Unpublished Articles from 'The Washington Dispatch', Number I: The Million Dollar Pope
(Earlier this year, Shane Cory, the owner, manager, editor and publisher of 'The Washington Dispatch', took the post of Director of Communications of the National Libertarian Party. As a result, TWD's pace of publication slowed down considerably. I realised earlier today that I still had three unpublished articles which are now all well out of date, but which hopefully might still be enjoyable, so here they are.
Without 'The Washington Dispatch' I would never have sat down at a keyboard: and without Shane Cory there would never have been such a thing as 'The Washington Dispatch'. A lot of people, like CK Rairden, Bob Parks, Frank and Nancy Salvato, Cathryn Crawford, Judson Cox, Geoff Metcalf, Patrick Rooney, Jerry Brooks, Andy Obermann, Christopher G. Adamo, Vincent Fiore, James Antle, Michael Tremoglie, Frosty Wooldridge, Egbert F. Bhatty and Donald A. Collins, to name just a few, published in TWD over the course of time during which I was a contributor. Shane gave them their forum, and more to the point did so on his time, at his expense. We all owe him something.
For the record, I hope that Shane enjoys a long and fruitful career in his new post.
The first article is 'The Million Dollar Pope', written upon the accession of Pope Benedict XVI)
The election of His Holiness Benedict XVI to the Chair of Peter has produced, as might be expected, a wide range of reaction from the online conservative press.
His choice of the name ‘Benedict’ has been taken to mean that he intends to be a reconciler, and if so, he’s off to a good start. On April 20, everyone was claiming him for themselves.
Writing on the weblog of the libertarian website, ‘Antiwar’, its editorial director Justin Raimondo understandably hailed him as ‘a champion of peace’ for his observations against the concept of ‘preventive war’. In the almost absurdly neoconservative ‘Front Page Magazine’, Robert Spenser proclaimed, ‘Pope Benedict XVI: Enemy of Jihad’. The social conservatives also got in on the act, with George Neumayr of ‘The American Spectator’ equating liberalism with paganism and stating that ‘the gates of hell have not prevailed’.
That day Rupert Murdoch’s London based ‘Sun’ newspaper announced the election of the new Bishop of Rome with a headline in typically poor taste: ‘From Hitler Youth to Papa Ratzi!’ This induced Kathryn Jean Lopez of the ‘National Review Online’ into having a fit of her predictable hysterics, proclaiming on NRO’s ‘The Corner’ that ‘The Sun’ had labelled Benedict a ‘Nazi!’ (her exclamation mark). ‘The Sun’ had done nothing of the sort – it was just doing the sort of thing that’s helped Murdoch become a billionaire, earn a papal knighthood and set up Fox News. Miss Lopez’s anti-Murdoch ululations would have considerably greater moral force if Rich Lowry, her boss at NRO, did not advertise his appearances on Fox News so assiduously on ‘The Corner’.
She also seems to have missed the real stunt ‘The Sun’ pulled later that day, announcing its backing for Tony Blair and the Labour Party in the forthcoming UK General Election by issuing red smoke from its office chimney.
From the opposite perspective to Kathryn Lopez, Andrew Sullivan, a bona fide Murdoch salaryman, was in the depths of despondency. Casting aside his mantle as the muezzin of gay marriage and swapping it for that of a plain muezzin, Sullivan asked, ‘And so…to prayer. What else do we now have?’ One might have thought an inexhaustive lost of items that Catholics have to console themselves in times of spiritual trouble would include the Gospels, the Eucharist and the other Sacraments, grace and the promise of eternal life, quite enough for one soul to be getting on with.
But Popes are spiritual, not ideological, figures. Every pronouncement a Pope makes should be rooted in the teachings of the Church, and the previous pronouncements of Joseph Ratzinger are no exception. The fact that all parties have thus claimed him is perhaps evidence, if any were required, of his suitability for the post, his teaching and pronouncements prior to election having clearly had an impact.
However, as is often said, the Spirit moves in mysterious ways, and what could be more mysterious than this; that in the midst of a popular culture that celebrates youth and vitality, the new Pope is the oldest in 300 years; that he has come to office very shortly after that culture bestowed one of its highest honours, Academy Awards, on Clint Eastwood, himself only a few years younger than Benedict XVI, for ‘Million Dollar Baby’, a movie that celebrates the wilful self-termination of adult life; and that a very short time after Terri Schiavo, an innocent American Catholic, incapable of representing her own interests, was starved to death by court order so that she could ‘die with dignity’ a Pope whose parents gave him the name of the patron of an easy death should come on to the Chair of Peter.
Mysterious or what?
The notion that a Pope elected at 78 is only going to be a stopgap is, sadly, false. Benedict seems robust, and also has access to the best healthcare a billion Catholics can buy. He could be Pope for 15 years or longer, enough time to make his own impact in the work the Lord has ordered him to do.
I wouldn’t bet on Benedict XVI in a punch-up with The Man With No Name, but the quiet Bavarian who had the moral courage to desert from the Wehrmacht when his former comrades were empowered by law to shoot deserters on the spot is going to be a more than a match for the sick, venal culture of Clint Eastwood.
Sorry, dude. You’ve just landed The Million Dollar Pope.
Hail Benedict XVI, Pope of the Sick; Pope of the Old; Pope of The Weak.
Long life and good health to you, Your Holiness. You’re going to need it.