, he will have trade away items further down the list in order to get #1, and then #2, and so forth. That's how it works.

Now, just where do you suppose this bill is on Obama's top 100 list of things he'll push? If it's not the top four or five, it will get traded away for something else--some D Congressman who doesn't want to have to vote on it, will say, "sure I'll vote for your tax increase, Mr. President--but it would really help if you could keep that FOCA from coming up for a vote, that'll really put me in a bind."

What'll happen is that the Obama White House will say all the "right" things (from his allies' point of view), and the pro-aborts will push it, and fundraise on it, etc., and they may even get it through the House, maybe -- but it's easy to pass the House. We'll stop it in the Senate.

Remember, there are 470 federal elections this year (435 House, 34 Senate and one President), and they all count. It isn't all about the Presidency, and if I had to choose, White House or Congress, I'd rather have Congress (of course I'd rather have both).

Also, consider that one effect of a McCain win will be the further decline of GOP fortunes...leading to the FOCA bill being put on his desk. We hope he will veto it. What will a President McCain give the pro-aborts in order to keep this bill from reaching his desk?

I guess I just don't consider McCain to be "winning." If you do, then that changes how you see things unfolding the next couple of years.

Given that neither candidate is our friend, I'd rather have a clear enemy than a clandestine one--then I don't have to spend 25-50% of my time and energy explaining to everyone why the person they think is an ally, really isn't. All that effort will be misdirected, and thus we'll have a harder time stopping bad stuff. Until about the 2nd or 3rd year, when it finally becomes clear: sort of like happened with Bush Sr. and Bush Jr. (who took longer, as he was good on some things).

 
At 7/09/2008 1:17 PM, Blogger Jay Anderson said...

"Now, just where do you suppose this bill is on Obama's top 100 list of things he'll push? If it's not the top four or five, it will get traded away for something else ..."

He may have just been talking smack to curry favor with the pro-aborts, but Obama claims it's item # 1 on his agenda:

“... the first thing I’d do as president is sign the Freedom of Choice Act.”

 
At 7/09/2008 9:55 PM, Blogger Father Martin Fox said...

Jay:

I thought the first thing he was going to do was call in his military advisers and give them the mission of ending the war in Iraq?

 

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