Shocking true story. Bishops ask everyone to take the Politics out of Health Care Reform!
Although many pro-life groups joined Republicans in backing Brown's unlikely candidacy despite his pro-choice credentials -- as we reported here -- the Catholic bishops stayed on the sidelines, and many were clearly as dismayed as the White House when Brown upended predictions and took the seat that had been held by Ted Kennedy for decades. Brown's position on abortion, and his vow to block health care reform, is the worst of all worlds from the hierarchy's perspective.
One churchman I spoke with said the bishops were surprised at Brown's victory and were alarmed at the speed with which Democrats appeared to abandon the effort to pass some version of health care reform. He said the bishops had been trying to get a read on the political dynamics, but said so much remained in flux that they sent this letter to let their voice be heard ahead of Wednesday's State of the Union address.
Indeed, President Obama could do worse than adopt some of the bishop's language in his speech to the nation, if he wants to try to resurrect health care reform.
A paradox of the health care debate is that the Catholic bishops have had a place at the table because Obama -- who many bishops excoriated during the campaign as a candidate no good Catholic could support -- made health care reform a priority and because pro-life Democrats made sure the hierarchy had a say in the negotiations.
Yet the Republicans who had ostensibly been the bishops' closest allies in Congress have shown no inclination to listen to them on health care reform. Only one Republican congressman, freshman Anh "Joseph" Cao of Louisiana, a former Jesuit seminarian, bucked the party to support the House bill.
"The Republicans seem to have made a decision to oppose anything that the Democrats propose," a church official closely involved in the health care negotiations told me in frustration.
He said the bishops would like to rescue as much of the existing bills as possible, and he said they hope that an effort to retain and pass the heart of the bills would allow contentious issues like abortion funding to disappear. But he said that would also mean coverage for immigrants, another issue dear to the hierarchy, would certainly be off the table.
This would be the funniest thing I've ever read, if it weren't the saddest. On the brighter side, this is the first example I've ever seen of the Catholic Church, or any branch of the modern Conservative Movement, having to grasp the fact that when you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas. Those bastards spent years attacking Kennedy and Kerry for being bad Catholics and pillorying every Catholic politician to the left of Catherine de Medici and now they are surprised that Scott Brown won MA and doesn't give a flying fuck about the poor or the immigrants?