- The Washington Times - Monday, June 2, 2008

Simple loyalty

“It is this very conflation of ‘Catholic-Republican’ and ‘Protestant-Loyalist’ identities that leads some Catholics in Belfast to regard Sinn Fein and Republicanism with disdain. ‘I tell Catholics not to vote for Sinn Fein. It’s basically a Marxist-socialist party, and their positions are very often against the Catholic Church,’ the Catholic chaplain at Queen’s University told me. …

“These Catholics, though they certainly have no love lost for the Unionists, saw much of the violence in the Troubles as arising partly from the tendency of many Northern Irish Catholics to submerge their Catholic identity into the ideology of Irish Republicanism. This is illustrated in a perplexing mural on the Falls Road commemorating Irish participation in the (very anti-Catholic) Republican army during the Spanish Civil War.

“Several others were likewise very quick to impress upon me that Catholic and Republican were not the same thing. When I expressed my surprise at having seen pictures of Che Guevara lumped in with those of Bobby Sands at a Republican pub, a lifelong Catholic Belfast resident answered: ‘Simplistic, isn’t it?’”

— Sandra Czelusniak, writing on “The Transformation of Belfast,” on May 22 at the First Things blog On the Square

In your skin

“This obsession with sincerity, and loathing of bogus sentiment, has benefited some politicians and damaged others. George W. Bush, Tony Blair, John McCain and Barack Obama have all taken advantage of the premium we place on politicians who seem to be comfortable in their own skin, and with their own values; Al Gore, John Kerry, Gordon Brown and Hillary Clinton have all suffered from appearing to hold something back, so that we can never be sure who it is we are dealing with.

“Brown in particular is paying the price for his inability to come to terms with the new confessional politics. People want to know who he really is, but if what he is really is a cautious and reserved politician who plays the percentages, then the public don’t want to know. So he is forced to tour the daytime-TV sofas trying to show his human side, and ends up revealing only how uncomfortable he is with the politics of self-revelation.”

— David Runciman, writing on “Behind the Masks,” in the May 17 issue of the Guardian

Mmm … doughnuts

“It might be better if the rest of the conservative movement spent its time arguing about doughnuts rather than presidential candidates anyway, since sweet emotions will trump painful ones. But of all the conservatives I’ve spoken to, it seems pretty clear that there’s not much debate. …

“‘Look, the Krispy Kreme doughnut is the Toyota Prius of doughnuts,’ explained my staunchly conservative, ever-hungry boyfriend. ‘It packs more sugar in a smaller size and everyone thinks you have excellent taste because you have one. But some people like to get something more out of a doughnut than diabetic shock. Dunkin’ Donuts satisfies your appetite. It’s like a truck - robust, tough. …

“The more I talked to my friends, the more their love of Dunkin seemed to be based in their conservative convictions. Here’s another friend: ‘If Krispy Kreme was so great its stock wouldn’t have tanked. DD beats … it, in taste and profitability.’ … Dunkin’ Donuts doesn’t advertise ‘free trade’ coffee. That’s definitely conservative!”

— Jillian Bandes, writing on “Donut Elitism” on May 30 at HumanEvents.com

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