The Empire Strikes Back

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Empire.jpegDavid Gibson had a good post yesterday on Kansas City Archbishop Joseph Naumann’s campaign against his parishioner Kathleen Sebelius’ confirmation as secretary of HHS. And today Dan Gilgoff weighs in with an interview with Deal Hudson, who for a while ran Catholic outreach in the 2004 Bush campaign. Hudson makes an interesting admission about the failure of the anti-Sebelius forces to marginalize the liberal Catholic groups supporting her.

From a political point of view, those groups made a big difference.
When you can get what is taken as a Catholic organization in the
mainstream press supporting your guy, that adds a whole new element. We
were successful in 2000 and 2004 in keeping the [liberal Catholic
groups] Voice of the Faithful and Call to Action at bay because we were
able to label them dissident. We haven’t been able to do that with
Catholics United and Catholics in Alliance.

Hudson doesn’t say why his folks haven’t been able to do that, but I’d suggest a couple of reasons. Catholics United and Catholics in Alliance are tougher, more connected characters, and they’ve been able to get on board some Catholic insider big shots–sisters and priests and professors: Kmiec Skywalker, Obi-Tom Reese, Princess Lisa (Sowle Cahill)…

Gilgoff takes the opportunity to ask Hudson about that pesky John Green finding showing that “traditionalist” Catholics shifted their vote 17 percentage points toward Obama in the last election.

I’ve got to believe that something went wrong with that poll. But some
of these traditionalist Catholics, their parents and grandparents were
Democrats. And they want to be Democrats again. So Obama’s religious
outreach did very effectively give a lot of those people the sense that
it was OK to come back. From a political point of view, they did a very
good job of that.

Actually, Hudson has a perfectly good explanation for why there was nothing wrong with that poll. I’d also reiterate my hypothesis
that traditionalist Catholics have a bigger problem with voting for a
pro-choice Catholic than a pro-choice Protestant. That certainly goes
for hierarchs like Archbishop Naumann (cf. scandal, doctrine of). But bear in mind, as well, that Hudson had no noticeable success
moving the most observant Catholics towards Bush in 2004. It’s not just that these people
“want to be Democrats again” for family reasons. Many of them are toting the
big Catholic social justice package as well as the big Catholic
pro-life package. They want to be Democrats because the Democrats stand
for a lot of what they believe in. Hudson, a convert who grew up Southern Baptist, may not recognize that.

  • Dan

    Good points all, and now I’m laughing because that march-of-the-empire part of the Star Wars score stuck in my head.