Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Robert George's Take

Many are saddened by Cardinal Dolan's presence at the Democratic National Convention.  His presence, they say, will only cause confusion among Catholic voters.

Robert George, however, thinks that Cardinal Dolan's appearance will have some positive consequences.  The Democratic campaign team has pushed the idea that Republicans are waging a war on women by denying them access to abortion and contraception.  The Republicans, therefore, are villains and should be kept out of office.  Or so the story goes.  According to George's op-ed piece in today's issue of the Wall Street Journal, however, Dolan's presence at the DNC undercuts this war on women argument.  No one in public life takes a stronger stance against abortion and contraception than Cardinal Dolan.  So if anyone is conducting a war on women, Dolan is, right?  "Well... yes," the Democrats have to answer--"but we are pleased to invite this villain to lead the prayers at our convention.  So how serious are we, again, about this war on women?" 


1 comment:

  1. It just may undercut the war on women narrative, but that narrative is very weak to begin with. That line of attack has not gained traction. Polls show that women are actually leaving Obama, despite the months-long war on women tactic. It has failed. So George's point is rather weak, in my view.

    I am a huge fan of Robert George; he has done some amazing work for the conservative cause, but he is also part of an elite, conservative DC/New York (basically east coast) cabal, one that I sense is, from time to time, out of touch. Since his elevation to the New York Archdiocese, Dolan has been presented as the spiritual head of this cabal. It is not surprising that George has rallied to Dolan's defense. But I couldn't disagree more with him on this one.

    I am more concerned with the mixed signal of Dolan appearing on the stages of both conventions, when one of those parties is so radically opposed to what the Church teaches on morality. Prayers can and should be lent, but a public platform and a presence for a political party that is almost giddy to guarantee that abortion is legal forever? I just don't get it.

    He says he's just there to pray with anyone who is interested. If only it were that simple! He's not just an ordinary Catholic who can do things without attracting a lot of attention. He's the most prominent American Catholic official, and his presence alone draws attention and makes waves. Someone of Dolan's immense prominence has to carefully manage how his public image is used and even manipulated. He likes to present himself as an "average Joe" type person, but leaders, especially in the realm of the spiritual, need to be exceptional, not average, and sometimes take bold stands. To be honest, and this is just my opinion, Cardinal Dolan is not someone who has a history of acting boldly à la Cardinal Burke. I just don't think he has it in him. He prefers to play it safe. And he seems to think that is the essence of leadership.

    Obama won the Catholic vote in 08 by a significant number. This episode strikes me as Dolan trying to please both sides, to play it safe, rather than be bold. I am very interested to hear what he'll say during his prayer, whether there will be references to protecting life, marriage, etc. The Dems. were furious that references to God were placed back into their platform, after it was only recently removed. If Dolan does mention life or marriage, even obliquely, I expect him to be booed, which would be a disaster for the Democrats. We shall see...