Saturday, September 27, 2008

A Further Look at Weigelian Politics

George Weigel is at his careful neoconservative politicking again:
Thoughtful Catholic voters will thus want both to pose serious questions to both the principal presidential candidates.
Of course his questions are typically Weigelian, using "Catholic" as a semantic code for having a neoconservative "pro-life" position. His questions to Obama show his disingenuousness:
1. Do you regret your vote against a partial-birth abortion ban when you were an Illinois state senator?
2. During your service in Springfield, you opposed a bill that would give legal protection to infants who survive an abortion. Was that a choice you would like to revisit? If so, why? If not, why not?
3. What precisely did you mean when you said you wouldn’t want one of your daughters “punished with a baby,” should they find themselves in the dilemma of unwanted pregnancy?
4. You have a 100 percent rating from NARAL Pro-Choice America. Is there any matter of public policy on which you and NARAL differ?
5. Would support for Roe v. Wade be a litmus test for candidates you would nominate to the Supreme Court?
Of course Obama is a pro-death candidate and I have no interest or intention in defending him in this matter. His position is indefensible. However, asking leading questions or already answered questions do not further the goal of actually getting to the heart of whether or not a candidate accepts parts of the complete Catholic social package or not. For instance, Obama has answered as to what he meant when he said one of his daughters should not be "punished with a baby."

The Obama campaign responded:
"What Senator Obama said and what he believes is clear -- children are "miracles," but we have a problem when so many children are having children. As Senator Obama said on Saturday -- and on many other occasions -- parents have a responsibility to teach their children about values and morals to help make sure they are not treating sex casually. And while he understands the passions on both sides of this difficult issue, Senator Obama believes we can all agree that we should be taking steps to reduce the number of teen pregnancies and abortions in this country."
So, Weigel, we have an answer. You don't have to believe Obama, but you have an answer. Just setting up questions like this is hardly good sportsmanship.

And what about for McCain? Weigel lobs "Catholic" softballs to him:
1. You have a strong pro-life voting record during your congressional service, yet some pro-lifers are nervous about you. Why? Where do the life issues rank in your list of priorities for America’s future?
2. You and Mrs. McCain adopted an infant at the request of Mother Teresa; has that experience shaped your views on the life issues?
3. Would you favor Supreme Court nominees who believe that Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided?
4. As you know, many pro-life groups opposed the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform law, arguing that it unduly burdened issue advocacy organizations. Have you re-thought your approach to campaign finance reform in light of those criticisms?
Good Lord, why don't you just go to bed together. Why are some pro-lifers nervous? Well, that could be answered first my mentioning McCain's continued support for embryonic stem cell research, despite the tremendous advances in Induced Pluripotent stem cells that have come about. How about asking him about this statement:
When asked whether recent advances in nonembryonic stem cell research would change his stance, McCain replied, "I have not changed my position yet."
Ok, well then, when will you change your position? That is a good question Weigel. Then of course another softball in regards to his adoption. How about instead asking about his flip-flopping on the position of judges. In 1999 McCain seemed fairly ambiguous about his own position. McCain was quoted in the August 20, 1999, San Francisco Chronicle saying:
But certainly in the short term, or even the long term, I would not support repeal of Roe v. Wade, which would then force X number of women in America to [undergo] illegal and dangerous operations.

An August 25, 1999, Chronicle article noted that on August 23, "McCain's campaign released a clarification: 'I have always believed in the importance of the repeal of Roe vs. Wade, and as president, I would work toward its repeal.' " McCain's comments, according to the article, drew criticism from Republicans, who claimed McCain "appeared to be trying to please both sides on an issue that has been at the top of the political radar in California in recent elections."

On the June 19, 2005, broadcast of NBC's Meet the Press, McCain took yet another position, claiming that he agreed "to some degree" that Roe v. Wade should be overturned:
So which is it? That would be a good questions Weigel: Do you or do you not, Mr. McCain, believe that Roe vs. Wade should be overturned.

Then of course, we have all the questions that Weigel as a neoconservative is not interested in asking. What about torture? What about American terrorism throughout the world? What about McCain's happy trigger finger? Actually, a great "pro-life" question would be:

Mr. McCain, when you sang the words "bomb, bomb, bomb Iran" to an old Beach Boys song, or when you joked that sending them cigarettes was a good way to kill Iranians, how exactly did this contribute to the culture of life that you propose to support?

Obama is slimy, and McCain is an outright liar. Let's make them both know that we are not satisfied with either of them, and that Faithful Citizenship is far from either of their agendas. Please Weigel, for once be fair. Maybe take your cue from Fr. John Kavanaugh, SJ this time, here and here. At least he's being an honest Catholic.

Nathan O'Halloran, SJ

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