Veteran NYT reporter sneers at Santorum’s “far right Catholicism”; “dour 13th-century philosophy”

I’m starting to think that the only different between a Maureen Dowd screed and a New York Times‘ news piece is that the former is likely more objective, balanced, and charitable than the latter. Here is what Timothy Egan, Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter, wants readers to believe about Rick Santorum:

 • He’s irrational: “If Romney has indeed finally sealed the deal after Tuesday, he will owe his nomination in large part to common-sense Catholics who rejected a less rational one of their own.” Because we all know that Catholicism should be the Religion of Polls, unlike the Religion of Peace, which doesn’t seem to care much at all what the polls or liberal reporters have to say.

• He’s an extremist: “Santorum’s far-right Catholicism will not put the Catholic vote in the Republican column in November. Barack Obama won Catholics 54-47, just slightly better than he did over all.” Be assured, however, that you’ll not hear any use of phrases such as “Obama’s far-left secularism”, or any cogent analysis of how the majority of self-described Catholics in the U.S. are exactly that: self-described. 

• He’s eight centuries removed from the cool people: “Catholics, as with most of the population, are not buying into the dour 13th-century philosophy of Santorum regarding women, their bodies and reproductive practices.” That, by the way, might be the most stupid statement I’ve ever read in the New York Times. Of course, making that judgment is akin to choosing Miley Cyrus’s version of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” as the worst cover song of all time—the competition is fierce and the number of possible winners nearly countless. Meanwhile, why do both Fundamentalist Protestants and Fundamentalist Secularists hate the 13th century so much? Answer: because they’re incapable of reading and understanding the Angelic Doctor. If they even know who he is.

• He’s not John F. Kennedy: “The vote for John F. Kennedy, the nation’s first Catholic president, was as much cultural as religious — he was militantly secular in outlook, but represented the high point of Irish-Catholic aspiration.” Egan is correct: Santorum is not Kennedy. He is not “militantly secular in outlook”. Nor is he a debonair pseudo-Catholic who pops pills, cheats on his wife, and sleeps with teenage girls and Hollywood starlets.

• He doesn’t bow low before Kennedy’s cave-in Catholicism: “Santorum, to the disgust of many who follow St. Peter’s faith, said that Kennedy’s famous speech on the separation of church and state made him want to vomit. Anybody else feel that way?” Yes, absolutely. My hand is raised. Make no mistake about it: JFK was one of the first great cave-in Catholics in the United States. But he would soon be eclipsed by his brother, Edward, who took caving in to lows JFK likely couldn’t have imagined, even when sober.

• He’s a loser: “The only way to read the results is Catholic rejection of a Catholic retrograde.” This assumes, with laughable arrogance, that the New York Times knows real Catholicism better than real Catholics—you know, the Catholics who believe Catholic teaching is to be respected and followed, not spat upon and mocked in the public square. 

• He’s an ill-educated idiot: “The Jesuit-educated among them, you could argue, have been trained for independent thinking — precisely the kind of voter who finds Santorum lacking in reason, logic and a broad view of humanity.” Speaking as someone who studied under a great Jesuit (Fr. Mitch Pacwa), works for a great Jesuit (Fr. Joseph Fessio), and knows a number of other great Jesuits (Fr. James Schall, among others), I’m curious as to why kissing up to the liberal, group-think media and the brain-dead dominant culture is a sign of “independent thinking”? Besides, those cave-in Catholics aren’t doing so well in the logic and reason department.

• He’s the pied piper of bigots: “National polls show that those who consider Romney’s religion a problem are more likely to be evangelical Christians, again, Santorum’s followers.  They’re religious bigots; there’s no other way to say it.” Sure there is: you can just call them “Nazis” and “homophobic women haters”. Isn’t that what all the other lazy, mindless, bigoted jerks in the press call them? 

• His mere existence fosters lies about Obama: “Many, if not most, of these same Santorum evangelicals make up a significant percentage of the Republican base who still think — in the worst kind of reality-denial — that Obama is a Muslim. In Alabama and Mississippi 45 percent believed that fantasy based on polling just before the recent primary.” But if, as Egan correctly reports, 54% of Catholics voted for Obama in 2008, does it logically follow that Obama adheres to Catholic teaching, obeys the Pope, rejects abortion and thinks contraception is a mortal sin? No, he doesn’t?  But shouldn’t he, based on Egan’s brilliant formula of spurious association? Oh, I get it: the street of dubious association only runs one way, which is against conservatives and Catholics and people who think the Pulitzer Prize ain’t what it used to be.

• His supporters are “crazies”: “The majority of Catholic voters, bless ‘em, have rejected the crazies pooled behind Rick Santorum”. Thank goodness that objective, impartial reporters like Egan are still out there, toiling to bring us simple, illiterate folks the facts about rabid, Papist extremists such as Rick Santorum. I, for one, can’t wait until Egan writes his next piece, in which he discusses the “sauve, messianic-styled, warmed-over Sixties philosophy of President Obama”. And if he needs someone to bring a bit of gravitas and gender balance to the piece, he would do well to enlist Dowd. 

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About Carl E. Olson 1197 Articles
Carl E. Olson is editor of Catholic World Report and Ignatius Insight. He is the author of Did Jesus Really Rise from the Dead?, Will Catholics Be "Left Behind"?, co-editor/contributor to Called To Be the Children of God, co-author of The Da Vinci Hoax (Ignatius), and author of the "Catholicism" and "Priest Prophet King" Study Guides for Bishop Robert Barron/Word on Fire. His recent books on Lent and Advent—Praying the Our Father in Lent (2021) and Prepare the Way of the Lord (2021)—are published by Catholic Truth Society. He is also a contributor to "Our Sunday Visitor" newspaper, "The Catholic Answer" magazine, "The Imaginative Conservative", "The Catholic Herald", "National Catholic Register", "Chronicles", and other publications. Follow him on Twitter @carleolson.