Posts Tagged ‘Rush Limbaugh’

The 7 Layers of Opposing Obama’s Response to the Financial Crisis

Wednesday, March 4th, 2009

Opponents of Obama’s response to the financial crisis have taken a number of approaches their disagreement. As with all political opposition, these approaches begin with a seemingly common-sense question or objection – and use it as a lever to attack their opponents. Governor Bobby Jindal for example used a bit of each of the following approaches to go after Obama – though not quite committing to any of them fully. I’ve paired many of these approaches with the most prominent individuals who have become associated with them – and tried to respond to them. What is common among them all is a desire to tap into the inchoate rage that this crisis is engendering among all Americans – and to try to focus that rage on Barack Obama. What is lacking among these approaches is a compelling or plausible alternative.

I. Do we need to do anything at all? (James K. Glassman)

George Will memorably attacked this point as a strawman on This Week. But it’s not, even if it is unfair to attribute this view to most Republicans. James K. Glassman (hereinafter called “Dow 36,000″ after the book he coauthored) wrote a much-talked about piece for Commentary making the argument that nothing need to be done. The article was cited by House Minority Leader John Boehner among others – and was perhaps the first anti-Obama argument to gain traction in the stimulus debate. Mr. Dow 36,000 made the argument that the Austrian business cycle best explained our current mess – and that our best option would be to do nothing and hope things got better, that we trust the market to provide if only we have enough faith in it’s benevolence and restrain our sinful (government) interference.

What Mr. Dow 36,000 failed to account for was that the stability of societies around the world is dependent on economic growth and the opportunity this brings. The opiate of the masses unhappy with their governments is no longer religion – it is the hope that results from economic growth, the miracle and curse of rising expectations.

Mr. Dow 36,000 believes that if our economic heart seems to have stopped beating, the answer is to have faith that our blood will continue to flow. “We don’t need stimulus – we need to calm down,” he says. But the only rational response is to shock the heart back into action, to stimulate it.

II. But do we need to spend all this money?

Yes, if not more. The basic theory of Keynesian stimulus is that when the aggregate market demand for goods and services enters into a decreasing spiral.

Less demand = Lower prices = Less supply = Less jobs = Less demand = Lower Prices = etcetera

When an economy enters this cycle, Keynes believed, the government must step in and increase demand by spending more than it receives in taxes. (If it taxed to make up for it’s increased spending, it would not be adding demand but merely redistributing it.) Projections indicate that the US gross domestic product will fall by $2.1 trillion in the next two years. Which is why some Nobel-prize winning economists were frustrated that Obama’s plan was so small that it will not be able to make up for the drop in demand.

Joe Scarborough pointed out on Meet the Press last Sunday that, as all deficit spending is stimululative, the last eight years of the Bush presidency have been Keynesian stimulus too:

Scarborough uses this point to make out Obama’s stimulus to be more of the same, except with the stimulus directed towards the bottom 95% of Americans instead of the top 2%. He’s not entirely wrong, but to continue the metaphor above – if someone’s lifestyle choices have put enormous pressure on their heart, as they snort cocaine or take speed or otherwise constantly overcharge their heart, the first step to getting them healthy is usually to get them to stop putting so much pressure on their heart. But if their heart beat is dropping rapidly, or their heart has stopped, then the first step is no longer to remove the cocaine from their system but to inject them with someone that will energize their heart. This is a stimulus. And this is the reason Obama’s economic team is increasing our deficit in the short term.

III. What about tax cuts? (Eric Cantor)

The Republicans proposed a $3.1 trillion dollar permanent tax cut as their alternative to Obama’s $780 billion dollar spending/tax cut stimulus. That they continued to criticize Obama for fiscal irresponsibility and accused him of “generational theft” while supporting this bill aptly demonstrates that this was a pure political play. But if nothing else, the sheer size of the Republican alternative stimulus suggests what the reports of the nonpartisan Congressional Research Office concluded: tax cuts work slower and have less stimulative effect than almost any kind of spending measures. This is why more than half of Obama’s bill is spending.

IV. Fine. But even if this works, the deficit will be out of control! (John McCain)

Damn right it will. Hell – after eight years of rapidly decreasing taxes coupled with the largest increase in domestic spending since the War on Poverty and two large and seemingly unending wars, the deficit was already out of control. Even before that, as Bush failed to respect the “lockbox” that Al Gore promised to protect with the extra funds raised by Social Security taxes, we were in trouble. But even if we had saved all of this money paid into the Social Security program which is owed to me and you in a few dozen years (or less) the rapidly escalating cost of health care would leave our government with a deficit of over $60 trillion dollars over the next few decades.

Which is why Obama has been talking about dealing with America’s long-term fiscal problems since he was on the campaign trail – and especially since he was elected. In the weeks before his election, Washington was taken with his idea of a “Grand Bargain.”

But none of this will matter if the economy doesn’t begin growing again. If the first step to recovery is deficit spending to get the economy going again – continuing the above metaphor, using paddles, injections, whatever to get our economic heart functioning again – the next step is to clean up our act and take a fiscally responsible approach to governing and entitlement spending – in other to stop the irresponsible behaviors that helped create the crisis. If our economy is still stagnant, we will need to dismantle a good portion of our federal and state governments. But if the stimulus works, and the economy begins to grow again, adjustments can be made. Another point that Obama and his Director of the Office of Management and Budget Peter Orzag have made clear is that the first step to solving America’s long-term fiscal problems is tackling the problem of our rapidly escalating health care costs – which thanks to their rapid growth make up an ungodly percentage of our unmet future commitments. This is why Obama sees health care reform as one of the first steps that needs to be taken – to stop the rapidly escalating costs of health care.

V. Do we really need to help all these losers? (Rick Santelli)

Yes, we do. Obama has described his economic team as a bunch of mechanics who are trying to fix the machine that is our economy. When a mechanic sees that a spring or a lever or a cog isn’t functioning properly – and this piece is preventing the machine from working – the mechanic knows the problem will not be fixed by lecturing the piece or letting it fail for not properly doing it’s job. The correct thing to do is to replace it or glue it or do whatever is necessary to make the piece function as it must. Yes, the bankers whose job it was to properly calculate risk and make money instead spectacularly failed to understand the risks they were taking and lost money; and yes, the liars and idiots who took our mortgages they couldn’t afford should be punished too. But while one bank failing is just, a failure of our banking system could paralyze the economy. And while an idiot who took out a loan he couldn’t afford should get his house foreclosed upon, too many foreclosures will take down a neighborhood. Both of these are part of systemic problems which has resulted in downward spirals.

Obama, in taking this approach, seems to be combining some elements of Hayek’s warnings about the limits of the discipline of economics and the failure of the best-laid plans with Keynes’s fierce urgency of now – a kind of trial-and-error, scientific approach to financial crisis management as opposed to a more ideological, morality-driven approach associated with partisans of the left and right.

VI. Obama’s plan sucks. It isn’t working yet!

The stimulus money hasn’t begun to be spent. And the banking and mortgage fixes have yet to be fully implemented – so  of course it’s not working yet. Obama recently explained that the ups and downs of the stock market are a flawed indicator – just as the ups and downs of campaign polling is often flawed. Obama bet his campaign on a strategy of ignoring the day to day and conceding the daily media wars and never trying to boost his daily poll numbers. Instead, he focused on the fundamentals. And he won. His economic team’s approach to the financial crisis is similar. The falling stock market is merely a symptom of the crisis. It is a waste of time to treat a symptom when the root cause is not being addressed – but if one is able to treat the root cause, the symptom will be cured as well.

Obama has elected to do what needs to be done to fix the economy as a whole – and this means helping people whose decisions were poor, people who were greedy, people who were stupid, and yes, losers too. No matter how distasteful, the situation bankers and mortgagees must be helped in order to fix the economy.

To reiterate, the Obama plan has several steps:

  1. Fixing the mortgage and banking mess.
  2. Arresting the downward economic spiral touched off by these messes with government spending to stimulate demand.
  3. Put our government on a fiscally sane path by tackling the enormous gap between our spending promises and revenue generation in the area of entitlements – and at the same time, reigning in deficit spending as soon as this crisis has passed. (These steps are necessary to prevent those who we currently owe from panicking.)

VII. I hope he fails! Socialist! Communist! Marxist! Terrorist! Black Hitler! The Antichrist! Nobama! (Rush Limbaugh)

In fairness to Rush, he’s only publicly expressed a few of these sentiments. I’m not sure that he’s called Obama a black Hitler yet – but I’m sure he’s joked about it. This approach presumes that Obama has a quasi-secret agenda he is trying to impose on America – and that this agenda is so awful, it would be better to suffer another Great Depression or worse than to capitulate. Rush has described Obama as acting in bad faith, as being deranged, as having a mental illness (which Rush diagnoses as liberalism), and as all manner of awful and un-conservative things. Rush is a true propagandist and ideologue – and he has become the rallying point for movement conservatives.

His critiques now have power as the anticipatory fear of what Obama might do overwhelms the sense of what Obama is doing – and if Obama fails, Rush will be hailed as a visionary and a leader. But if Obama continues to display the conservative temperament and pragmatism that won him the election, then he will be as little remembered as Father Coughlin with his anti-Roosevelt screeds.

Rush – like proponents of failed ideologies everyone – continues to maintain that the conservative movement did not fail, but rather that it never truly had the power to achieve it’s agenda.

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The Back of Obama’s Hand

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2009

Obama has clearly been trying to stay above the fray in this debate over the stimulus bill. He set guidelines as to what he wanted in the bill and let Congress fight over the specifics. He wanted a bill:

  • in which 75% of the spending would occur within two years; 
  • that would focus on long-term projects such as infrastructure, health care, and educational improvements and on short-term stability measures dealing with unemployment; 
  • that would have little to no “pork”; 
  • that would include significant tax cuts; and 
  • that would be ready to pass as soon as possible – by last week.

But as E. J. Dionne of the Washington Post explained:

The president has been willing to give House and Senate Democrats substantial leeway in crafting their proposals because he knows that both will end up being broadly to his liking. He can influence the final outcome when the two houses work out their differences next month.

The administration did intervene, however, to chip away at a few small but politically troublesome expenditures…

Dionne is referring to the items the Republicans voiced displeasure over (with press releases and coordinated apperances on cable news shows). Obama pressed the Democrats in Congress to remove the items (including state funding for contraception and STD prevention and a museum of the mob in Las Vegas). The Republicans wanted tax cuts – and Obama obliged with over 35% of the cost of the stimulus going to tax cuts. A number of other Republican proposals have been incorporated into the bill from Chuck Grassley’s Alternative Minimum Tax fix to Arlen Specter’s additional funding for the National Institute of Health to Eric Cantor’s proposal to place the bill on the internet. 

The Republicans who have been criticizing the bill have praised the popular President Obama’s outreach and tried to place the blame on the unpopular House Democrats. The talking point is that Obama is too timid to stand up to the House Democrats who are foisting this awful bill upon us. This seems to me to be a misleading interpretation of the above events designed to undercut Obama politically. From what I can see and from what I read – the Democrats, and especially Obama, are making a good faith effort to make sure this bill has bipartisan support. They are incorporating Republican suggestions and principles; they are involving them in some, though not all discussions of the bill. Even if there is truth to the complaints of House Republicans that they are being frozen out of the House’s deliberations, their input is clearly being taken into account by Obama who has presssed the House Democrats to make changes suggested by the House Republicans. The Senate bill seems to be even more reflective of Republican concerns, with 78% of it’s spending projected to be done by 2010.

Which is why the unanimous opposition of the House Republicans is disappointing. It is best explained, it seems, by politics, as the AFP described the dynamic at work:

[I]f Obama’s stimulus works and revives the reeling economy, they would be unlikely to get any credit even if they voted for it – by opposing the measure they can at least expect some political gain if it fails.

But the battle of whether the Republicans are being true to their ideals or merely obstructionist hasn’t yet been resolved. The Republicans have been dominating the media coverage while the Democrats have hung back. They have been expressing their criticism of the stimulus plan in partisan terms – bringing up culture war issues related to sexual morality, calling the bill a mere sop to Democratic interest groups, and failing to acknowledge the significant concessions that have been made. Rush Limbaugh – as part of his continuing quest to hijack the Republican Party – wrote an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal full of his usual misinformation: exaggerating the cost of the bill; downplaying the tax cuts within the bill (when his real objection is to who these tax cuts are going to); and most of all claiming that it was an example of Democratic policies being forced down the throat of an America who wants a bipartisan approach – like the one Rush Limbaugh is offering.

There are major changes that should be made to this bill – the most pragmatic and popular one being to eliminate the portions of the bill extending past 2010 and keeping those provisions for other legislation. But by necessity, out of a need for quick action, this bill will be far from perfect – utilizing existing programs rather than creating more appropriate and effective ones. Obama should ensure that the Senate Democrats make this change to the bill, which is already an improvement over the House bill in that 78% of it’s monies will be disbursed within two years.

But regardless of whether this bill is the right bill or not, Obama will soon face a choice. The Republicans seem to be interpreting Obama’s civility and openness to dialogue as weakness. They do not seem to realize where they are headed. Voting against tax cuts. Voting against a stimulus measure. Obstructing the government from acting in the midst of a crisis. Obama will likely continue to reach out for the rest of this week, making obsequious efforts to woo Senate Republicans to his side. Given the dynamics that are dominating in Washington, I find it difficult to believe they will give in, although some might. (The question would become, did Obama get enough Republicans.) As described above, most Republicans have far more to gain by being obstructionist – especially if they are misinterpreting Obama’s attempts at biparisanship as weakness – and think there will be no consequences.

My bet – and my advice if it were needed – would be for Obama to make a final private plea for Republican support later this week. Then, if it fails, to schedule a speech this coming weekend in one of his more vulnerable opponents’ states. He should make clear that this bill is not perfect – but that decisive action in the midst of this crisis is important. He should make clear that bipartisanship is not unilateral disarmament. He can only work with those who will unclench their partisan fists and are willing to get down to the work of governing. He should make it clear that this bill is not our only response to the crisis – that we will likely need to do more – to reform the banking and mortgage industries; to continue to create liquidity in the credit markets. He should make clear that this stimulus bill is only one part of his overall plan. Shortly after this speech, he should sent out an email to his supporters asking them to write their Congressmen and Senators and ask the Obama movement to prove it’s continued political worth.

In short, he should give a brief demonstration of the consequences of crossing Obama – he must show his opponents the back of his hand. It may not be civil – but politics cannot be civil without respect. Perhaps it is time for Obama to demonstrate his ability to change the debate in Washington – and in the country.

Stirring Up Trouble

Tuesday, January 27th, 2009

Kevin Hassett in an opinion piece for Bloomberg calls on Obama to rein in Pelosi and try to bring in the spirit of bipartisanship that Obama talked about so much. He even compares Obama’s calls to civility (while running a civil campaign) to George W. Bush’s calls for civility (while running an exceptionally dirty campaign, especially against his Republican opponents.) Hassett is outraged that Nancy Pelosi said – to the Republicans who were threatening to vote against the stimulus bill:

Yes, we wrote the bill. Yes, we won the election.

How uncivil of her! Hassett continues:

If [Obama] wants to fulfill the promise of his rhetoric, he should take Pelosi to the woodshed and insist that she include Republicans, collegially, in the process. He should stand up to his party and threaten to veto a bill if it fails to make reasonable concessions to his friends across the aisle. He should advise his own staff to begin returning the phone calls of senior Republican aides.

Contrast Hassett’s hissy fit about how the Republicans in Congress are being marginalized with the comments of these Republicans themselves:

“If [the] President carries this on it does open door for a new tone!” – Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.)

“Sharp differences are muted.” – Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas)

“President Obama is speaking to House Republicans right now on Democratic stimulus bill. Good sales man, bad product.” – Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.)

There are complaints about how the Democratic majority is running the process on the Hill – and Obama should look into that. I think an open and fair process should be the standard no matter which party is in control. But the situation is nothing like Hassett’s piece suggests – as Rahm Emanuel’s outreach to Republicans also demonstrates. It makes it seem like Hassett is just trying to build a meme to use against Obama later.

Meanwhile, Congressman Tom Price has told Rush Limbaugh to back off:

…it’s easy if you’re Sean Hannity or Rush Limbaugh or even sometimes Newt Gingrich to stand back and throw bricks. You don’t have to try to do what’s best for your people and your party. You know you’re just on these talk shows and you’re living well and plus you stir up a bit of controversy and gin the base and that sort of that thing….

Political Catholicism and the Obama Apocalpyse

Thursday, November 20th, 2008

Cardinal Stafford, a prominent American Catholic close to Pope Benedict XVI, launched into a vicious tirade against the newly elected President of the United States, Barack Obama, last week. He incorporated  some boilerplate conservative attack on the state power reminiscent of Ronald Reagan (implying socialist tendencies in the President-elect); he stated that America would be experiencing the Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane before it’s Crucifixion and destruction in the coming years, comparing America to Jesus and Barack Obama to Pontius Pilate; he stated that America as a nation was suicidal and has been “thrown upon the ruins;” and then, he used three curious words to describe Barack Obama: “aggressive, disruptive, and apocalyptic.”

As a Catholic I am offended by  Cardinal Stafford’s extreme politics delivered without distancing himself from his official capacity as a “prince of the church” or official rebuke from the church. It is not just what he said – but when and who he is. One thing that surprised me in the aftermath of this election was the number of Republicans, conservatives and other McCain supporters who came to me – as a person who had argued with them in favor of Obama – and expressed their cautious optimism about Obama and their pride in America for having elected him. Cardinal Stafford though seems to lack such common grace.

He joins the small cadre of movement conservatives who – rather than giving President-elect Barack Obama a chance to govern even for a few days before declaring the end of civilization – has decided to preemptively attack Barack Obama, the American people and our democratic choice. Rush Limbaugh has begun to call the financial crisis “the Obama recession” – because he clearly can see that Obama caused it by running for president. Steve Marlsburg, while talking to a prominent Israeli, encouraged her to press her leadership to launch a preemptive strike on Iran – so America would already be embroiled in yet another war in the Middle East before Obama comes into office. Michael Savage proclaimed that all competent white men would be fired from their jobs at fire and police departments and that America had been destroyed by this election. While most Americans, and many in the world, hope and pray that Barack Obama will have the strength and resolve to face the challenges that face us collectively, these men choose instead to fan the flames of fear and violence in uncertain times. They are demagogues whose latent anger at America has been unleashed by the election of a progressive in a time of crisis.

Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage, and Steve Marlsburg are all radio shock jocks though – whose job it is to be outrageous. The fact that an Eminence has outstripped all of these men for sheer outrageousness and for blatant fear-mongering is telling. Pope John Paul II’s long reign had many legacies – but the most lasting may prove to be his politicization of the clergy, and especially the hierarchy of the Church. In America, he encouraged a culture that rewarded conservative ideology and encouraged a hierarchy-centered approach whose focus on minimizing scandals to protect the church’s power led to child abuse scandals. But the more direct result of this politicization has been the gradual movement of the church hierarchy away from the Body of the Church and its transformation into an arm of the Republican Party. Bishops, using their sacramental authority as a political public relations tool to aid the Republican Party, have publicly stated their desire to deny Communion to John Kerry (while he was running for president), to Kathleen Sebelius (after she endorsed Obama) to Republican lawyer Douglas Kmiec (after he endorsed Obama on pro-life grounds) to Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden (in the lead-up to the 2008 election). Now, post-election, some priests have begun to equate Catholicism with voting Republican so completely that they see any support for a Democrat as a mortal sin, and are denying Communion to anyone who voted for Barack Obama. And now we have a cardinal warning of the Obama apocalypse.

The Church – 54% of whom voted for Obama in America and a greater percentage who wished him to win abroad – sees it differently than the old cardinal and the politicized clergy.

For many years, the Catholic clergy have had their radical leftists and their reactionaries – but the great mass of priests have been moderates of various sorts. Today, we are seeing the fruits of thirty years of promotions of the most conservative ideologues, the fruits of a church hierarchy that no longer has any appeal except to the sexually repressed, morally corrupt, or fanatically certain, and the result of the gradual dying of the older generation of priests from a less ideological era and the emergence of the Baby Boom generation into leadership positions among the bishops – prolonging the 1960s culture war within the American Church. We are seeing the politicization of the church hierarchy. Sometimes it seems as if the more radical elements are deliberately attempting to provoke a schism, to sow disunity in the Church, so that they, with their monopoly on the institutional power of the church can declare themselves the uncorrupted Remnant.

I have never felt more distant from the Catholic church than I do now; yet I have rarely felt more one with the community of Catholics around the world and in America, more hopeful about the future, or more certain of my path and America’s path.

The Catholic Church has survived far worse men than Cardinal Stafford and the current hierarchy – it has survived popes and cardinals driven by an insatiable lust for power; it has survived warmongers and thieves who claimed their evil was done in the name of God; it has survived the greedy and corrupt, who used the institutions of the church to protect themselves; it has survived it’s war on reason and science in an age of reason and science – until it came to terms with these forces; it has survived it’s condemnation of democracy and freedom – until it came to terms with them; it has survived as popes and cardinals and bishops transparently used their moral authority to profit for themselves – until these rules promulgated for private purpose became enmeshed in tradition; it has survived it’s attempts to declare itself the sole source of Truth in the world; it has survived a plague of child molestation – enabled and covered up to the highest levels of the church. The Catholic church has survived – and it will survive this too.

The corrupt institution – through all of this – has survived because of the faith and good sense of the Church, the people and their sensus fidelium.

As Cardinal Stafford misuses his office to promote fear of apocalypse and as reactionary priests use the sacraments to provoke a schism, it should be remembered that this too will pass, and that as Christ challenged the Pharisees, so we too must challenge the corrupt institutions of our church. What we need to get past with Baby Boomer church politics is a new generation of leadership for the Catholic church, an Obama-like figure able to move past the debilitating culture wars and partisan politics to focus on the true business of the church.

It’s hard to see new leadership arising from the politicized clergy – but God does work in mysterious ways. Remember – just four years ago, it was almost inconceivable that a black man named Barack Hussein Obama could be President of the United States. Yet here we are. Know hope.

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Obama, the Lion King

Friday, August 29th, 2008

While Rush Limbaugh thinks the best way to make fun of Obama is to appoint a black man to be the “Official Obama Criticizer” – and allow him to make racially insensitive remarks and “talk ‘hood” – Jon Stewart knows better – and last night, with his show pre-taped but scheduled to run after Obama’s big speech, his show ran this pitch-perfect Obama introduction telling the story of Barack Obama, “which begins 180 million years ago”:

One of Rush Limbaugh’s sentences

Monday, July 7th, 2008

One of the sentences Rush Limbaugh wrote in response to a question by Zev Chafets in the Sunday Times:

“McCain and Reagan do not belong in the same sentence.”

Limbaugh’s fabulous wealth was most impressive though – especially in the context of his $400 million contract.  I have not had the time to get to know Limbaugh’s though – as I have tried to with Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter, George Will, and other conservative opinionators.

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Pope Endorses Barack Obama in UN Speech

Monday, April 21st, 2008

Pope Benedict @ the United Nations

Not quite. But close.

Addressing the United Nations on Friday, Pope Benedict XVI spoke of reducing income inequality; of increasing international cooperation; of respecting the law; of having solidarity with the poor and weak; of opposing (unnecessary)1 war; of “giving attention and encouragement to even the faintest sign of dialogue or desire for reconciliation;” of creating “structures capable of harmonizing the day-to-day unfolding of the lives of people;” of the “protection of the environment…and the climate.” And like Barack Obama, though many conservative Catholics are loathe to admit, the previous pope, Pope John Paul II even specifically opposed the invasion of Iraq.

In the past eight years, the Republican party has come to stand for the right of the president to torture prisoners; for rising inequality and acceptance of corporate fraud; for elevating the executive above the Rule of Law and the other constitutionally co-equal branches of government; for ignoring the climate crisis; for refusing to give aid to the poor and weak because of potential “moral hazards” while bailing out big corporations; for preventive war; for refusing to engage in dialogue with our enemies. Pope Benedict’s speech was a direct challenge to the worldview and policies of the Bush administration and an articulation of basic moral principles and basic responsibilities of the state.

Within these principles articulated by the pope, we can easily find the mainstream Democratic agenda, a rejection of the radical policies of George W. Bush, and more specifically, an endorsement of the school of politics that Barack Obama stands for: talking with our enemies; avoiding unnecessary wars and violence; respecting the Rule of Law; reducing income inequality; promoting access to health care; and protecting the environment.

This is the Democratic agenda.

The Pope explained that it is the responsibility of “every generation [to] engag[e] anew in the arduous search for the right way to order human affairs…motivated by hope.” I would call that a pretty good encapsulation of Obama’s appeal – that he represents a new generation striving to find the best way to manage the world and our nation “motivated by hope”.

Jonah Goldberg may call it fascism; Steve Marlsberg may call such efforts to reduce inequality and allow citizens access to basic needs Communism; Rush Limbaugh may call efforts to focus on the real threat of Al Qaeda in the Pakistani/Afghani border “cut-and-run.” But those who listened to Pope Benedict’s address to the United Nations can see that he stands with those the so-called “conservatives” have labeled fascists, communists, and cowards – and the pope understood that the basic moral values he stood for are the essence of what he called “freedom.”

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  1. I inserted unnecessary here although Pope Benedict did not. Although the pope spoke in this speech of avoiding war, I presume he speaks of this in the context of the “just war” theory that has been accepted by him and the rest of the Catholic Church in the past. []