E.J. Dionne, the liberal Washington Post columnist, and Garry Wills, the author, scholar, and ex-conservative, disagree on whether the “hard right” has more or less permanent control of the Republican party. Dionne believes that so-called reform conservatives such as Ross Douthat, Ramesh Ponnuru, and David Frum might, in Wills’ words, “ride to the rescue.”

On the other hand, Wills, assessing Dionne’s Why the Right Went Wrong: Conservatism – From Goldwater to the Tea Party and Beyond in the February 11 issue of the New York Review of Books, contends that the GOP is solidly in the grip of movement conservatives who tend towards paranoia (“to be on the right is to feel perpetually betrayed”); hostility to “reason, facts, science, open-mindedness, tolerance, secularity, modernity”; and indulgence of racism.

Last Friday, author and historian Garry Wills, who blogs occasionally at the New York Review of Books site, praised Michelle Obama for challenging, in her recent Tuskegee University commencement address, conservatives’ complacency about race in America. Specifically, Wills approved of the first lady’s “breaking all of the four rules of racial discourse the right wing now wants to enforce.”

“The celebrators of rugged individualism will not allow successful blacks to reach back and help others up the ladder of achievement. That is just rewarding the ‘takers over the makers,’” wrote Wills. “But when we see or read the speech of Michelle Obama, stingy individualists melt down into their pooled little meannesses, and this tall black woman of achievement calls on us all to mount into the sky, following the Tuskegee Airmen. This is not playing the race card. It is playing the American card.”

In a Sunday blog post on the New York Review of Books site, historian Wills, who’s written extensively about both the United States and Catholicism, rebuked conservative Catholics who’ve “suggested that [Pope Francis] is not truly Catholic,” asserting that such critics of the pope “are right to be in a panic. They are not used to having a pope who is a Christian. They call Francis a radical because he deplores the sequestration of great wealth for a rich few and deprivation of the many poor. But Francis is a moderate. Jesus was the radical.”

Wills, who is Catholic, noted that Francis is hugely popular among rank-and-file Catholics and commented that any “perception of great resistance to the pope in his own church” is “largely the product of noise. Extremists get more press coverage than blander types.”

As I noted on Monday, the "On Faith" section at the Washington Post is hard at work attacking faithful Catholics by publishing, bit by bit, excerpts of a Sally Quinn interview with Garry Wills, a critic of the church. Well, on Tuesday -- the day of Pope Francis's installation Mass -- the attack continued with another excerpt in which Wills was given a platform to wish the papacy would become a mere figurehead position, much like the monarch of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

On Faith editor and religious agnostic Sally Quinn opened with the query, "What do you think should be done with the papacy? Do you think it should be abolished?" That softball over the plate allowed Wills to swing for the fences with his attack on thousands of years of church tradition. Wills went on to give his advice to recalcitrant Catholics, which was not to leave the church but rather to simply ignore the pastoral oversight of the bishops and the pope himself, whom the church teaches is the successor of St. Peter:

As we've documented time and again, the Washington Post's On Faith section is hostile to traditional religious faith. Section editor Sally Quinn failed to disappoint on St. Patrick's Day with her publication online of an excerpt from an interview with liberal Catholic author Garry Wills, who is promoting his new book, "Why Priests? A Failed Tradition."

Coming a mere four days after the election of Argentina's Jorge Mario Cardinal Bergoglio as Pope Francis, Quinn published a portion of her interview wherein Wills argued that the papacy was irrelevant and that the priesthood was an arrogant "monopolization" of power by the clergy.  On March 14, just one day after Pope Francis's election, Quinn published another excerpt of Wills which she entitled "The pope shouldn't be king," where she let Wills flesh out his thoughts on the papacy being a "crime":

Newsweek knows who they hate. Its section "The Take" in the March 29 edition begins with a full-page picture of Pope Benedict with this nasty sentence imposed above his head: "I would argue that the pope is already sufficiently tainted to trade his Prada shoes for a hair shirt for the rest of his life." Turn to page 24, and Newsweek religion editor Lisa Miller’s hate-filled column is titled "Save the Children: Benedict & Co. need to do penance." The "hair shirt" quote is not in the article.

This is the same activist/journalist Lisa Miller who wrote the incendiary (and ridiculous) cover story on how the Bible supports gay marriage. This is not the first time Miller has bashed the Catholic Church in a column in 2010. Just two weeks ago, she was raging against the American Catholic bishops standing in the way of ObamaCare. There, she also declared the Catholic leadership was incapable of standing as a moral example:

A defender of abortion falsely claims in a letter in today's Los Angeles Times (Sat. 11/10/07), "The Bible does mention abortion." The erroneous reader adds that a passage in the Bible, Numbers 5, gives a "a detailed formula designed to end a pregnancy." In fact, the cited passage makes no mention of pregnancy, abortion, or miscarriage whatsoever. The reader's assertions are simply false.

Does the dishonesty at the Los Angeles Times regarding the abortion issue know no bounds? Does anyone at the Times own a Bible? Are there fact checkers at the paper?

On Wednesday (10/10/07), Tim Rutten, media columnist for the Los Angeles Times, gave a glowing review to the latest book from anti-Catholic "Catholic" Garry Wills. Wills' new book is Head and Heart: American Christianities. In the book Wills addresses the issue of abortion. Rutten allies with Wills to spread an egregious falsehood about the Catholic Church. Rutten:

Once again, Wills' deep mastery of the primary sources and his respect for them as a believer himself lend his argument a compelling authority. He points out that Catholic opposition to abortion is a recent development.

"Catholic opposition to abortion is a recent development"?? No way. In fact, had either Wills or Rutten taken the 15 seconds to look inside a copy the Catechism (that's if either of them even own one), they would have seen (emphasis mine), "Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable" (2271).