Ted Kennedy

Tick, tick, tick: Will Donald Trump play the 'handmaiden' card, lighting a SCOTUS fuse?

Tick, tick, tick: Will Donald Trump play the 'handmaiden' card, lighting a SCOTUS fuse?

The clock is ticking and the news coverage is heating up. At this point, for religion-beat pros, there's only one question that matters: Will Donald Trump GO THERE? Will he nominate the "loud dogma" candidate who will make heads explode in the liberal Catholic and secular politicos camps? We are, of course, talking about Judge Amy Coney Barrett. 

However, there is a rather cynical possibility linked to this story, an angle explored in this week's "Crossroads" podcast. Click here to tune that in.

You see, Trump needs to fire up voters for the midterm elections. In particular, he needs evangelical Protestants and pro-Catechism Catholics to turn out in droves, to help rescue the GOP from, well, Trump's unique ability in infuriate half of America (especially in elite zip codes and newsrooms).

So what if he nominated Barrett and let the blue-culture masses go crazy?

What if he unleashed that storm, knowing that the moral, cultural and religious left will not be able to restrain itself?

What a scene! Remember the hearings long ago for Justice Robert Bork -- the SCOTUS seat eventually taken by one Judge Anthony Kennedy -- and this famous speech by the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, speaking for the Catholic left and cultural liberals everywhere?

Robert Bork’s America is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens’ doors in midnight raids, schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution, writers and artists would be censored at the whim of government, and the doors of the federal courts would be shut on the fingers of millions of citizens for whom the judiciary is often the only protector of the individual rights that are the heart of our democracy.

So what would that sound like today, if Barrett has to face her critics once again?

CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin has already prepared that script, in a piece for The New Yorker, describing this future nightmare court:

It will overrule Roe v. Wade, allowing states to ban abortions and to criminally prosecute any physicians and nurses who perform them. It will allow shopkeepers, restaurateurs, and hotel owners to refuse service to gay customers on religious grounds.

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One polite, calm political story: Bernie Sanders welcomed at Liberty University

One polite, calm political story: Bernie Sanders welcomed at Liberty University

Talk about a cross-cultural event.

No, I am not talking about the fact that Sen. Bernard Sanders spoke at a convocation at Liberty University, which must have been educational both for the speaker and for those in the congregation. I'm talking about the efforts of mainstream reporters to cover this unlikely scene early in the race for the White House.

If you watch the video of the Sanders speech, it is pretty apparent that the socialist from Vermont did his homework and was prepared to seek -- as best he could -- common ground with faculty, students and staff on the campus founded by the late Rev. Jerry Falwell. And reporters, as a rule, did a solid job of handling what Sanders had to say.

What I found interesting were the journalistic attempts, or the lack thereof, to interact with the locals. Take this early passage from the coverage in Roll Call:

Before Sanders entered the campus’ Vine Center to an introduction by Liberty President Jerry Falwell Jr., a campus band played Christian rock songs about the resurrection, including one with the refrain: “I have decided to follow Jesus. No turning back. No turning back.” Not the typical introduction for a Jewish socialist from Vermont during Rosh Hashanah.
Unlike when conservative Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas appeared at the same venue earlier this year to launch his Republican White House bid, there were no real disruptions for outbursts of applause or standing ovations. But neither were there abundant boos or signs of ridicule.
“For me personally, it wasn’t very awkward,” said sophomore engineering student Joe Sobchinsky. “I actually was very happy that Bernie Sanders was coming because college is supposed to be about learning different viewpoints, and even if you don’t agree with someone, I would absolutely listen to them and hear what he has to say, hear his viewpoints.”

There's quite a bit of background in that passage. However, I think it was interesting that the reporter thought "I Have Decided to Follow Jesus" was some kind of trendy "Christian rock song," since that folk hymn from India originated in the 19th Century and became popular at crusades led by the Rev. Billy Graham in the 1950s.

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