Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Meet Planned Parenthood’s Tim Kaine

The long campaign to make America safe for pro-choice Catholic Democrats.


By William McGurn
The Wall Street Journal
October 4, 2016

In his classic “Brideshead Revisited,” Evelyn Waugh famously bemoans what he calls “the age of Hooper.”

The reference is to Lieutenant Hooper, the hapless junior officer who appears at the novel’s beginning and end. Though a bit character, he plays an indispensable role. In his unquestioning embrace of the dominant pieties of his day, Hooper is a stand-in for the vapidity of the society Waugh saw emerging from the rubble of World War II.

Tim Kaine is our Hooper.

When he walks onstage Tuesday night for this year’s vice-presidential debate, the junior senator from Virginia will carry with him a résumé that shouts respectability. By all accounts, he is affable. And he boasts all the amulets of modern diversity—fluency in Spanish, a stint as a Jesuit volunteer in Honduras—needed to mitigate the otherwise glaring liability of white maleness.

In sum, Mr. Kaine is a garden variety Catholic Democrat of the early 21st century. In this capacity, the orthodoxies that now define his party and might once have disturbed a practicing Catholic bother him not at all. These include abortion on demand, underwritten with taxpayer dollars.

In some ways Mr. Kaine’s rise represents the yielding of the old pro-choice Catholic Democrat represented by Mario Cuomo—“I am not implying that we should stand by and pretend indifference to whether a woman takes a pregnancy to its conclusion or aborts it” said he at Notre Dame in 1984—to the brave new world where son Andrew Cuomo says that those who oppose abortion “have no place in the state of New York.” Whatever else this is, it marks a comedown from the high hopes of liberal American Catholicism in those heady days before JFK became the first Catholic president.

Those were the years when Paul Blanshard could write a best seller arguing Catholicism was fundamentally incompatible with America. And ultimately find himself answered by Jesuit John Courtney Murray, whose own book—“We Hold These Truths”—argued that Catholicism offered America a firmer philosophical grounding for the self-evident truths about God and man that undergird the American understanding of freedom.

These many years later, Mr. Kaine has proved both men wrong. Blanshard could hardly object to a Catholic who campaigns on the proposition that his faith is so personal it will never influence his political positions. JFK at least promised those preachers in Houston he’d resign in the event of a clash between the two. As for Father Murray’s hopes of leavening the American experiment, Mr. Kaine’s recent assurance on same-sex marriage—the church, he says, will eventually come ’round to the Democratic Party’s view—reflects the Hillary Clinton principle that religious conviction must yield when it collides with secular dogma.

In this sense, Mr. Kaine might be best understood as the byproduct of a decades-long effort by liberal Catholicism to make the world safe for pro-choice Catholic Democrats. This endeavor has been a major public enterprise of institutions such as Georgetown and Notre Dame. It has also been successful.

Ah, but Mr. Kaine protests! He is not pro-choice; he is “personally opposed.”

But what can this mean? For Mr. Kaine, it meant a giant evolution once he reached the Senate. There he opposed limits he once supported as governor, fighting efforts to cut off tax dollars for Planned Parenthood, voting against a 20-week abortion ban, and co-sponsoring legislation aimed at nullifying state laws limiting abortion. Now he is running on a ticket committed to overturning the Hyde amendment’s restrictions on federal funding. Small wonder both Planned Parenthood and Naral Pro-Choice America now deem his voting record 100% pro-choice.

In short, the reason Mr. Kaine’s “personally opposed” position is no obstacle to a slot on the Democratic national ticket is because, much like Barack Obama’s original claim that he believed marriage was between a man and a woman, everyone understands that has no meaning.

Here’s a test: Put politics and policy aside. When do those who proclaim themselves “personally opposed” ever speak about the violence to the most defenseless among us? Or question a definition of compassion that is reduced to showing women with an unplanned or unwanted pregnancy the cold front door of an abortion clinic?

Has Mr. Kaine ever raised his voice to say he dissents from a worldview in which one life can be taken if it is deemed inconvenient to another’s? To the contrary, Mr. Kaine is that new model of Catholic politician who believes it is the church that must take its creed from the secular culture.

How humdrum and disenchanting. Back in the 1950s and 1960s, the liberal promise was that an American Catholicism coming into its own would help rescue the world’s most hopeful experiment in liberal democracy from the emerging excesses of materialism, relativism and militant secularism. This new birth of freedom would be led by a new generation of modern Murrays and Tocquevilles.

Instead, we got Tim Kaine.


Article Link To The Wall Street Journal: