- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Da president?

Chris Chase of the Yahoo Sports NFL blog Shutdown Corner (http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/blog/shutdown_corner) wonders what could have been. How the phrase “President Obama” might be eliciting puzzled “who?” looks rather than the beatific glows or horrified dread it does.

It all goes back to former Chicago Bears coach Mike Ditka and the 2004 Illinois U.S. Senate race, which Mr. Obama won easily over Alan Keyes.

“But that victory wasn’t as assured as it appears in retrospect. For a few days in the summer of ‘04 there was the very real possibility that the Republican opponent in Obama’s first major election battle race would be Chicago Bears coaching legend Mike Ditka,” Mr. Chase writes.

The Illinois Republican Party had to scramble, as Jack Ryan had won its primary but dropped out of the race after the release of embarrassing papers from his high-profile divorce with actress Jeri Ryan.

“Republicans wanted a major name to turn the tide. Ditka was that name. For days the press played up the ‘will he or won’t he’ stories but, in the end, Ditka rebuffed the offer … There’s no way to know whether Ditka would have won but, remember, Obama was still a virtual unknown in Illinois in June of ‘04. Had Ditka run and won, Obama most-assuredly wouldn’t be running for president today,” Mr. Chase concludes.

Republicans are probably now saying, “Go Packers.”

Church and state

The Roman Catholic Church has a sense of humor - or a flair for political timing.

On Sunday, barely two weeks before the election, the first reading concerned a king and God’s providential use of earthly rulers, and the Gospel reading included Jesus’ admonition to “Repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and to God what belongs to God,” the latter verse being one of the few times Jesus spoke about politics.

Popular Catholic blogger Amy Welborn (http://amywelborn.wordpress.com) asked her readers, “What did you hear?” Reader Steve Likens recounted in her comment box how Archbishop Alfred Hughes of New Orleans instructed that “yes, we do have an obligation to our civil government, but we also have a higher calling and an obligation to God to protect life and not participate in intrinsic evil. He then listed all the evils at issue in this election: abortion, euthanasia, assisted suicide, [embryonic stem-cell research], etc., and instructed that … [we] vote according the our obligations to God.”

Clayton Emmer (www.doxaweb.com/blog/blogger.html) said more than the homily touched on politics, reporting that the bulletin at his North Hollywood church had a one-page insert urging a “yes” vote on Proposition 8, which would reverse the California Supreme Court on gay marriage and restore the male-female definition of marriage.

Another Californian, the Rev. Cavana Wallace, published his homily at his blog Printed as Preached (http://printedaspreached.blogspot.com/). Father Wallace said that for many Catholics, “this issue of abortion can also interfere with political associations (especially if a Catholic is affiliated with a political party that defends with no regret this legal right to kill an unborn baby before these children can take their first breath),” though he did not specify what party that might be.

That was a common theme among priests: the Rev. Matthew J. Albright of the Diocese of Youngstown, Ohio, names no candidate or party in the homily at his site Veritatem facientes in caritate (http://proclaimthetruthinlove.blogspot.com).

But Father Albright says the following, and it’s not hard to figure out the point: “The obligation to enter into the political process with a well-formed conscience, in this particular historical moment, means … [among other things] we must know God´s truth regarding the issues we face and the Church´s moral principles … A unique threat to human life which we face now is a bill called the [Freedom of Choice Act].”

Story Continues →