Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Giuliani Continued ...

First of all, I appreciate all of the reader comments and responses to my remarks concerning Guiliani. Before I comment briefly on them, there is something that I want to address:
Read the Coalition for Fog lately? Or Linda Chavez' pleas for legal torture? Or, in my comboxes, Tom McKenna's recent attempts to dissent from Nostra Aetate and suggest that Vatican II is in error to say that Jews are not rejected by God and the old covenant has not been revoked. Heard Bill O'Reilly's breezy dismissals of the notion that the Church should have anything to say about the treatment of aliens? How about the guffaws directed at the notion that the state has an obligation to care for the common good in the matter of health care or housing (That's socialism!).

There is most certainly dissent on the Right when it comes to inconvenient Church teaching.

If Mark has a serious argument to make that Victor and I are publicly dissenting from Catholic teaching, I would be very interested to here it. More to the point, I would be very interested in just how exactly he fits us into that category and not the numerous Catholic apologists such as Dave Armstrong or Jimmy Akin. We have repeatedly stated that our views on torture are essentially the same as their own (and I would challenge Mark to demonstrate otherwise) and if Mark is going to make claims of this nature, I think that the onus is on him to put up or shut up. Bearing a false witness is still a sin, when last I checked.

That said, let me just address a couple of specific points that were raised in the comments.

Use of the government by social conservatives - I have a lot of respect for Cal Thomas, but I think that this is a red herring. Bush's much-cited faith-based initiatives have generated very little of permanent substance, near as I can determine. In nearly every case where social conservatives have sought to seriously enlist the power of the state, it was almost always a defensive measure. Arguing that we need to rely simply on cultural changes to win the culture wars for us seems to me to be something of a category mistake: of course we need a cultural shift in order to win the culture wars, but to argue that in order to do so that we should basically cede an incredibly substantive piece of ground to the enemy at such a crucial moment strikes me as exceedingly unwise. It is precisely for this reason, I would argue, that social conservatives should be extremely wary of any lack of enthusiasm with the current politics lead them either to make bad political alliances (i.e. Giuliani) or take part in the kind of political disengagement that some seem to favor. It was referenced in the comments that the number of abortions in the United States has been declining over time and while this true, does anyone believe that this would have occurred in the absence of a large and politically active pro-life movement?

Giuliani being functionally pro-life - I read the arguments and remain extremely skeptical of this view. At best, it would seem that Giuliani might, might be practically neutral on the abortion issue based on what I continue to regard as extremely ambiguous statements. And while I am not trying to be uncharitable to Giuliani supporters, I think that a number of similarly ambiguous statements have been made by a number of Democratic candidates over the years but have not been accepted as credible by social conservatives. Like I have stated previously, I think that a lot of the reasons that conservatives have cited to embrace Giuliani would not have been accepted for a moment were it being argued in favor of McCain, Lieberman, Romney or a host of other candidates. When you consider the fact that a lot of these candidates actually agree with both social conservatives and conservatives in general on more issues than does Giuliani, I hope that you can see why this eagerness to embrace Giuliani resembles a kind of cult of personality to me.

One other thought that I might put forth is that one of the reasons why the 2008 election cycle has started so early is because George Bush is so weakened domestically. I think that a lot of this is his own fault, though not for the reasons that a lot of his critics, Mark among them, are likely to recognize. As a result, a lot of conservatives are currently looking for an alternate leader, hence the reason the horserace has started so early. As can be seen from the current situation with Attorney General Gonzalez, the Democrats have pretty much achieved their objective of reducing the administration to a position of political impotency. If success is achieved in Baghdad, it will be because of the succes of General Petraeus on the battlefield rather than because of the administration's ability to maintain domestic support for the war. At best, I suspect that all that it can do is prevent the Democrats from completely defunding the war. Time will tell if that is enough.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Josiah says:

I think you're spot on about the reasons for the early interest in the election. I would only add that if conservatives have given up on Bush, the Administration seems to have given up on itself as well. How else to explain their letting the U.S. Attorneys matter turn into a major scandal? It's like they don't even care anymore.

torquemada05 said...

For me at least, the wheels started falling off the Bush White House when he refused to respond to Cindy Sheehan. The administration let a woman who is, to be frank, a nut, completely define the national debate on the war in Iraq for over a month. And she would have continued to do so had she not been consistently crazy enough to start attacking Democrats. If we were a parliamentary democracy, a vote of no-confidence would be in order. But we aren't and the Bush administration isn't like a TV show that gets cancelled if too few people tune in to watch it. I think that it's still far more preferable to the alternative (a Kerry administration), but at this point that is only because of it is holding back rather than what it is actually doing.

Donald R. McClarey said...

Like most administrations, especially Republican administrations, this one ran out of steam right after the beginning of the second term. Up until the beginning of 2004 Bush was bold and successful. He was cautious throughout 2004 and he has been timid since. I think Bush convinced himself that we could coast to victory after the fall of Iraq in the current war, and that strategy has been a disaster. Americans will meet any sacrifice for victory in a conflict, but the war must be won swiftly. We are an impatient and easily distracted people, and long drawn out struggles are something we have never been very good at.

paul zummo said...

The other day I was half seriously pondering the idea that second terms should be maxed at two years. There have been 13 fully completed second terms in American history (counting Teddy Roosevelt and Truman who had nearly full first terms, and not counting LBJ who did not), and just about none of them have been successful. A few had uterly disastrous second terms after great first terms (Jefferson and Truman). Even Washington's second term witnessed the unraveling of national unity the beginnings of partisan squabbling. In fact I would say the most successful second term was TR's.

Of course it's probably impracticable to change the current setup. And I wouldn't amend the Constitution to allow for only one term. But there's just something about second terms that are just lethal. I think part of it is just the weariness of seeing the same guy in the news, day after day, for eight years. Even if you're inclined to like the guy you start to hate him.

Flambeaux said...

I think it's the Constitutional prohibition of third (and more) terms that has made recent second terms so squalid.

Most of a president's apparatus of government is now drawn, not from those who can help him govern, but from those who can help him win elections.

Once that second term is won, no one knows what to do. Motivation for bold action and political dogfights disappears when you know that NOTHING you do for the next 48 months will make a difference in your employment future.

Everyone starts updating resumes and courting lobbying firms for future (and more lucrative) paychecks as soon as the hangover from the victory party clears up.

For better or worse...

paul zummo said...

I am opponent of the 22nd amendmenty muyself, but I don't think that it's really had that much of an impact. The amendment has applied to four Presidents (Ike, Reagan, Clinton, and now Bush) and a fifth (Nixon) before his term was up. I wouldn't say that these second terms were worse than the pre-amendment second terms, among the worst of which were Jefferson, Grant, and Wilson.

Then again, other than King Delano, it was generally assumed that Presidents wouldn't run for a third term, so that same lack of motivation may be applicable, even if without the constitutional ban.

Anonymous said...

Read the Coalition for Fog lately? Or Linda Chavez' pleas for legal torture? Or, in my comboxes, Tom McKenna's recent attempts to dissent from Nostra Aetate and suggest that Vatican II is in error to say that Jews are not rejected by God and the old covenant has not been revoked. Heard Bill O'Reilly's breezy dismissals of the notion that the Church should have anything to say about the treatment of aliens? How about the guffaws directed at the notion that the state has an obligation to care for the common good in the matter of health care or housing (That's socialism!).

There is most certainly dissent on the Right when it comes to inconvenient Church teaching.


JOSEPH D'HIPPOLITO SAYS....

English translations of the above: The bishops are always right. They are as competent in talking about geopolitical, military and economic affairs as they are in theological and spiritual ones. We must never discuss, let alone disagree with, their prudential judgments and their long-term implications. We must be good little Catholic lap-dogs and wait expectently for our episcopal superiors to pat us on our heads.

That's the same kind of attitude that allowed the clerical sex-abuse crisis to metastacize.

If you think that's over the top, keep in mind that Mark never criticized Cdl. Angelo Sodano for expressing sympathy for the captured Saddam Hussein in 2004, nor criticized the late pope for giving Bernard Law a position in a Roman church after removing him from Boston.

In fact, he actually defended those actions.

Mark isn't advocating fidelity to Church teaching. He's advocating that Catholics act like members of the Jonestown cult.

Phillip said...

If it is any comfort, I think Mark's rants are less effective. His over the top comments seem to draw fewer and fewer responses. Some none at all.

Either this means he has converted everyone to his viewpoints (unlikely), or he has turned off so many that they at a minimum no longer care to comment if they even read his comments any more.

Add to this the increasingly strange, left-wing bedfellows that reply approvingly to Mark's positions. This leaves one thinking that his uber-Catholicism (which has only limited basis in authentic Catholicism) is wearing thin for many. Certainly it is wearing thin for many, more authentically informed Catholics.

kathleen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
kathleen said...

I always wonder when i click on certain blogs if the bloggers mistakenly think my virtual visit means I am endorsing and/or interested in their view points -- when in fact I am gazing upon their thought processes in horrified fascination as I would a horrible car wreck.

Phillip said...

Ouch. What did the guy say? Oh, I guess you can't reprint it.

Anonymous said...

Mark never criticized Cdl. Angelo Sodano for expressing sympathy for the captured Saddam Hussein in 2004...

JOSEPH D'HIPPOLITO SAYS...

Actually, that should be Cdl. Renato Martino, not Sodano (though Sodano was a legitimate bastard in his own right....)