Saturday, March 01, 2008

The Problem with McCain, reprise

I'm serving leftovers today, but sometimes they're pretty tasty, we'll see.

The bulk of this was posted Feb. 20; I'm reposting it, with some additional stuff, to continue a good conversation. I will keep the old post, as it was, as a separate post, but I moved the comments here, if that's all right?

Before long, posting something like this will just generate too much gnashing of teeth. As we get closer to November, the one thought that will dominate so many otherwise sensible people is, the Presidency is everything, "we" dare not lose it...reminding me, to be candid, of how--in the Lord of the Rings trilogy--so many otherwise level-headed and presumably moral people became seduced by The Ring.


Meanwhile, we have now a presumptive GOP standard-bearer who is hostile to the First Amendment; Sen. John McCain's signature accomplishment is his McCain-Feingold "Campaign Reform" law, which candidate Bush denounced as unconstitutional, but President Bush signed into law. Some say, that's just one issue--but of course, what's the Bill of Rights among friends?

The salient issue for many of us of course is the end of abortion-on-demand, and most think that the only practical way to get at that is the Supreme Court; so every four years, we are told how many justices the next president will name to the High Court. The predictions keep inflating--lately, we're told the next president will "likely" name "four or five." And overwrought activists fall for it.

Never mind that, since 1969, we've had seven presidents, over 38 years (not counting W. Bush's last year, still to come), and in that time, they've named how many justices? Nixon, 4; Ford, 1; Carter: 0; Reagan: 3; Bush (I): 2; Clinton: 2; Bush (II): 2; that yields an average of...1.4 justices named per four-year term; and that reaches back to the 1970s--since that time, people are living a lot longer. No one knows, but based on more recent history, two justices looks like a good estimate, not "four or five." (Of course, an asteroid could hit, and President Obama could name all nine!!!

Now, there's another thing about this argument that the scaremongers hope you will be too panicky to notice. They try to make you think that if Obama or Hilary wins, the Supreme Court will get worse...but then they acknowledge that the two most likely justices to be replaced are Ruth Bader Ginsburg and John Paul Stevens! In case anyone hasn't noticed, these are the two most liberal justices. So if they are replaced with newer liberals, yes it will be a missed opportunity--but no, it won't change much of anything, at least on the issue of Roe v. Wade, which is what this all about. So the merits of the, "it's all about the Supreme Court" argument all hinges on how confident you can be that the GOP candidate will name really good justices; because I point out that it was Republican named justices who gave us Roe and upheld it in the 1992 Casey decision.

So we come back to Senator McCain. And last week, Andrew McCarthy had an outstanding column at National Review Online that dealt with this. (See original post, below, for the rest of this if you like...)


Till now, we haven't even discussed McCain's stance on more direct prolife issues...


McCain has repeatedly voted for tax-funded baby-destroying "research." Yes, Obama and Clinton will be "worse" on many other prolife issues, but with the exception of tax funding for abortions (which a GOP Congress can prevent, and did under Clinton), this is the issue that is most likely to come to the next president in the form of legislation. There's not a doubt in my mind that if McCain is president, he'll work to prevent any really good legislation from coming to a vote, because that's just what he always did as a Senator. And given where we stand with Roe, and given the dim hopes McCain will make any difference there, except for the worse, there's not much the pro-aborts can do, realistically, to make things worse. The main front will be "research"--where McCain is as bad as the Democrats.

Update: now, what's new since I posted this on Feb. 20?

This gives me a chance to comment on an editorial in the very fine National Catholic Register. While the NCReg editors make some good points, they really demonstrate my point about how, in the heat of an election like this, people get a little feverish and panicky.

Consider the laundry-list they give of things they assert, without qualification, that "we will get", which I reproduce below, interspersed with my own commentary in italics. Please note in particular the source for this scary list--not any particular expert in the political process, or someone associated with either party; nor even someone who represents a major, prolife organization; no, it was one, unnamed "prolife blogger"! I'm sorry, NCReg, but that suggests the editors were in too much of a hurry to get this editorial to print.

two more Supreme Court justices who consider abortion a right, plus more than a hundred Federal court appointments to foul our justice system for another 50 years,
Wrong. The only way we can get "two more" is if pro-Roe justices replace current anti-Roe justices, and that is very far from certain; the two justices almost always deemed "next to go" are Ginsberg and Stevens, who are pro-abortion. I.e., Obama and Clinton won't make the court worse, but their election may mean it won't get better. But then, there's every reason to expect the same from McCain.

• federally funded embryonic stem-cell research,
We already have this, and McCain is wrong on this, so why is this an argument for McCain?

• federally funded cloning and “chimera” research,
See last answer; given McCain's position on tax-funded use of embryonic humans for research, what's the basis for expecting him to be stalwart here?

• federally funded abortion on demand,
Do the NCReg. editors expect Clinton or Obama to assume dictatorial powers and dissolve Congress and the courts? Because otherwise, Congress must enact legislation funding abortions. Either we have the votes to stop it (we have so far, including under Bill Clinton) or we don't.

• abortion in military hospitals,
Same answer as last.

• federally funded abortion overseas,
Same answer as last.

• vicious regulatory attacks on pro-life doctors, nurses, clinics and non-profit groups,
While the President can issue "vicious regulatory attacks," we are not powerless against such things, both in terms of legislation and court action. Again, a President is not a dictator, and it's not as though the millions of prolifers will be powerless to fight back. This is hardly a reason why we must vote for McCain.

• the repeal of conscience-clause exceptions for doctors and pharmacists,
See answer regarding tax-funding above.
• efforts to reclassify churches and pro-life activities, threating their tax-exempt status,
This is absurd. Go after churches' and other organizations' tax-exempt status? 'Oh, please don't throw me into that briarpatch!'

• “the Freedom of Choice Act” (FOCA), which is like the Human Life Bill in reverse — a federal statute mandating abortion on demand in every state,
Again, unless Clinton or Obama become dictators, this has to pass both houses of Congress, including past a filibuster--which, thankfully we didn't wreck (give McCain his due on this one).

• the end of abstinence education, and
I wasn't aware that the President, all by himself, could outlaw all abstinence education in all public schools nationwide. How does he do that? What the person claiming this must mean is that a President Obama or Clinton will zero out federal funding for such education, and that's possible, but by no means certain. We can't stop earmarks for toilet-paper museums, which nobody cares about, but Clinton or Obama will take a Horatio-at-the-bridge stance against something like this that enjoys very strong support nationwide? What's more, even if such federal funding is cancelled, what prevents state funding? That's where most of this happens anyway, and the President is extremely unlikely to try to stop that. And a lot of us don't really want federal funding, even for things we like--it's a Trojan Horse.

• the end of the highly successful approach to AIDS in Africa that stresses abstinence and monogamy.
Far from clear to me, (a) that Congress will go along and if Congress does want to go in that direction, that (b) McCain will be reliable against that, for reasons already cited.

That’s to say nothing of nationalized health care, which in other countries has become a synonym for rationed care and has brought inexorable pressures against respect for the dignity of human life. Under national health care, bureaucrats will determine that limited resources go where they can do “the most good.” So the system will simply refuse to cover high-risk pregnancies or humane end-of-life care for the elderly and the dying.
Right--simply electing a Democrat to the White House, along with a Democratic Congress, is all that it takes to get this sort of thing; after all, remember how President Bill Clinton rammed this through in 1993? Oh, wait...never mind.

That’s also to say nothing of the appointments presidents make to federal agencies. The Obama and Clinton teams will appoint political operatives to agencies across the federal government. Many of them will be pro-abortion activists. They will build their ideology directly or indirectly into countless regulations, national policies and guidelines — and not just in our schools, and federal welfare programs, but in the myriad programs the government is involved in.
Probably on balance, Obama or Clinton's appointments will be more offensive to me than McCain's. But this is not a huge consideration. Did eight years of Bush's appointment-power make everything wonderful? No; and neither will four years of Obama's make everything terrible. This is a very weak argument, seems to me.

I really like the National Catholic Register, but when people ask me what I mean by "overwrought activists," this is precisely what I mean.


Pro Ecclesia said...

Good post. There are a number of problems with McCain, the worst of which is his position on ESCR. In the Ohio primary, I will vote for the most pro-life candidate, which means either Huckabee or Paul.

As for the general election, I am still not sure I can vote for McCain in good conscience given his stance on ESCR. I will not under any circumstances vote for either Clinton or Obama.

The question for me will probably come down to whether I think McCain's election will be significantly better for our nation than the election of the Democrat nominee. If I can't affirmatively conclude that, then I will either vote 3rd party or not vote at all in the presidential race.

I have 8-and-a-half months to make that determination.

EC Gefroh said...

Mahalo Father for this post. You have addressed concerns I am having about Sen. McCain.

Anonymous said...

No candidate is perfect. I have serious doubts that if Ronald Reagan ran for president today that he would be able to pass your conservative litmus test. As a moral leader, you can and should be uncompromising. Political leaders don't have that luxury. You seem to poo poo concerns that "overwrought activists" may have regarding a potential Obama or Clinton presidency. Being dismissive of these concerns indicates to me that you can't adequately address them.

Anonymous said...

Fr. you have stressed some of my concerns in regards to McCain. It does boil down to the lesser of two evils OR not voting OR holding my nose while voting for him, and looking at ways to prevent McCain erroring to much. While praying to God some 50 or so make elections from different states..then maybe we can save our country from going down to lost causes at a slower pace. McCain does have the fight in him to confront terrorism, but seeks to undermine the military leadership. Other than MANY rosaries, MANY fastings, and MANY novena's, there ain't no other choices, which leads to making sure the VP is filled with a man truely seeking to do the Will of God. Aloha Lois

Fr Martin Fox said...


I haven't written as much about politics lately, so you wouldn't have seen what I've written; but not only have I written about this before, and spoken to those concerns of "overwrought activists," I used to be an activist, although I don't believe I was overwrought. The point is, I know these folks.

Anonymous said...

Sadly, you could also take this same position with regard to the USCCB. Should we abandon stop supporting the Church because of the bishops who seem to ignore Church teaching by looking for squirm room on the abortion issue so as to support their beloved social issues?

However, as disappointed as I am with McCain, I see way to many issues that are frightening when I think of an Obama presidency. McCain is not a socialist which Obama is as he is even left of Hilary. I see them being pushed to pull troops out of Iraq and creating a situation that will cost us thousands of lives. I also see them both in support of partial birth abortion which tells me all I need to know about their character. Ron Paul nor Huckabee will be running this November, McCain will and he is far better than either democrat in the war or on many other issues.

gemoftheocean said...

I despise McCain but the bottom line is I will have to vote for him in the fall. I am praying for a coup d'etat or an asteroid to hit both conventions.

I pray MCCain picks Duncan Hunter (who in my opinion was RIGHT and CONSERVATIVE on every single issue up and down the line) and everyone above Hunter dies in one fell swoop.

And coulter had an extremely good article on why a Reagan type CAN NOT and would not run today. McPain's campaign finance reform blanked that to a fair-thee-well.

As for Bush II I am happy with him on his approach to the war, but I think you sell him short re: abortion. We got the best supreme court justice picks in years.

We know for a fact Hitlary and Hussein will have a pro-abort litumus test, I don't trust mcpain and I'm throughly unimpressed with him, but hell will freeze over before I vote for either democrat.

Ron Paul is an idiot who would not protect us if the Islamofascists attacked us. So he can swing as far as I'm concerned.

ALL of the candidates still left anyway, have sold us down the river with their support and bending over for illegal aliens. I will NEVER forget what they did and said about us over that issue.

The GOP blew it.


Fr Martin Fox said...

Gem (Karen):

I like Roberts and Alito a lot; but I am doing no more than pointing out an obvious fact: they have not yet voted to overturn Roe, and however confident we may feel, only God knows what they will do.

Fr. Ron Williams said...

Fr. Martin, for better or worse, you made a convert out of me to your way of political thinking a long time ago. As I read your comments about the decline of the Republican Party, I'm reminded (half-jokingly) of a character from the movie "Fast Times at Ridgemont High." Mr. Hand, one of the teachers in the movie, was "...convinced that everyone is on dope."

You give us a lot of food for thought. But there's another factor that needs to be considered. Since Vatican II, the Church has clearly emphasized that Catholics who live in democratic societies have a moral obligation to participate in the democratic process. Does this mean in the current situation that we vote for a particular candidate who is likely to win because s/he is the lesser of two (or more) evils? If I choose not to vote because all the candidates are mediocre, then do I still satisfy my moral obligation?

I'm interested in your thoughts...

Fr Martin Fox said...

Father Ron:

In the primary, I think we should be involved, but it's not clear what "obligation" we have other than not to do anything positively wrong--i.e., vote for a clearly worse candidate over a clearly better one.

But as I said, while I might prefer to vote for Huckabee and Paul as a protest vote, unless I think they have a real chance of winning, it's not clear why I "must" do that, vs. trying to help the less-bad between Clinton and Obama.

For the general, as much as I can do mental gymnastics for the idea of "tactical" voting, moral reasoning always leads me back to saying that you have to eliminate candidates based on disqualifying stances, and then, from those left, choose based on prudential judgment.

(I am taking as a given, of course, that one may never vote for a candidate, formally agreeing with the evil a candidate may stand for; but someone might have wondered why I didn't say that here.)

If everyone is disqualified because of disqualifying stances -- and that's what McCain v. either Democrat looks like to me -- then "less bad" is perhaps the best approach.

But then it's a question of prudential judgment, sorting through so many considerations, I can't see that the conclusion can be obvious.

Now, some are jumping out of their seats, saying, but what about prolife? Judges? Gay "marriage"?

That goes back to the question of "disqualifying" stands. If a candidate is wrong on particular issues, no matter how wonderful he or she is, that's disqualifying.

If Hilary Clinton were going to do everything right--whatever that means to you--but she still advocates abortion-on-demand, that's disqualifying.

What are "disqualifying stances"? Any stance where the candidate is positively in favor of something intrinsically evil.

This is not an exhaustive list, but: abortion, cloning, baby-destroying "research," euthanasia; so-called "gay marriage"; unjust war; torture; any direct assault on human dignity or fundamental freedom--so I consider McCain's assaults on the First Amendment to be disqualifying.

I also consider the stances many politicians take on confiscating private property, and on compulsory unionism to be disqualifying.

Death penalty is a separate issue because while the Church is calling us to avoid its use, the Church has not said it's "intrinsically evil"; there are occasions, however rare they may be, when the state can legitimately use it.

And, of course, there are many, many other issues that aren't "disqualifying," but prudential matters.

In my judgment, all three of these candidates -- Clinton, McCain, and Obama -- have disqualifying stances.

That doesn't mean, in the end, one might not conclude McCain is "less bad"; but what it does mean is that I reject the notion that somehow, McCain is the obvious and only choice for a person trying to be faithful to Catholic teaching.

Some might say, where the candidates stand on all abortions is far more significant than where they stand on baby-killing "research," and tax funding of the same; and so forth with all other disqualifying stances.

That's a reasonable argument under the "less bad" category; but it doesn't negate the fact that McCain also gives positive endorsement to intrinsic evil.

One can argue, as I would, that there is more mischief to be done, by politicians, on the "research" front than on the abortion front, and there, McCain is bad. He can do worse mischief, in my judgment, precisely because he's a Republican.

And again, one can say, Clinton will name worse judges; probably; but that is still under the "who is less bad" calculus; it doesn't negate McCain giving endorsement to intrinsic evil, as do Clinton and Obama.

In the end, you do what you can best live with, and defend to God with a straight face.

Unknown said...

Father, Ronald Reagans policy on abortion was that it should be illegal except in cases of rape or incest. Given that abortion is intrinsically evil, would you be able to support Ronald Reagan if he were running for the presidency today?

Fr Martin Fox said...


I believe you are mistaken; Reagan ran on a platform of outlawing all abortions, no exceptions; George H.W. Bush, while he was pro-abortion when he opposed Reagan in 1980, followed suit when he ran as Reagan's successor, in 1988.

Anonymous said...

I think that the best advice comes from Archbishop Chaput and is available on the website at
I like all 10 but focus on these

8. So can a Catholic in good conscience support a “pro-choice” candidate? The answer is: I can’t and I won’t. But I do know some serious Catholics — people whom I admire — who will. I think their reasoning is mistaken. But at the very least they do sincerely struggle with the abortion issue, and it causes them real pain. And even more importantly: They don’t keep quiet about it; they don’t give up their efforts to end permissive abortion; they keep lobbying their party and their elected representatives to change their pro-abortion views and protect the unborn. Catholics can support “pro-choice” candidates if they support them despite — not because of — their “pro-choice” views. But they also need a compelling proportionate reason to justify it.

9. What is a “proportionate” reason when it comes to the abortion issue? It’s the kind of reason we will be able to explain, with a clean heart, to the victims of abortion when we meet them face to face in the next life — which we most certainly will. If we’re confident that these victims will accept our motives as something more than an alibi, then we can proceed.

I cannot imagine how I would be able to face millions of aborted babies and in any way justify how I could support either of the democrats who supported even partial birth abortion. I do not like many things about McCain and wish there were a better choice, cut can see no way of voting for either of the democrats. If I stay home, I deny a reliable pro life vote from the republican party and the message they will hear is that they need to forget about life if the pro life people are not going to be there. Next time we end up with a pro murder candidate like the dems.

Anonymous said...

I also think that the dems position on Iraq would prove to be a disaster for the war on terror. If we bail on Iraq as George Weigel points out in his latest book, it will lead to very serious consequences in this war on terror. We must win that war or see Iraq become a haven for terror networks around the world that far exceed what we saw develop in Afghanistan. And when we try to gain a coalition to stop any other country, who will join after they see us leave Iraq and the price the people pay there after our departure.

Fr Martin Fox said...

Anonymous, re: Archbishop Chaput's advice...

I respect Archbishop Chaput greatly, and I think what he says there is very sound.

But as to your own application of his comments, but I would offer two critiques:

1. I think you are being too broad-brush when you call McCain a "reliable prolife vote."

The fact is, McCain is wrong on killing embryonic human beings so they can be raw material for "research," and further, he is wrong in wanting us to pay for it.

Yes, of course the Democratic candidates are even worse; I never denied that. But that is not the same as saying McCain is "reliably prolife."

Nor does it change the blunt fact that McCain has a stance that, in my analysis offered in the post, is "disqualifying."

My point, if you re-read my post, was that both parties are going to offer candidates with disqualifying stances, and we have a duty, in talking about these things, to be very clear on that.
"Less bad" does not equal "good."

It's vital to remember the distinction between a legislative office, as opposed to an executive position, which is what we're talking about with the presidency.

Practically and realistically speaking, there is little a President Obama (or Clinton) would be able to do to change the current state of the law on abortion. Yes, I know what people are saying to scare prolifers, but unless the composition of Congress changes drastically, tax funded abortions are not in the offing. Or, let me put it this way: if prolifers can't stop it in Congress with Clinton or Obama in the White House, then we won't be able to stop it with McCain; either we have the votes in Congress, or we don't.

This may seem obvious, but: the President is not a dictator. How quickly people forget how many things Bush promised to do...and he had his own party in control of Congress for six years! Why didn't it happen? Guess it's true the President can't dictate to Congress.

So, please, why do people assume that a President Clinton or Obama will somehow have this power, when their predecessors didn't?

Now, if I were convinced that McCain were going to be a true advocate for the prolife cause, as president, that would be different; but lacking that, his election brings little advantage for the prolife cause, and in my judgment, his defeat would not be a great setback for prolifers.

Remember President Clinton? Did all the fright scenarios being trotted out actually happen with him? They did not. On the contrary, the prolife movement grew by leaps and bounds, and lots of prolife legislation was passed all over the country. The Partial-Birth Abortion Ban had its start while Clinton was president, and as of the 2000 election, we were within 2 votes of overriding Clinton's veto.

Here's something else to consider, before we count McCain as "our guy": Paul the Regular Guy links this item in which -- if you follow the links -- you can see how McCain associates with those who marginalize the so-called "religious right," and you can see video and hear audio in which McCain is dubious about overturning Roe.

Anonymous said...

Fr., do you see Clinton and Obama as having identical views on abortion or do you see one's views as being less vile? My reading about their voting records on the internet led me to see one as worse on the issue. (Admittedly, one can't believe all that is written on the internet!)

Have you taken any of the online questionnaires that supposedly determine which candidates views are most like your own? Do you think results from them are valid at all?

Fr Martin Fox said...


I think Clinton and Obama are better or worse than each other on abortion in a way similar to the way we might say electrocution or the gas chamber is a worse way to be executed. I.e., there may be a real difference, but I'm not sure how meaningful it is.

As far as internet polls, I am not so familiar with them.

James H said...

Father I will perhaps comment more later but I do disagee with you that McCain' stance on CFR is a "disqualifying stances" that is stance where the candidate is intrinsically evil akin to Abortion and other things.

I am saying that as someone that was very much opposed to CFR.

Will I vote for McCain. Well yes. He is much better than Obama on many of these issues and to be honest I think you are undercounting the influence of the bully puplit. I least we shall have access to McCain on these issues.

As to the Supreme COurt. THere seems to be a feeling that conservatives have of oh well in 4years we shall get it back. Hmm I bet the Dems thought that on 2000 too. In fact they nearly did in 2004 if not for Ohio and a little over a 100,000 votes

There is nothing in the COnst that indicate Justices to the COurt have a right to live to 85 or 90. Nor should we presume that perhaps people like Justice Scalia will not get killed crossing the street or perhaps retirs to do other things in life.

I think the Court is at a very precarious balance. I think you are right to show that the arguments being presented are a tad extrreme. However I do think you are underplaying the dangers though in making your convincing argument

As to Reagan I will double check but I do think he was for those exceptionsbut I too shall have to research it.

I understand the reservations about McCain. However I have to admit I am tad wary from some of the corners those complaints come from. THey are often from the same folks that try to make litmus test as to what is conservative" and if one is a true "republican" on every new thing that comes across the block.

I do wonder if McCain is the problem or the if these "true Conservatives" that keep mailing me asking me for Money to the newest threat to the Republic from the Libs or Rinos and then proceed to sell my name to another True conservative mailing lists are maybe worse. Maybe that is why even as a Huckabee supporter I am very friendly toward McCain.

I think it is important to raise issues as t Mccain and of course one can do that by voting for Huckabee perhaps if you are in a March 4 primary state.

Still I see the possibility of taking many steps back if Obama is the next Prez. We all have short memories but I would hate for for those brain celss to start recalling what a hostile white house is truly like via a Obama Presidency

Anonymous said...

Fr. Fox and all,

I'm 52 years young and have always (since age 18) voted the republican ticket. As well as being politically conservative many would also tag me as being very tradition in my views about Catholic life. Having said that, I am hoping that Barack Obama will be the next president of the U.S.

McCain nor Obama are prolife. What Obama will do is help bring an end to this illegal war that was prefabricated and shoved down our throats. I also believe he will discontinue the practice of utilizing the US military to police the world. The War complex in this country is not in favor of this, but of course there is no wonder in that.

Once Obama becomes our president I am going to offer daily prayers to our Heavenly Father that he will see the error in his way of thinking of allowing God's children to be slaughtered in the wound. I do believe that, just as the prophets of old and the saints of the Christ Church, were men of flesh and sin, yet, God inspired them to reform their lives and lead others back to the path of holiness, the Lord will assist this gifted man to help lead the Lord's people back to holiness.

I also do not believe that Obama is the lesser of two evils; he is a man created in the image and likeness of God and the Lord has blessed him with a charisma not too unlike that of Bobby Kennedy. Hopefully he will not meet the same demise.

I also believe that when our country elects Baracka Obama as the first Black American President, it will send a profound message of change around the world.

Peace to all


Anonymous said...

When we mix things up and spit them out as equal, we can confuse. Supporting 50 million babies murdered in the womb is the clear position of Obama and Clinton with both even supporting partial birth where the baby almost escapes the murder only to have their life ended with scissors thru their skull and their brain sucked out. McCain has a 100% rating on every pro life voting analysis in this regard. He has never voted for a pro abortion position in all his years in office. Yes, he is wrong on embryonic stem cell but not to the extent of Obama or Clinton. I gather from listening that he comes to the position with great distaste and Obama and Clinton have no thought at all that this is life. I think he would also be easily swayed to support new alternative forms of research while the other two would continue to push to the end for it to continue.
On the comment above about the war in Iraq, if Obama gets in and does what he says, pull the troops out immeditely, he will create a vacuum that will cause us 50 years of grief as the terror groups sing his praises and move into the vacuum touting we have a weak president. Remember JFK and how his blunder and naive approach to meeting Soviet leadership caused them to move into Cuba creating the Missle Crisis? Having Obama in office would trigger a wave of tests he is not ready to answer.
As to him being a uniter, he is a perfect voting record with the liberal dems on every major issue. He never steps across the aisle on any tough issue.
As to Fathers comments on what might happen on the court and the fact two justices who legislate from the bench might retire and thus we have not change if an Obama gets to appoint two very liberal judges, I would say the difference is that these two might be on the court for another 30 years. That is a big difference. I would prefer to take my shot with McCain on appointing judges than either of these two and if he does get it right with either, we have a major shift in the court in favor of sanity on many issues. Father, I do not like the status quo on the court you seem to want to allow to happen. The dems and the leftist sure know what is at stake, even if some conservatives seem to have lost sight of the end line coming into view. If we fail now, we are locked in for decades. Please rethink this and allow anger and disappointment over McCain not to cloud the judgement that he is clearly better than what the dems will put up.
Finally, to throw away a vote to some candidate that has not shot of winning by a pro life voter that allows an Obama or Clinton is a travesty and I for one could find no way to explain that to the millions more babies they will murder in the nest decade.

Fr Martin Fox said...


"Finally, to throw away a vote to some candidate that has not shot of winning by a pro life voter that allows an Obama or Clinton is a travesty and I for one could find no way to explain that to the millions more babies they will murder in the nest decade."

Are you saying one is morally obliged to vote for John McCain--even though he gives positive approval for evil (destroying unborn children for research, and forcing everyone to pay for it)?

Your argument is that one is obliged to endorse evil, in order to prevent a worse evil (Obama or Clinton)?

MSchaut said...

Mother Theresa said 'the fruit of abortion is nuclear war.' Our politicians are ready to use nukes on Iran, in violation of EVERY TENET OF JUST WAR DOCTRINE- except Ron Paul. Our aggressive anti-constitutional invasion of privacy means that the Amish community is being destroyed by homeland security. This would end under Ron Paul. None of the candidates have even the slightest understanding of economics except for Ron Paul, which means that our economy is crashing and burning and all that is being done is making it worse. This commitment to destroy third world countries by illegal and expensive war is NOT the Christian position and I suggest that there are OTHER reasons our government wants to pursue this at any cost- and there are HUGE costs. Look! This is terrifying, but all too true.

Anonymous said...

My impression after reading McCain's campaign webpage is that he does NOT support embryonic stem cell research. I was surprised as I always thought he was for it. What gives? Has he changed his beliefs? Is he lying to get elected? Check out his webpage for yourself:


Anonymous said...

"Your argument is that one is obliged to endorse evil, in order to prevent a worse evil"

How about going to war with Germany and stopping Hitler and the death camps. War is certainly evil and US forces killed a lot of people around the world, some innocent women and children. Life seldom offers us a choice of pure good versus pure evil unless we are speaking about Christ. Humans are evil to good in various stages. So I would say voting for someone that is opposed to the killing a child in the womb but supports embryo killing is better than on that supports both and plans to spread it around the world. Remember Hilary tried to spread abortion on demand and was stopped by one Pope and his troops in Bejing. I also think that killing our healthcare system by thrusting Universtal health on the current system is evil and millions will suffer. We have a severe shortage of primary care providers right now and unless you take some time to build that force up, throwing universal health plan onto that baby could cripple the system. The list of evil the two dems bring is very long. I believe they will move to kill the economy with huge taxes and take us back to the days of Jimmy Carter.

Anonymous said...

The Supreme Court comes up often in these discussions, but what about the run-of-the-mill federal judges that the President names? I read recently that the average president appoints hundreds of federal judges. Meanwhile it's not certain that the next President will appoint any Supreme Court justices.

I'm also having trouble, Father Fox, with what you say about Congress and the Presidency: "either we have the votes in Congress, or we don't". This is true in general, but with a sympathetic President who is willing to veto bad legislation we will need significantly fewer votes in Congress -- only enough to prevent a veto override.

Or do you think that McCain is just not going to be that President?

Fr Martin Fox said...


It would be gratifying if Senator McCain has changed his position on funding baby-destroying research. That said, he clearly did support it at one time.

If you would like to verify that, scan back up this thread, and see the link I provided, in my original post, which will take you to a site quoting him on this subject.

In addition, if you scan for a link to "Thoughts of a Regular Guy," and follow that (it will lead you to another link), you will end up hearing audio in which Senator McCain admits he differs with prolifers on this subject.

Now, as to his statement on his site. This is an opportunity to learn just how carefully politicians parse their terms.

Please note, with great care, exactly what Sen. McCain's site actually says, and does not say.

It says he opposes "the intentional creation of human embryos for research purposes. To that end, Senator McCain voted to ban the practice of 'fetal farming,' making it a federal crime for researchers to use cells or fetal tissue from an embryo created for research purposes."

That's good, but that's different from being opposed to using unborn children conceived in fertility treatments; he said he supports their use for research, "because they'll be destroyed anyway" (as you'll hear in the audio I mentioned).

He also says he "voted to ban attempts to use or obtain human cells gestated in animals. Finally, John McCain strongly opposes human cloning and voted to ban the practice..."

And that's all good, but it doesn't contradict what I said.

Then note his very careful wording in the following: "McCain will strongly support funding for promising research programs, including amniotic fluid and adult stem cell research and other types of scientific study that do not involve the use of human embryos."

Now, I hear you saying, doesn't that rule it out? No, read it again--it does not. What it says is, when no human embryos are involved, he will "strongly support" that. That does not preclude what he'll do, when they are involved. How do I know? Because that's what his position has been, by his own admission.

Also, note this:

"Where federal funds are used for stem cell research, Senator McCain believes clear lines should be drawn that reflect a refusal to sacrifice moral values and ethical principles for the sake of scientific progress, and that any such research should be subject to strict federal guidelines."

If this is supposed to mean he would rule out using embryonic humans, this is a terribly wordy way of saying it--and I assure you, if that's what he really meant, he would have said it in plain language.

No, this is his way of implying that, and hoping that's what you believe, without actually saying it--because this is what he's said, in so many words, when he defended using embryos.

So welcome to the bizarro world of political parsing.

Anonymous: I think you are not reading my words very carefully. I never told you or anyone you couldn't vote for John McCain. I simply reject the notion that anyone is morally obliged to do so, and I would be remiss in my duties if I failed to point out where his own positions are problematic.


Every president appoints lots of judges, and the successor appoints new ones, and we have to live with that. I think when you make a decision about voting for president, it's a package deal, and I don't consider the package deal we're likely to get with Sen. McCain all that good.

People forget how much mischief has been created by judges named by Republican judges, including Roe v. Wade in 1973, and the decision upholding it, in 1992 (or was it '93?).

Of course a president can veto legislation, and vetoes can be overriden. Read my point in its original context: NCReg. was issuing dire predictions about legislation that will pass if the Democratic candidate wins. My point was that ignores all we can do to stop bad legislation in Congress.

Fr Martin Fox said...


I meant to say, judges appointed by Republican presidents...

Anonymous said...

Father Fox,

Aha, thanks for the clarification. I knew that in the past McCain supported ESC research, which is why I disliked him so much. Maybe the one good thing in all this is that so many people are opposed to ESC research that McCain feels the need to hide his support of it. After all, the victory on the dignity of life won't be won when abortion is outlawed, but instead when the mass populace views abortion as a horrible evil and there isn't even a debate on the legality of it!


Anonymous said...

"Anonymous: I think you are not reading my words very carefully. I never told you or anyone you couldn't vote for John McCain. I simply reject the notion that anyone is morally obliged to do so, and I would be remiss in my duties if I failed to point out where his own positions are problematic."

Father, There are three possible candidates that will become president of our country. Two favor the murder of the baby in the womb that has killed about 50 Million babies so far. If either is elected, they will appoint judges that will be there for the a couple of decades insuring this continues. Only one candidate is possibly safest of the three to move this toward an end. You debate on embryonic stem cell where once again he wins over the other two. voting for someone like Mickey Mouse write in which anyone else is somehow does not make sense when you have the chance that we could elect someone that could end it.

Fr Martin Fox said...


I can understand why you think that's a persuasive reason to vote for McCain, that's fine if you choose that.

But I do not accept your apparent claim that one is morally obliged to vote for him. Because if you argue that, then you are arguing one is morally bound to support a candidate who endorses something intrisically evil. And that is a completely indefensible position.

gramps said...

I think this is a good article from Frank Pavone of priests for life. He talks about the change of seasons from primary to general election.

Dear Friends,

What’s this I hear from some people that they might “sit out” the Presidential election because they aren’t comfortable with the likely choice of candidates?

Since when are elections supposed to make us “comfortable?” Since when do we exercise that right to vote, for which people fought and died, only when it’s easy and clear-cut, and our choices are just the way we want them to be?

At Mass we pray, “I confess to Almighty God…that I have sinned…in my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done, and in what I have failed to do…”

What we fail to do can make us just as guilty as what we do. A sin is a wrong choice, and to decide not to do something is just as much of a choice as to decide to do something.

A sin of omission is still a sin - and we are still responsible for the results.

What, then, makes us think that we are more responsible for the results of voting than for the results of not voting?A vote is not a philosophical statement. It is a transfer of power. It is a pragmatic act to preserve, as much as possible under the circumstances, the common good, and to limit the evils that threaten it.

And in the pragmatic matter of elections, what matters is not how closely a candidate measures up to my preferences and convictions. Instead, it’s a question of who can and will actually get elected. It does little good if the person I felt most comfortable supporting doesn’t get to actually govern and implement those positions I like so much.

The vote can be used just as much to keep someone out of office as to put someone in.

If we fail to use that tool, however, and as a result the person who gets elected is far worse and does far more damage than the other person we did not like, then we still share responsibility for the damage that will be done.

Elections have seasons. In the earliest phases, the field is wide open. We can recruit candidates, or decide to run ourselves. We build up the name recognition and base of support for the person or people who would make the best candidate. This takes years of work.

Then the season of primaries arrives, during which voters choose between the candidates who have been recruited and who have been building up their strength.

Then the general election season arrives, and we may find that we don’t like any of the names on the ballot. At that point, we have to shift our thinking and focus on “better” rather than “best.” The reality usually is that one of several unsatisfactory candidates will in fact be elected. So we use our vote to create the better outcome and to limit the damage. That’s the shift that some fail to make.

And we are still responsible for what we fail to do.

Fr. Frank

Anonymous said...

Ron Paul is the only candidate worth fighting for. The corporate news media (MSM) is totally responsible for pushing him to the fringes - it amounts to censorship and a violation of free speech. The Constitution provides all the answers we need to solve most problems, and that is exactly what Dr. Paul represents - and is exactly the prescription for our country.

Equiti Albo Crucis said...

I like the comments of Archbishop Chaput but I think there should be a clarification or such regarding the statement about voting for a pro-choice candidate. I'm oversimplyfying a bit here for brevity's sake but here it is. Some Catholics will vote Republican because they are most pro-life. Others will vote Democrat even though the candidate is pro-choice because they support their social agenda as being more Catholic. Even the USCCB document seems to leave this loophole for "other moral issues." Right or wrong a number of voters will use this to justify voting Democrat in presidential or congressional elections. However this makes a grave and erroneous assumption that too often gets overlooked because we are so focused on what seems 1 issue (abortion) versus the several "other moral issues" debate. But the Democratic position on "the other moral issues" is not the Church's position. From education, healthcare, welfare, unions, immigration etc. the language used to identify a problem is the same but their solution is different. Therefore to say I will vote for the Democrats because they support education is a grave mistake. Take a look at the recent decision in California regarding homeschooling. The NEA and its Democratic, union supporters feel that they know best how to educate your children, not you as a parent. Contrast that with the Church teaching that parents have predominant rights over the education of their children. BTW, didn't the Republicans trying and shut down the NEA a few years ago. I wrote on this in greater depth on my blog and I hope there will be greater attention drawn to this issue. We do not need the Democratic vision or solution to these other social problems. There was a time when Catholic hospitals and healthcare played a pre-dominant role in the industry but our rights are continually being stripped away as hospitals are forced to provide birth-control and many other immoral activities. The poor do not need the welfare solutions of the Democrats. They need the implementation of the social encyclicals of the Church. So while the Republicans have their own warts too we cannot afford to continue keep defaulting to the lie that the Democratic party has the same concern on the issues as we do.

Anonymous said...

McCain is the Aaron Burr of modern American politics.

Anonymous said...

McCain is the Aaron Burr of modern American politics.