The Right’s Patched-Up Old Coat

It’s a page straight from the Republican playbook. Don’t like someone? Get them fired. And start a web site for it.

Consider the conservative patched-up old coat (corrolary here) and how it bridges the gap between a principled stand for justice and a neo-Nixon enemies’ list:

We cannot convince millions of women to forego abortions.

We cannot convince doctors and others to cease performing the procedure.

We cannot convince politicians to make it illegal.

We cannot convince voters to elect politicians to give lip service to … we mean make it illegal.

We cannot stop other believers, even pro-life believers, from inviting those who defeated our politicians to speak or giving them a token or a free meal or something.

So let’s go after somebody we can touch, and even worse–his money. The neo-con 9/12 manifesto expressly states never to make a personal sacrifice when you can make someone else your sacrifice instead. Heaven forbid that the pro-life effort would ever call for personal sacrifice. My goodness, the liberals would overrun the stadium on gameday and the others would have to fall back on watching the game on the hi-def tv they bought with funds diverted from the students of Notre Dame.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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13 Responses to The Right’s Patched-Up Old Coat

  1. Liam says:

    Beware that metaphor: the Nixon cloth-coat incident was not something that was incited from the Taft wing of the GOP, but from the centrists….

  2. With respect, Todd, this thread reflects, apparently, your common sense or take on conventional wisdom via the litanies of “you cannot(‘s).” And I’m quite sure you realize that it is a post about secular, political sensibility. However, there is nothing there that in any way reflects “Catholic Sensibility.”
    What’s going on here?

  3. Todd says:

    Charles, is our life so segregated that faith cannot inform our politics, that everything can be conveniently portioned out in independent, non-contact ways?

    This thread is part of a Catholic internet context, and I don’t think I’m out-of-bounds to ask how Catholics advocating for the firing of a Catholic university president for making a choice, one that’s not an intrinsic evil, is a core pro-life issue. It’s just not.

    If he had fathered a love child, or helped a lover get an abortion, or channeled football ticket money to PP: these things would be horrific. Did Jenkins just think, “Oh, new president, let’s invite him like the last new president,” and move on to another item on his to-do list?

    Let me ask you: is giving President Obama a special award a termination offense?

  4. RP Burke says:


    Are you sure you’re reading the same article that I just did?

    Todd is here pointing out the failure of the Catholic right’s — including many but not all bishops — argument and political strategy in changing public policy toward abortion. He believes that the next strategy we see being proposed by the Catholic right, punishing Catholics, is doomed to failure.

    There’s very little secular here, unless you think there’s nothing Catholic about an honest evaluation of the situation.

  5. Jason says:

    We cannot?

    We haven’t really even tried!

    The Pro-Life movement has been great as self-affirming rhetoric, but we’ve never really laid out any reasonable argument, widely accessible, that would lead people to make a different choice. Not really.

    And the New Republicans, the oft described “party of life,” have become so obsessed with personal wealth preservation that they refuse to do anything for the common good (lest they be labeled “socialist”) that would actually result in few abortions.

  6. JC says:

    What about McBrien?
    Jenkins–and every past ND president going back to Hesburgh–should not only be fired but defrocked for allowing professors at their institution to teach heresy, for opposing _ex Corde Ecclesiae_, for selling out their university’s Catholic identity for thirty pieces of federal silver and, worse, organized sports.

  7. Michael says:

    JC, your vision of a university would result in indoctrination and stupidity, not education and enlightenment.

  8. Bill Kurtz says:

    JC, what is your vision of a college? Bob Jones University, perhaps?

  9. JC says:

    A Catholic equivalent? Yes.

    Flannery O’Connor says that

    There are plenty of small Catholic colleges which fit the bill: Magdalene College, for example.

    A place where Catholics are taught to be Catholic, to give their lives totally to Christ, not to be compromising Americans who say “here’s where I stop”: whether it’s contraception, or the abuse of NFP for materialistic reasons, or torture, or voting for pro-abortion politicians.

    Michael, “Indoctrination”? Are you even Catholic? Indoctrination is a bad thing??

    Are you saying that St. Therese was “stupid”? A Doctor of the Church who had no college education, yet John Paul II says that her Little Way is perhaps the greatest spiritual doctrine in the history of the Church.

    I am merely advocating what the Fathers and the Doctors all advocate: retreat to the desert or to the catacombs. St. Jerome famously condemned a monk for merely accepting a post as a bishop, saying he was being too worldly.

    Where has that faith gone in our Church?

    What is your goal in life? To make it through the narrow gate? Or to live a comfortable life of earthly rewards, getting your fill of 401ks and “charity” cruises, trying to buy your way into Heaven when you’re 60 with the income you get from only have 2.5 kids?

    If what I’m saying seems so alien, maybe you need to put down your newspaper and pick up a copy of _The Way of Perfection_ or _The Imitation of Christ_.

  10. Todd says:

    JC, I would caution against reading too much into what other commenters write here. I reminder to us all: we are still relative children when it comes to communicating on the internet in a mature and reasoned way–and I certainly include myself in that.

    Doctors and mystics are also the heroes to which I aspire to imitate, but they are not the complete depth, the catholicity if you will, of the witness of the saints.

    The excesses of aspiring to comfort and wealth know no ideology and it is just as easy to find them among most any brand of Catholic.

    As for the exercise of the intellect, yes, when it leads to stupidity and passivity, indoctrination is bad. Learning the way of Christ is more akin to apprenticeship. Far too much emphasis is placed in some circles on the rational assent of the mind to Christ and the Church. An infection of an Enlightened culture, if you will.

  11. Liam says:

    Having an internet site and launching a crusade hardly seems to be retreating to the desert or catacombs.

    I do read over recent years an avid relish for the catacombs from ideologues at either end of the Christian spectrum (though it might be celebrated as being outside the box or being at the periphery in more rad Cath circles) – it’s actually a red flag for an ideological approach that interpolates an intense level of drama and a short eschaton into our current moment(s). Everyone wants to be a victim these days – because victimhood is shibboleth signifier of status.

  12. JC says:

    “Having an internet site and launching a crusade hardly seems to be retreating to the desert or catacombs. ”
    It is in the sense of refusing to “drink the Kool-Aid,” as they say.

    The “Catholic Ghetto,” often condemned by liberals, is precisely when we had Fulton Sheen. When we compromise with the World, we lose the moral resolve to fight the fight.

    “The excesses of aspiring to comfort and wealth know no ideology and it is just as easy to find them among most any brand of Catholic.”

    “As for the exercise of the intellect, yes, when it leads to stupidity and passivity, indoctrination is bad.”
    So, in other words, it’s better to be heretical and “intelligent” than orthodox and “stupid”?

  13. Jim McK says:

    “It is in the sense of refusing to “drink the Kool-Aid,” as they say.”

    Who says this? Jim Jones? What does it mean?

    “The Catholic Ghetto” is precisely when we had people like Fulton Sheen, who helped us break out of the Catholic Ghetto. It is when we had Catholics who compromised with Mussolini, and who refused to fight against Hitler.

    But really, who say anything about drinking Kool-Aid? What does it mean.

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