Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Buchanan Raises a Smokescreen by Charging Anti-Catholic Bigotry

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Buchanan Raises a Smokescreen by Charging Anti-Catholic Bigotry

Article excerpt

My father's green scrapbook is full of yellow newspaper clips on Al Smith. He was a world-historical figure in our house: the first Catholic presidential nominee.

There is the Happy Warrior waving his brown derby in Chicago and Palm Beach and Albany. There is the headline about his '28 loss to Herbert Hoover. And more ominous clips, like this: "The last political campaign revived the Ku Klux Klan. The anti-Catholic conspiracy thrived upon the candidacy of a Catholic for president. Evidently there is to be a fresh impetus given to anti-Catholic bigotry . . . a boycott of all Catholics in politics, industry and social matters."

And this: "There are many so-called American citizens who think Catholics are good enough to fight and die for their country, but who are not willing for Catholics to hold positions of trust and honor in their country."

Thirty-two years later, when John Kennedy made it, my father hung a huge picture of him in the den. Kennedy had soothed jittery voters about separation of church and state, wearing his Catholicism lightly.

"I sat next to Cardinal Spellman at dinner the other evening," Kennedy said at a Bronx fund-raiser, "and asked him what I should say when voters questioned me about the doctrine of the pope's infallibility. `I don't know, senator,' the cardinal told me. `All I know is he keeps calling me Spillman.' "

Thirty-six years later, the problem is not the infallibility of the pope, but the infallibility of the candidate. Pat Buchanan wears his religion heavily, vowing to base his administration on the Bible, the Constitution and the clarity he learned at Gonzaga, a Jesuit high school, in the '50s.

"There was right and there was wrong," he said, "and you knew it."

Bay Buchanan, the candidate's sister and campaign manager, decided last week to play the Catholic card, charging Ted Koppel with "anti-Catholic bigotry." She said that a "Nightline" on Buchanan's upbringing had revealed "the dark soul of ABC News."

"Its entirety was an endless slander against my brother Pat, my family and our faith," said Ms. Buchanan, a Mormon.

In The Washington Post, she offered an ingenious bit of reasoning on why Koppel was unfair to do an off-camera interview with a Jewish neighbor who remembered being called a "Christ-killer" and beaten up by some of Pat's younger brothers. …

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