Thursday, August 28, 2008

Articles about Democratic vice-presidential nominee Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. rarely fail to mention that he is a Catholic. In selecting him, Sen. Barack Obama presumably hoped to recapture the Catholic vote John F. Kennedy captured nearly half a century ago. However, like the nominations of then-Rep. Geraldine A. Ferraro and Sen. John Kerry, who both are Catholics, it is likely to prove an exercise in futility. The reason is quite simple. (“Denver cleric condemns Biden’s pro-choice stance,” Politics, Tuesday). Even with the presence of the Kennedy clan, today’s Democratic Party and President Kennedy’s Democratic Party have little in common.

When Mr. Kennedy ran for the presidency, such issues as legalization of abortion on demand and gay marriage may have been private goals in the minds of some Democrats, but not only were they not issues in the 1960 presidential campaign, they were not even on America’s political radar screen. Thus, Mr. Kennedy could run as a good Democrat and an obedient Catholic. That is no longer true.

Most Democratic Catholic politicians such as Mr. Biden have allowed Democratic political goals to trump Catholic theological beliefs. Mr. Biden’s Catholicism hasn’t deterred him from opposing the last three Catholic nominees to the Supreme Court, Clarence Thomas, John G. Roberts Jr. and Samuel A. Alito Jr. So much for Mr. Biden’s solidarity with fellow Catholics.

For today’s Democratic politicians such as Mr. Biden, “Catholic” is more properly an ethnic label than a religious label. Mr. Biden should more properly be thought of as Irish rather than Catholic. Religious Catholics have little reason to support him or Mr. Obama.



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