National Review vs. Caelum et Terra re: Me

This is kind of funny. The other day I mentioned I am noodling the question of whether to vote GOP given Obama’s choice to make war on the Church (Latest unbelievably brazen Administration lie: “And I would simply note with regard to the bishops that they never supported health care reform to begin with.” – Jay Carney).

I haven’t made up my mind, because as Caelum et Terra notes in rebuke of my noodling (and I am acutely aware of, which is why I am noodling, not deciding) “both parties are promoting grave evils.” As I mentioned, so long as both parties were more or less in balance about the vast amount of corruption they are inflicting on the US, I was content to not vote for either (and yes, a GOP that makes empty promises but which, in reality, works as hard to maintain the status quo on abortion as the Dems do is more or less in balance with them, even on the evil of abortion).

But Obama’s war on the Church is, as I said, a new wrinkle and makes me consider tossing my two copper coins in, not to support the GOP’s pursuit of war without end, or its contemptible disregard for serious prolife change, or its vile enthusiasm for torture, or it corrupt crony capitalist whoremongering, but because its cynical exploitation of religiosity means that it prefers to use Christian piety rather than crush the Church mercilessly, as Obama is attempting to do. Caelum et Terra thinks this is more or less selling out, a position I can certainly empathize with.

Meanwhile, over at National Review, Gina Dalfonso notes my noodling as well and is gobsmacked, as are some readers. I really don’t know why. I’ve made it perfectly clear many times that I regard politics as the art of the possible and that my moral calculations always center around how to promote the progress of the Faith. When both parties are advocating grave moral evils, I see no point in choosing which circle of hell I want. But when the equation changes and one party sets out, not only to advocate for sin, but to mount an open and naked assault on the Church which Jesus founded to act as the sacramental remedy for sin, I adjust my moral calculations accordingly.

One reader amuses me by demonstrating the classic identity politics that has become so prominent on the right, suggesting that maybe I’m not good and pure enough to vote GOP (because “purity” apparently means dedication to pre-emptive war and torture). Brilliant. Turn down prospective voters with loyalty tests. That’s the way to win! And they say *I’m* a perfectionist. Others adopt the theory I “hate” capitalism. No. I just don’t regard it as Sacred Tradition. Others assume that because I think the current field of GOP candidates an absurd embarrassment I am, natch, a liberal. Why? Because identity politics requires Manichaean blacks and whites.

So a conservative Catholic who opposes abortion, euthanasia, and gay “marriage”, hates Communism, regards Obama as a tyrant, voted for Reagan and Bush twice, supports just war, supports capitalism (within just limits), says that all that the Holy Catholic Church believes, teaches, and proclaims is revealed by God, stands for monogamy and rejects artificial contraception, and thinks Benedict XVI is the bees knees? Yes, I am a “liberal” because I oppose torture and pre-emptive war and think it obscene that the strong prey on the weak in this country with increasing impunity, while middle class incomes flatline and vast amounts of wealth accumulate in fewer and fewer hands. That makes me a socialist, doncha know.

Anyway, I haven’t made up my mind yet about how I will vote. And in any case, how I will vote in the national election here in ultraviolet blue Washington will make no difference to our electoral college votes which will go for Obama in any case. But, as I have been saying, the question of how we vote in national elections is not about how your vote and mine will change the outcome of the election. It won’t. The real question is how your vote and mine will change us, because it most certainly will. That’s what holds me back for voting for either hairball either party coughs up.

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  • Telemachus


    What do you think of this: perhaps it is not the worst thing in the world if Obama does get re-elected. Our Bishops were not even mentioning contraception from the pulpit before this fiasco began. Perhaps Obama is the best thing to happen to the Catholic Church in a while.

    Am I being too romantic?

    God bless,

    • James Isabella

      Why not go all the way and hope for a real Nero-style persecution of the church? “The blood of the martyrs…” and all that, you know.

      If its the choice between a candidate that wants to cut my throat and one that wants to knee me in the nads, I’ll vote for the one that wants to knee me in the nads every. single. time.

      Frankly, I think the republican candidates are more reformable than Obama. At least Santorum (and Gingrich) see the Bishops as having *some* teaching authority over them. One thing you can say about Santorum, he’s not known for taking the easy road.

      • Hmm…Would we have time to think that one over?

      • Telemachus


        We’re not approaching a Nero-style persecution.

        If a Republican is elected who has the appearance of being a “moderate,” mightn’t things go back to the status quo? We’ll think we are safe, and we’ll continue to allow ourselves to be slowly boiled in the pot of secularism.

        I like people like Obama in power. He’s a good representation of what’s wrong with this country, and our Bishops have been too willing to appease and “work with” people like this.

        God bless,

        • James Isabella

          “We’re not approaching a Nero-style persecution.”

          The point was that a Nero-style persecution would unify the church *even more* than Obama style persecution, but its not something I’m hoping for. I like my freedom from tyrants (even from the petty ones)

          More importantly, we are rapidly approaching a point where the state is tying the hands of church more and more and preventing it from performing its mission (remember, the church has had to stop adoption services in several Blue states already). How long until calling anything a sin is considered a “hate crime” with legal repercussions?

          It might unify the church some, but its not an America in which I want to raise my kids.

          • Telemachus


            I understand your concern. However, I propose that you only have a choice as to when, not whether, this United States you fear will come into being? Within a few years under Obama? Or within 10~15 years under various other Presidents?

            My argument is that it is better to have someone in power who is explicitly your enemy than someone who can convincingly smoke-screen everything. Obama can’t hide anymore.

            God bless,

  • I probably should have mentioned that I think a “cynical exploitation of religiosity” is as bad as a direct attack on the Faith, and maybe worse. I would think further, that in the unlikely event that the Republicans end up with “Catholic” Santorum or Gingrich as the nominee that it would do much harm to the Church.
    Really, I just couldn’t believe that you would entertain the possiblity of voting for those warmongering pro-torture scoundrels, as you have been so eloquent in critiquing them…

  • James Isabella

    I’ve made it perfectly clear many times that I regard politics as the art of the possible and that my moral calculations always center around how to promote the progress of the Faith.”

    If that’s true, then remember that the “Great, Third Party Hope” is an impossible dream. You might as well vote for the Pope for President, since he has nearly the same chance of becoming PotUS as any Third Party Presidential candidate does.

    • Joseph

      Good idea. But I don’t think we can even write him in since he’s not a naturally born citizen. I guess I can’t write in Scooby Doo either, since he’s just a cartoon. Crap, I don’t have a lot of options.

  • vickie

    A thought that came to me as I was reading this post. “Crushing the Church” could become the new abortion issue for the GOP. As in “Vote for us or the democrats will crush the church!” fear-mongering. And when the repubs get elected show no imagination or willingness to use political capital to make sure that the attacks couldn’t recur in the next elections cycle. We end up further along the Hegelian mambo. The question is how would we keep that from occurring.

    • Telemachus


      Like I’m saying above, let Obama be re-elected. Embolden him and tempt him to keep going too far. Political judo.

      I’m voting for Ron Paul anyways, so it doesn’t matter to me. Either way, the country is will continue destroying itself. We can stop that anymore. We can pray for the conversion of hearts in the meantime.

      God bless,

      • James Isabella

        “Like I’m saying above, let Obama be re-elected. Embolden him and tempt him to keep going too far.”

        But for what end? Until we have no freedom left? You’re making the very big assumption that people will come to their senses at some point and reverse course. In an increasingly post-Christian America, that’s a very dangerous assumption.

        Listen, I’m not saying the GOP is perfect…in fact they’re pretty bad… BUT, they will leave the church alone and allow it to get on with its mission. That alone gives the Church a voice that would otherwise be stifled.

        • vickie

          What a mess. What won’t work is voting GOP. Or for Paulbots (like me!) voting for the flawed quixotic candidate and think by this we have done our duty. What do you do to turn a nation from an evil road?

          • Honestly? It isn’t easy. Try getting one flawed person who has gone down the wrong path to turn away from evil, and then multiply. It’s never totally ‘not evil’ anyway. No nation, kingdom, society ever is. But we can do much, though running to the caves of Qumran and letting the nation burn almost never does any good. Except for me. And then, sometimes, not even then.

            • vickie

              Maybe the solution isn’t political. Solzhenitsyn said about living in the USSR “Don’t lie”. I get the feeling that this will be living a totally truthful existence and let the chips fall where they may… But I’m a whimp.

              • Well, I’d say it’s more than just political. One of the bummers of being in a democratic framework is that some of the heavy lifting gets tossed back on us. But yeah, it’s more than *just* politics, that’s for sure.

        • Insane Sanity

          Didn’t Jesus say, “for whoever is not against us is for us.”? The GOP seems to fall in this category versus the Democrats seem to be actively “against” the Church.

          One of the keys to remember is the selection of Supreme Court Justices. For the most part, the GOP has chosen the better ones.

          • vickie

            Yes and inspite of my dislike of the GOP, in practice it is more tolerant than the DEMs.

  • Tom Connelly

    “Gobsmacked” is a wonderful word, Mark. Agree or disagree with you, I always love to read you.

    • Dan C

      Reading Mark Shea improves my vocabulary!

  • The Jerk

    Ugh. Can National Review get any stupider? They practically run a Cult of Buckley, selling off things they found in his desk drawers, but somehow ignore Buckley’s own opposition to the Bush Wars.

  • Sam Schmitt

    “But, as I have been saying, the question of how we vote in national elections is not about how your vote and mine will change the outcome of the election. It won’t.”

    The more people think this, the truer it becomes!

  • Joannie

    It needs to be remembered that the hope for our country is Christ like the Pope tried to tell us but sadly most Catholics in the Hope that is now in the Oval Office. I recall how I felt on Election Night that his election would be a disaster for our Country and that was before his Swearing In. I had head all the statements he made “spread the wealth around” “people who cling to their guns and religion” I think of the two parties the GOP under Bush allowed the Pope to visit which Obama would never do. As far as Catholic Candidates they should be totally Catholic not just on the Life and Family Issues which is important but on ALL the Church teaches (including Wars and the use of Torture) Subsidiary!

  • Mary

    This latest attack on the Catholic Church has put me over the edge and back into doing what is necessary to remove Obama from Office along with his democratic party. The only way to do that is to vote for the republicans. I sat out the last election and it gave us Obama based on my anger at the Republicans. Until there is a viable third party that allows me full conscience vote on my Catholic values, I am going to vote evil out that includes this outright attack on liberty and also is listed on the abortion mill Planned Parenthood site as their PARTNER IN THE WHITE HOUSE AND ALLIES IN THE CONGRESS.

    “On January 20, 2009, a new day dawns for reproductive health and rights with the inauguration of President Barack Obama, who makes clear his commitment to ensuring access to comprehensive health care for women and their families. With a PARTNER in the White House and ALLIES in Congress”

    Anyone doubting we now have an abortion mill partner as our president simply needs to see this at their own website. It seals my vote to get him our now. Nothing is a higher priority for this country that removing this man who would be given free reign with election and that is frightening.

  • Mark, who did you vote for last election? Not to be nosy….

    • Mark Shea

      Some third party dude whose name I can’t remember, but who did not ask me to endorse grave intrinsic evil.

      • Donna Miller

        Could it be Chuck Baldwin of the Constitution Party?

  • Forrest Cavalier

    Stand firm, Mark.

    Picking the lesser of two evils is Proportionalism. AKA “How was I supposed to know?”

    God calls us to virtue. We know where that will lead us.

  • I particularly like this bit from the Carney press conference:

    all women, no matter where they work, get the preventive services they deserve and need, and that religious liberties are accommodated.

    Oh, religious liberties are accommodated! And here I was, thinking that fundamental human rights were the starting point for civilization! Good to know that we can push any agenda we want as long as we try to pencil in those pesky religious liberties.

  • RLM

    You know, the more I think about it, the more I’m convinced that if you are at all surprised by Obama’s recent attach on religious freedom, the fault lies with YOU, not with Obama. If you had only paid attention and done your research on him and his ideas in 2008, none of this would surprise you. If you would only open your eyes as to how the leftist elites in this country think and work, this wouldn’t surprise you. If you would just stop projecting your good intentions onto the Democrats and left-liberals in this country, this wouldn’t surprise you. If you are at all surprised by Obama’s latest move – so much so that it’s become a “game changer” – that’s because you’ve been willfully ignorant and/or naive this whole time. Period.

    • Mark Shea

      You seem to have the notion that I used to support Obama.