Word has reached City Paper that a liberal Catholic group, Catholics United, intends to run TV ads challenging John McCain to give a damn about babies after they are born. The ads will run on cable stations in Pittsburgh and other "heavily Catholic" communities.
You can see the ad for yourself here. In it, a middle-aged woman described as "a Catholic pro-life mother of three from the Midwest," tells McCain, "it's not enough to say you're pro-life." She points out that McCain "voted against one of the largest support programs for pregnant women. You voted against health care for our children. And you voted for a war that has killed thousands of Americans."
McCain's support for the Iraq war is well-known; less well-known is the fact that in 2007, McCain voted against an expansion of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), which provides assistance to families who struggle to insure their kids. McCain has explained that this was because the bill didn't specify how to pay for the expansion, but the Children's Defense Fund ranked McCain as the single worst Senator for kids last year. McCain missed 8 out of 10 votes on family-friendly legislation tracked by the group.
On a strictly partisan note, any ad that helps deflate the GOP's claims to be "family friendly" is OK in my book. The fact that VP candidate Sarah Palin has a child with Down syndrom has allowed the GOP to claim they care about "special needs" children. But they don't seem to care much about families who need help with insurance premiums.
More broadly, I'm in favor of any group that wants to expand the "values" debate beyond reproductive issues. What I find so objectionable about the Christian right isn't that it spoils politics -- it's that it cheapens religion. These latter-day Elmer Gantries are comfortable using the Bible to control the behavior of poor women. But it seems like their Bibles don't include all the Old and New Testament calls for social justice on the part of the wealthy and powerful.
If we must have religious debates spill over into our political campaigns -- and apparently we do -- we ought to be using the whole book.
I love Mel Packer!