Many Catholics think it’s preposterous that Joe Biden presents himself as a “devout” Catholic with a rosary in his pocket. But The New York Times on Sunday morning told us many die-hard abortion advocates think it’s unfortunate that Biden is president, since he is far too squishy on abortion.
The headline on the front page was “Catholic Faith Makes Abortion Tricky for Biden.” That’s an LOL headline. It’s not “tricky” to promote abortion and present yourself as Catholic. It’s “shameless.” The online headline better reflects the spirit of the Michael Shear article: "Biden Is an Uneasy Champion on Abortion. Can He Lead the Fight in Post-Roe America?" He’s not “the right messenger for the moment” in this "generational struggle"!
But inside the West Wing, President Biden has made it clear that he is uncomfortable even using the word abortion, according to current and former advisers. In speeches and public statements, he prefers to use the word sparingly, focusing instead on broader phrases, like “reproductive health” and “the right to choose,” that might resonate more widely with the public.
Mr. Biden, a practicing Catholic who has drawn on his faith to shape his political identity, is now being called on to lead a fight he spent decades sidestepping — and many abortion rights advocates worry that he may not be the right messenger for the moment.
What followed was a quote from Jamie (not Charles) Manson of “Catholics for Choice” who complained that with Roe vs. Wade overturned, “This is not necessarily the guy that I am sure most activists wanted in the seat when this happened…It’s unfortunate because he has so much power and we need him to really get out of his comfort zone.”
Shear found assistant House speaker Katherine Clark to say the president’s faith is not the problem, it’s “an extremist G.O.P.” but he added “for most of his career, Mr. Biden has been viewed with suspicion by abortion rights activists because of his history on the issue.” Biden cast some anti-abortion votes early in his career and just took the last step to the left-wing extreme -- forcing taxpayers to fund abortions -- in his 2020 campaign.
The pull quote on page A21 was from Georgetown professor John Carr: “Biden has never sought power to make abortion more available. It’s just not part of who he is.”
Carr told The Times Biden was quicker to change his position on same-sex marriage. Shear noted Carr touted Biden’s “passion and eloquence” on LGBTQ issues. So maybe it’s not his alleged Catholicism that’s the problem. They think abortion makes him too queasy.
PS: This is not the first time Shear has carefully negotiated around the clash between Democratic and Catholic orthodoxy. Back in 2015, he was touting Biden in a story headlined "Catholics in White House Often Help Obama Build Support for Thorny Policy." He included the typical jibber-jabber about Biden fingering his rosary beads as they went around the church hierarchy:
For the Obama White House, obtaining Catholic support on important elements of its agenda has often involved going around the church hierarchy. And to lead that effort it has often turned to Catholic members of the president’s senior staff, including Mr. Biden and Ms. Sebelius.