John McCain's Catholic Problem
Frank Cocozzelli printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Fri Jul 25, 2008 at 11:46:23 AM EST
The Catholic Right, Part Sixty-five
What does McCain's use of Catholic Right icon Deal Hudson as a campaign advisor and surrogate tell us about the presumptive GOP nominee's view of American Catholics?  Simple: just like President George W. Bush, his Catholic constituency is not the rank and file faithful, but a small reactionary faction in the hierarchy here and in the Vatican.

This is significant for many reasons, not the least is that it signals a disregard for one of American Catholicism's most recent painful episodes.

Since the middle of July, Catholics United has been calling for Catholic Right activist Deal Hudson to resign from the Catholics for McCain National Steering Committee -- as he had from the Bush-Cheney 2004 reelection campaign when allegations surfaced in 1994 that while a tenured associate professor at Fordham University he sexually harassed a female student. As the Boston Globe reported, "The alleged victim was an 18-year-old Fordham freshman who had been in and out of foster homes since the age of 7."

As the Boston Globe further reported the student saying:

"He knew I was a ward of the court, without parents, severely depressed, and even suicidal," the woman told the Catholic newspaper. "He was extremely attentive and genuinely concerned."

The National Catholic Reporter described the circumstances of the incident:

According to documents obtained by NCR, Hudson invited a vulnerable freshman undergraduate...to join a group of older students for a pre-Lenten "Fat Tuesday" night of partying at a Greenwich Village bar. The night concluded after midnight in Hudson's Fordham office, where he and the drunken 18-year-old exchanged sexual favors.

Hudson was forced to resign his tenured post and settled with the student to the tune of $30,000.

But Hudson still refuses to resign from the Catholics for McCain National Steering Committee. Saying he has "no formal relationship" with the campaign, Hudson is making it sound as if his duties are limited to stuffing envelopes and ringing doorbells. That is hardly the case at all.

On July 8, 2008 Al Kresta, the radio host heard on Tom Monaghan's Ave Maria Radio, had Hudson on to discuss Senator Barack Obama's pro-choice history, describing it as "infanticide." Kresta introduced Hudson as "a McCain surrogate."

A few days later, a July 17, 2008 online article at Catholic Exchange revealed:

Frank Donatelli, deputy chair of the Republican National Committee, spoke with Catholic journalists of the orthodox stripe today about McCain and the Catholic vote.  The conference call was graciously hosted by Deal Hudson, publisher of Crisis Magazine.

At the risk of stating the obvious, an operative having "no formal relationship" with the McCain campaign would not be introduced on a radio program as "a surrogate" nor would he be hosting any conference calls with the RNC's deputy chair in attendance.

As I reported last week, Hudson's friend Bill Donohue said of him, he is "the ultimate networker," adding: "If you wanted to get something to the top inner circles of the [Bush] White House from a Catholic perspective, you could contact Deal Hudson and it was delivered." Furthermore, Hudson is well connected among the various players of the religious right. As CNN's Anderson Cooper reported, it was Hudson who brokered a meeting of conservative Catholics and San Antonio mega-preacher John Hagee after his controversial remarks about Catholicism were exposed by Talk to Action's Bruce Wilson.  That is why Hudson is useful to McCain.

Donohue has been Hudson's most vociferous defender. And one of the very few.

When the harassment fiasco first came to light in 2004, Crisis magazine founder Michael Novak and others immediately moved to have Hudson removed as publisher going as far as to boycott events held in support of the journal until the former Baptist minister stepped down.

But there are other reasons to question McCain's relationship with Hudson. One is that it reflects on who Senator McCain believes best speaks for the interests of Catholic voters. It appears that "the Maverick" is listening to a factious sliver of reactionary Catholicism that is often at loggerheads with the majority of American Catholic majority.

It is cause for concern.

For example, on the issue of embryonic stem cell research:  If Senator McCain is now listening to Deal Hudson and seeking out support among the Catholic Right -- will he modify or reverse his position supporting federal funding and oversight of embryonic stem cell research, a promising avenue of science supported by the majority of American Catholics? Will he also embrace Hudson's bizarre views on global warming which echo those of crackpot radio host Rush Limbaugh?  McCain already embraces a Radical Right economic vision that cuts deeply against the interests of millions of working and middle-class Catholics in struggling communities in, for example, Pennsylvania and Ohio.

What's more, he also bungled his first significant engagement with Catholic voters with his initial outreach to Pastor John Hagee.

McCain has many problems with Catholics, and over time we shall see how many Catholics have problems with McCain.

But for now, McCain's main Catholic problem has a name. And the problem is Deal Hudson whose role as a campaign advisor and surrogate sends a distinct message of insensitivity in light of the scandals of sexual abuse and sexual harassment that have rocked the church in America and around the world. In virtually every instance, the scandal involved a person who held a position of trust and authority over the victim, whether it were a priest violating a young boy or a tenured associate professor of philosophy and his eighteen year-old student.

The issue is the abuse of power over the vulnerable and John McCain just does not seem to get it.

The Catholic Right: A Series, by Frank L. Cocozzelli :

Part One  Part Two  Part Three  Part Four  Part Five  Part Six   Intermezzo   Part Eight   Part Nine  Part Ten   Part Eleven   Part Twelve   Part Thirteen   Part Fourteen   Second Intermezzo   Part Sixteen   Part Seventeen   Part Eighteen   Part Eighteen   Part Nineteen   Part Twenty   Part Twenty-one   Part Twenty-two   Part Twenty-three   Part Twenty-four   Part Twenty-five   Part Twenty-six   Part Twenty-seven   Part Twenty-eight   Part Twenty-nine   Part Thirty   Part Thirty-one   Part Thirty-two   Part Thirty-three   Part Thirty-four   Part Thirty-five   Part Thirty-six   Part Thirty-seven   Part Thirty-eight   Part Thirty-nine   Part Forty   Part Forty-one   Part Forty-two   Part Forty-three   Part Forty-four   Part Forty-five   Part Forty-six   Part Forty-seven   Part Forty-eight   Part Forty-nine   Part Fifty   Part Fifty-one   Part Fifty-two   Part Fifty-three   Part Fifty-four   Part Fifty-five   Part Fifty-six   Part Fifty-seven   Part Fifty-eight   Part Fifty-nine   Part Sixty   Part Sixty-one   Part Sixty-two   Part Sixty-three   Part Sixty-four




Display:
During the height of the Lewinsky affair, Deal Hudson had this to say about President Clinton:

"Those who are not willing to bear the burden of these higher standards should not seek office. After we have stripped away all idealism from offices that bind our culture together -- president, father, husband--what will be left for us to aspire to? Who will want to sacrifice personal desires for public responsibilities?"

Hudson is just another example of a Religious Right politico who self-exempts himself from the rules that he applies to others. Where is the consistency?

by Frank Cocozzelli on Fri Jul 25, 2008 at 11:49:05 AM EST


Unfortunately, the Deal Hudsons of the world will always exempt themselves from the rules they seek to apply to others.

Like the rest of his kind, Hudson will continue to gravitate toward the haves, the wealthy and powerful, and he and Bill Donohue, as well as bishops like Burke, Sheridan, Bruskewitz, Finn and Naumann, will continue to do the same.

By the way, I want to recommend reading Frank Schaeffer's "Crazy for God." He has some pithy comments about Dobson, Falwell and Robertson. I am also just starting Jeff Sharlet's "The Family" and it looks like an excellent read.

by khughes1963 on Sat Jul 26, 2008 at 02:40:49 PM EST


"The issue is the abuse of power over the vulnerable and John McCain just does not seem to get it." This comes as no surprise, as Bush and company, don't either. Or perhaps they do, since the use of power to oppress is what they are about.

by SemiDiscerning on Fri Jul 25, 2008 at 01:49:28 PM EST


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