Monday, May 24, 2004

IT'S THE SAME SECRET SERVICE, ISN'T IT? So why will Greater Boston be virtually shut down for the Democratic National Convention while life will go on pretty much as normal in New York City when the Republicans gather there five weeks later? Tatsha Robertson reports in Sunday's Boston Globe.

KERRY, SHRIVER, AND THE CHURCH. Scott Stossel, the author of a major new biography of Sargent Shriver, wrote in the Globe's Ideas section on Sunday about how John Kerry might learn from Shriver in balancing his Catholicism with his politics. Shriver, as Stossel tells it, stuck to Church doctrine throughout his public career on such matters as abortion and birth control, but refused to let his personal religious views guide his policymaking.

It's a worthwhile piece, but I learned a lot more about Shriver than I did about how Kerry could follow his example. Even though Shriver was much more closely aligned with the Church hierarchy than Kerry appears to be, Shriver today would face problems very different from those that were on the table in the 1960s and '70s.

Let's not forget that last summer, the Vatican issued a document on same-sex marriage that ordered Catholic politicians to get the with program. The document, written largely by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, includes this:

When legislation in favour of the recognition of homosexual unions is proposed for the first time in a legislative assembly, the Catholic law-maker has a moral duty to express his opposition clearly and publicly and to vote against it. To vote in favour of a law so harmful to the common good is gravely immoral.

Currently, there is a controversy over whether Catholic politicians who are pro-choice should take communion. And make no mistake: Shriver's actions and statements were entirely pro-choice, regardless of his personal views about abortion. Today's Catholic hierarchy would be breathing down his neck just as surely as it is breathing down Kerry's.

UNCONVENTIONAL WISDOM. Boston Herald columnist Joe Sciacca today points to (sub. req.) the biggest problem if Kerry decides not to accept the nomination at the convention: the very likely possibility that national conventions, already relics of a long-dead era, will be done away with altogether. (Of course, it's a problem only for those who want to keep the conventions on life support.) Writes Sciacca of Kerry:

He's taking heat for flip-flopping on the nomination, but there's no shame for Kerry in keeping his eye on the prize instead of the party. Running for president means winning, not ensuring that some donkey-capped delegates with their credentials hanging over their lobster bibs feel "part of the process." Both parties should start thinking about the conventions and whether the negatives - too scripted, too costly, too mind-numbing and too predictable - have made them throwaway events in the new era of high-speed politics.

It's been wrongly predicted before, but I think there's an excellent chance that this will be the last time the two major parties hold conventions as we know them. That moment is past due.

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