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Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Catholics for America's Most Famous Former Altar Boy.

[Two bad words below.]

I've been seeing the contortion act of my pro-Kerry co-religionists growing ever more pained over at Amy's blog of late. What's striking about it is that it is an entirely negative phenomenon--in other words, virtually no effort is made to pose a positive case for Kerry. Instead, all you hear are stern lectures about how little Bush II and the Republicans have actually done on bedrock life issues. There is an undeniable kernel of merit to some of the lecture--Reagan actually did little, apart from legitimizing rhetoric (which shouldn't be underestimated), on life issues, and his judicial appointments were a decidedly mixed bag. Likewise Bush I, for whom I can't avoid the distinct impression that he was willingly hoodwinked as to the appointment of at least one of his justices. Even the rhetoric was missing from GHWB. But while he could clearly be stronger, I doubt that the same criticism could be applied to Bush II. He has yet to appoint a justice, so the jury remains out on that. However, the PBA ban, solid lower court appointments, de-funding under the Mexico City policy, and promotion of a culture of life through the (not flawless) faith-based initiative--that ain't exactly peanuts. That's head and shoulders above his two Republican predecessors. But it could be better. Exhibit A: The stem cell decision was a gruesome compromise, and impossible to square with a consistent ethic of life.

So, indeed, some fair points. But what about your guy?

[Cue cricket symphony.]

Telling. Because there's nothing positive that can be made of it. To buy the bullshit that he's "personally opposed," you would have to have a peg to hang it on--some example of personal opposition (remember, "oppose" is a verb) to the practice. All you have is the word of the first NARAL endorsed candidate in history. That's not opposition--at most, it's a Boston Brahmanic aversion to it, rather like an aversion to fast food hamburgers.

The approach is pretty simple, once you get past the windy "Redneck Republican" (itself a tellingly aristocratic sniff) complaints: it's the old "depressing your opponent's turnout" card. Point out things which make certain segments of your opponent's base uncomfortable, and thereby less likely to vote for her or him. The trick is that you have to avoid any discussion of your own candidate's position, which always has even worse flaws. Entirely "negative," in all senses of the term, but easy in that you don't have to make the case for your guy.
Think of it as the "Mary Cheney Card" for the abortion issue.

If nothing else, it's become abundantly clear abortion is a non-factor for a lot of Catholics with respect to their vote, somewhere down on the checklist below "Shorter Lines at the DMV" and above (maybe) "Navy Bean Price Supports."

After all, if Kerry's record and position on abortion fail to dissuade you from voting for him, it's hard to imagine a pro-abort you *couldn't* vote for. What, does the guy have to perform D&Xs during campaign stops before it becomes a problem? Does it boil down to Kerry's unrepentant (and largely unrebuked by the hierarchy) pro-abortion stance as a salve for the ol' conscience? Lord, I hope not, but you have to wonder. At a minimum, just finally admit that you really don't give a rat's ass about the issue, and the debate will become a lot more clear.

Not to mention honest.

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