Joe Biden Betrays His Fellow Catholics

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With the exit of effectively everyone but Bernie Sanders from the Democratic presidential race, the path to the party’s nomination has been cleared wide open for Joe Biden. It’s now one-on-one, Biden vs. Bernie, with Biden almost certain to win out. If you’re a betting man, the odds are literally and overwhelmingly on Biden—87 percent, according to RealClear’s betting average.

This means, dear papist, that the odds are on a Catholic nominee—that is, a “pro-choice Catholic” nominee. It’s sad (if not scandalous) that once again, as in 2004, the Church that has long been so solidly, so consistently, so eloquently, and so stridently pro-life will be embarrassed by another lifelong, professing Catholic who rejects those teachings at the highest national stage.

In 2004, that Catholic was John Kerry, another man of the northeast who was raised Catholic, went to the U.S. Senate, sought the nomination of a once-great political party that has lost its mind on cultural issues, and proceeded to sell his soul to Planned Parenthood, bowing to the party’s golden calf of Roe v. Wade. It’s a tragedy, really.

A deeper dig into the 2004 data is even more revealing. According to CNN exit polling, 55 percent of Catholics who attend Mass weekly voted for President Bush to 44 percent for Senator Kerry. The numbers in swing states were likewise notable. Though President Bush lost Pennsylvania—a state with millions of pro-life Catholic Democrats who went for Senator Kerry by a four-point margin—he carried Pennsylvania’s regular Mass-goers by the same margin. In Florida, Catholics comprised 28 percent of voters, and 57 percent went for President Bush to 42 percent for Senator Kerry. In Ohio, they made up 26 percent and went for the incumbent by a whopping 11-point margin. The margin was even wider for Catholics who attend Mass weekly: in Florida, they went for President Bush by almost two to one; in Ohio, 65 percent supported the incumbent.

 

President Bush actually won the Catholic vote in New York by a narrow margin: it was 51 percent for Bush to 48 percent for Kerry. Remarkably, the Massachusetts senator almost lost the Catholic vote in his own liberal home state: Catholics gave their native son a paltry 50 percent to President Bush’s 49 percent.

How remarkable it was that faithful Catholics felt no alternative in 2004 but to vote for the non-Catholic, George W. Bush, largely because they agreed more with him than Kerry on moral issues closest to Catholic hearts. John Kerry lost the election because he failed not only to win religious voters generally but Catholics specifically, an amazing fact when one considers that Kerry is Catholic.

In 2004, it was entirely John Kerry’s doing. A repeat in 2020 will be entirely Joe Biden’s doing.

What’s worse for Joe Biden is that it didn’t have to be this way, or at least not totally. At this point last year, the former vice president stood out among the Democratic Party pack as not completely hideous on the abortion issue. After all, he at least supported the Hyde Amendment, which bars the use of federal funds to pay for abortions. The core of Hyde is that it’s immoral, unfair, and unjust to require Americans with moral objections to abortion to be forced to subsidize abortions. This remains a wholly reasonable position, which numerous Democrats like Joe Biden supported all the way back to the 1970s, before the party took a hard left turn on abortion.

To be sure, in continuing to support the Hyde Amendment, Vice President Biden certainly wasn’t a pro-lifer. Nonetheless, amidst a broader field of Democrat candidates who were all abortion extremists, Biden stood out for supporting a position of basic decency and common sense. He could defend freedom of conscience and religious liberty—leading issues for current-day Catholics nervously watching those rights being assaulted by the cultural left. Who knows? The Vice President might have picked up a good five to ten million Catholic votes. Instead, Biden allowed an angry, sobbing Elizabeth Warren and fellow fringe abortion activists to browbeat him into reversing himself on the Hyde Amendment last summer. To wit:

Last June, in Atlanta, under enormous pressure from the likes of Senator Warren, Senator Kamala Harris, and the rabidly “pro-choice” liberal base, Biden—already deemed the Democrat presidential frontrunner for 2020—said: “For many years as a U.S. senator, I have supported the Hyde Amendment as many, many others have because there was sufficient monies and circumstances where women were able to exercise that right [to abortion], women of color, poor women, women were not able to have access…. But circumstances have changed. I can’t justify leaving millions of women without access to the care they need and their ability to exercise their constitutionally protected right.”

It was a shocking moment, made more so by the crowd of liberal women who went wild, roaring their approval and applauding ecstatically. Biden grinned. He appeared happy with his new allies and their joint abortion affirmation.

Particularly odious, and ironic, is how inherently racist Biden’s formulation was. I wrote about it in The American Spectator at the time. Pause and think carefully about what Joe Biden effectively said, to great fanfare from progressives: he announced that he was reversing a four-decadeslong position for the explicit purpose of “women of color, poor women” getting taxpayer-funded abortions. He was flipping so that minority women, and especially poor ones, could get free abortions, paid for by the public purse. He wanted to ensure they weren’t left behind and that money wouldn’t be an issue. He would strive to remove every obstacle to women of color aborting children of color.

Can you imagine if Donald Trump took that position? Would it take liberals even 30 seconds to denounce him as a racist? Yet, for Biden, liberals hailed this as a laudable moment of growth—Joe’s enlightenment. Here was a new Joe, a good Joe.

Well, Joe, you got their praise. But you also kissed goodbye the votes of millions of pro-lifers who might have considered voting for you. When you were the old Joe, you had these liberals in the bag regardless of whether you supported the Hyde Amendment or not. You gained nothing. You only lost—and at the price of many unborn human beings. Don’t doubt for a moment that your friends at Planned Parenthood will hold you to your promise if you make it to the Oval Office.

Worse, this could have been a moment for Biden to stand out as something closer to a respectable “moderate” among today’s Democrats. He blew it, choosing instead to capitulate to party extremists. Here was a chance to show some fortitude, some character, some backbone—to be a man with a chest who doesn’t get pushed around by hysterical abortion advocates. He let them bully him. What kind of moral leadership was that?

What an ideal moment that would have been for Joe Biden to man up, to not let the angry ladies of liberalism push him into not defending unborn babies. He will rue the day he cowered on the Hyde Amendment.

Once upon a time in America—namely, 60 years ago—a Catholic presidential nominee won the presidency because he won Catholics. In 2004, a “pro-choice Catholic” couldn’t do the same. In 2020, a “pro-choice Catholic” could fail to do so again. Why? Because of his party’s awful addiction to its abortion extremism, and his succumbing and kowtowing to its worst elements.

Pretty sad, Democrats. Pretty sad, Joe.

Photo credit: Getty Images

Paul Kengor

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Paul Kengor is Professor of Political Science at Grove City College, executive director of The Center for Vision & Values, and author of many books including The Communist: Frank Marshall Davis, The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mentor and Takedown: From Communists to Progressives, How the Left Has Sabotaged Family and Marriage (2015). His new books are A Pope and a President and The Politically Incorrect Guide to Communism (2017).

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