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What is it about Obama's choice(s) for HHS?

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Feb 20, 2009

 If you're old enough to remember the early years of the Reagan Administration, these names might ring some bells: Clark, Allen, Casey, Haig, Walters, Bennett, Pauken, Higgins, Buckley, Shakespeare, Donovan, Rowny, Buchanan.

What did they have in common? They were all close to Reagan: in key policy-making posts. And they were all Catholics. Serious Catholics: the sort who would unapologetically draw the connection between US foreign policy and the message of Fatima. If you dropped in on an evening of recollection in DC around mid-1981, you'd be sure to see at least a couple of sub-Cabinet officials.

(I know, because I was there. I was half-expecting an exposé in the Washington Post, warning that Catholics were plotting to control the government. But the Post never noticed; I guess you don't see many Post reporters at those evenings of recollection, come to think about it.)

Now flash forward to 2009, with President Obama still trying to fill out his Cabinet. You definitely won't find as many Catholics hanging around the White House these days. But there are a few. Let's name just a couple: Tom Daschle and Kathleen Sebelius. Now what do those two have in common?

Daschle, of course, was Obama's first choice to become Secretary of Health and Human Services. Fiscal irregularities doomed that nomination, and now, if the news reports are accurate, the President has turned to Sebelius to take the job. So that's one thing they have in common. 

There's another. In 2003, Daschle was rebuked by his bishop for identifying himself as a Catholic while supporting legal abortion. Last year Sebelius was warned by her bishop that  she should not receive Communion while she continued to advocate the killing of the unborn. 

How many Catholic politicians have drawn such admonitions from their bishops? Not many. So what are the odds that two of them would be chosen by President Obama for the Cabinet position most closely associated with policy decisions about abortion?

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