Saturday, April 23, 2005

The Pope, The Veep and The Spite of Dowd

Maureen Dowd offers up another over-the-top column in today’s New York Times. This one attempts to cast the new Pope as Dick Cheney’s doppelganger. And since “Dick Cheney” is Dowd’s usual shorthand for “Prince of Darkness, Lord of the Underworld, Usurper of Good and Smiter of Justice,” you can guess how many kind words she has for Benedict XVI.

In various parts of the column, Dowd refers to the Pope as: a Jurassic archconservative, Cardinal No, God's Rottweiler, Panzerkardinal, the Vatican’s Darth Vader, a militant and a bully and claims he plans to dismantle Vatican II. Somehow Dowd refrains from calling him the Nazi Pope, although just barely.

The Benedict XVI/Dick Cheney comparison is a convenient one for Dowd who, like many on the reactionary left, fails to see the difference between politics and religion and insists on classifying everyone solely by where they fall on the issue of abortion and homosexuality.

In a glaring bit of sophistry Dowd actually says: “[Ratzinger and Cheney] parted ways on the war - though Cardinal Ratzinger did criticize the U.N. But they agree that stem cell research and cloning must be curtailed.”

Doesn’t Dowd think that the whole “parted ways on the war” thing is a little bigger of an issue than agreeing on stem cell research? In fact, doesn’t the new Pope’s opposition to the war in Iraq actually indicate that he and Cheney might be fundamentally different thinkers with fundamentally different goals?

But Dowd is only concerned with “proving” that Benedict XVI is nothing but a lapdog to American conservatism. That, in fact, Catholicism itself is just one more boot on the neck of progress.

Of course, it’s much more complicated than Dowd would like us to believe. Although Cardinal Ratzinger did express some troubling social views, Benedict XVI and his Church are far, far more than just a force against liberal social values. And, despite what many in the US might think, their interests do not center on American politics.

Dowd accuses Benedict XVI and Cheney of being “absolutists who view the world in stark terms of good and evil.” By claiming these two men are one-and-the-same, Dowd’s view of the world seems to be just as absolutist.


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