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Inside NCR

The political silly season is in full bloom, and, I must admit, I’m hooked. The conventions may have become endless, if high-production, infomercials, but I find myself spending far too much time listening to speeches and demonstrations, trying to plug into all the burning questions. Can hatred of Clinton win an election? Can the Republicans convince the world they’ve become a bastion of multiculturalism? In two weeks, the question certainly will be: Can the Democrats trip badly enough to nullify eight years of creating a new generation of multi-millionaires?

Heady stuff. One reporter covering the Rick Lazio-Hillary Clinton Senate race in New York recently declared in The New York Times Magazine: “There are no burning moral questions at the heart of our national politics this election season; there are, in fact, hardly any burning questions at all.” Well, there you have it.

That’s certainly the impression one might get watching the conventions. My son, after listening to my low-level grumpiness for two nights in a row, suggested an antidote to mid-summer politics overload and tuned in “The Daily Show” on Comedy Central. I’m not a regular viewer, but he might have something. Jon Stewart’s spoof interview with John McCain was a worthy sendup of the whole process.

Far from the balloons and confetti, of course, there are serious moral questions. One of them that certainly will not penetrate the political rhetoric of the campaign trail is the ongoing assault on the civilian population of Iraq.

Chris Doucot is a member of the Catholic Worker House in Hartford, Conn., who has made numerous trips to Iraq in recent years. Doucot is a high-energy passionate advocate for the overlooked and marginalized in his home, “Haht-fud,” and he brings the same studied intensity to telling the story of the dying kids in Iraq. His tale is a fitting observance of the anniversary of the imposition of sanctions on Iraq.

Closer to home, Pamela Schaeffer’s story about Kathy Doran and Houston’s Christ the Good Shepherd Parish shows the Catholic community at its best. It is a model of a parish with a vocation to the world, willing to mix it up with public and private agencies and institutions to advocate on behalf of people so often overlooked.

Individuals like Doucot and parishes like Christ the Good Shepherd are familiar with the burning moral issues the New York reporter must have missed. They can tell you all about poverty, immigration, lack of health care, awful schools and the fight against despair. Their efforts and insights are multiplied countless times in communities of faith across the country. We will continue to bring you their stories -- long after the convention sets have been struck and the cotton candy of this political season has melted away.

National Catholic Reporter, August 11, 2000