WHEN DEVOUTLY Methodist, 'pro-life' Elizabeth Dole campaigned for the Republican presidential nomination—and later went on to win a bid to become a senator in North Carolina—she courted all of the usual Christian conservatives and got the backing of national and local Christian-right leaders. Did any of them accuse her of engaging in sex solely for the purpose of lusty, filthy self-enjoyment, and then commercially promoting such debauchery to others? Surely not. Jerry Falwell praised Dole as a model of Christian morality even after her husband Bob announced to the world, via his Viagra endorsements, that 60-plus Liddy and 80-plus Bob were humping for reasons that had nothing to do with procreation, which the Christian right of course sees as the only reason for sexual intercourse.
And who could forget the lascivious Bob Dole appearing in a Pepsi ad in 2001, getting aroused by a then-adolescent Britney Spears? ('Easy boy,' he said to his, um, dog, as his eyes bulged when he caught a glimpse of Spears' skin.) Certainly we didn't hear conservative politicians and religious leaders railing that candidate Elizabeth Dole had a pedophilic husband who was jumping her bones every night during druggy sex romps while fantasizing about teen pop stars.
I think of this now as the Catholic cardinals criticize John Kerry and as Christian leaders and conservative politicians are calling Kerry a hypocrite for being a practicing Catholic who receives communion and yet supports abortion rights and equality for gays. There seems to be a double standard for Democrats who don't follow the full tenets of their churches—or the edicts of conservative politicians—and for Republicans who flout the moral teachings of the faith to which they claim to belong. That double standard goes for the media too, which eats up the 'politician in defiance of the Vatican' story and plays it big when the politician in question is a liberal Democrat, but seems to forget all about Republican Catholics who don't take their orders from the Pope.
'The Vatican issued a series of rules Friday aimed at stopping what it called 'habitual abuses' of traditional church practices in the celebration of the Roman Catholic Mass,' The Los Angeles Times reported. '[T]he senior prelate responsible for the instructions said politicians who support legalized abortion must be denied Holy Communion.'
Does that mean Cardinal Egan is going to turn away Rudy Giuliani? Is George Pataki going to be barred from the church doors? CNN, Fox and most newspaper reports didn't seem to even think of the fact that there were many pro-choice Republican politicians across the country. To them, the only story here was about John Kerry, even though the Vatican itself didn't mention him.
'Cardinal Francis Arinze, a top Vatican official, would not single out U.S. Democratic presidential candidate John F. Kerry by name,' The Los Angeles Times continued in its report, which somehow missed the angle that the governor of California is a famous pro-choice Catholic—and a Republican. 'But when asked in general terms whether a priest should refuse to give Communion to a Catholic politician who supports abortion rights, as Kerry does, Arinze replied with an emphatic yes.' They couldn't stop telling us that Arnold Schwarzenegger was 'pro-choice' and 'pro-gay' when they were pumping up his candidacy. But all of a sudden, when Vatican officials are once again jumping into American politics, they seem to get amnesia.
Sure, Kerry is running for president and he's been avidly pro-choice and spoke out in favor of abortion rights as a major march took place in Washington. But the story of Catholic politicians and abortion is an old one, as are the Vatican's condemnations and statements on morality. It seems odd when these old stories suddenly play big again; when they omit Republicans who are pro-choice, it becomes downright suspect. Responding to Kerry's statements supporting a woman's right to choose, a Bush campaign flack said Kerry's views are 'outside the mainstream.'' Is that what Bush thinks about Arnie, Rudy, Pataki, Christie Todd Whitman and Homeland Security chief Tom Ridge?
Conservative commentators weighed in against Kerry, some practically calling for excommunication, and, again, without saying a thing about pro-choice Catholic Republican politicians. But it wasn't just the rabid conservatives playing this game.
'Pro-choice supporters of Sen. John Kerry may feel the Catholic Church is meddling in the U.S. presidential election after ... . They would be wrong,' the Daily News pontificated in an editorial. 'Francis Cardinal Arinze ... didn't mention Kerry by name—but even if he had, the church has every right to declare what its moral teachings ... .'
Arinze didn't mention NY Gov. Pataki either, and for some reason the Daily News didn't see a reason to bring him up.
And what about all of the other issues the Catholic Church views as priorities? Why don't we see Catholic Republican politicians criticized on some of them (such as the death penalty or the Iraq war) or see Catholic Democrats touted for being model politicians regarding a few of them? According to the Hill newspaper, two members of Congress, Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., and Nicholas Lampson, D-Texas, produced a paper showing that, when it comes to voting in the House, Catholic Democrats follow church teaching more than Catholic Republicans. The issues they focused on in their research paper included taxes, cloning and the minimum wage, in addition to abortion and same-sex marriage. The 67 Catholic House Democrats voted with the church's positions 76 percent of the time; the 49 Catholic Republicans averaged 64 percent.
But Deal Hudson, publisher of the Catholic magazine Crisis, told the Hill the results were 'absurd,' because other positions 'do not matter as much' as abortion and 'life issues.' Ah, that explains why the 'pro-life' Liddy Dole and her husband Bob can screw like rabbits—while he pops pills and makes commercials promoting recreational sex and man-on-teen-girl-action—and still be considered models of morality by Christian conservatives.