Ross Douthat on "a different kind of liberal"


With the media participating in adulation of Ted Kennedy, Ross Douthat calls our attention to “a different kind of liberal”, the late Eunice Kennedy Shriver (New York Times August 30, 2009):

Liberalism’s most important legislator probably merited a more extended send-off than his sister. But there’s a sense in which his life’s work and Eunice’s deserve to be remembered together — for what their legacies had in common, and for what ultimately separated them.

What the siblings shared — in addition to the grace, rare among Kennedys, of a ripe old age and a peaceful death — was a passionate liberalism and an abiding Roman Catholic faith. These two commitments were intertwined: Ted Kennedy’s tireless efforts on issues like health care, education and immigration were explicitly rooted in Catholic social teaching, and so was his sister’s lifelong labor on behalf of the physically and mentally impaired.

What separated them was abortion.

Read the rest. (HT: Alan Phipps).

More to explorer


  1. An excellent column, well-researched and clearly, simply written. As I read the comments attached to it, always an exercise in frustration-building, it occurred to me that the clear cognitive dissonance that Douthat points to in positions on abortion–popular among many on the Left and even among social moderates–is something that they have learned to tune out completely in order to maintain their sanity. One of the commenters there, trotting out the oft-used logical fallacy “I find abortion abhorrent personally, but who am I to impose my views on others?”, upbraids Douthat for being “judgmental” and chiding him that only the Almighty God of judgment can judge us. Situational ethics at its worst and most illogical. No doubt those same people who wail and gnash their teeth over Douthat’s clear line of reasoning would have no trouble (nor should they, of course!) recognizing their hypocrisy if the issue at hand were slavery, as it was 150 years ago in this country.

    We have much work to do as pro-life Catholics, but the more I read the pablum that spews forth from the lips of the unthinking pro-choice crowd, the more I realize that nothing I say or do could change their minds; it is up to the grace of the Holy Spirit to change their hearts, and for that all I can do is pray.

  2. It’s a perfectly fine column, but just says what we already knew about the late Mrs. Shriver and the late Senator Kennedy. And the comments tell us what we already knew about the few remaining pathetic readers of the NYT.

  3. Maybe. But something about Douthat rubs me the wrong way. Nevertheless, it’s a good piece.

    Mind you, he’s not saying anything that countless other Catholic commentators weren’t already saying. But I suppose it’s new to the readers of The New York Times, so Douthat has doubtless done a service by putting something they’d never otherwise read out there for them to see.

  4. I’m with Jay – though I liked and linked to this particular article and think that Douthat puts out some nice work, I’m not fully on board with his program. I thought Party of Sam’s Club, on top of some policy disagreements, was a major disappointment. It just wasn’t a very good or really enlightening read. But he’s on the money here.

  5. Of all the Kennedy siblings, perhaps Eunice was the one who really SHOULD have been the first Catholic president 😉

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: