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John Brennan: another Catholic in the upper reaches UPDATE

John Brennan has been Obama's national security adviser and is now nominated to head the CIA. His torture, rendition, and drone involvements have had moral murmuring but I've not detected major public criticisms of him. So today, I was surprised and amused to see Pat Lang, at my favorite military/intelligence/political blog, say the following: "I would not have picked Brennan. He seems to me to be a rule obsessed product of too much Catholic education." Can anyone have too much Catholic education? Does Lang mean too much Jesuit education? Brennan is a graduate of Fordham (political science).UPDATE: Here is a "Room for Debate," debate on Brennan at the NYTimes.Patrick Molloy informs us that Hagel is also a Catholic (didn't know that). See his comment below.And Here: an interesting and provocative piece by Michael Lind at Salon on the Hagel nomination: Obama Repudiates Bushism.

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Margaret O'Brien Steinfels, a former editor of Commonweal, writes frequently in these pages and blogs at dotCommonweal.



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The Jesuit tentacles reach throughout the realm. As Pat Zapor reports at CNS, not only is Catholic representation in Congress at an all-time high, but 10 percent of all House and Senate members are graduates of Jesuit colleges and universities: the Republic long endure?

And don't overlook Chuck Hagel."A lifelong Roman Catholic, he is strongly anti-abortion and consistently voted to restrict its availability. Based on this history, the abortion rights group NARAL gave him a zero rating, and the National Right to Life Committee gave him a rating of a hundred per cent. He supported teacher-led prayer in schools: the Christian Coalition gave him its top rating of a hundred per cent." there's a potential scandal. His brother Tom was kicked out of Catholic school for making fun of nuns."Tom, on the other hand, was the rebel and class clown who did imitations of the nuns until he got kicked out of St. Bonaventure High. But he was so popular that after his expulsion, many of his classmates followed him out the door to public school."

I'd have to say that my exposure to Jesuit education didn't involve much rule-stickling beyond having women out of the men's dorm by midnight (and I fear to report that even that rule didn't get very stickled).

Out by midnight! In my secular humanist university (with a lingering Calvinist undertone) women had to be out by 6 pm. But that was in another country (chronologically speaking) and besides the wench is -- well, not dead, as Christopher Marlowe had it, but raising a family in the suburbs.There's obviously a strong opposition to Hagel building up. On NPR this morning someone from the American Enterprise Institute dismissed him as anti-Semitic (implying indeed that most criticism of Israel was closet anti-Semitism). Others are criticizing his obvious inclination towards Pentagon cutting. It would be interesting to know how far the Congressional critics of Pentagon-cutting are really worried about US security, and how far they are worried by the possibility of job losses in their own states. The DOD for years has done a good job of spreading its contractual goodies around so that there's hardly a state that wouldn't be affected by such cuts. Does anyone know how many military bases we have throughout the world? How far we really need them? And how far some may be doing more harm than good?

Thank you, Patrick Molloy. Didn't know that. Good thing that NYTimes doesn't seem to know about his 100 percent pro-life voting record!

Several sources (one of which is Wikipedia, not always 100% accurate) say that Chuck Hagel was brought up in the Catholic Church but is now an Episcopalian.

Another source about Hagel's religious affiliation:

There were on-campus protests when Brennan was Fordham's commencement speaker, in May, due to his having defended torture as an American interrogation tactic, as well as his involvement with extrajudicial killings. I posted about it here. Scott Horton called Brennan "the principle advocate of the dont look back mantra with respect to the misdeeds of the Bush years," which makes him a consistent choice for Obama, but an unfortunate one in my opinion.

Mollie, As I recall, Brennan sat down at Fordham with a group of faculty (and students?). Did you ever come upon any report of that?

Based on what I saw on the Sunday morning talk shows, the main opposition to Hagel will come from GOP senators. And they will not say out loud in what their main opposition consists. Lest we forget, in 2007 Hagel said of the head of his own party, George W. Bush, that he was the worst president in 40 years, or words to that effect. And in 2008, he said, if asked, he would consider running as Obamas VP against John McCain, the nominee of his own party. These are big pluses for Hagel as far as Im concerned, but the GOP seems not to think so. The long knives are out. Democratic senators will also question him about some of his illiberal social policies, which others here have mentioned. And there will be questions about his views on Israel. But the major pro-Israel advocacy groups are not opposing the nomination, at least as of now. To the best of my knowledge, AIPAC has not opposed the nomination. The Anti-Defamation League (the ADL), while expressing some concerns, has said, with respect to the nomination, that the President should have discretion to name the Secretary of Defense he wants. And the National Jewish Democratic Council (the NJDC), an advocacy group within the Democratic Party, has expressed its confidence in President Obamas policies concerning Israel, which it assumes the Secretary of Defense will adhere to.

Sure... we get two Catholics in executive positions, Defense and Intellegence .... but ND got stomped on by both of these attributes. .. .. ..

Ed, you need to add a little rim shot sound effect to comments like that one :-)

That all three Jewish organizations have not opposed Hagel shows, I think, that Netanyahu is in trouble in the U.S. Yay for them!

See "Poll: Most Evangelicals and Catholics Condone Torture in Some Instances" at this information is still current, might it be that Brennan is a "shoe-in" if Republicans value the "Catholic vote"?

Two more Republicans who depart conspicuously from the party line are Chris Christie and Bobby Jindal. Is a new sub-set emerging in the GOP -- Catholics against the GOP establishment?

Yes, Chuck Hagel is no longer a Catholic. He is an Episcopalian.

In most periodicals and blogs much is written about what is wrong with the operation of the Federal Government with particular emhasis on the Congress, as well as the Presidency. Throughout the criticisms is the frequent conclusion about the influence of money. The Supreme Court's United Citizens decision seems to have made things worse. From time to time someone writes about the need for reform of our Constitutional system; such as term limitations for both houses (as we have on the Presidency), curtailment of Congressional perks; such as life time pensions and health care, and especially control of unlimited money in elections, so that Senators and Congressmen do not make a lifetime career of their elective office and become lifetime tools of the rich and powerful. It would seem that we are in need of a Constituional Convention with an appropriate budget to allow for a significant staff and sufficient time to consider the need for whatever changes are truly needed to restore the so-called government of the people, by the people and for the people, as we are frequently told is the underlyiing idea of our Government. In the hundreds of Universities and Colleges throughout the land there are many well informed and highly intelligent academics in the Schools of Government studies, as well as scholars in all other disciplines, who should involve themselves in the issue of whether or not significant governmental changes should be made by way of a Constitutional Convention which may be the only way significant reform can be made. Why haven't we heard from any of them in a loud, clear, consistent and convincing voice They present themselves as experts in the field of government, so they should be a moving force in establishing the need for such studies. In order to get the original Constitution adopted a group of individuals saw to the publication of the Federalist Papers to explain why the Constitution should be adopted. If the time to do this, is not now, when will it ever be.

Rodrigo, thanks for the links... Great videos embedded in the Esquire article.

Rodrigo:As to Chuck Hagel's religious affiliation: Thanks for the confirmation.

Should we note that William Brennan is not the first Fordham graduate to head the CIA. William Casey was.

I do not know much abot Brennan, but I have always liked Chuck Hegel; pro-life and sensible when it comes to trimming military expenditures and military 'adventures'. Probably they will both be confirmed.

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