Word arrives via the Washington Post (April 16) and the New Republic (April 23) that President George W. Bush continues to place a high priority on wooing the Catholic vote. Under the tutelage of Crisis magazine editor Deal Hudson, pollster and Crisis contributor Steve Wagner, and Princeton natural law guru Robert George, Bush is learning "to speak Catholic," if not Latin. "Compassionate Conservatism," for those who don’t know, is Latin for "If you believe this, I have 300 acres of Florida chads I’d like to sell you." These three conservative Catholics are members of Bush’s Catholic Task Force, which claims credit for helping the born-again Methodist to lure more Catholic voters than any Republican since Ronald Reagan. Regular churchgoing Catholics, the task force claims, are greased and ready to roll into the Republican column in millennial numbers come 2004, bringing with them a profound political realignment. All Bush has to do is to keep mumbling those soothing phrases about the unborn and faith-based initiatives, about "not leaving anyone behind," and how "we must teach our children to be gentle with one another." Apparently that’s enough to keep the social consciences of Catholics quiet.
In the meantime, Bush has sent to Congress his wholly disingenuous budget proposal in which tax cuts are designed, like Reagan’s budgets, to redistribute wealth to the rich rather than the poor. In the process it guts federal domestic spending on everything from low-income housing to heath care and the environment.
How much more Catholic can you get?