March Madness, Presidential edition

Over at her elegantly-named blog “Egregious Twaddle,” plucky Joanne McPortland pens a letter to the president, who happens to be in town (which would be Dayton, Ohio) — and reveals why during this season of March Madness, she’s no longer one of his cheerleaders:

I’m a card carrying Democrat, the daughter of a union shop steward, New Deal and Civil Rights and Camelot all the way. In 2008 I let my son’s enthusiasm for you and all you represented woo me away from my lukewarm support of Hillary Clinton, even though I thought even then there was something too-good-to-be-true about the way you absorbed all our war-weary, Bush-burdened projections. I put a HOPE decal in my car window right next to my Go, Flyers! decal. I cheered my heart out at your win, which I truly believed was the start of better days for all Americans. (And for my fellow Catholics who want to read this paragraph as evidence for excommunication, that’s for another combox, OK?)

Since then, though, you’ve disappointed me, Mr President. Even before I returned to the Catholic faith I grew up in, and began to reexamine everything in the light of that faith’s teachings, you showed absolutely no sign of being the bridge-builder you rightly said America needed in that fabulous 2004 convention speech. In your relationships with Congress, even when you had a majority, you talked compromise and did none of it. You ramped up the war efforts you had said were stupid. You kept Guantanamo open, and gave the nod to torture. You approved a return to the US-as-assassin model of dealing with dictators you don’t like, while allowing those who serve your interest to continue slaughtering innocents. You added even more restrictions on Americans’ constitutional freedoms than the original Patriot Act dreamed of. And you wouldn’t fight to keep a single-payer health plan on the table, settling instead for a bloated patchwork doomed to displease everyone, just so you could say you passed a health care act.

But it’s been your administration’s recent cynical manipulation of “the contraceptive issue”–an agenda mandated by your supporters in Big Pharma and Planned Parenthood, and planted in the midst of the debates in order to make the religious right (which now includes extremist Catholics like Rick Santorum and Catholics-by-marriage like Newt Gingrich) snap at the bait. You have managed this really well from your end, manufacturing a “war on women”–Catholics want women to be pregnant or die!–while waging war on the First Amendment. I sometimes wish the Catholic bishops hadn’t jumped at the bait, too (because I truly don’t think this is the hill we want to die on), but you knew they would, and knew that Catholics are already hated enough (for our own sins, in too many cases) in this country to make dissing us equal an automatic double-digit bump in your popularity stats. That’s my biggest disappointment–that you’re nothing but a Chicago pol after all.

There’s much more about politics, life, faith, Ohio and basketball. Read it all.

  • Dan S.

    Ding Ding Ding Ding!
    She’s got it about right. Anyone who thinks that a candidate is going to be the great hope to bring about a new era is doomed to disappointment. Obama pandered his message like the rest of them.

  • Rod Treat

    There is simply no justification for EVER having supported Obama. NEVER!!! His record on abortion has ALWAYS been abismal and evidence abounded before 2008 that he has always been an anti-American, anti-Christian, statist totalitarian radical. To rationalize otherwise is delusional.

  • Mark

    I have heard this a lot over the last couple of months. Many lifelong Democrats and Catholics have been kind of given a jolt by something few ever thought they would see which is a united USCCB in open and defiante argument, some would say war, with a Democratic Administration. They have also expressed concern over what many see as an attempt to isolate Catholics from the Bishops which shows an amazing lack of understanding of the Catholic faith and our strong connection to leadership protected by infallibility in matters of faith and morals. This caused many to take an inventory of where their values and morals collide with the Democratic Party. After doing so, many are coming to the conclusion that this Democratic Party somehow left them behind and moved into a close partnership with the abortion mills. The fig leaf they had been holding to look away from the abortion holocasut was exposed as shown in this post. The president and his party supported wars and even added new ones, kept terror alive and well, expanded attacks on US citizens without benefit of trial making the president judge jury and executioner, the seeming lack of concern with the suffering as the president and his wife jetted around to exlusive resorts in a time the country was suffering, and all of the money going to buddies in the green industry while gas prices and food prices went through the roof.

    I think this little war on the Catholic Church and the USCCB is having a real ripple impact as each mass now has some discussion of the need to have the HHS mandate go away if not in the sermon, during the intentions for prayer. Wisely, I think the Bishops are letting this ripple impact take place and also counting on one Catholic to another making the case. Many who never read Humanae Vitae have now gone back and have discovered what Pope Paul VI predicted so long ago has taken place and are starting to see the connections.

    So it is not surprising in their arrogance that now they are adding abortion into the mandate mix. http://www.lifenews.com/2012/03/12/obama-admin-finalizes-rules-1-abortions-in-obamacare/

    At some point, Catholic Democrats who cling to the party are getting marginalized to the point where their continued support certainly puts in question their priorities in regard to the ultimate destination. What many have seen for a long while, is being exposed to ever more each day.

  • http://ad-orientem.blogspot.com Ad Orientem

    That almost reads like an endorsement of Ron Paul. :-)

  • http://jscafenette.com Manny

    Wow, outstanding blog by Ms. McPortland. After what Obama has done with this religious mandate, I cannot understand how even the most Liberal of Catholics can support him. She has put the argument all together there. And she can do it from the perspective of a Democrat, from which I can’t do. Kudos.

  • http://www.canonlaw.info Ed Peters

    Well, it’s never too late for the scales to fall from one’s eyes, eh? Let’s be happy when it happens and leave the we-told-you-so’s to the side.

  • http://awashingtondccatholic.blogspot.com/ awashingtondccatholic

    Tell us how you really feel Joanne.

  • http://themightyambivalentcatholic.blogspot.com/ Steve

    Hard to reason with someone like you, I suppose, Rod. Call the President names and I guess you think that’s a Christian thing to do, the patriotic thing to do as well. Anyone in the world can call you anti-American, anti-God, and a statist tolitarian radical — but that would not be decent of them, and it would not make you any of those things. Name calling is so fourth grade.

  • wendy

    Great post. There doesn’t appear to be room for the moderate catholic in the “big tent” democratic party anymore. Definitely do feel left behind and told them so when they called an asked if they can expect my vote in the fall.

  • Ken

    Once you step in the…….it’s hard to clean off your shoe.

  • wendy

    No offense Ken. But it might be prudent not to remind people who are stepping away from the democratic party why they joined in the first place. It’s one of the reasons I don’t post often here. Recriminations have their place but if someone is thinking about making the leap over the aisle it may just send them back from whence they came.

  • Mark

    Wendy as someone you could have said this too as well, I agree that we need to support those who are stepping away right now and not try to do the victory dance or tell them how stupid they are. I think we also need to challenge the other party to address some of the Catholic issues around the social justice side with a little more clarity. By this I do not mean taking the old Democrat positions which in many cases have been more talk and ineffective in outcome, but to come up with new ideas or even bring back old ideas which at one time were rejected by those who then did not want to hear.

    We have a major crisis in this country and that is the unemployed and the underemployed, but even more so the simple fact that we are in the middle of a major change as big as when we moved from rural to the industrial age. Millions of our fellow americans out of work have a significant problem in that they do not have the skills required to move into the high tech arena and many other jobs do not provide a living wage in America. We need to talk about these issues if we are going to be good Catholics and care about the poor. These folks were working and many had worked for decades and now fing themselves outside looking in. I do not believe in big government solutions as a way out of this problem, but only a way to put these millions of folks on a permananet government check and benifts. We need new ideas. If someone is questioning their democratic roots but deeply care for the poor, they might now be open to these new ideas and also questioning the full impact of big government war on poverty started in 1965 and what it has given us in 2012. We might also have a common discussion on war and this might be a very good time for a Catholic discussion on when we should go to war and how in Catholic teaching.

    Love to see that discussion and will be seeking a blog that wants to have that discussion to make both wings fly together and impact our society. I think this might be a good place, but we need to see less posts on what divides us and maybe setting a clear Catholic teaching on a topic and how the wings might work together. I am meeting with the Archbishop this week and plan to bring it up to him to see if we can start that type blog in the dioceses to unite Catholics. Already heavily invested in time and money to a teaching program with four parishes and would love to see something like this on a national basis. Seems like with the talent now lined up here at Patheos, that this would be a good place for it to happen.

  • wendy

    Thank you for your words Mark. I would love to see such a productive discussion that includes new ideas about addressing poverty. It is one of the issues that has come up recently for me in discussions about the Obama Administrations stance on religion. Both catholic and non-catholic alike have agreed that the democrats have stepped over the line. But the very next comment is always…”but what about the poor.” My current response has been that the Democrats current focus has definitely not been the poor. Their current “wins” have been based on feminist ideology, an ideology that neither I or any of these other democrats have ever embraced. Although there is general agreement that this is problematic, it would be infinitely better if I could say something like…the republicans have a plan for addressing poverty and it’s not something like a rising tide lifts all boats. Because there are a lot of sand-locked boats out there that never see that tide. Anyway, I look forward to these discussions and have been excited about the election coverage although my vote is for the underdogs.

  • Mark

    I don’t think there are any magic wands to fix poverty. Years ago, I worked with Jack Kemp and his thoughts on empowerment zones really was something I liked a lot. It was designed to bring saft zones within poor areas for both the school and also for the creation on jobs with new companies deisgned specifically for those lacking in necessary skills because of poor schools where they grew up. It provided support in key areas for business’s needs of small business owners and initial capital which could be forgiven over time. Beating poverty has to be jobs that are worthwhile and upward hope for the future.

    I would also think the idea of having a person the day they hit unemployment be matched to a job training program to allow them to gain skills necesary for employment and a very active community program to match these programs with local business. I just do not buy into putting someone on a check and hoping they find a new job. We have many who are working but underemployed for their needs and again, training programs might allow them to develop new skills. When Santorum tried to make the point that simply saying college, that is not the end of the discussion and often does not meet the situation he got shot down because it doesn’t fit into the old way of looking at things.

    Fixing poverty also means fixing the schools and we can no longer allow the teachers unions to block school choice in the marketplace. the concept of providing choice to parents in the form of vouchers seems like a program whose time has come. There are so many new types of schools out there from on line to charter to montesori and schools for those with specific needs. We can’t keep looking at kids as if they are all the same and keep pumping them through a school system that has failed. by opening the market with vouchers to real choice to match kid to best method for them to learn, you begin to stop the churning out of those who will end up in jail or on a government check for their entire life.

    But the answer to these type of ideas is no, we won’t accept them or change and from that I can only ask why when it is obvious to most the old ways are not working. The kids need to come before anything else.

    Finally I think that the way we spend money has to be looked at and most of what the federal government does should need to be measured every year to determine true costs and also benefit analysis. If we are going to help those in need, we can’t keep burying our head and thinking this is all going to work out.

    Those are just a few ideas, but would love to see if people think they might have merit. Are they better than the welfare system, the job unemployment your on your own program, and fixing the schools for the kids with new concepts.

    we also need to get real information we can trust on what is working or not working. We do not seem to have an organization not under either political party that has a clue on what a program will truly cost when ramped out. I note that the CBO now is telling us that rather than 980 billion dollar cost for Obamacare, it is not going to cost about 1.8 trillion dollars. I think a priority has to be an independent agency that is paid by how accurate they are in projecting costs and budget evaluation that can stop these wild misses by both parties. Then we would know if cutting taxes really does raise all boats and produce more revene or not.

    One last point I would like to see a firm number established on what a middle class family of four needs to make in income to truly be a middle class today in America. Then we could monitor several in this catagory and gain a firm understanind on if things are getting better or not. We could look at the key products they need to purchase and set them up as the consumer price index to really get a handle on costs for the CPI. The government has modified that to try to paint the best possible picture of low inflation because so much is tied to the CPI. but if things are going up for the people, that should be easy to see in the test cases of key products. maybe this could be done by three seperate media outlets.

  • jem

    I think that what is being expressed here by so many erstwhile Democrats is a sense of disillusionment. You know, four years ago Obama looked great and said all the right things, and ran a slick campaign which played on people’s hopes and fears. When the Republican alternative was McCain, it even made more sense to vote for him. Even if you didn’t care for his big government/big spending policies, you might still vote for him based on his seeming sincerity and indication that he wanted to do the right things for America.

    I think a lot of Democrats were pretty shocked when he turned out to be quite different than the image we were sold, and nobody likes to admit that they were tricked, fooled, or wrong. Obama was extremely well packaged using every trick known to the advertising world, and we bought him just like we buy those silly things on infomercials we don’t really need but just look soooo useful and practical.

    I just hope this is one of those “fooled me once….” things in November. I’m not sure where we’ll be if he’s our president another four years, but it makes me want to look into the immigration policies in Switzerland. Always thought that was a beautiful place.

  • naturgesetz

    I agree that the party that isn’t the Democrats should be putting forth solutions to our economic/social justice problems. Two points —

    1.) There was recently a front page article in the Boston Globe which said, if I remember correctly, that there are 160,000 unfilled jobs in Massachusetts because the would-be employers can’t find people with the skills needed to do those jobs. So I agree with a previous comment that job retraining is very important.

    2.) Mitt Romney is the candidate who could make the strongest case for having the knowledge and experience to manage a new approach to replace the failed poverty programs of the past 45 years.

  • Deacon Dean

    And referring to Santorum as an “extremist Catholic” isn’t name-calling?

  • wendy

    I actually like these ideas. No-one wants to just hand out money so that no-one has any desire to work. The problem generally is when we cut these programs those who need it end up living on the street or in cars while people who don’t still manage to game the system. That says reform to me, which I’m all for. This may be before my time, but wasn’t there a time when unemployment agencies often had work for people in lieu of a check. This may not be incredibly practical in terms of a recession but I’m thinking long term.

    I am also a pro-voucher system. But I also think the public school funding system is essentially flawed. Schools are primarily funded based on local property taxes which means poor neighborhoods have less funds to work with. This is a controversial topic though since people in good neighborhoods often pay to have their kids in nicer public schools. In the end a voucher system would essentially close these schools if the system remains the way it is, or at least was in my last experience with the educational system. They would not be able to compete with better funded programs. But honestly if your focus is on these kids that should not matter. Teachers can find work with the schools that replace them.

    Now if we can just get some republican candidates to take up the mantle. :)

  • wendy

    I agree that training is key. But I prefer Santorum or even Newt to Romney precisely because of his business experience. For quite some time profit has been more important than people in the business world and I want a president that can understand the people a little better. Now if the business person running for office can show me some reports on company morale while he led I might be a bit more impressed. :) That being said I’m hoping the caricature of Romney being portrayed is just that in case my underdog candidate is not the nominee.

  • midwestlady

    This looks like an Obama campaign ad. I thought this was the blog of a Catholic deacon. Are you pushing politics now?

  • midwestlady

    I don’t know Santorum as a person, but you know, many people thought St. Francis was an “extremist Catholic.” It’s a compliment.

  • midwestlady

    If this name “extremist Catholic” is being used as a perjorative, I really wonder about the person using it this way. Would they rather he be a “lukewarm” Catholic, or a Catholic-in-name-only?

  • midwestlady

    Many Catholics have been given a jolt by this because the president back-stabbed them. Progressive Catholics, in particular were back-stabbed, and I’ll tell you why.
    They, particularly, wanted him for president in 2008 and expected him to further their pet projects, which line up with political progressivism almost perfectly. But he not only didn’t do what they wanted him to in the way of social programs and the middle east, but he put in place a scenario where they are in danger of losing their plentiful church-based jobs, and have been set up in opposition to the USCCB’s public statements. Obama used them and marooned them for his own political gain.
    Now, some dissidents are so stuck in their own paradigms, that they cannot leave them, and would rather take political beating after political beating rather than give in.

  • midwestlady

    In fact, many poor people are far worse off now than they were just 3 years ago. Median household incomes are dropping. Poverty levels are the highest they’ve been since 1983.
    http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/story/2011-09-13/census-household-income/50383882/
    Black people are the most likely to be living in poverty of any social group, and they’ve been particularly hurt by Obama’s presidency. In fact, there are signs that the black middle class is shrinking rapidly now.
    http://sandrarose.com/2011/08/obamas-new-debt-ceiling-deal-will-hurt-blacks-most/
    Obama doesn’t really care about poverty. Obama cares about politics.

  • Mark

    Wendy, every one of these ideas has been proposed by the Republican Party over the last 30 years and every time they have been labeled dead on arrival.

    I think Democrats need to open their hearts and minds to the fact that what has been going on in the areas that has always drawn them to that party, poverty, war, death penalty, etc. have had alternatives being presented that get almost no press. The Democrats are stuck to old failed ideas because their base is so entrenched in those ideas. The unions back them because it has created government jobs with higher pay and benefits, but those same costs are killing state and local governments who will have to make major hikes in taxes or go into default or cut costs. When anyone tries to cut costs, the unions go crazy and pour in millions of dollars to beat the messenger.

    All I ask is that people look at what is going on and see if they think that these programs have indeed been good for poor faimilies, if the party really is good on war issues, if the party really has done anything on the death penalty and if what they have done has had an impact. There is a reason that the Democrats in congress will not even produce a budget that deals with the problems in all the entitlement programs or introduce legislation that deals with immigration but continue to demonize every republican suggestion. We all need to challenge both parties, but take the time to verify. Republican faced this task after the W. Bush years and many did not vote in the last election sending a very strong message to the party. I think this year is a time for Catholic Democrats who say they are pro life to stand up to this abortion president listed as a partner on planned parenthood web site and say no more support until you stop supporting abortion.

  • Mark

    naturgesetz, I think many people are trying to find a perfect candidate that will really bring changes and new thinking that makes both parties stand up and take notice. Many see that as Ron Paul, but I have yet to hear much from him on what he woud do about fixing the schools and having an entire new education system. I loved Newt’s idea about having anyone who applies for unemployment set up at the same time in an education program to make them employable. I also see Newt having some great ideas on vouchers which by the way are starting to get a lot of bipartisan support at the grass roots level because they see our schools in crisis. The no child program was a band aid on a sucking chest wound when massive surgery and new ideas are needed. If this means taking on the unions whose focus seems to be the teachers only and forgetting the kids, then so be it.

    My issue with Romney is I don’t see him as a real radical who will really make the changes we need today to bring our government back in line with the Consititution which would bring a lot of these top down washington ideas and put them back at the local level along with the money.

    Lets face it, when about 70% of the people see the country going in the wrong direction, you have serious problems. Espcially if you see that the 30% have ties to the status quo that is working just fine for them. Some are touting the 99% against the 1% paying most of the bills today. I think I am looking for someone that is going to focus on the 70% who say we are heading in the wrong way. Bonhoeffer talked about a train going in the wrong direction at full speed and someone thinking they were accomplishing something by getting up and running as fast as possible down the aisle in the opposite direction. I see romney as that guy. By the way, I have worked with venture capital firms a whole lot in my lifetime and frankly most companies do not become better because they let that camel into their tent. Those that work out had great leadership and only needed the cash. Those without good leadership if they got the cash, the other things the venture group added often drives them out of business. I don’t see that we need a guy who can funnel cash to pick and chose winners. It would be an improvement on Obama only because Obama is trying this without romneys experience. but that is not what we want government doing anyway.

    I would like Santorum and Gingrich somehow combined. In a way, I am kind of hoping that it might work out to have Santorum as President and Newt as VP with Santorum tasking to Newt how to bring good ideas to change and Santorum focusing on doing so with a moral component that will keep focus on those in need.

  • wendy

    I’m aware that these ideas have a republican flare to them. I was actually suggesting areas that I think would find some support even with some moderate democrats. I’ve been pro-voucher since my school days even though I also believe in the good unions can be for the ordinary worker with no bargaining power. In the case of schools the unions have excessive power because the entire system is essentially a union and the customers have no choice but to accept what is offered. Vouchers would force them to make some changes.
    In terms of what has been offered recently I have seen a lot of legislation surrounding helping corporations, busting unions, deregulation and cutting costs. But not much about the things I care about. Of course this is partially because of the economic condition. However, I have been listening to Santorum and Newt in this election cycle and I’m hopeful.
    Some of us are indeed looking and listening Mark. We’re just waiting to hear an idea that we can get behind.

  • midwestlady

    Unfortunately, there’s no such thing as a perfect candidate. There never is. But everyone running is better than Obama at this point. Obama openly and forcefully attacked us, without remorse, without regret. If he gets re-elected, there is no reason to believe he won’t do it again. WE have to get someone else into the office of the presidency. Any one of the Republican candidates would be better.


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