Monday, June 23, 2008

Personal Asides: Tribune Editorials of Highest Quality, Truly Top-Rate…Steve Huntley’s “Sun-Times” Columns on Obama a Mark of Courage…A Reader Writes

Trib Editorials.

“Tribune” editorials have moved…seemingly for the indefinite future…from the vague, on-one-hand basis that embodied their wishy-washyness for many years…to high caliber with verve, straight-from-the-shoulder opinionating based on unemotional and courageous analysis of the facts. The heightened quality of the editorials have marked the advent of the new ownership although assuredly on occasion they were on the way previously.

My favorite was the firm denunciation of the Daley effort to bull-con the people to believe that his transgression of the pristine nature of Grant Park to build an underground Children’s Museum was a humanitarian and even a racially progressive step. What ever happened to Lois Wille who used to be a defender of the open lakefront lands, I don’t know but she has been obviously beguiled and made servile by the little demagogue on the 5th floor who surveys his own greatness.

Daley’s flamboyant use of demagoguery to assume his opponents didn’t want to see black children was outrageous but par for the course for the Sultan of Bluster and Bravado. In the old days, the “Trib” would gesticulate feebly and try to move to a middle ground. Now the paper boldly opposed the move and did something else that made its editorials really masterfully persuasive: they outlined many alternatives for the Museum location. The fact that the mayor whom John Kass correctly called Little Big Man forced fed his views on a supine City Council notwithstanding, the “Trib’s” editorials were outstanding and were among the best the paper ever published—including through the reign of the late Robert R. McCormick, frequently right, sometimes wrong but never, ever in doubt--and that’s really saying something for this correspondent to aver.

Another editorial of the highest rate was the one opposing impeachment for Gov. Blagojegvich, specifying that it supported putting recall on the ballot, a move which was stymied by Emil (“I gotta have a raise! I’m on food stamps!”) Jones.

Digression here: Jones’s audacious insolence resembles only in lessened degree true legislative tyrants in U.S. history including Speaker Joseph (Uncle Joe) Cannon and Czar Tom Reed. Jones’ swaggering rhetoric illustrating his view that with an all-black constituency he can never be replaced makes one think of a series of strongmen in Africa who have descended from democratic leader to dictator. With one exception: the strongmen over there are superior in handling the English language to the guttural practiced by Emil Jones as he works his will. Jones’s arrogant ownership of the Senate and blatant violation of legislative procedure constitutes one of the worst exhibits of U.S. legislative history. If seeing this former sewer patronage hack elevated to the senate presidency is the embodiment of what early civil rights struggles were all about, one must become very cynical. It is no different from the era of white boss rule of the Louisiana legislature in the `30s. End of digression.

Back to the subject: the “Trib’s” editorials on state issues are balanced, fair and perspicacious.

Huntley’s Courageous Op Eds.

This space regularly blistered Steve Huntley when he was “Sun-Times” editorial page editor…for which an anonymous writer calling himself “Aesop” (Huntley in disguise) shot back that my criticism was caused by my being let go by Huntley. But I would not allow that circumstance to hobble criticism of the paper’s leftward lurch under the too obedient Huntley who was too solicitous of pleasing his bosses. But happily, now to bring the score up to date, Huntley is an Op Ed writer and not editorial page editor and is once again his own man…preserving what little remains of intellectual integrity to the city’s fast-fading pablum-spewing Democratic newspaper of record. How long can Huntley survive when the schlock editor wants to turn it into a crusading huckster paper for Barack Obama in order to entice black readers? Probably not long. But as he goes down, Huntley is fighting gallantly and we hereby welcome him as he will be in the future to the reputable army of the soon to be “Sun-Times” unemployed.

A Reader Writes.

A reader asks an interesting question. Given that I am a pro-lifer and believe that the issue of overturning “Roe v. Wade” and saving unborn life the most salient one of our times, why do I offer such intemperate opinions of…let us say…Mayor Daley, the Madigans, Judy Baar Topinka, Doug Kmiec and Dan Hynes et al while taking a decidedly less hostile view of such pro-choicers as Democrat Jack Franks, Republican Tom Cross and a number of others?


Franks and Cross aren’t Catholics. The rest are.

I am far more critical…exceedingly more… of Catholics who are pro-aborts than I am to members of other faiths since Catholics are willing to deny the old faith to ingratiate themselves with other publics and gain by endorsing the practice. For a knowledgeable Catholic to embrace abortion is the height of moral failure which makes one’s entire life a failure. Catholicism opposed abortion from early history while Jews did not and many Protestants who came later did not (some never had). The only Torah reference that could possibly be stretched to include anti-abortionism is in Exodus where it says, “when men have a fight and hurt a pregnant woman, so that she suffers a miscarriage but no further injury ,the guilty one shall be fined as much as the woman’s husband demands of him and he shall pay in the presence of judges. But if injury ensues, you shall give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.” This is casuistic law, a model used frequently in the book of the covenant but is a long-long way from being a tradition.

In contrast, abortion was always wrong to Catholics i.e. the early Christians whether the fetus was formed or not. True, there is no reference to the practice in the New Testament (because it was addressed to a Jewish audience that did not have this practice or tradition) but it begins with Paul’s condemnation of “pharmakeia,” the use of abortifacient drugs, in his epistle to the Galatians, proceeding through the “Didache,” a work published in apostolic times as an instructional to would-be Christians which explicitly condemns infanticide and abortion all the way through the life of the Church, ratified by Pius XII, John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul I, John Paul II and Benedict XVI. None of the great scholars, Thomas, Augustine, Anselm viewed abortion as a choice. Augustine was confused as to when life begins; he thought it began with “quickening”—but his view was the same as all others: from its very inception of life, abortion is an evil.

Therefore since anti-abortionism is part of the heart and soul of the Catholic fabric, rupture of that belief for partisan political advantage is personally repugnant to me and far different from other strategic accommodations which I have seen and even participated in. Not so to others, evidently but it colors my views of the betrayers.

Take Richard M. Daley, for instance. He was reared in the Catholic tradition, nurtured by his parents and utilized it in his voting as a state senator. He abandoned it later because he wanted to do whatever it takes, wishing to garner as many votes as possible, notwithstanding that he probably could have gotten elected by exhibiting a modicum of courage as mayor—but he betrayed his faith and chose not to endanger himself. There is no doubt that with his machine backing that has given him a 70% reelection rate, had he remained true to his faith he would probably have scored 66%. But 66% is not enough for one who sees his total life’s purpose as winning elections. He seeks to drown out his obvious guilty conscience with loud squawking or…when need be…weeping. But at bottom he is a fraud and no one knows it better than he.

Last week he had the chutzpah to go to Northwestern and tell the graduates they should emulate him and become idealists. That the roof did not cave in on him for enunciating this outrageous hypocrisy is astounding. Daley jumped the traces out of pure ambition for election to office with no problems as did the Kennedy family and a host of others with Irish surnames (which under Bobby and Ted hired rogue theologians to try to rationalize their defection for use in future presidential years). Daley was the first big Catholic Democratic name in Illinois to jump the traces begetting the Madigans, Hynes, Durbins and Quinns and hosts of minor league Catholics who rise above principle every day. Had he held firm others might have been tempted to join him. But to do so he would have had to risk losing which to this tin-pot Little Man is inconceivable.

Of course these defections of Catholic politicians have been immeasurably aided by the manifold weaknesses of the Catholic hierarchy across the nation with very few exceptions…starting with a precedent set by Richard Cardinal Cushing of Boston who was greatly influenced by the Joe Kennedy contributions to the archdiocese. Cushing sold out first on the matter of state support for contraceptive services, saying that Catholic lawmakers were on their own. This followed when all major Democratic Catholics fell off the wagon on abortion without so much as a blink from the hierarchy in Massachusetts or anywhere else. In Chicago, it must be said that Joseph Cardinal Benardin who winked at the defections remained with his anti-abortion posture. The day he received the presidential medal of freedom from President Clinton, he picketed in behalf of life. In the current archdiocesan leadership being laity-run in all but the ceremonials, political pragmatism rules; there can be no discipline meted out by the faint of heart where parsing substitutes for performance.

Nowhere has the betrayal of theological principles by Catholic politicians received greater behind-the-scenes support than it has from Theodore Cardinal McCarrick, the former archbishop of Washington, D. C. McCarrick still trots around in retirement interfering in diocese decisions making sure Democratic mammon is well served. He is a living equivalent to Thomas Cardinal Wolsey for his willingness to bend to popular political trends and which is to him the privilege of being chummy with the Kennedys, Kerrys and others. He is famous for hiding a letter from then Cardinal Josef Ratzinger to the U.S. bishops urging them not to give the Eucharist to pro-abort Catholic politicians who are unrepentant. His hiding the full text of the letter was a distinct service to the Democratic party which feared embarrassment to its candidates. For that reason, I would not want to be in the crimson-embossed slippers of any androgynous (in style as in character) prelate who, senior in life, is readying himself for appearance before the Just Judge.


  1. Tom: Your quote: "How long can Huntley survive when the schlock editor wants to turn it into a crusading huckster paper for Barack Obama in order to entice black readers? " Made me remember a Sun Times ad I saw on a bus stops in the South Side. It featured a picture of a criminal with hands on the squad car and two cops standing behind him. The ad read, "Less Lap Dog, More Bulldog".

    I never saw that ad on the North Side.

  2. John Thomas McGeeanJune 25, 2008 at 6:35 AM


    Normally if a Cardinal is in good health, he can serve in his Archdiocese until he is eighty. Hickey, Bevilaqua and O'Connor would be prime examples. (Keeler went out at 76 but in poor health, due to an automobile accident a few years ago.)

    Now we come to Theodore Cardinal McCarrick. As you rightly point out he was less than forthcoming in what Cardinal Ratzinger wrote to him to pass on the the American Bishops.
    Did you notice though that a year and a half later Cardinal Ratzinger became Pope. Within a year of his election--while McCarrick was still 75--Pope Benedict accepted his resignation and named a successor to him. I odn't think he "premature retirement" was an accident.
    It was a mistake on the Part of Pope John Paul II to appointa him to Washington and it was a mistake Pope Benedict has corrected.