Two Ways to Deal With Catholic Joe Biden

By Peter Wolfgang Published on January 25, 2021

My reaction to the inauguration reminds me that I grow ever more curmudgeonly as I sail deeper into middle age. I don’t like the “Let’s all be good sports about it” inauguration posts. On the other side, I’m not a fan of the “We’re going to treat Joe Biden just like they treated Donald Trump” posts.

Even as he spoke of unity, Biden hinted at Obama-like condescension to the deplorables. That is, us. Either you agree with the left or you’re a white supremacist, misogynist, homophobe, and general hater.

Yet the whole thing — including his implicit insult to almost half the country’s voters — was wrapped in all those traditional signs of patriotism that, until noon on Jan. 20th, were said to be markers of racism. We’re up against people who think it’s only okay to love your country, or respect the office of the presidency, when the Democrats are in charge.

It makes people angry. But political rage therapy is not a good plan. January 6th should have put the idea to rest. Just because it worked for the left, doesn’t mean it’s going to work for us. Quite the opposite. They want us to do stupid things, so they can accelerate all the things they were already planning to do to us.

So that leaves us where?

Good Anger

Anger is good if it’s focused, smart, motivating, calculated, action-oriented. It’s not an end in itself. It’s only good if it drives you to move heaven and earth to restore the proper order of things. Not to burn things to the ground, even if the other guy started it.

To restore order. To create a just order. To create an order where people are free, the moral law observed, the marginal helped, and the vulnerable protected. In other words: a pro-life society.

How does that work? Biden is in the driver’s seat. What has he given us to work with? He says “we must end the uncivil war that pits red against blue,” that unity is our path forward, that we must “start afresh,” that “politics doesn’t have to be a raging fire.”

Step one is to remind him of these words every day of his presidency. Recall that George W. Bush said he wanted to be “a uniter, not a divider” and that the Democrats hung those words around his neck every time he did anything they opposed. No matter how big or small.

We need not be as asinine as the Democrats. But focusing Biden’s claims back on him might have some effect. I am thinking specifically of his vow to reignite the war on the Little Sisters of the Poor. They’re really a proxy for all believers. What his administration does to them, it wants to do to all of us.

Step Two

Step two is to remind Biden that he’s Catholic. There may be more to work with here than you think.

The weird thing about Biden, given his long and abysmal public record, is he is a more-sincere Catholic than was JFK. It was JFK who was just going through the motions, in an era when nominal practice of one’s faith was expected. Biden is a different kettle of fish altogether.

Believe me, I can hear your objections. His whole public life is one of selling out his faith on the most crucial issues. In the matter of Robert Bork, he may be the politician most responsible for Roe still being on the books. How can you see any glimmer of hope with such a man as this?

I come at that question as someone from a very blue state with a disproportionately large number of Catholic politicians. I know what we all think of them because of their voting records. But I’ve dealt with men like Biden. You would be amazed at how much the Catholic thing is still kicking around inside them.

Former Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy, for instance. He was pro-abortion and super pro-gay. But the assisted suicide crowd despised him for not supporting their cause. The slur they used to call him in their meetings? Worst thing they could spit out of their mouth. “Closet Catholic.” And he was.

Biden’s Catholicism is less closeted than Malloy’s. Not that it will ever matter in any cause already well-established on the left. But we might pick some of the low-hanging fruit, the fringiest causes the left doesn’t care so much about. If pressure can be applied from the right, he could potentially waver. Especially if we keep reminding him of his own rhetoric.

The Little Sisters

Which brings me back to the Little Sisters of the Poor. We can make both points with them.

Yes, that the left believes that they — and everyone else — must be forced to approve contraception. It’s a doctrine on the left. But does that mean persecuted nuns? Biden knew early on that Obama had stepped in it on this one. The fake “accommodation,” however weak, was the result of him pushing back as vice-president.

Now he is president. As vice-president, he was almost a cog in a machine. He had to support the president. Now he’s president. He can chart his own path.

In his inaugural address, Biden asked those who voted against him to give him a chance. He promised he would be president of all the people. He proved the hollowness of those words by issuing pro-abortion executive orders getting rid of restrictions on abortion, just as Obama and Clinton did.

We should respond by asking how he intends to make good on his promise in light of what he has just done. We should answer our question by putting the issue of the Little Sisters front and center before him. And do it at every opportunity.

Every time he throws pro-choice red meat to his base, we should say: “Want to turn down the heat, Mr. President? Want to make good on your desire that politics not be a raging fire? Make a small goodwill gesture. Free the Little Sisters of the Poor from the contraceptive mandate.”

Will he listen? Maybe not. Probably not. But he might. Laying off the Little Sisters won’t cost him much. And it will make many Americans more supportive of other things he wants to do. And maybe there’s enough Catholicism in his political mind that he’ll draw the line there.


Peter Wolfgang is president of Family Institute of Connecticut Action. He lives in Waterbury, Connecticut, with his wife and their seven children. The views expressed on The Stream are solely his own. His last article was Farewell, President Trump, and Thank You.

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