Saturday, May 02, 2009

Lunch Room Ethics

I think fewer people give a shit about Obama doing the Notre Dame commencement speech than you might be led to believe if you happened to pay attention to "polls" and such.

Many people are angry at what they see as one of the nation's most prominent Catholic institutions honoring Obama, who supports abortion rights and embryonic stem cell research. But a poll just released by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life shows 50 percent of Catholics saying they approve of the Notre Dame award to Obama, with 22 percent saying they disapprove. Twenty-two percent said they didn't know. That's pretty similar to the views of Americans overall on the issue -- 48 percent of the general public said they approved, 25 percent disapproved and 27 percent said they didn't know.

Oh god. "Many" (how many?) people are "angry" (how angry?) at "what they see as" blah blah blah. Three milquetoast qualifiers in less than ten words. An undefined quantity seem to share an emotion, to some degree or other, regarding an interpretation. Well, I'm sure I should probably give close to half of a fuck, but I guess I don't really understand why. Especially when this portentous opener is undone in the same paragraph by the usual heterodox misgivings of cafeteria Catholics, the white uptight American types who, unlike their swarthier Euro counterparts, believe this mumbo-jumbo.

Actually, the issue is less with the $8.2 million the disgruntled donors claim to have withheld in protest, than what exactly these donors think they got with Bush beyond lip service. He made some noise about sharing their concerns, but when push came to shove, nothing changed. It's not like any legislation or a Constitutional amendment got passed or even seriously proposed. He made just enough noise to get them excited was all. Hell, now they know how Democratic constituencies feel, aside from the small "stuff that actually affects your life" part.

In the end, cafeteria Catholics -- even when they're Democrats -- are an awful lot like cafeteria Republicans, in that they profess to align with a certain doxology that has been rigorously defined, yet scribble and quibble all along the margins with things that don't quite suit their sensibilities. And neither group ever seems to get around to defining and explaining the discrepancies between their club's professed rules and their individual sentiments, and shed some light on what is really the political equivalent of battered-wife syndrome.

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