MoltenThought Logo
"An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last."
Sir Winston Churchill

6.25.2008

The Trouble with Tim Russert

Hadley Arkes nails precisely why the Tim Russert love-a-thon troubled me:

The sense of “family” and “the faith” celebrated during the week of mourning for Tim Russert was discreetly detached from the substance of any teaching that would define the character of a Catholic family and the Catholicism it professed. The tipoff came at the very beginning of his career. His credential for a high place in the media came through his service as a devoted staffer to Mario Cuomo and Daniel Patrick Moynihan. These two political men managed to navigate their way in the liberal politics of New York by establishing their reluctance to impose, through the laws, the moral teaching of the Church on abortion. They treated that teaching, not as a teaching formed by moral reasoning and the evidence of embryology, but as a matter merely of “beliefs,” which they would not claim to be true for anyone but themselves. And indeed, as the wags remarked, Moynihan and Cuomo would not even impose these convictions on themselves. My own surmise was that Tim Russert absorbed these lessons taught by the masters. And it was the surety that he had indeed absorbed them that made him plausible as a figure to direct “Meet the Press,” the flagship of all news programs.


Let us suppose, however, that in his heart of hearts Tim Russert did indeed respect, as true, the moral teaching of his Church on the issue that John Paul II and Benedict XVI have regarded as the central moral issue of our day, the issue from which everything else radiates. If so, Russert’s discreet silences reflected the tacit bargain for liberal Catholics in the Democratic Party and the media: they can hold their position only at the price of remaining silent on the moral issue most central to Catholic teaching and to the politics of the day. If my surmise is wrong, it can be tested easily and readily disproved: What understanding did he impart to his own family? Do they understand the issue of abortion in the way that Benedict XVI or Henry Hyde have understood it, or in the way that the Kennedys and Cuomos have taught Catholics now to understand it?


No family has done more to misinstruct American Catholics on the teaching of their own Church than the Kennedys, and their teaching began with this lesson: that one can be pro-choice and effectively pro-abortion and still be a good Catholic. This used to be called “giving scandal”: it was gently telling Catholics that the central teaching of their Church could be treated as false, or simply not that important. As my late teacher Leo Strauss once observed, when a wise man preserves his silence on a matter that others regard as important, he leads us to understand that it is not, in the end, all that important. Amidst all of the mourning and celebration for Tim Russert, the most critical thing he imparted as a public man was that the central moral teaching of his Church was not, in the scale of things, all that important or true.


You cannot both be a faithful Catholic and someone who worked to advance the political career of abortion advocates like Mario Cuomo, nor when provided a high-profile platform fail to even ask questions about the morality of the practice of infanticide.

The cock crowed thousands of times with Russert failing to affirm the Truth entrusted to him. Celebrate Russert as a devoted father and son, as a professional journalist, and as a pleasant personality, but earning the titel of "devout Catholic" requires more than frequent Mass attendance and darkening the door of the Confessional. It requires belief in the teachings of the Church, few of which are more dogmatic than the inherent dignity and inviolability of all human life, and the willingness to live one's life, in public and private, accordingly.

Labels: ,

0 Comments:

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home