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August 2008 Archives

August 6, 2008

Catholic Democrats call on McCain Campaign to pull cynical ad that mocks people of faith

Boston, MA -- Aug 6, 2008 -- Catholic Democrats is calling on Senator John McCain to pull an advertisement that mocks people of faith and their support for Senator Barack Obama's campaign for President of the United States. "Senator McCain and his staff described this ad as a stab at humor, but there is nothing light-hearted about using religion to belittle your opponent or his supporters," said Dr. Patrick Whelan, president of Catholic Democrats. "This advertisement mocks a central tenet of Christianity, the Divinity of Christ, for political gain. Through an ad that plays on people's emotions, Senator McCain has betrayed his own vow to run an honorable campaign by hiding behind sarcasm in belittling the judgment of Senator Obama's supporters."

The McCain advertisement uses religious language and imagery, including clips from the film The Ten Commandments, to suggest that supporters of Senator Obama believe that the Democratic candidate is a Messiah-like figure. It also takes Senator Obama's words completely out of context in short snippets to make its argument.

Some analysts have found a peculiar pattern of imagery in the ad that ties into the popular "Left Behind" series of books by Tim LaHaye, who has spoken publicly in very harsh terms about Catholicism. It will be interesting to see if any of the conservative Catholics who have condemned the LaHaye books will ultimately criticize the McCain Campaign for indulging in this form of manipulative sublimininal advertising. Christina Bellantoni from the Washington Times points out that the McCain ad (coincidentally?) uses only scenes that include black audience members.

"It is amazing that Senator McCain, who claims to be concerned about global warming and who describes himself as a 'straight talker' on the issues, would allow his staff to create an ad that demeans the religious beliefs of Americans while ridiculing Senator Obama's call to address the climate crisis," Whelan continued.

"The sarcastic tone of the advertisement really demonstrates a lack of sensitivity by Senator McCain toward the religious sensibilities of Catholics and other people of faith," said Whelan. "This ad suggests that his Campaign is determined to focus on the politics of personal destruction rather than the abundance of pressing moral issues, like climate change, that face all Americans."

Please contact media@catholicdemocrats.org for further details, or call 617-308-1584.

August 7, 2008

Catholic Democrats Calls on Senator John McCain to Reject Strategy of Politicking in Parishes

Calls on Senator to Remove Deal Hudson as Catholic Outreach Advisor

Boston, MA--7 Aug 2008--Catholic Democrats is calling on Senator John McCain to reject a new religious outreach strategy targeting Catholic parishes, and the deeply divisive rhetoric of the man who first developed it. First announced on July 11th, this strategy is being spearheaded by Senator McCain's Catholic Outreach Coalition under the names of former Governor Frank Keating and Senator Sam Brownback. But this plan is strikingly similar to the 2004 Bush campaign strategy devised by current McCain Catholic advisor, Deal Hudson, whose frequent columns have for months heaped crude insults on Senator McCain's opponent in the name of Catholicism.

"The kind of divisive language in Deal Hudson's column today, and the strategy of taking over our parishes for political gain, both represent a concerted effort to pit one Catholic against another at a time when we need so much to promote healing in our Church," said the president of Catholic Democrats, Dr.Patrick Whelan. "As Catholic Democrats, we believe that the use of our sacred spaces to divide Catholics is morally wrong."

The Catholic News Service reported that RNC Deputy Chairman Frank Donatelli, in his press conference on July 11, predicted a McCain Catholic campaign that would be "very, very aggressive." He added, "It will involve literature, sending speakers to parishes and Catholic gatherings, a direct mail program and statements by Sen. McCain on issues of concern to Catholics." Deal Hudson had originally engineered the strategy to use parishes for political purposes during the Bush re-election campaign in 2004. But Hudson was compelled to resign as the major architect of President Bush's Catholic Outreach due to revelations about sexual misconduct involving one of his students some years earlier. Catholic Democrats is joining with other organizations in calling for his removal from McCain's Catholic Outreach Coalition.

"Deal Hudson has launched an ugly rhetorical crusade against Senator Obama that is cartoonish in its vulgarity. It is beyond ironic that Hudson would seek to position himself as a Catholic expert on child abuse," said Dr Whelan. "He engineered strategies employed by the Bush Campaigns that exploited our churches for partisan politics of the worst kind. We respectfully urge the McCain Campaign to rid itself of this destructive figure, as the Bush Campaign did just four years ago. More importantly, out of respect for our Church, we believe Senator McCain should jettison any plans to use Catholic churches as a staging ground for attacking his opponent in these last months of his Campaign."


About Catholic Democrats
Catholic Democrats is an association of state based groups representing a Catholic voice within the Democratic Party, and advancing a public understanding of the rich tradition of Catholic Social Teaching and its potential to help solve the broad range of problems confronting all Americans.

August 23, 2008

Catholic Democrats enthusiastic about Biden for VP

Boston, Mass. (August 23, 2008) -- Catholic Democrats is applauding Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama for his selection of Senator Joseph Biden (D-Delaware) as his Vice-Presidential running mate. Senator Obama announced his choice today.

"Senator Biden will make an excellent Vice-President," said Dr. Patrick Whelan, president of Catholic Democrats. "He has lived out the tenets of his Catholic faith throughout his career--speaking out tirelessly on behalf of the poor and the exploited, encouraging peace and reconstruction in the most despairing corners of the world, and promoting personal responsibility here in the US. He is truly a public servant who believes in the common good."

Joe Biden has represented the state of Delaware in the United States Senate since 1972, when he was elected at the age of twenty-nine. Senator Biden is recognized as a leader in foreign policy, as well as one of the nation's most influential voices on terrorism, drug policy, and crime. Nationally, Senator Biden has earned a reputation for working on a bipartisan basis with Republican colleagues and bringing real results that matter to Americans.

The selection of Senator Biden is a courageous one for Senator Obama. Senator Biden did not pull any punches as a primary campaign rival, indicating Senator Obama's openness to critical thinking at the top. The Bush Administration has been almost universally condemned for employing few people who were less than mindlessly loyal to the president.

The choice also represents a bold opportunity to revisit some of the religious battles of the 2004 presidential election. Conservatives were not shy in the last election about going after a Catholic nominee for his faith, and a similar strategy can be anticipated in this election.

But Senator Biden has sterling credentials when it comes to grappling with the most compelling moral issues in America's relationship to the world. As Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Biden's top foreign policy priority has been bringing home American troops without leaving chaos behind in Iraq. Senator Biden and Les Gelb, President Emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations, have offered a five-point plan that offers a political solution to ending the war - a plan overwhelming endorsed by his Senate colleagues by a 75-23 vote. His leadership was also widely hailed for helping to bring stability and peace to the Balkans. In 1999, Senator Biden authored a Senate-passed resolution endorsing intervention in Kosovo. Senator Biden is leading the Congressional effort to end genocide in Darfur, Sudan.

As a long-standing member and former Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator Biden is a strong leader on crime and drug policy and has been instrumental in crafting almost every major piece of crime legislation over the past two decades. His Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 - also known as the Biden Crime Bill - put more than 100,000 police on America's streets and increased federal support dramatically for innovative criminal justice prevention and rehabilitation. The 2007 Biden Crime Bill goes further by addressing the 21st century crime problems such as computer hacking, on-line child exploitation and teenage prescription drug abuse. As the Co-Chairman of the International Narcotics Control Caucus, Senator Biden was the first in Congress to propose a "Drug Czar," a cabinet level office to coordinate all federal agencies responsible for drug-related programs and devise a strategy to combat illegal drug use and trafficking in America.

One of Senator Biden's longstanding priorities is making college more accessible and affordable for students and their families. Recently, he introduced the College Affordability and Creating Chances for Educational Success for Students (ACCESS) Act which would increase tax incentives, expand Pell grants, and begin college planning as early as the eighth grade.

Senator Biden graduated from the University of Delaware in 1965, and from the Syracuse University College of Law in 1968. Prior to his election to the Senate, Biden practiced law in Wilmington, Delaware and served on the New Castle County Council from 1970 to 1972. He is an adjunct professor at the Widener University School of Law, where he teaches a seminar on constitutional law. He is a graduate of Archmere Academy, a Catholic college preparatory school.

Senator Biden lives in Wilmington, Delaware with his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, and is the father of three children. He also has five grandchildren. Senator Biden religiously commutes more than an hour from his home in Delaware to Washington DC, and stands to represent an inspiration to all Catholics and all Americans in his dedication to those values that are at the heart of our faith.

August 25, 2008

Conservative Catholics embarrass themselves with school-yard insults over Biden nomination

The selection of Senator Joseph Biden as the running mate of Democratic Nominee Barack Obama elicited the predictable responses from a raft of extremist Catholic Republican surrogates. A unifying theme of their criticism toward Senator Obama was their childishly simplistic rehashing of the trash-talking that characterized their similar criticism of Senator John Kerry four years ago.

One small reactionary operation that is much-quoted in the media, despite being supported by Republican fund-raising efforts and consisting of a thread-bare staff, couldn't sling the insults fast enough. Using the degrading and false slur "pro-abortion politician," this group called for Senator Biden to be denied Communion. The bald partisanship of these calls is revealed in their choosing to single out Senator Biden precisely because he is a major party vice-presidential candidate, clearly hoping they can smear his character and affect the outcome of the presidential election. Certainly more alarming is their indifference to the immorality of using Holy Communion as a political weapon against the opposing party's candidates.

The (willful?) stupidity of such a response on their part is revealed when one realizes that their preferred party has a much poorer record in dealing with abortion than do the Democrats: new data has indicated that abortion rates fell 50% faster during the Clinton years than under Mr Bush. The knee-jerk mischaracterization of the abortion issue as consisting only of a yes-or-no stance on Roe-v-Wade is a testament to an ignorance of both the facts and the theology.

These self-styled experts speak as if no abortions ever occurred prior to 1973, and seem to believe as a matter of faith that reversing Roe-v-Wade would have some magic effect on the number of abortions performed in the US--despite much evidence to the contrary. Indeed, they must be aware that abortion rates in countries like Brazil and across Latin America, where abortion is illegal, are often twice as high as here in the US.

The theology too is false. The intellectually weak protests of the likes of George Weigel are evident in their public statements about Senator Biden that ignore the Catholic Bishops' statement in their Faithful Citizenship document last November that efforts to reduce the incidence of abortion (the Democratic approach) were as important as efforts to criminalize it (the Republican approach).

The embarrassingly simplistic responses of this smattering of partisans are even more striking when one realizes that, over Republican objections, the Democrats passed the first major abortion reduction legislation in a generation last year--which was promptly vetoed by President Bush (with the 2008 Health & Human Services Appropriation) because he said it cost too much.

Conservative Catholics who think Senator John McCain will do anything to solve the abortion problem are betting on the wrong horse. Aside from his serious consideration for a running mate (Tom Ridge) and selection of a Republican Convention keynote speaker (Rudolph Giuliani) who have views on abortion indistinguishable from Senator Biden's, Senator McCain has on a number of occasions in the past indicated that he does not think Roe-v-Wade should or would be overturned.

Perhaps most importantly, the decisions of these right-wing radicals to attack a fellow Catholic precisely because of his Catholicism smacks of a form of defamation that can only be characterized as putting their politics before their Christianity, and not deserving of anything like the kind of publicity they have received.

August 30, 2008

Match-up of Palin and Biden poses new questions

Senator John McCain made history by selecting a woman as his vice-presidential nominee Friday. In her two years as Alaska's governor, she has accomplished a measure of popularity there, particularly among conservatives, that gave her the bona fides to play well to the religious right base of their party. Sarah Palin and her husband have five children, including an infant with trisomy-21 (Downs syndrome).

Catholic conservatives sought quickly to draw a contrast with Senator Obama's running mate, Senator Joseph Biden. The implication was that somehow Ms. Palin was more pro-family than Senator Biden. But that message was undercut by a decision rendered earlier in the week by the Republicans to eliminate all language from their platform dealing with common-sense measures directed toward decreasing the incidence of abortion. Senator McCain was left holding only the traditional language of criminalization in dealing with this issue. As Doug Kmiec has written in his new book, "Can I vote for him?" this approach to abortion insures that McCain's party will not succeed in preventing even a single abortion anytime in the foreseeable future.

In contrast, Senator Obama has enunciated a broad-based and well-thought out plan to reduce abortions in America, with a legislative approach that has wide support among Democrats. The issue of Downs syndrome and other genetic conditions, in relation to the abortion question, will be much discussed in the presidential race in light of Ms Palin's selection. But a big part of this story is the role that Senator Ted Kennedy has played, together with Senator Sam Brownback (a chairman of Catholics for McCain), in crafting legislation to help families bring into the world and care for babies with Downs. Regardless of whether an individual supports a more constructive approach to abortion reduction (like many Democrats), or a criminalization approach, both kinds of families today in America are wrestling with the challenges and the rewards of caring for children born with congenital conditions like Downs.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

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"Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America: They will be met.

"On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.

"On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn-out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics."

First Inaugural Address, President Barack Obama



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