Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Get out the pliers and lemon juice

In case you missed it, mes amis, Pope Benedict XVI last week asserted moral supremecy over the whole planet. That was right after le Saint-Père gave the go-ahead for the schismatic righties who defied the Holy See on the matter of the Latin Mass to resume their use of the Tridentine rite, which Jews remember as having references to their "perfidy."

Over at The Reality-Based Community, Mark Kleiman cheers the pope's move as one that could pull a wedgie on the coalition of evangelicals and right-wing Catholics that has brought a great republic to its knees in, lo, these last two decades. More a piece than a post, this one knocks me out. The man can write:

For any liberal of my vintage, regardless of denomination, Pope John XXIII is one of the great heroes of the '60s. It is one of the ironies of history that the ecumenical movement associated with the Second Vatican Council was among the preconditions of the movement Andrew Sullivan calls "Christianism": the effort by theologically and politically conservative Catholics and Protestants to ally Christianity with reactionary politics.

The fear and hatred that divided the Evangelical right from the Catholic right was, it turned out, among the bulwarks of American liberty. The identification of the anti-abortion cause with Catholicism greatly slowed its adoption by right-wing Protestants, especially in the South. But after Pope John made the Catholic bogey-man less scary, it became easier for Jerry Falwell to play on the same political team with Cardinal Law, once John Paul II had moved the Church back to he right politically while more or less maintaining its outreach to Protestants.
By the same token, but on a different path, your blogstress sees in the Vatican's latest decrees and Bush administration's (and, apparently the American people's) sanction of torture, a return to the dark ages. The argument is made in her regular column at The American Prospect Online.

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Why Edwards isn't cutting it

At The American Prospect Online my colleague Garance Franke-Ruta has quite the brilliant piece about why the John Edwards presidential campaign can't seem to get much traction among low-income groups, despite the candidate's anti-poverty platform.

According to Garance, people who earn low wages are savvy enough to know that the real path out of poverty will open only when more people who look like them assume positions of power. Hence the outsized appeal, among these voters, of Hillary Clinton (women are overrepresented in the low-wage cohort) and Barack Obama (poverty having endured as a problem for African Americans).

Here's a taste from GFR of how it got that way:

As the nobility and controversy of the civil rights era gave way to the controversy without nobility of the identity politics era, politicians learned to shy away from genuine challenges to the social order while simultaneously seeking to claim the moral mantle of historical daring. Today's goal, as Edwards' tour shows, is to be noble without being in the least controversial.


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