Speaking of Clueless, Old, White Catholic Men

Fuck that Vichy motherfucker EJ Dionne and his prissy, fussy “the Bishops must be appeased” bullshit:

Politicized culture wars are debilitating because they almost always require partisans to denigrate the moral legitimacy of their opponents, and sometimes to deny their very humanity. It’s often not enough to defeat a foe. Satisfaction only comes from an adversary’s humiliation.

One other thing about culture wars: One side typically has absolutely no understanding of what the other is trying to say.

That is why the battle over whether religious institutions should be required to cover contraception under the new health-care law was so painful — and why it was so hard to comprehend why President Obama, who has been a critic of culture wars for so long, did not try to defuse this explosive question from the beginning.

Dionne apparently believes that if Obama had thrown down the current policy first, everyone would have fallen in line, because nobody’s precious fee fees would have been hurt (least of all Dionne’s). In his last column on contraception, Dionne admits the obvious, (“As a general matter, it made perfect sense to cover contraception. Many see doing so as protecting women’s rights, and expanded contraception coverage will likely reduce the number of abortions.”) So this isn’t about policy, it’s just about making EJ feel better about supporting a position that his priest told him was wrong back when he was an altar boy in the 50’s. Many see this as a reason that EJ should be replaced by a “liberal” whose opinions have some relevance to the current century.






168 replies
  1. 1

    Another problem with culture wars is that people like EJ wind up in knots of their own making, as they try to straighten out their own inner conflicts.

  2. 2
    Benjamin Franklin says:

    Dionne fears excommunication and Dante’s 7th circle of Hell. So what if we throw him under the bus. He can only die once, but Hell is forever.

  3. 3
    Linnaeus says:

    Dionne is generally solid on the issues, or at least as solid as one can expect in American mainstream media, so it’s really disappointing to see him write this.

  4. 4
    Petorado says:

    “The Bishops must be appeased”

    Yeah, I bet Jerry Sandusky doesn’t like this whole contraception thing either, so the President should cave to his viewpoint on this matter as well.

  5. 5
    Origuy says:

    Dionne apparently believes that if Obama had thrown down the current policy first, everyone would have fallen in line, because nobody’s precious fee fees would have been hurt (least of all Dionne’s).

    Has he never negotiated anything in his life? Does he pay sticker price for a car?

  6. 6
    CT Voter says:

    What was so painful about watching a bunch of ossified relics heave in rage?

    It was predictable, and disappointing, but it sure wasn’t painful for most of us. And most of us in this “culture” war understand exactly what the “other side is trying to say”. They are saying that women are second class citizens who don’t rate appropriate health care.

    It wasn’t a stupid fight, either. I’d say it was a pretty successful unmasking of a lot of people. That was painful.

  7. 7
    schrodinger's cat says:

    What I have always wondered is why are the MSM “liberals” so ineffective in general (Rachel Maddow and Paul Krugman are two exceptions that come to mind). May be it is because they are not so liberal after all and have drunk the both sides do it, koolaid. Why are they so ineffectual in defending their positions. E. J. Dionne in particular is always so wishy washy and apologetic. Why can’t we get better Punditubbies?

  8. 8
    Napoleon says:

    Ed Kilgore really hammers him on this as well.

  9. 9
    amk says:

    Fuck the pundtwits, especially the self-proclaimed ‘serious’ douchebag types like dionne.

  10. 10
    Wee Bey says:

    And Dionne is, generally, one of the good ones.

    This is why we can’t have nice things.

  11. 11
    beltane says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: E.J. Dionne has revealed himself as someone who can’t even go take a dump without receiving permission from a bishop. A pundit who can’t think for himself is not ever going to be an effective advocate for anything.

  12. 12
    WereBear says:

    Rachel Maddow is on MSNBC, a lot because of Olbermann’s pushing for her. Krugman is a columnist for the NYTimes who won a Nobel Prize, and still doesn’t show up on television as much as you’d think.

    Being a jerk is a career move. And most of them are well qualified.

  13. 13
    chopper says:

    Dionne apparently believes that if Obama had thrown down the current policy first, everyone would have fallen in line, because nobody’s precious fee fees would have been hurt

    yes, if obama had come up with this compromise from the beginning the bishops and the GOP would totes not at all be doubling down on the issue because it has nothing to do with basic access to contraception. nosiree, not at all.

  14. 14
    inkadu says:

    The message of the gospel is to deny full medical services to the people who clean your bedpans. But if you wash their feet on occasion, it’s all good.

  15. 15
    jwb says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: I conclude that the overlords paying the salaries prefer ineffectual “liberals.” If I was an overlord, I would definitely hire ineffectual “liberals.” It’s actually easier to explain the large number of ineffectual “liberal” pundits than to explain how folks like Krugman and Maddow somehow managed to slip through.

  16. 16
    c u n d gulag says:

    This has little to do with religion, and everything to do with power, E.J..

    It has to do with maintaining the power of the supposedly sexless Conservative men in the Church’s hierarchy to continue to dick-tate (sic) terms that deny women any say regarding their own bodies.

    After all, who knows the poor little ladies and their needs better than some serial child-schtuppers, and/or the other men who continue to turn their backs on sexual abuse.

    What about those 8,000 abused children in Milwaukee, Pope Ratso?
    8,000 in ONE city alone!

    You would think the dysfunctional lives of 8,000 children you and your church helped sexually assault and abuse, and the cover-up of the crimes, might be more important than whether Catholic women decide not to bring any more children into your church – where too many men aren’t “Shepherds of Christ,” praying to God, but “Ravenous Wolves” preying on the youngest, most vulnerable, of their “flock.”

    Where’s today’s column about THAT, E.J.?
    FUCK YOU, E.J.!

  17. 17
    Steve M. says:

    Politicized culture wars are debilitating because they almost always require partisans to denigrate the moral legitimacy of their opponents, and sometimes to deny their very humanity. It’s often not enough to defeat a foe. Satisfaction only comes from an adversary’s humiliation.

    Newsflash for Dionne: Just existing apparently requires Republican partisans to denigrate the moral legitimacy of their opponents, and to deny their very humanity, with satisfaction only coming from the adversary’s humiliation. Every single thing Republicans do fits this description.

  18. 18
    Martin says:

    Come on, EJ thinks the politics on this are bad because he comes from an age when WASPs had disproportionate power, and probably because he’s worried about Obama eroding some of his Latino support, a dynamic which pretty much none of he pundits understand.

    He’s not saying the policy is bad, he’s saying the rollout of the policy was bad because it opened the door to a political backlash. I don’t think that can be entirely disputed – there was a backlash and there was effectively no effort to head one off by explaining how this policy, while appearing to be hard for religious institutions, is necessary given worker rights, blah, blah, blah.

    I think one viewpoint the villagers have that we tend to discount is that they’ve watched this cycle for ages in a way and to a depth that the public can’t. They’re almost experts at how not to do something in DC, and I think the observation here is “Don’t roll out policies that you should expect a pushback on without priming the argument first.” Rather than the bishops getting the upper hand on ‘religious freedom’, Obama could have gotten the upper hand by laying down ‘rights of workers, and workers religious freedoms’ first, and forcing the bishops to come out against it, or explain why their rights are more important than ours.

    And yeah, he should have done that. Is it a critical misstep? No, but these details do add up. By comparison, he’s out there today making the case for his budget – establishing an argument for fairness before the GOP can. It won’t stop the GOP from doing what they do, but it does help.

  19. 19
    Poopyman says:

    @jwb: Nailed it.

    Also too:@c u n d gulag:

    FUCK YOU, E.J.!

  20. 20
    60th Street says:

    Dionne apparently believes that if Obama had thrown down the current policy first, everyone would have fallen in line

    Ironically, this is the same wet blanket whining David Dayen used immediately after Obama announced the “accomodation”.

    Puzzling why WH didn’t just announce this kind of “Hawaii compromise” to begin with

    This, after all the pissing and moaning all over the left for the past 3+ years over Obama “pre compromising” before the debate starts, not to mention apoplexy over any “accomodation” or compromise whatsoever.

    They don’t even see a clear WIN when it’s staring them in the face. Instead, they lick their tender egos and whine about how the bad man in the White House left them twisting in the wind.

  21. 21
    Napoleon says:

    OT,

    Awesome, Caro’s next volume on LBJ is about to come out:

    http://www.amazon.com/Passage-.....ral_recs_5

  22. 22
    wvng says:

    As disappointing as it has been to watch EJ give the bishops cover and slam the president on this, he is one of the few usually reliable voices for liberalism in the MSM. Lots of people struggle with religious demons. Give him a break. Shields, not so much, because he is generally useless. Tweety, not at all, because he is always useless.

  23. 23
    Cap'n Swag says:

    In other hackery news, POLITICO is giving bandwidth to Joe Scarborough. He now has a blog.

  24. 24
    Triassic Sands says:

    Alan Colmes, Mark Shields (PBS), and E.J. Dionne (WaPo and NPR) and all classic examples of weak, mealy-mouthed “lefties.” Rarely, will they not put forth a major effort to make the case for the other side. That way, no one can accuse them of being doctrinaire, which means they’ll always get invited back. In the end, they don’t turn out to be reasonable — rather they severely damage the liberal/progressive position and cast doubt where none is appropriate.

    Oh, and Diane Rehm, with her program’s endless parade of Villagers, is another member of this group.

  25. 25
    slag says:

    @Martin: If you believe Obama’s speech on the subject, it was the Catholics playing the politics here while the Admin was trying to engage in some good faith problem-solving. In that sense, Dionne is blaming the victim while playing the victim. You can call that good politics, if you like, but I don’t think mistermix is wrong in preferring to call it wankery.

  26. 26
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @Triassic Sands: When I lived in Maryland there used to be a TV show on PBS, a punditubbie talkfest, I think it was called Inside Washington. It had Krauthammer, Mark Shields, Nina Tottenberg, who I thought was pretty good. I also like Gene Robinson of Washpost.

    ETA: I wonder why I don’t see those two as often as I see Mark Shields, for example.

  27. 27
    Jay C says:

    My Armchair Ananlyst degree being worth exactly what I paid for it, I’ll contribute my opinion that the “problem” with (Catholic) pundits like EJ Dionne most likely stems from a reflexive institutional defensiveness, rather than sympathy with the Church’s more-authoritarian attitudes.

    It’s probably unlikely that Dionne really sympathizes much with the hierarchy’s rabid anti-contraception stand: but he also probably doesn’t want to have to go record (and as a print “pundit”, that’s hard to pull off) overtly opposing the Church authorities and/or their concerns (however much ignored by the bulk of Catholics).

    It reads, IMO, like a general reluctance (whatever one’s own feelings) to air intra-denominational disputes in public: you see it on the “other side of the aisle” all the times: Reform and/or liberal Jews, frex, (the majority of the population) have littler but disdain for the sexism/racism/religious nuttery common in many Ultra-Orthodox sects, but will hardly ever come out and say so in the media. I’m guessing a similar dynamic is playing out here with Catholics…

  28. 28
    LiteralReddy says:

    @CT Voter:

    They are saying that women are second class citizens who don’t rate appropriate health care.

    Fixed that for you.

    They are trying to return the ’50s…the 1850s.

  29. 29
    MattF says:

    @Napoleon: I think Kilgore makes a crucial observation–although only in passing–that what the bishops really want is a ‘concordat.’ The bishops regard themselves as a sovereign power– the offense that Obama committed wasn’t a moral error, it was lese majeste.

  30. 30
    FlipYrWhig says:

    I’m not sure he agrees with the bishops’ position or ever did. He just doesn’t like the idea of a policy that tells the bishops to sit and spin. It’s kind of like how you may fight with your dad all the time, but if someone else disparages him, you’re going to be upset. So he’s saying, “hey, some parts of what Catholics do aren’t all bad, show some respect!” I’m not a religious person so I don’t have this impulse, but it seems a lot of religious people do.

  31. 31
    xian says:

    why do liberals hate winning so much?

  32. 32
    The Moar You Know says:

    @Napoleon: MUST READ. On every level, those books have been amazing.

  33. 33
    Napoleon says:

    @MattF:

    I think he is basically right about that.

  34. 34
    slag says:

    @60th Street:

    This, after all the pissing and moaning all over the left for the past 3+ years over Obama “pre compromising” before the debate starts, not to mention apoplexy over any “accomodation” or compromise whatsoever.

    Totally agree on this. Personally, I don’t think this compromise was truly necessary, but I’m extremely glad the Admin kept this one in its pocket nonetheless. If you ask me, the left has been correctly concerned with some pre-capitulating on the Admin’s part, and this change of course on that was a good one. Really, they did a pretty good job, overall, and it’s hard for me to see criticism from liberal detractors on this particular issue as being remotely substantive. It does come across as highly self-involved.

  35. 35
    Napoleon says:

    @The Moar You Know:

    What is more amazing is that I read volume 1 in the 80s and volumes 2 and 3 have been on my shelves for years, until I picked them up late last summer and now are about 1/2 through v3. I will likely finish it around the time the new one comes out (I work on more then one book at a time so sometimes I don’t finish them real quick).

    Too bad my birthday is just a few days before May 1st.

  36. 36
    scav says:

    @Martin: Yes, the villagers might very well know how things are done and have have always been done in their village, but their perspective on village might be a temporally limited one and be neither omniscient nor omnipotent. As best I can tell Obama getting up in the morning can unleash a backlash. So, while they may or may not have a point, it may or may not be a point anyone has to follow.

  37. 37
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    Tweety and Dionne are big supporters of marriage equality, as Tweety declared enthusiastically on the same show he was blustering about the Church’s “moral authority” that he ignores but he wants the gov’t to bow down to. Where are they going to be when Notre Dame and Catholic hospitals don’t want to grant spousal benefits to the husbands and wives of a whole lot of professors and doctors?

  38. 38
    beltane says:

    @MattF: That is a good point. And unlike every other religious organization, the RC Church does function as a sovereign state, one which until 150 years ago possessed all the apparatus of a secular state including a standing army and the ability to collect taxes, etc. The Europeans are quite aware of this dual role of the Church and for this reason have no problem telling them to pound sand. Americans are naive in this respect. Maybe this will be a wake-up call.

  39. 39
    ice weasel says:

    Bah.

    Dionne is the perfect NPR liberal. Just left enough to offer some contrast to Bobo Brooks sensible wingnutism. And even at that, he “agrees” with Brooks more than he should.

    Everyone is entitled to their opinion. Dionne need not toe any ideological line but the stances he does take define him moreso than the fawning intros he gets in the media.

    Speaking of NPR, heard a great bit on on this issue there. They went to a woman for her opinion (I know, a woman!). And, as you might expect, the woman supported the church’s view. Well, it should come as no surprise as we learned in the piece that this woman was a a student lay preacher in a catholic seminary.

    DIVERSITY!

  40. 40
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Napoleon: That is awesome. That’s also the end of the line. I was beginning to wonder if he’d be able to finish.

    I started as a Caro fanboi with The Power Broker, having grown up in the NY area and having had family who very peripherally knew Moses.

  41. 41
    burnspbesq says:

    @ mistermix:

    Fuck that Vichy motherfucker EJ Dionne

    No, fuck you for using an out-of-context quote to inflame the yobs and totally missing the point of Dionne’s column.

    When did you join the Know-Nothing Party?

  42. 42
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @scav: The villagers are courtiers of the Versailles, comfortable in the sinecures. Their instinct is to preserve the status-quo. Truth is a luxury they can seldom afford.

  43. 43

    @wvng:

    As disappointing as it has been to watch EJ give the bishops cover and slam the president on this, he is one of the few usually reliable voices for liberalism in the MSM. Lots of people struggle with religious demons. Give him a break. Shields, not so much, because he is generally useless. Tweety, not at all, because he is always useless.

    He’ll get a break when he stops providing cover for a bunch of assholes via his perch at the Washington Post.

  44. 44
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    Dionne is beyond worthless.

    Fuck him and all other appeasers of the boy-buggering red beanie brigade.

  45. 45
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @burnspbesq:

    No, fuck you and all others who defend this sack of santorum.

    Dionne is dogshit.

  46. 46
    dedc79 says:

    Manufactured controversies like this one are a good reminder of how well Obama has done with the hand he’s been dealt. Even when he’s got the support of about 95% of America he still gets run through the ringer by the supposedly liberal media.

    The catholic bishops would prefer birth control and abortion to be illegal in all instances, so how exactly is it a failure not to get their sign off?

  47. 47
    r€nato says:

    @beltane: this. Amen brother.

    the Catholic church was, until relatively recently in history, a power player. It functioned exactly like a nation-state. One with curious and unusual influence and powers (and costumes and customs), but a nation-state nonetheless. It collected taxes, it possessed land, it had an army and a judicial system and a set of laws. It could torture you and execute you, and it was as untouchable as any king or prince.

    Americans tend to think of the Catholic church as just another religious institution headed by a kindly, white-haired old man who goes around preaching goodness and light.

    Europeans know better.

  48. 48
    Napoleon says:

    @Gin & Tonic:

    That’s also the end of the line. I was beginning to wonder if he’d be able to finish

    Actually it is not. I did a Google search and found an article that says it takes us to early 64 and that they plan a 5th volume. I guess the new one is 700 pages long.

  49. 49
    kindness says:

    EJ is too nice. Yea he’s a putz here for carrying the Catholic Church’s water here but that’s besides the point.

    On Friday EJ will be paired up with David Brooks to give their week ending synopsis on NPR and EJ never kicks Brooks ass, he always treats him with respect no matter what bullshit Brooks spouts.

  50. 50
    Zifnab says:

    One other thing about culture wars: One side typically has absolutely no understanding of what the other is trying to say.

    Bullshit, EJ. The left and the right are hearing each other loud and clear. The left is saying “We are going to clean up this broken health care system” and the right is saying “If you don’t quit fixing things, we aren’t going to have anything to complain about come voting time.”

    The Republicans and the Bishops are whining just to whine. They have absolutely no interest in finding a happy middle ground. This is all for political points. And the reality of this is becoming increasingly clear as Republicans are already planting new goal posts a few miles outside the stadium.

  51. 51
    scav says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: well, they can usually be relied upon to note the exact number of backwards bows one needs to enter a room containing the Armand Jean du Plessis, Cardinal-Duc de Richelieu et de Fronsac, but such decorum may be optional when armed with pitchforks or just when making an emphatic point.

  52. 52
    mistermix says:

    @burnspbesq: Sorry, let me add the context from the rest of the column, summarized:

    “Catholic Charities, Fuck Yeah!”

    And let me summarize the part where EJ points out that it didn’t fucking matter what the Obama admin did because the Bishops can’t be appeased. Wait, I can’t do that, because he didn’t mention it.

  53. 53
    rlrr says:

    “The Bishops must be appeased”

    Because this country was founded to appease the likes of bishops…

  54. 54
    BGinCHI says:

    EJ’s first mistake, and it’s a big one, was to frame this issue in “culture war” terms.

    It isn’t. It’s about healthcare and policy. Period.

    Once you accept the bishops’ framing, you have lost not only the argument, but the whole reason for arguing.

  55. 55

    The anti-Semitism of the left…

  56. 56
    beltane says:

    @rlrr: If the signatories to the Declaration of Independence thought for one minute that in 2012 a President of the United States would be required to appease a bunch of Roman Catholic bishops they may have reconsidered their endeavor.

  57. 57
    r€nato says:

    shorter EJ Dionne: taking credit for the good works done by the laity entitles the Clan of the Red Beanie to tell women what to do with their lady parts and to both commit and enable pedophilia.

  58. 58
    rlrr says:

    @beltane:

    Or that a major political party would be controlled by fundies…

  59. 59
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Napoleon: Holy crap! I remember it being planned as 4 volumes. Caro’s getting on in years, and at the pace he’s been going, I don’t know…

  60. 60
    Felinious Wench says:

    @Zifnab:

    Bullshit, EJ. The left and the right are hearing each other loud and clear. The left is saying “We are going to clean up this broken health care system” and the right is saying “If you don’t quit fixing things, we aren’t going to have anything to complain about come voting time.”

    Ding, ding, ding!

    I understand where the bishops are coming from, both at a theological level and a political level. I completely disagree with them.

    Simple. “We can agree to disagree, but I’m right.”

  61. 61
    El Cid says:

    There are lots of issues on which people should realize that their religious values cannot dictate the larger society’s secular policies; however, when it comes to an issue in which my religious values are involved, it should be different, and those religious values should be established as a groundwork for operation by our elected governments.

  62. 62
    Martin says:

    @slag:

    If you believe Obama’s speech on the subject, it was the Catholics playing the politics here while the Admin was trying to engage in some good faith problem-solving. In that sense, Dionne is blaming the victim while playing the victim. You can call that good politics, if you like, but I don’t think mistermix is wrong in preferring to call it wankery.

    Well of course it was the Catholics playing the politics here. That’s the point! And EJ is saying, “Well, duh, everyone should have seen this coming! Why didn’t you step in front of it?”

    He’s neither blaming nor playing the victim. He’s saying “This is how politics works, whether you like it or not – get better at it, play offense.” I’m not defending that this is HOW politics should be – it’s shitty, I agree – but you deal with the reality you’re in, not the one you want to be in. Further, he’s saying that while objectively this looks like it ought to be a slam dunk, emotionally, its going to take a bit of selling. Let’s look at some more of EJs column (as I think burnsey is objecting to having been left out)

    That so many liberal Catholics supported the church’s core claim surprised both Catholic conservatives and more secular liberals. There are lessons here, and that includes lessons for Obama.
    __
    Those of us who are liberal Catholics have remained in the church for reasons beyond tribal loyalties or a desire to honor the traditions of our parents and grandparents. At the heart of the love many of us have for the church — despite our frustrations over its abysmal handling of the pedophilia scandal and its reluctance to grant women the rights they are due — is a profound respect for the fact on so many questions that count, Catholicism walks its talk and harnesses its faith to the good works the Gospel demands.
    __
    When it comes to lifting up the poor, healing the sick, assisting immigrants and refugees, educating the young (especially in inner cities), comforting orphaned and abandoned children, and organizing the needy to act in their own interest, the church has been there with resources and an astoundingly committed band of sisters, priests, brothers and lay people. Organizations such as Catholic Charities, the Catholic Health Association, the Catholic Campaign for Human Development and Catholic Relief Services make the words of Jesus come alive every day.

    Like it or not, a lot of Americans identify strongly with their institutions, and even when they disagree with their policies, you still need to apply a soft touch and provide a clear (and moral) argument why a given policy is good and appropriate for the public even when it might offend some in the institution. Most can be won over, if only you try. Objecting to the fact that one should try is frankly stupid. We’d certainly appreciate it if the right would try with us. And yeah, there’s a bit of a double standard on this issue because the Republican will always get the benefit of the doubt on faith issues. That sucks too, but it is what it is.
    He’s pointing out a fundamental truth of politics in this country. People see the best in the institutions in which they belong. We’ve all got family members that are total fuckups, yet we embrace them more closely than the rest of the community because whatever good is in them is good that we see and want to support in the hopes that it’ll grow. And even though most Catholics in the US use contraception doesn’t negate the fact that they are going to respect the church’s position on this, at least to some degree. We hate hypocrisy in the other side around here, and the Catholic church is actually quite good at not being hypocritical about things. They create all manner of moral dilemmas, which I believe they’ll admit to, but even when they’ve completely failed to convince their own congregations to go along with the no-contraception guidance, they stick to their guns. That might look stupid and detached from reality, or it could look like sticking to a moral ideal.

  63. 63
    Lizzy L says:

    Sorry EJ, you’re wrong on this one. The bishops must NOT be appeased.

    And the Republican bill to allow any and all employers to opt out of any particular item of health care covered by their employees insurance for unspecified “moral concerns” is total hogwash. This is craziness!

  64. 64
    Martin says:

    @Zifnab:

    The left and the right are hearing each other loud and clear.

    The left and right 27%ers are. The folks in the middle aren’t because they just don’t pay this kind of focused attention to the issue.

    Aren’t we right this moment jumping all over the GOP candidates for only speaking to their 27% base while ignoring the middle majority? Why is it noble for us to do the same?

  65. 65
    kay says:

    What’s offensive to me, what he’s missing is, it only became a politicized culture issue because he made it one.

    I would have talked about facts. I would have talked about a compromise to protect both sides. The pundits who are protecting the bishops refused to do that, and the bishops refused to do that.

    Do they not get this? If they are going to talk about women’s health, I want to talk about women’s health.

    They cannot continue to frame this is exclusively about religion and at the same time insist they are being respectful to women, because they’re not. By making it all about them they’ve excluded what is for me the whole point: women’s health.

    We can have two sides. What I reject is one side insisting that they get to define the issue. Why would I accept that? That’s crazy.

  66. 66
    Amir Khalid says:

    What seems odd to me about E.J. Dionne’s column is that he giveth the Catholic bishops more credit than they deserve for protesting in good faith. Dionne mentions that the Catholic service providers are quite happy with Obama’s decision, while the bishops are not. But he ignores what that implies: the bishops are fighting Obama not because the Church’s service work has been impeded, but because of some other, unrelated reason.

    This fight was indeed unnecessary, but it was the bishops that came in looking for one. It was they who kept up the fighting words even after Obama announced a compromise that took any decision about contraception, and thus any responsibility for it, out of their hands. Dionne should be asking why they, not Obama, wanted a fight in the first place. He might come to an unsettling conclusion about their political motives, but in the process some scales would have fallen from his eyes.

  67. 67
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    EJ needs to answer why the Bishops didn’t back down when the rule was changed?

    BTW, I don’t think Obama planned this, I think he came out with a weaker plan and was told something better. What I do think is that he works hard enough, and has the right kind of enemies, that even his missteps end up helping him.

  68. 68
    Martin says:

    And where is this “The bishops must be appeased” bullshit coming from?

    The bishops are unhappy and Dionne is praising the current policy. That sounds like Dionne saying that the bishops should STFU.

  69. 69
    Edith says:

    What I find frustrating about his reasons for supporting covering contraception is that he doesn’t include women’s health. Now I support contraception because I think it’s a women’s rights issue, and I support it because it will reduce abortions, but the reason it was included is because it is important to maintaining women’s health. I’m not just talking about the other uses of the pill besides contraception; it was included because women need to space and limit total pregnancies in order to remain healthy. I keep hearing people (mostly other webistes) saying that pregnancy isn’t a disease. No it’s not, but there sure are a lot of pregnancy-related diseases and birth complications. I’ve had one friend nearly die from post-partum pre-eclampsia, and another with a placental abruption that almost bled out (in the hospital) who dveloped DIC and almost died. I have other friends with permanent pelvic floor damage. I think because modern medicine has made such great strides towards reducing maternal mortality we forget that even for the healthiest women pregnancy is a strain. The more pregnancies you have, and the less spacing between them the more risk there is of almost very possible complication ocurring. Babies born to mothers who haven’t had sufficient time to recover between births or are at the tail end of a large family are more likely to be pre-term, have bith defects, and have developmental delays. While having a few kids is protective of women’s long-term health, there are a number of reproductive cancers that start increasing in incidence once you hit fice or more kids. Osteoporosis is more likely in women who’ve had more kids. This truly is an issue of women’s and children’s health, not just a lifestyle choice. I’m frustrated because it seems like people keep forgetting that.

  70. 70
    Polar Bear Squares says:

    So do people really still say motherfucker, pronouncing the -er in MOTHER and the er in FUCKER? I thought the new AP rule was muthafucka, with a heavy emphasis on the ah sound at the end?

    I’m not a Catholic (Missionary Baptist, fuck them racist Southern Baptist muthafuckas!, my Sky Man is black with dreads and talks like Al Green) but I did see a local Catholic Bishop and priest on a public access show here in Central Cali and all they were talking about was “religious freedom.” They were comparing themselves to persecuted Jews and shaming other Catholics for not voting for Mitt Romney because he’s a Mormon. I had no idea these guys were so partisan or overt about it. I’m like dude when are you going to talking about Jesus? I feel like I’m watching Brit Hume.

  71. 71
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @Martin:

    And where is this “The bishops must be appeased” bullshit coming from?

    I read the column and it sounds like Dionne is making excuses for the Bishops and castigating Obama. YMMV.

  72. 72
    samson says:

    Isn’t the answer to so much of this crap obvious: SINGLE PAYER. How many people will die and be driven to the poor house, much less have their religious fee fees hurt, or their businesses rendered less competitive before we will do what every other civilized and rational country on the face of the planet has done?

  73. 73
    Martin says:

    @kay:

    I would have talked about facts.

    Most people don’t make decisions based on facts. If they did, most people wouldn’t have credit problems, wouldn’t eat so unhealthily, smoke, drink too much, go to church, or own cats. If I go to my wife tomorrow and say “You should prefer a new garbage disposal over a new pair of earrings because factually it’s a better value for our dollar.” she’ll punch me in the junk.

    Seriously, policy needs to be factually sound, but it also needs to be emotionally appealing. These are voters, and they matter.

  74. 74
    beltane says:

    @Amir Khalid: What type of naive Catholics do we breed in North America? Does EJ Dionne not even know the history of his own faith? How can anyone with any familiarity with this institution be so stupid as to think the bishops are acting in good faith? EJ Dionne is showing himself to be as dumb as a sack of rocks.

  75. 75
    middlewest says:

    Whoops, looks like Romney got googlebombed. Looks like more people are going to learn the Romney dog-on-car story.

  76. 76
    El Cid says:

    Just for the record, I’d like to let E. J. know that I will, in fact, deny the moral legitimacy of religion-quoting public figures to influence what medications people — and in particular, women — receive from their health insurance plans.

    I know it sounds like a terrible, terrible thing to deny someone “moral legitimacy”, but it really isn’t, and it’s often quite a well-supported charge.

  77. 77
    60th Street says:

    @slag: What gets me is that this isn’t a compromise; it’s not even an “accomodation”.

    I saw about 99% of the media, not to mention the liberal blogosphere, chasing this bone because god-forbid Obama get any credit for pulling the rug completely out from everyone, right, left, liberal, moderate, conservative, alike who trampled over each other to declare that a compromise/cave was imminent/expected/demanded.

    There’s no compromise here. Obama removed religious “conscience” from the equation altogether.

    That’s why it took the Bishops a day to flip out and why the GOP is going all in. Obama completely removed their say in the matter.

    There’s no way they’re gonna be cool with that.

    This rendered the previous exemption for churches absolutely moot. Now both churches and semi-secular institutions are in the same boat. They can “object”, but it doesn’t matter because the insurance companies have to extend coverage, regardless.

    But, how many “liberals” in the media are talking about that? How many people who complained about compromises in any respect are out there pointing out that this is a significant step toward universal healthcare?

    Nope, E.J. Dionne is licking his wounds and, deep down, probably a little miffed that his Catholic degenerate overlords don’t get to wag their pasty fingers at women over birth control anymore.

  78. 78
    DanielX says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    Hello? Washington Post? Any bells ringing? EJ Dionne is indeed what passes for a liberal at the Post, but he’s been at the Post for a long time and he’s a Villager in good standing. Liberal Villagers are never, but never, allowed to be passionate, nor are they allowed to call a spade a fucking shovel.* It’s a topsoil removal implement or some such. If you don’t believe it, ask Sally Quinn.

    Better yet, dig up the decayed corpse of David Broder and listen to its zombie-like moaning repetition of “bipartisanship…both sides do it…bipartisanship…both sides do it…”. Both sides don’t do it in the Village, ‘it’ being expressing yourself in a passionate and rude manner. (As in the bishops are full of shit, and Obama should tell them to go take a flying fuck at a rolling doughnut – politely of course.) Only conservatives are allowed to do this.

    *Note: this is one of several reasons that Paul Krugman will never be admitted to polite Villager society, another being that he knows what he’s talking about.

  79. 79
    kay says:

    @Martin:

    I understand what you’re saying Martin, but, again, I feel as if you’re completely buying his premise, which is that HIS view, HIS frame, should take precedence over mine.

    I can’t start there. I’d be agreeing that the religious viewpoint is more valid and important than my viewpoint. I won’t do that. I’ll listen to it, but I’m not starting by putting my own interests second.

    He can’t ask people to accept that, and then insist he’s being fair-minded. He’s not. He’s talking about what’s important TO HIM, and then limiting me to talking about what’s important TO HIM. That’s not a debate.

  80. 80
    Amir Khalid says:

    @beltane:
    And if E.J. is so naive, so innocent, then why oh why is he writing a prominent column at the Washington Post?

  81. 81
    Jamie says:

    Catholics like almost all groups in the US have no historical knowledge and aren’t interessted in getting any. I

  82. 82
    gwangung says:

    Aren’t we right this moment jumping all over the GOP candidates for only speaking to their 27% base while ignoring the middle majority? Why is it noble for us to do the same?

    Because Dionne is misreading this as us and the 27%; Obama is correctly reading this as involving the middle as well…and his compromises and counterpunching plays quite well to the middle.

  83. 83
    amk says:

    @60th Street: yup. pretty much nailed it.

  84. 84
    Martin says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    I read the column and it sounds like Dionne is making excuses for the Bishops and castigating Obama. YMMV.

    He doesn’t even MENTION the bishops. Do a search on the page, the word ‘bishop’ doesn’t even appear:

    That so many liberal Catholics supported the church’s core claim surprised both Catholic conservatives and more secular liberals.

    Liberal Catholics are NOT the bishops. Liberal Catholics are him, and Tweety, and the yahoo who was in here the other day all pissed off, and as it turns out, most of my family. He’s making excuses for the folks that vote Obama and were upset with this – I don’t have a problem with him looking out for Obama’s supporters. And yes, he was castigating Obama, not for violating religious freedom or any of that shit, but for not getting up and saying what he said last week about his policy when the first one rolled out. Even if folks were opposed to the first policy, they at least would have had a clearer understanding of why that policy was chosen and given Obama’s supporters something to work from. And we want that as well! We want Obama to stand up and defend his policies more strongly!

  85. 85
    pseudonymous in nc says:

    @Martin:

    EJ thinks the politics on this are bad because he comes from an age when WASPs had disproportionate power

    No, he comes from an age where Catholics moved from having regional power bases to taking the presidency, all the while with a powerful clerical presence in those urban bases — not in the way that Kennedy’s opponents framed it, but there nonetheless. He’s a White Ethnic Catholic, not a WASP.

  86. 86
    Suffern ACE says:

    @Amir Khalid: Yes. I can grant his concern that the rule was too narrow as to exclude hospitals and charities from religious work. However, the complaint from the bishops is that contraception shouldn’t be part of basic coverage anywhere. It would have been nice to note when he says “some say that the the revision hasn’t gone far enough” to state rather clearly that the “not far enough” now includes all companies. It would almost appear that that might have been the goal all along, and that the Church was simply rolling the “good works” organizations as cover for something else.

    It’s good that Dionne says he isn’t going to follow them there, but he doesn’t state where he isn’t following (and therefore his liberal Catholic readers won’t know).

    That’s the problem I usually have with Dionne in general-his main attack strategy is to pull his punches and he isn’t clear as to who or what he is criticizing to be nice. He is better than most of the high-end liberal pundits, who tend to just conveniently aim at the wrong things. But sometimes his grandee congeniality isn’t helpful.

  87. 87
    rikyrah says:

    Fuck that Vichy motherfucker EJ Dionne and his prissy, fussy “the Bishops must be appeased” bullshit:

    You could have repeated this sentence 100 times, and the post would have been perfect – as is.

  88. 88
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @scav:

    Yes, the villagers might very well know how things are done and have have always been done in their village, but their perspective on village might be a temporally limited one

    Temporally limited is absolutely correct.

    The older liberals in the Village were products of the post-McCarthyism era in the late 50s and early 60s, when liberalism was still the consensus ideology but you could make yourself a target if you popped your head up above the parapet too often and too boldly. So the way to get “liberal” things done was to keep the faith but keep your head down and don’t make yourself into a target for haters and screamers on the Right. It was a liberalism that dared not speak its own name, for fear of calling down The Backlash, but still believed that we would make progress on liberal issues if everybody just kept quiet and didn’t rock the boat.

    That approach was questionable even back in its own era, it is a fossilized piece of coprolitic stupidity today. But unfortunately that is exactly the ethos that younger liberal pundits have internalized from their elders.

  89. 89
    Hill Dweller says:

    Snowe and Collins are now supporting the President’s ‘compromise’.

  90. 90
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @DanielX: What you say is certainly true about Washington Post, I think it also extends to most other MSM outlets.

  91. 91
    Commenting at Balloon Juice since 1937 says:

    The Red Beanies forced “partisans to denigrate the moral legitimacy of their opponents” when they decided to protect the rapers of children.

  92. 92
    beltane says:

    @Amir Khalid: I smell a shill. Not one of the many Catholics I know are laboring under the delusion that the bishops’ motives are pure and noble. Not one. I have known 85 year old, ultra pious, stay-at-home-nuns who were more savvy regarding the political nature of the Catholic hierarchy than EJ Dionne. He is obviously trying to confuse non-Catholic liberals here since there is no one else who could possibly buy the crap he is attempting to peddle.

  93. 93
    jp7505a says:

    lOOK I disagree with EJ Dionne’s point on this issue but some of the above comments would not make it past the FOX news moderators. We are supposed to be open to other points of view and not demand ‘liberal purity’. Leave the purity tests to the fox news folks.

  94. 94
    mistermix says:

    @Martin: Don’t the Bishops run the Church?

    If EJ had made some kind of argument separating the Bishops from the rest of the church, maybe it would be unfair to say he wants them appeased. But he didn’t. And he doesn’t say a word about the Bishops’ response, which happened long before the column was filed (it was published the 12th, Bishops responded the 10th). Instead, he says that Obama’s fig leaf is enough for him and conservative Catholics should get on board. It is a discussion of feelings and appeasement, not policy and politics.

    As for the “soft touch” that you advocate in your other comment, and that EJ advocates, I think that completely misunderstands the culture war. The Bishops prepared for 8 months to have a fight over contraception and by God they had it. The details of what the Obama administration brought out the first time don’t make a whit of difference. They planned to be offended if contraception is paid for by health plans in some kind of federally mandated way, and then they were offended.

  95. 95
    beltane says:

    @Commenting at Balloon Juice since 1937: Maybe child rape is essential to their religious freedom. By denying them their right to rape children with impunity the law is trampling upon their liberty.

  96. 96
    Bruce S says:

    Dionne: “Obama was also willing to annoy some in his liberal base during the battle for the health-care bill by making sure that Catholic institutions do not have to perform or pay for abortions. Rather than praising him for this, the bishops and the Catholic right invented the idea that the health law covers abortion.”

    So last time around “the bishops” decided just to make some shit up no matter what Obama did, which means in E.J.’s world Obama is supposed to do something other than what Dionne himself admits “makes sense” on the face of it when it comes to Catholic-sponsored institutions doing what many of them are already doing regarding an issue wherein 98% of Catholics themselves ignore the nonsense of the bishops. Frankly, my guess is that many of the bishops themselves think this is bullshit but aren’t by virtue of their office free to speak out against the dominant hierarchy.

    Obama put forward a proposal that “made sense” and, when a shitstorm was brewed up by the guys who slimed him – blatantly violating the Commandment that proscribes “false witness” incidentally – Obama moved to inclusion of the only Catholics who deserve any legitimacy in this argument, the health care administrators who embraced the ACA last time around.

    Compromise is a two-way street – it shouldn’t be on Obama to be so reasonable that he anticipates the terms of any eventual compromise over policy as his first move. Frankly, the fact that Obama tends to try to do that as a matter of personality and tactical preference is why pieces of crap like the bishops think they can play him. The highlighting of the already deep divisions in the church is a plus politically for Obama moving forward, and frankly a plus for the nation and sensible Catholics who need to restrain these old men in skirts who are an embarrassment to the church and whose first impulse is always to circle their little red wagons around the most retrograde positions, up to and including protection of child molesters. Fuck “the bishops.”

  97. 97
    kay says:

    @Martin:

    I read the arguments on the other side, because I felt as if I was being unfair.

    When I did that, I realized I can’t defend in the sphere they have set this in. I can’t do it. That puts me in the position of saying “you don’t believe what you claim to believe” and that’s an impossible position. What does a non-religious person do with that? They’re reduced to claiming bad faith.

    They have to go to bad faith, because they can’t use facts!

    That’s why I object to it. It leaves people who see this as a policy question or a factual question with nothing.

    I have to do this: “if that’s what you believe, then it’s all right with me!”

    They haven’t left me any other option. Do you see that? I won’t debate religion, and I’m not going to debate law, so that leaves me with what they believe. How can I argue with that? What am I going to say? “No, you DON’T believe that!” or, “it’s stupid to believe that!”

    Even if I don’t want to say those things, and I don’t, I have to, because I have nothing else, and that’s dictated by how THEY framed it, not me.

    You know, Bush did this all the time. He said “I believe”. That’s untouchable. There’s no response to it. I have to give him that, and once I do that, I have no role left in the debate, because he’s INSISTING I not go to facts.

  98. 98
    Martin says:

    @kay:

    I understand what you’re saying Martin, but, again, I feel as if you’re completely buying his premise, which is that HIS view, HIS frame, should take precedence over mine.

    He’s not saying that. He’s saying that his view MATTERS. Not that it should take precedence, just that it matters and should be spoken to. Period. Read:

    And we’d ask our non-Catholic liberal friends to think about this, too. Many of us agreed that broad contraception coverage was, as a general matter, a good thing, and we shared their concern for women’s rights. But we were troubled that some with whom we usually agree seemed to relish a fight with the church and defined any effort to accommodate its anxieties as “selling out.”

    He’s not saying his view takes precedence over yours, rather that he shares the very same view as you at its heart and simply asks that we see if we can find a way to implement a policy, yielding the same outcomes, in a manner that respects everyone’s viewpoint. This policy and the last policy are functionally equivalent when it comes to women’s health, and he praises this policy – so how is that an imposition on your viewpoint in any way, except that you seem to think his viewpoint shouldn’t count? Honestly, suggesting that religious viewpoints are invalid will get us a metric fuckton of losing as a party.

    (Consider me stunned that I, the guy who never, not once in his life went to church and makes some of the strongest arguments for atheism is on this side)

  99. 99
    feebog says:

    My, there sure are a lot of “fuck you”s flying around this morning. Thank you Martin and Kay for at least a rational discussion about this issue.

    EJ and I are about the same age, and we both grew up in the Catholic Church, but I parted ways with the church quite early, apparently, EJ continued hanging in there. And there is a point to be made that the Catholic Church does do good work, especially Catholic Charities, which have been a godsend as my parents age and their health declines.

    Having said that, the Cult of the Red Beanie is and always has been about maintaining a patriarchal power structure. The Churchs stance on contraception, in my view, is all about keeping women in their place and not at all about the sanctity of life.

    I do agree with EJ that the Obama Administration should have been better prepared to respond to the Bishop’s pushback. As I have said in several other threads, the Church has no credibility on this issue. When 98% of catholic women who have sex use some type of birth control, I think it can be argued that no one in the church is listening, much less those outside the church.

    And Kay is right, this is about women’s health, not religious freedom. If the Bishops want the catholic laity to coform to church doctrine, fine, they are doing a shitty job, but go for it. But I’m not catholic, and when you try to enforce your doctrine on non-catholics, that is not religious freedom, its religious domination.

  100. 100
    DanielX says:

    Fuck that Vichy motherfucker EJ Dionne and his prissy, fussy “the Bishops must be appeased” bullshit

    Yep. It’s unfortunate too, because EJ’s heart is in the right place and his positions are usually okay, or at least reality-based, if not very strongly expressed. Plus he has the reputation of being a genuinely nice guy. Unlike, say, George Will or Richard Cohen, both of whom I’ve heard are genuinely pompous arrogant bastards.

    Unfortunately, if there’s anyplace where you won’t get style points for being a nice guy, it’s Sodom on the Potomac. The Village seems to dote on pompous arrogant bastards, the more powerful the better. (See Cheney, Richard.)

  101. 101
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @Martin: Ok so you are saying the liberal Catholics fees fees were hurt by Obama’s initial decision. Well I am unsympathetic to that position. It was not Obama who decided to make women’s reproductive health a political football. Now we are fighting about access to contraception, what’s next? That all women should stay at home because that’s what the religious pooh bahs want?

  102. 102
    Mark S. says:

    What bothers liberal Catholics about the arguments advanced by some of our conservative friends is that the Catholic right seems so eager to focus the church’s witness to the world on issues such as abortion, gay marriage, stem cell research and, now, perhaps, contraception that they would effectively, if not necessarily intentionally, relegate the church’s social justice work and teaching to second-class status.

    Either Dionne is really naive or he’s never met any conservative Catholics. Of course that social justice shit is second-class for conservative Catholics, if they aren’t downright hostile to it. They sure as hell weren’t fans of Liberation Theology.

  103. 103
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @Martin:

    (Consider me stunned that I, the guy who never, not once in his life went to church and makes some of the strongest arguments for atheism is on this side)

    May be you are making these arguments because you are a guy and this is an academic matter to you.

  104. 104
    aimai says:

    @MattF:
    But that’s totally wrong. Obama actually phoned the Bishops before he announced the first policy and (of course) it had been in effect for 12 years. The White House did everything but give the Bishops “head of state treatment” and that still wasn’t enough becuase they are in this to win it politically. They don’t care at all about les majeste–they care about humiliating Obama and the Dems and winning the election for the Republicans because the Republicans will give them a whole lot more than lip service.

    aimai

  105. 105
    kay says:

    @Martin:

    And, Martin, there’s something else wrong with debating “belief”. They never reach facts. And there are facts here. They haven’t offered any, but there are facts here. I’d like to talk about what this means in terms of hospital mergers and health care, but I can’t get there, because EJ Dionne won’t let me.

    Do you see how that puts non-religious at a HUGE disadvantage? Non-believers can’t debate faith, and the believers won’t let them debate facts! They win by default! That’s the part that has so frustrated me, and I’m right to be frustrated by that.

  106. 106

    @Martin:

    Most people don’t make decisions based on facts. If they did, most people wouldn’t have credit problems, wouldn’t eat so unhealthily, smoke, drink too much, go to church, or own cats. If I go to my wife tomorrow and say “You should prefer a new garbage disposal over a new pair of earrings because factually it’s a better value for our dollar.” she’ll punch me in the junk.

    Liberal Catholics are NOT the bishops. Liberal Catholics are him, and Tweety, and the yahoo who was in here the other day all pissed off, and as it turns out, most of my family.

    What you’re missing is that liberal Catholics like EJ and Tweety are wringing their hands about people being rightfully outraged that the Bishops started a wholly unnecessary fight based on an entirely absurd premise. The bishops turned a discussion that should have been centered on women’s access to comprehensive health care, into a lament about a nonexistent attack on religious liberty.

    And despite people telling the Bishops that they are full of shit and need to go away, EJ Dionne comes out whining that pepople like me have “no understanding of what the other is trying to say.” When, in fact, it is crystal clear what clowns like EJ Dionne are saying here. You even touched on it yourself (finally):

    He’s making excuses for the folks that vote Obama and were upset with this

    This is called “concern trolling.”

    You know this.

  107. 107
    FormerSwingVoter says:

    Sigh.

    The sooner the Catholic Church is completely and totally destroyed, the sooner the rest of us can get back to doing God’s work.

  108. 108
    aimai says:

    @Martin:
    Sure, he’s making that argument, but he’s wrong. The bishops were fully heard in the first place. The catholics who support birth control and use it were fully heard. The bishops and ej are pissed off because they didn’t get deferred to publicly enough. I think that Obama did everything he could to protect them fro the total assholishness of their publicly stated position. He went far beyond what was right, in my opinion, because they aren’t the only people whose religious freedom is involved here but the White House bought into that because they had some history they could point to. I’m a Jewish woman and my faith tells me that I should not only use birth control if necessary but I should probably pay for othe rpeople to have it too if they can’t afford it. why were my “religious concerns” not protected too, in the first place? Why does EJ dionne talk blandly and windily about “religious freedom and sensibilities” when other groups religious freedom and sensibilities are being trampled just by the very act of deference to the Bishops?

    aimai

  109. 109
    Amir Khalid says:

    @DanielX:

    EJ’s heart is in the right place and his positions are usually okay, or at least reality-based, if not very strongly expressed. Plus he has the reputation of being a genuinely nice guy.

    I know I’m pointing out the obvious, but “nice” is not the same thing as “devoid of blind spots”.

  110. 110
    Bruce S says:

    I like E.J. Dionne and think, as has been stated above, his heart is at least in the right place most of the time. He’s often quite articulate on significant issues. But yesterday he was on This Week schmoozing it up with that repugnant Peggy Noonan, grinning and chatting about how it felt good to be on the same side as Catholic conservatives even if just for a minute. WTF? This is sad – and given polling among Catholics on this issue, who are overwhelmingly for health insurance covering birth control – an example of just how brain-damaging the Beltway Bubble can be even to the most decent of folks.

    Also, any liberal Democrat who claims this was an example of fumbling or incompetence on the part of the White House needs their head examined. This was a win – on the substance, as a matter of strategy and, among Obama’s actual potential voter blocs, politically. The only people who should be pissed off are GOPers and not for the reasons they claim. They know they blew this one.

  111. 111
    Martin says:

    @mistermix:

    Don’t the Bishops run the Church?

    No! They don’t!

    That’s like saying “Doesn’t Obama run the government?” Yeah, he runs some of it, but not the parts that the public most interacts with. The bishops don’t give the sermons, they don’t console a grieving family. They’re administrators and they give marching orders which the priests may or may not agree with, and which the congregation more often than not disagrees with.

    If EJ had made some kind of argument separating the Bishops from the rest of the church

    He did! He never brought up the bishops – you guys did. He brought up liberal Catholics! Those are partitioners and in some cases nuns and priests. They are NOT bishops.

    As for the “soft touch” that you advocate in your other comment, and that EJ advocates, I think that completely misunderstands the culture war

    It does not. The culture war as we want to define it really is relegated to the 27% of Republicans that also believe that Obama was born in Kenya. Their views really are immaterial with respect to politics except in their ability to influence the middle half. Yes, the GOP and the bishops have an agenda but that doesn’t matter *except* if it sways that middle half – and at least to some degree it did in this case. We can deny that, or complain about it, or say its unfair, but that’s the game here. And we can either show up and provide a moral counterargument or we can cede the playing field. We’ll never, ever convince the 27%, but we can inoculate some of the middle half against it. But we’ll never be able to turn off the culture war or get the public to see through it. Never. Emotionally, it works, and it’s really damn hard to convince people to shut their emotions off.

  112. 112
    slag says:

    @Martin: I don’t know, man. I could just quote almost every sentence Kilgore writes on this subject in response. Particularly this point:

    But nobody in the Obama administration needs to apologize to anyone for proposing—via its Catholic Secretary of Health and Human Services, and making a formal exception explicitly designed for Catholics—a simple, logical policy making it clear contraceptives were to be covered as a medically recognized preventive health care service. The idea that this represented some sort of Bismarckian kulturkampf attack on Catholicism makes sense only if you accept the premise that “religious liberty” gives the Bishops some sort of broad zone of immunity—a kind of unwritten concordat—against any public policies that it might find inimical to its teachings (in this case, teachings that are being almost universally disregarded by their own flocks).

    If the “liberal Catholic” frame on this issue centers on the Church getting first say in how our laws are crafted, then, well, that’s their problem. The Administration was sensitive to their needs and was working with them to accommodate their antediluvian attitudes as much as possible. But liberal Catholics are extremely misguided if they perceive such accommodation as a minimum requirement. Their Church-first bullshit is on them, and while they are voters who deserve consideration, they’re not the only ones. Yet they seem to expect to be treated as such.

  113. 113
    kay says:

    @Martin:

    He’s not saying it, but a lot of other people are. I read a very reasonable-sounding argument over the weekend from the religious liberty camp, but it’s a DISASTER for non-religious, so I can’t accept it. I’d be crazy to accept it.

    The premise was this: health care is part of our religious mission, so is thus NOT a business and NOT severable from our religion.

    Want to tell me what I do with that? There is no role for non-religious in there AT ALL. I either start screaming at him about his religion, or start parsing his religion and telling him which parts he’s wrong about, which I won’t do, or I completely capitulate.

    What else has he left me to work with? There’s no response to that.

    He just told me what he believes. I can’t DOUBT he believes that. I can’t REWRITE the rules of his church. He’s not using any facts, so I can’t go there. It’s not that we’re disagreeing. We’re in different universes.

  114. 114
    pamelabrown says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: Here’s what I think: Too many ersatz “villagers” on the so-called liberal” side have been there far too long and it shows. They demonstrate “Village Creep”: group-think that has left them out of touch with us liberals in the rest of the country.

  115. 115
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @kay: I agree with you. Why do we all have to bow before these so called people of faith. Why do they get to dictate to the rest of us what is OK and what is not. Are we living in a theocracy.

  116. 116
    Bruce S says:

    “The sooner the Catholic Church is completely and totally destroyed…”

    I am not a Catholic, but in dealing with the church on social justice issues over the years I’ve come to realize that Catholicism is far from monolithic. The right-wing of Catholicism certainly needs to be defeated and permanently diminished in their dominance of official hierarchies, but there is a mainstream of Catholicism that is far more pragmatic and far more liberal. As well as a significant Catholic left. There is a lot of “God’s work” going on within the Catholic community, despite the Bishops. The fact that 98% of Catholics ignore the teachings on birth control is suggestive of just how fractured the Church actually is. Some of the most scathing comments I’ve ever heard regarding the pope have come from nuns!

  117. 117
    FormerSwingVoter says:

    @Bruce S: You’re right, of course – the Church has done a lot of good in a lot of places, but homeless shelters don’t make the news.

    I just want them to leave me and mine the fuck alone. But the way politics have been going lately, they’re doing more to fuck up my life now than they were when I was an actual member of the Church.

  118. 118
    John N says:

    “Those of us who are liberal Catholics have remained in the church for reasons beyond tribal loyalties or a desire to honor the traditions of our parents and grandparents. At the heart of the love many of us have for the church — despite our frustrations over its abysmal handling of the pedophilia scandal and its reluctance to grant women the rights they are due — is a profound respect for the fact on so many questions that count, Catholicism walks its talk and harnesses its faith to the good works the Gospel demands.”

    Oh, except for those minor things, the Catholic church is just great? Their “frustrations” with those little tiny issues of child molestation and “reluctance” to “grant” women their rights?

    What a knob.

    “Despite my frustrations with John Wayne Gacy’s abysmal handing of his private sexual life, he still did a lot of good charity work in the community. So, you know, I love him or something.”

    My family is Catholic, and they’re great people, honestly, and they do a ton of good stuff. But it doesn’t mean that the institution isn’t rotten to the core, and until liberal Catholics like Dionne acknowledge that and DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT, the rest of us have to “deny their moral legitimacy.” I’m terribly sorry that this notion hurts so many people’s feelings, but they have to ask themselves why it hurts their feelings to point this out, and deal with whatever issues they have that makes that the case. Telling the rest of us to stop being mean just doesn’t cut it.

    I just don’t understand why they believe they’re the only ones who get to play politics but not have their ideology challenged or subject to any scrutiny. Because they’re a religion? Well, then, so is liberalism, and I DEMAND RESPECT! I demand special dispensations for MY moral qualms!

  119. 119
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @Bruce S:

    Some of the most scathing comments I’ve ever heard regarding the pope have come from nuns!

    Let the nuns run the church, they do great work not just play politics.

  120. 120
    slag says:

    @Martin:

    That’s like saying “Doesn’t Obama run the government?”

    I would not choose this analogy, if I were you. Unless you see Obama running around excommunicating people from America. Oh wait…maybe that is a good analogy, from an extreme civil libertarian point of view. But I’m not sure that’s a view you want to take.

  121. 121
    kay says:

    @Martin:

    I’ve thought a lot about this and I do accept his charge that I suspect bad faith. I do. Not from the Catholic Hospital Association, so not from the nuns who actually run the hospitals, but I do think the bishops have not been straight with people.

    There are two reasons I started to think they were not being honest. The fact that they had planned a religious liberty campaign 7 months prior to this decision, and the fact that Catholic health care providers are having enormous difficulty surviving w/out merging with non-Catholic health care companies.

    This is an issue for them, and has been since 2009, the problem of how to fit their religious beliefs into the reality of the health care market. They’re grappling with it all over the country, with mergers.

    I don’t think the bishops are being honest about that. This wasn’t a “firestorm”. The fact is Catholic health care providers will not survive unless they make some compromises with those secular providers with whom they want to join. Now, Martin, why wasn’t the public told that, that this is a HUGE issue for Catholic health care, outside of President Obama or contraception?

  122. 122
    Suffern ACE says:

    @Bruce S: The church is going to survive contraception policy, so I don’t know why someone would treat this battle like its about punishing the church rather than about extending coverage and providing women AND their families better insurance coverage.

  123. 123
    Martin says:

    @Midnight Marauder:

    The bishops turned a discussion that should have been centered on women’s access to comprehensive health care, into a lament about a nonexistent attack on religious liberty.

    Then why the fuck didn’t Obama center it on women’s access to comprehensive health care! Because the policy was rolled out with no defense whatsoever. It was left out there for the GOP to do with as they pleased.

    If our argument is that our position should be intuitively understood without having to be spoken, we’re going to get our ass kicked a lot.

  124. 124
    Bob Westal says:

    Phrases like “Vichy Democrats” or in this case “Vichy motherfucker” are unhelpful with someone like Dionne, who is generally one of the most thoughtful and consistently liberal mainstream pundits. He also seems to be a genuinely decent guy, however wrong he may be on all of this.

    I’m trying to think of the obverse of “even a stopped clock is right twice a day” here, but can’t think of one. Whatever it is, it happens — especially when you throw the always dangerous subject of religion into the mix. Occasionally, we’re doing to strongly disagree with each other, but calling each other vicious and meanspirited names is not going to help matters. I understand why people are passionate against this, but using such loaded terms is just rushing to the ol’ circular firing squad. Let’s cut it out.

  125. 125
    Robert says:

    GODWIN’S LAW

  126. 126
    kay says:

    @Martin:

    On this, I think we agree. I don’t think there was any 11 dimensional chess here. I think Obama got conflicting opinions from his staff and eventually chose a side.

    I don’t think they had any plan on how to handle this. My opinion is they’ll luck into a politically tenable position, and I gave Obama credit for choosing and staying on the right side, but I don’t think they had a plan.

  127. 127
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @Bruce S:

    Based on my experience, this is correct.

    I think what EJD is getting at in his column is that being caught between the opposing dictates of ones personal conscience and sense of Christian social mission on the one hand and the dictates of the hierarchy on the other hand, that is a very uncomfortable place for liberal Catholics to be. They’ve learned to make their peace with it as best they can (otherwise they’d be liberal ex-Catholics), but they don’t appreciate somebody coming along and creating yet another such conflict for them to wrestle with.

    Hence the political backlash against the way that the Obama admin rolled out this policy. Not due to a feeling of “the admin is wrong and the bishops are right”, but rather “Oh crap, not this baloney again. Why me? Why can’t I have one good month where I don’t have to go thru this shit?”.

    But where EJD is I think really off this time is in not recognizing that the USCCB were in this case spoiling for a fight and were going to pick one on any pretext. It didn’t matter what the admin did, the bishops were going to throw a hissy fit in any case, regardless of the policy or how it was rolled out. The Bishops want political war with the administration and by golly they are going to have one, and it doesn’t matter what anybody else thinks or wants. If the admin had been more savvy in their handling of this policy they might have given liberal Catholics a tad more political cover, but the latter would have been caught in the middle no matter what.

  128. 128
    Bruce S says:

    re: 115 – Swingvoter

    My dad was a preacher who was progressive in his theology and values and, frankly, the only thing akin to “religious bigotry” I felt was sort of tolerated in our family was against the Catholic church. My dad particularly resented his dealings with them when there was an interfaith marriage, in that the Church tried to kind of officially claim the couple’s future children. This was quite a few more decades ago than I care to admit and I doubt that still happens, but I know my dad was offended because his belief was that kids should make up their own minds about religion after being exposed to whatever diverse traditions were part of their families. He liked the local priest personally, but felt more kinship with the local rabbi in his religious temperament than with the Catholic priest.

    Given this pretty deep-seated bias against Catholicism, I was kind of surprised as an adult when I realized just how much diversity there actually is in the Catholic church, despite the “official” face of the pope and the bishops.

  129. 129

    @Martin:

    Then why the fuck didn’t Obama center it on women’s access to comprehensive health care! Because the policy was rolled out with no defense whatsoever. It was left out there for the GOP to do with as they pleased.

    Except for the fact that they have been doing this since January?

    In August 2011, the Department of Health and Human Services issued an interim final rule that will require most health insurance plans to cover preventive services for women including recommended contraceptive services without charging a co-pay, co-insurance or a deductible. The rule allows certain non-profit religious employers that offer insurance to their employees the choice of whether or not to cover contraceptive services. Today the department is announcing that the final rule on preventive health services will ensure that women with health insurance coverage will have access to the full range of the Institute of Medicine’s recommended preventive services, including all FDA -approved forms of contraception. Women will not have to forego these services because of expensive co-pays or deductibles, or because an insurance plan doesn’t include contraceptive services. This rule is consistent with the laws in a majority of states which already require contraception coverage in health plans, and includes the exemption in the interim final rule allowing certain religious organizations not to provide contraception coverage.

    We intend to require employers that do not offer coverage of contraceptive services to provide notice to employees, which will also state that contraceptive services are available at sites such as community health centers, public clinics, and hospitals with income-based support. We will continue to work closely with religious groups during this transitional period to discuss their concerns.

    Scientists have abundant evidence that birth control has significant health benefits for women and their families, is documented to significantly reduce health costs, and is the most commonly taken drug in America by young and middle-aged women. This rule will provide women with greater access to contraception by requiring coverage and by prohibiting cost sharing.

    Like, this already happened, man. They’ve been doing it. And then the bishops came in and were like “FUCK THAT NOISE! RELIGIOUS LIBERTY!”

    If our argument is that our position should be intuitively understood without having to be spoken, we’re going to get our ass kicked a lot.

    That is not our argument.

    You and EJ Dionne are both talking crazy.

  130. 130
    Bruce S says:

    re 120 – Suffern ACE

    I totally agree with you – see #94 above!

  131. 131
    Comrade Luke says:

    All I have to contribute is that if, after 126 comments, people are still debating what EJ Dionne actually said, perhaps he did a shitty job of articulating his point.

  132. 132
    slag says:

    @Martin:

    Then why the fuck didn’t Obama center it on women’s access to comprehensive health care! Because the policy was rolled out with no defense whatsoever. It was left out there for the GOP to do with as they pleased.

    There’s a lot of truth to this argument. So, if this is the point you’re making, it’s harder for me to disagree. But I’ll try:

    When Obama gave his speech on the topic, he treated comprehensive health care (including birth control) for women as a given. As if there was no question about it. So the only question was how to be sensitive to the prissy misogynists when dealing with the issue. If he had gone out (like I wanted him to, originally) and made a full-blown case in defense of comprehensive health care for women, this path of treating it as a given would have been denied to him. So, in some senses, centering the issue–before it was settled–on women’s health would conceivably have set his argument back. Or, at least, that’s my take.

    Not saying this was 11D chess at work, per se. Just saying this was possibly a fortuitous convergence of events.

    ETA I should add that I’m currently playing the world’s smallest violin for EJ Dionne and his ilk who put themselves in the middle of the crossfire here and refuse to see the error of their ways. That was their choice. That they’re now blaming Obama for it is more about them.

  133. 133
    Amanda in the South Bay says:

    @burnspbesq:

    Why do you equate criticism of the Catholic Church with turn of the last century racism? Are you that thin skinned? Or is that your way of attacking *any* criticism of RCism-by claiming your opponents are the worst form of nativists and bigots?

    Yeah, Catholics have it sooo hard in these United States. Tell me, does your religious affiliation make it a problem to be affluent and comfortable? If not, STFU.

  134. 134
    Downpuppy says:

    As always, Charlie Pierce gives Dionne the thrashing he deserves.

  135. 135
    kay says:

    It may not matter, Martin. Now that he’s got Snowe and Collins, it is officially “reasonable”.

    The punditry will be thrilled by the bipartisanship.

  136. 136
    aimai says:

    @FormerSwingVoter:

    Yeah, one of the reasons that “homeless shelters don’t make the news” is that the fucking bishops are too busy grandstanding on women’s vaginas and buggering altar boys. All joking aside Mother Teresa’s loveable shtick was debunked by Christopher Hitchens pretty thoroughly while Father’s Ritter’s sterling work with the Homeless left many with more than a little suspicion about the Catholic Church’s actual record on helping anyone without exacting some kind of price.

    aimai

  137. 137
    Martin says:

    @kay:

    I don’t think the bishops are being honest about that. This wasn’t a “firestorm”. The fact is Catholic health care providers will not survive unless they make some compromises with those secular providers with whom they want to join. Now, Martin, why wasn’t the public told that, that this is a HUGE issue for Catholic health care, outside of President Obama or contraception?

    Because why the fuck would the bishops admit to that? Why are we asking the opposition to do our job for us? Doesn’t that sound like a fundamentally bad idea? Who cares if the bishops are being honest with us or not? The GOP never is.

    And as to the issue of compromises due to the merging of hospitals, that’s not relevant because while it may impact some places but not others, and they’re going to protect the places they can still protect. They don’t need policy to allow they themselves to compromise – they can do that all on their own. This is like arguing that contraceptions don’t need to be covered at all because most women will buy them out of pocket anyway. You’re trying to defend 100% of your policy, not 80%, and they are too.

  138. 138
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @Amanda in the South Bay:

    Why do you equate criticism of the Catholic Church with turn of the last century racism?

    Google the history of the Know-Nothing party. It was very explicitly an anti-Catholic political movement. No surprise there, as by the mid 1800s anti-Catholicism already had a long and distinguished pedigree in American politics, something that few Americans today know about because our schools teach the American Revolution as if it had no connection at all with any of the hundreds of years of British politics which came before it. Burns’ reference was obscure, but not off target.

  139. 139
    kay says:

    @Martin:

    I don’t know if EJ is doing what I’m about to describe, but I think he might be, and it drives me crazy.

    There is a theory of advocacy in politics that goes: “I’ll present my position as the best POLITICALLY, when what I’m really about is MY POSITION”.

    I see it again and again, and it’s “fair” as far as being an advocate, but it’s not completely honest.

    If I want immigration reform, if that’s my issue, I frame it like this: “not tackling immigration reform is a POLITICAL DISASTER for the President!”

    Really, I just want the President to push immigration reform, I have no earthly idea if it’s a POLITICAL DISASTER or not, but I ADD this sort of political threat to my policy demand.

    I think it’s fair game for advocates to do that, but shouldn’t they admit they are advocates?

  140. 140
    kay says:

    @Martin:

    But that’s my point.

    I’m not asking them to do my job. I’m asking EJ Dionne and Chris Matthews to quit asking me to fight with one hand behind my back out of deference to their religion.

    I WANT to talk about the mergers. I’d be happy to debate the bishops on that.
    I can’t do that as long as people insist I talk only about respect for religion.

    I am at a HUGE disadvantage in this debate as long as I am limited to discussing it in the context of “faith” or “belief”. Further, it is GUARANTEED to get ugly as long as we keep it there.

    The facts are 1. my best and only argument, and 2. the best way to keep this out of the risk of my attacking their religious faith.

    I didn’t PUT it within their religious faith. THEY did. I want to take it OUT of their faith. They won’t let me! Instead, they say “stop attacking my religious views!” Okay. I will. But we have nothing to talk about then, w/out facts.

    I don’t think religious people can blame non-religious people for judging their religion, because religious people are the ones who are insisting we debate this on religious terms. I’m not anti-religious. I don’t WANT to debate their religion. I think it’s offensive and silly to “debate” someone’s religion. But they leave me no choice! They insist I take it up!

  141. 141
    60th Street says:

    @Martin:

    HHS in August 2011

    “These historic guidelines are based on science and existing (medical) literature and will help ensure women get the preventive health benefits they need,”


    HHS in January 2012
    :

    Today the department is announcing that the final rule on preventive health services will ensure that women with health insurance coverage will have access to the full range of the Institute of Medicine’s recommended preventive services, including all FDA-approved forms of contraception. Women will not have to forego these services because of expensive co-pays or deductibles, or because an insurance plan doesn’t include contraceptive services. This rule is consistent with the laws in a majority of states which already require contraception coverage in health plans, and includes the exemption in the interim final rule allowing certain religious organizations not to provide contraception coverage. Beginning August 1, 2012, most new and renewed health plans will be required to cover these services without cost sharing for women across the country.

    Obama, himself, in person, last Friday:

    Every woman should be in control of the decisions that affect her own health. Period.

  142. 142
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @kay:

    The premise was this: health care is part of our religious mission, so is thus NOT a business and NOT severable from our religion.

    Even then, though, this strikes me as a dramatic expansion of what it means to freely exercise a religion. Your religion forbids you to pay into a pool of money that goes to a company to administer a system of reimbursement for a suite of medical procedures for both thousands of strangers and yourself, some of which you abhor? That’s not a recognizably _religious_ matter anymore, IMO, and if it is, all the parallels about religious views dictating other people’s behavior spring to vivid life.

    I mean, imagine if the organization was Muslim in orientation, and its insurance provider covered an illness suffered by someone who drew a picture of Muhammad, and the organization’s leadership was all up in arms. How much sympathy would that view generate? What would the polling look like?

    This just isn’t what we mean in America when we talk about religious liberty and the free exercise of religion, and we need to push it back hard.

  143. 143
    kay says:

    @Martin:

    I know I am beating this to death, but I (obviously) feel strongly about this, and I really have given it a lot of thought.

    When I read the piece over the weekend, where the religious person said “health care is part of my religious mission” I just wanted to drop my head on the desk, because there’s never going to be a compromise there.

    I am then in the ridiculous position where I have to say “oh, no it’s NOT!” Or, “well, then, your religion is dumb!”

    Come on. That’s not fair. I’m not debating that, because I am inevitably 1. talking out of my ass about what is or is not their religious mission, 2. going to OFFEND them. Guaranteed. I’m going to offend them. Probably in a matter of minutes.

    They have completely disarmed me. I have no role in this “debate” they have set up, other than “anti-religious asshole telling religious people what they REALLY believe”. I don’t want that role. I reject that role. But, I get SOME role, right? I have SOME place in this debate?

  144. 144
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Downpuppy:

    I’ll read your link in a moment, but it’s interesting that Pierce didn’t like Obama’s “compromise” on this, precisely because, as I pointed out early on the first thread about the “compromise” on Friday, that Obama didn’t create a smoking crater where the USCCB had been meeting.

    Pierce is one of those Catholics who has had it with the red beanie brigade and wants them out of the way, permanently. Their obscene behavior in the wake of the seemingly endless parade of victims of child-raping priests has created a situation in which the “moral authority” of the USCCB has moved beyond a bad joke into a situation where you want to send Marines to the Vatican to clean up the place. With heavy firepower.

  145. 145

    It is possible to feed the hungry, to give drink to the thirsty, to clothe the naked, to shelter the homeless, to visit the sick, to ransom the captive and to bury the dead without hiring anyone.

    No employees, no mandate. No mandate, no problem

  146. 146
    kay says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    I’ll tell you what really bothered me when I read it, because I am (admittedly) not a very abstract person, the practical effect of that bothered me, because I’m reading about these health care mergers.

    If you’re the single (merged) regional provider in an underserved area, and you ban tubal ligations after a birth, really, that’s an imposition on women.

    Because what we’re talking about here, in practical terms, is the woman giving birth in one hospital, and if she wants to get her tubes tied after that birth, TRAVELING to another area for a second admittance, etc.

    That’s not religious liberty. That’s making women jump thru some real hoops, for things that are entirely beyond their control, like mergers, and someone else’s religion.

  147. 147
    Suffern ACE says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: That smoking crater is not going to be created by this president or any other. That’s really going to be up to its members. I undestand there are a lot of justly aggrieved people, current Catholics, ex-Catholics, and non-Catholics out there. But this current issue has NOTHING to do with how the Church handled it’s child molestation cases. Extending birth control coverage to women is NOT part of the church’s pennance or criminal sanctions for child abuse. Nor is it a punishment for the Church hierarchy’s alliance with the GOP.

  148. 148
    Downpuppy says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: Indeed.

    Although to be fair, Charlie could probably go on all night, reciting Church misdeeds going back to the 5th century.

  149. 149
    Bruce S says:

    123 – Bob Westal:

    Phrases like “Vichy Democrats” or in this case “Vichy motherfucker” are unhelpful with someone like Dionne, who is generally one of the most thoughtful and consistently liberal mainstream pundits. He also seems to be a genuinely decent guy, however wrong he may be on all of this.

    I basically agree, but Dionne’s “fellow Catholic’s finally agree on something” schmoozing with Noonan on whichever Sunday gagfest he was on yesterday was kind of creepy and demonstrated a sort of inside-the-Beltway pathology.

  150. 150
    kay says:

    @Martin:

    They do need a broad religious exception to make the mergers easier. They do. They need it because they’re merging with secular non-profits and for-profits. This way, the religious exemption applies to the whole giant medi-business they have joined.

    It solves a lot of problems for them. If they get the broadest religious exception the whole shooting match runs by their rules.

  151. 151
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @Bruce S: I don’t think I’m being partisan or elitist when I ask how anyone can take Peggy Noonan seriously after her magic dolphins comment.

  152. 152
    kay says:

    @Martin:

    Martin, they’re grappling with this. They merge with a secular provider and there is controversy, not from religious, but from non-religious.

    One hospital provider agreed to fund a Planned Parenthood branch to placate non-religious when they merged with a Catholic hospital.

    The bishops accepted that, because they wouldn’t survive w/out the merger.

    What happened to the whole endless “money is fungible” argument in that case? Where did it go? Why isn’t the money that went to PP to make the merger possible “fungible”? Why are they picking and choosing on this?

  153. 153
    kay says:

    @Martin:

    And, Martin, I have to work now, but as always, it was a pleasure screaming at you :)

    No hard feelings, and I’ll eventually drop this and move onto some other obsession.

  154. 154
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @kay:

    Why are they picking and choosing on this?

    Either they are hoping no one notices, or they don’t care that no one notices, because they’ve made an alliance (just as Pius XII did) with the Devil.

  155. 155
    Bruce S says:

    Jim the Foolish Literalist: All you have to do is listen to Noonan’s salt-of-the-earth vocal inflections and down-home verbal locutions to comprehend that any criticism of Herself is inherently elitist.

  156. 156
    hitchhiker says:

    @MattF:

    The bishops regard themselves as a sovereign power—the offense that Obama committed wasn’t a moral error, it was lese majeste.

    Bingo. For those who like to wallow in the details, the contraception rule was adopted in 1965. The Bishops voted on it as part of a larger package, 2307 – 75, while the very sick Pope watched it all happen on TV.

    The justification for the rule is part of a section of the big package that was called Some Problems of Special Urgency: Fostering the Nobility of Marriage and the Family. (Note:at this moment there are 271 total bishops active in Catholic USA. Not sure how many there were in 1965.) From the text:

    Does the Church teach that the unnatural or artificial means of birth control are immoral and blameworthy? Yes. In Humanae Vitae, the
    first-named form of illicit or unnatural method of birth control is
    abortion (n. 14).[3]

    Then, “equally to be excluded, as the teaching authority of the Church has
    frequently declared, is direct sterilization, whether perpetual or temporary whether of the man or woman” (Humanae Vitae, 14). This condemns tubal ligations, vasectomies, and the Pill.

    “Similarly excluded is every action which, either in anticipation of the
    conjugal act, or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its
    natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render
    procreation impossible” (Humanae Vitae, 14). Such unnatural forms include
    the Pill, the intrauterine device, foams, diaphragms, condoms, withdrawal,
    mutual or solitary masturbation and sodomistic practices.

    Oh, those unnatural forms. So what we have here is a rule that was passed 50 years ago by a collection of mostly foreign church leaders that a minority of Americans are demanding be honored by the federal government even though that minority itself consistently and overwhelmingly ignores the rule.

    Got it. And EJ Dionne thinks not enough deference has been shown.

  157. 157
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @hitchhiker:

    The bishops are against blow jobs.

    Well, there goes the male vote.

  158. 158
    Martin says:

    @kay:

    Martin, they’re grappling with this. They merge with a secular provider and there is controversy, not from religious, but from non-religious.

    I know. And I don’t deny it. And I don’t deny the compromises they need to make. But they’re not going to take their compromise position and immediately adopt it as their principled position any more than the left does or should. And even if the GOP can move to that point, the bishops NEVER will move to that point because they care fuck-all about the statistics in the US when they take their principled positions from the Vatican.

    The job of the bishops here is to work out solutions that allow the church to function as an effective institution in the US, and so they’re going to compromise on birth control where they must. But they are not going to compromise on their principles because they’ll take their compromises back instantly if they could do so and still function effectively.

    And it’s worth noting that the rank and file members of the church, like Muslims in the US and other nations, often recognize this dichotomy between principles and pragmatism in local settings. So even though the bishops may come down on the principled position, church members are wiling to accept a pragmatic middle ground so long as the case is made for why such pragmatism is necessary. But expecting the bishops to side with the government’s health care policy over the views of the Pope is, well, silly. And expecting the bishops to make our case for us is doubly silly.

    So there’s no caving to the bishops here, or even being proposed. What there is is making the pragmatic case to the rank and file why the governments proposal for what is in the best interests of Americans is a reasonable position for the church to tolerate, for while it may violate Catholic morals, it upholds American values. And in almost every case, the rank and file members will side with American values so long as they are not deliberately in opposition to church teachings. It may take some effort and nudging, but it does work – and has for ages.

    And even if we could wipe religion out of the equation altogether, you’re still going to have to deal with the issue of differing values across the country. So this doesn’t at all go away when you wipe out the church – it just gets defended in different ways. Take an almost entirely non-theological issue like marijuana use and you’ll find wild and extreme variations in moral views across the country. Same with gun ownership. This is a big place with a lot of personal liberty which leads to a lot of different entrenched views that need to be coaxed along. Take non-church goers there in Ohio and non-church goers here in the OC and they’ll be wildly apart on all manner of things (such as gun issues as we have zero culture of hunting here), and we shouldn’t fault people for that. We just need to deal with it with understanding.

  159. 159
    Martin says:

    @kay:

    And, Martin, I have to work now, but as always, it was a pleasure screaming at you :)

    No hard feelings, and I’ll eventually drop this and move onto some other obsession.

    The pleasure is all mine, Kay. I look forward to your next post and our next conversation. And I have to apologize a bit for my ways – I’ve always been the designated thread puller, a quality I get from my grandfather. He’d pull and tug and twist me around a million directions until I had it sorted out. It’s a process I still do in my head almost constantly, and occasionally take the time to do more widely. It’s an important process, because it makes us better at this, and I want you to win Ohio for us. :)

  160. 160
    shortstop says:

    @Martin:

    It’s an important process, because it makes us better at this

    Does it always? Does it necessarily?

    Certainly a nobler and more comfy explanation for you than “I’m a reflexive contrarian on almost every subject and in almost every thread, and once I’ve chosen a position I will not be moved from it regardless of what evidence or facts are presented to me.”

  161. 161
    les says:

    @Martin:

    He’s not saying his view takes precedence over yours, rather that he shares the very same view as you at its heart and simply asks that we see if we can find a way to implement a policy, yielding the same outcomes, in a manner that respects everyone’s viewpoint.

    Well, not really. The entire argument from the bishops and pseudo liberals like Dionne was that their view does and must take precedence. Their entire set of arguments was bogus, and could only be couched as “religious freedom”–and what does religious freedom possibly mean, except “our view must take precedence?”
    The policy was never about religion–it was about health care and labor rights. It was never “their” money–it was their employee’s compensation. Do Mormon employers get to pay their employees in scrip, that can’t be used to purchase booze? The fact that the bishops won’t accept the compromise is evidence enough; that, and the fact that the only objections in the first place came from bishops, catholic conservatives and faux liberals like Dionne.
    So–Dionne’s whole new argument is, the bishops’ original view had to prevail.

  162. 162
    les says:

    @Martin:

    He [Dionne] did! He never brought up the bishops – you guys did. He brought up liberal Catholics! Those are partitioners and in some cases nuns and priests. They are NOT bishops.

    WTF? Dionne’s position throughout has been the admin. screwed up by not deferring to the bishops’ fee-fees enough. And he still thinks it’s a mistake. You’re just ass-backwards on this. Context, dude; whatever word he specifically says now, that’s his position.

  163. 163
    les says:

    @Martin:

    Then why the fuck didn’t Obama center it on women’s access to comprehensive health care! Because the policy was rolled out with no defense whatsoever. It was left out there for the GOP to do with as they pleased.

    Except to the bishops and apparently “liberal catholics,” it was never about anything except women’s health. Unless you heard Obama make a speech saying how much fun he had attacking the religious; personally, I missed that one.

  164. 164
    slightly-peeved says:

    Uhh.. One thiing I’m missing here. Where’s the evidence that this debate will hurt Obama in the general election? He just gott the Republican candidates and most of their major players in congress to come out against contraception. Santorum’s shot up in the primary polling! Whether or not this is the intent, in what way is any of this a bad thing for Obama! Polling shows most catholics, the ones who if female generally take the pill, think it was an acceptable compromise. And let’s note that it was actually no compromise at all. Obama screwed them and made them look the assholes. Until I see Obama’s numbers drop because of this, I won’t start trying to second guess what appears to have been a pretty effective piece of politics.

  165. 165
    les says:

    @slightly-peeved:
    Ah, but you’re approaching this all rationally and stuff. For Dionne and the Villagers, if anyone (or at least anyone in the right wing/religious hierarchy, or any power hungry douchebag against personal freedom–but I repeat myself) screams at implementation of a socially progressive policy, then the progressive is at fault and has been/will be damaged in some way.

  166. 166
    JenJen says:

    Just chiming in to say “Fuck that Vichy motherfucker EJ Dionne” may be my favorite opening sentence in Balloon Juice history. :-)

  167. 167

    I think that Dionne’s original point was NOT about the bishops. Martin is right on this: he was arguing originally and I think here that Obama could have and should have gotten more progressive Catholics, like Sister Keenan of the Catholic Hospital Association, on board. She challenged the bishops on the health care fight — really took them on directly. She wasn’t asking for very much, only the “compromise” that Obama eventually went with, which preserves women’s access to contraception. Dionne’s argument is that the original policy hung her out to dry.

    Ironically, Obama is going to look better on this politically now because the bishops have thrown such a fit and the GOP has gone with them. The Republicans seem to want to fight a general election on access to birth control, and I certainly hope that they do! This whole controversy has helped Santorum because it really makes his issues salient, and that’s good news for our side, too.

  168. 168
    El Cid says:

    I think more of us should declare the stuff we believe and support as “religious beliefs” and “religious values” and demand that as such Our Faith be publicly appeased when policy is being crafted, because it’s really important when you believe something which you Believe, as opposed to all the stuff that you merely believe.

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