Among political consultants in Washington, DC, there are a few who are principled, most are pragmatic, and a few crawl out from under a rock to go to work.
Bob Shrum, consultant to the losing presidential campaigns of Gore and Kerry, emerged from beneath his rock recently to post a tirade against Bart Stupak and the Catholic bishops.
A graduate of two Jesuit universities, Shrum deems himself qualified to pronounce the position of Stupak and the bishops on abortion in the health care bill to be “at odds with the social teachings I learned in Catholic school.”
Orthodox. Faithful. Free.
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Even worse, the insistence of Stupak and the bishops to keep federal funding for abortion out of the bill “transgresses the line drawn by JFK in 1960.”
Half a century later, the bishops are attempting to achieve by indirection what they cannot achieve outright—a partial ban on a woman’s right to choose. Having abetted thousands of priests in molesting children, they’re now set on abusing health reform.
Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, understands guys like Shrum better than anyone I know. Donohue, a native New Yorker, grew up in the generation of fashionable dissent at the “elite” Catholic universities that produced Shrum and his heroes, Ted Kennedy and Mario Cuomo. Donohue is never surprised by mud-slinging of this kind — he doesn’t miss a step or take a deep breath:
Now if the standard of discourse allows for this kind of commentary, it finishes the prospects for civil conversation. Imagine an opponent of gay marriage citing gay leaders who abet the frequent use of bathhouses, the lethal sex acts that take place there, and the diseases they generate. Any group can be smeared.
I would think anyone who cares about the future of the Democratic Party would want to apply a little soap to guys like Shrum — and I don’t mean their dirty hands.