Writings and observations

Ted Kulongoski

Ted Kulongoski

We saw this before nationally, in 2004, when there was talk of Roman Catholic church officials taking (internal church) action against presidential candidate and practicing Catholic John Kerry, because of Kerry’s pro-choice views on abortion.

Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski is a practicing Catholic too, and he too is pro-choice. The tension hasn’t come up publicly in Oregon until now. Today, Portland Archbishop John Vlazny criticized the governor for hosting a pro-choice event locally: “For a Catholic governor to host an event of this sort seems a deliberate dissent from the teachings of the church.”

Is he saying that a Catholic governor must draw all his policy decisions, and official actions, within the confines of the church, and whatever it might teach?

We just finished reading a fine book, “1960 – LBJ vs. JFK vs. Nixon: The Epic Campaign That Forged Three Presidencies,” by David Pietrusza, which included a detailed account of the concerns people at that time had about the idea of electing a Catholic to high office – whether he might be beholden to, or dictated to by, his church. John Kennedy put that partly to rest by saying forcefully that while he was a loyal Catholic, his church never would dictate policy to him when he was acting as a public servant. And that line seems to have been broadly accepted, nationally and within the church.

Would Archbishop Vlazny say now that Kennedy was wrong? And if Kennedy’s rationale was wrong, should non-Catholics have the old concerns about electing someone of that faith?

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It’s been more than 3 years: Can we please do away with the whole “-gate” thing, revived recently in Alaska with Troopergate and now in Washington with buildergate. Please: A little rhetorical imagination.

Having said that, David Goldstein of Horse’s Ass seems to have got hold of a juicy thread that more or less fits the pattern: An initial piece of hard, albeit small, evidence, a run of denials and a slowly emergant extended story as the string is pulled.

In this case, that initial chunk comes from a seemingly unlikely place, the minutes of a Master Builder’s Association meeting of May 21, 2007, which includes these sentences: “Doug moved into discussion regarding the request from BIAW to use excess money from the ROII refund to fund the BIAW’s war chest. . . . Doug, Joe and John reported that they had received a call from Dino Rossi. John stated that he reiterated the board’s sentiment to Rossi, stating that it was to early, and the association had building issues that needed to be resolved.”

Talk of managers of an independent political committee coordinating with a candidate? As a strictly legal matter, this may be iffy. Rossi didn’t formally announce his candidacy for governor until later in the year, for one thing. The level of “coordination” involved here also doesn’t seem very strong.

Politically, though, it constitutes ongoing evidence of just how close Rossi and the Building Industry Association of Washington are, and that may not sell well.

Every bit matters in a close race.

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