Pope Francis’s denunciation of free-market capitalism may have Democrats, the American left and its usual media pals boiling, but almost everyone is reading the pope wrong, according to a top Catholic conservative writer.
But Michael Novak is only a leading intellectual, the author of 25 books on culture and conservatism, a professor at major American universities who’s been a college lecturer in in the pope’s native Argentina and Chile for decades, and former ambassador under Ronald Reagan administration.
How the hell can he compare to a late-night comic like Jon Stewart?
In a lengthy essay Saturday in National Review Online, titled “Agreeing with Pope Francis,” Novak explored Pope Francis’s exhortation, “Evangelii Gaudium” (“Joy of the Gospels”) in the context of the pope’s experience with Argentina’s crony capitalism (with undeniable echoes in the Obama Era) and how it’s being used in the context of American politics to justify attacks on conservatives by Democrats and the left.
(Novak doesn’t go into it, but let’s just say off the top that Democrats and the American left wouldn’t normally give a damn about a pope’s opinion on the weather much less the values intrinsic to a free society.)
It’s true that what Francis wrote will never be confused with Grover Norquist or Ayn Rand, but Novak points out that the pope’s original Spanish wasn’t nearly as partisan or inflammatory as the English translations that are being used by American libs – and are so dismaying American conservatives.
For example, the phrase “trickle down” – which libs like to use to distort what Reagan accomplished in the 1980s – is an addition to what the pope wrote, not part of his original document, Novak writes.
“Note first that “trickle-down” nowhere appears in the original Spanish, as it would have done if the pope had meant to invoke the battle-cry of the American Democrats against the American Republicans … Only those hostile to capitalism and Reagan’s successful reforms, and to the policies of Republicans in general after the downward mobility of the Carter years, use the derisive expression “trickle-down,” intended to caricature what actually happened under Reagan, namely, dramatic upward mobility. “
Conservative champions from Rush Limbaugh to Fox News News Editor Adam Shaw have denounced Francis in their turn – using stinging imagery, Shaw called the pontiff an Obama for the Catholic Church in a column last week. But that’s to be expected. as long as there’s a separation between church and state, there’s going to be tension between them.
Faulty or immaculate translations aside, the Republican Party isn’t Catholic Charities and Catholic Charities isn’t the Republican Party. Everyone should be able to agree to get over that. (Taking the time to read Novak’s essay will help.)
It’s a different story with libs like the New York Times’ Paul Krugman, who love the church at times like this when they can use cafeteria-style “pro-Catholic” arguments to push their agenda. They just choose to ignore the when it stands up for core Catholic beliefs like the sanctity of life against the Obamacare regime. (Watch for the next time Krugman praises Hobby Lobby, but don’t hold your breath.)
And comics like Stewart love the pope when he provides them with material for comedy gold, like using 288-page document written for a faith community of 1 billion people as fodder for a five-minute comic mocking conservatives and advocating a raise in the federal minimum wage – another cause dear to liberal hearts since they think they don’t have to pay for it, either.
On “The Daily Show” Thursday, Stewart used the pope to smear Fox News economist Stuart Varney. He compared Varney’s attempt to have an adult conversation about the minimum wage with Scrooge in Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” and capped the whole piece off with a fellatio joke straight out of seventh grade.
Then Stewart concluded with an observation about fast-food workers. He meant to use the analogy against Varney, but it could much more easily apply to the comic.
“Some people are paid paid too much money to shovel unappetizing shit to the American public,” he said. “We just disagree on who they are and where they work.”
A few might be at Comedy Central.
Check out Stewart’s act here.