Sed Contra: Gore’s Catholic Strategy

Deal W. Hudson
June 1, 2000

Vice President Gore had the opportunity to address the Catholic Press Association at its May convention in Baltimore, Maryland. He decided not to at the last minute, but I couldn’t help thinking about what he might have said. Here’s how I imagined the question-and-answer period following his speech:

During the primary, you and Sen. Bradley argued about which of you was more pro-abortion. Given your support for all forms of abortion, including partial-birth abortion, why will Catholics vote for you?

Catholics don’t really care about the abortion issue. Most of them voted for President Clinton after he vetoed the ban on partial-birth abortion. Your bishops talk in general about the issue, but we politicians don’t have to worry much about them criticizing us by name. The only guy who has gotten in trouble is a Republican, Gov. Tom Ridge of Pennsylvania.

I mean, look, if the Catholic Press Association can invite me to speak without a word of protest from your Church leaders, why should I be concerned about my position on abortion? Only pro-life extremists really care about the issue, and the media will keep them out of sight.

You consistently condemned choice in education while your own children attended private religious schools. Aren’t you concerned that this will alienate Catholics who are committed to their parochial schools as an option to public schools?

In all my years in politics, I haven’t found any issue that really alienates Catholics. They just don’t seem very interested in defending their faith or its institutions. Catholics bend over backward not to offend or to be offended. That’s why we politicians don’t pay much attention to them. Sure, we create photo ops with collars and habits, and speak at Notre Dame, and, of course, all the Jesuit colleges.

What do you think of the Catholic idea of subsidiarity, that we should first tackle social problems at the local level?

That’s fine. That’s the right thing to do. And we should do that. But let’s remember that not everyone in every community will do the right thing, and that’s when the federal government needs to step in and get the job done.

It’s wrong for people to call the experts in Washington “bureaucrats.” These are highly trained people who know what is right for this country.

They know how to raise children, educate them, and they know what a family should be. They know what employers owe their employees and what kind of atmosphere they should work in and what kind of benefits they should receive. These people are not bureaucrats—they are the experts we should rely on to lead this country to greatness.

Your wife, Tipper, used to crusade against the dirty lyrics of pop songs. She doesn’t do that anymore. Do you think it is no longer a problem?

Since I became vice president, Tipper and I have learned a lot. We have actually met people in the recording and movie industries, and they are good people who want what is best for America.

Music and movies give young men and women, who are often from impoverished backgrounds, a chance to express themselves. Naturally, what they say will not always sound nice to our middle-class ears. The important thing is that they are expressing themselves and the culture they represent, thereby affirming the marvelous diversity of our society. Many of these young artists will become wealthy and influential, which will be a sign of hope for those who are trapped in poverty.

You have sent a letter supporting a group of homosexuals, lesbians, and transsexuals demonstrating in Rome the first week of July. They plan a demonstration at the Vatican. Aren’t you concerned about offending Catholics?

Like I said earlier, nothing really offends Catholics—well, just the right-wingers. After all, you guys invited me here, didn’t you?

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