Read on for Maureen Dowd's parallels between Joseph Ratzinger and Dick
Cheney, which include: "The two, from rural, conservative parts of their
countries, want to turn back the clock and exorcise New Age silliness. Mr.
Cheney wants to dismantle the New Deal and go back to 1937. Pope Benedict
XVI wants to dismantle Vatican II and go back to 1397".
Neither man a blessing for the world, nor for women, nor religion! - Lynette
The New York Times -- Saturday April 23 2005
Uncle Dick and Papa
By MAUREEN DOWD
It was a move so smooth and bold, accomplished with such backstage
bureaucratic finesse, that it was worthy of Dick Cheney himself.
The éminence grise who had long whispered in the ear of power and who had
helped oversee the selection process ended up selecting himself. In
Cheneyesque fashion, he searched far and wide for a pope by looking around
the room and swiftly deciding he was the best man for the job.
Just like Mr. Cheney, once the quintessentially deferential staff man with
the Secret Service code name "Back Seat," the self-effacing Cardinal Joseph
Ratzinger has clambered over the back seat to seize the wheel (or
Commonweal). Mr. Cheney played the tough cop to W.'s boyish, genial pol,
just as Cardinal Ratzinger played the tough cop to John Paul's gentle soul.
And just like the vice president, the new pope is a Jurassic
archconservative who disdains the "if it feels good do it" culture and the
revolutionary trends toward diversity and cultural openness since the 60's.
The two leaders are a match - absolutists who view the world in stark terms
of good and evil, eager to prolong a patriarchal society that prohibits gay
marriage and slices up pro-choice U.S. Democratic candidates.
The two, from rural, conservative parts of their countries, want to turn
back the clock and exorcise New Age silliness. Mr. Cheney wants to dismantle
the New Deal and go back to 1937. Pope Benedict XVI wants to dismantle
Vatican II and go back to 1397. As a scholar, his specialty was
"patristics," the study of the key thinkers in the first eight centuries of
They are both old hands at operating in secrecy and using the levers of
power for ideological advantage. They want to enlist Catholics in the
conservative cause, turning confession boxes into ballot boxes with the
threat that a vote for a liberal Democrat could lead to eternal damnation.
Unlike Ronald Reagan and John Paul II, the vice president and the new pope
do not have large-scale charisma or sunny faces to soften their harsh "my
way or the highway" policies. Their gloomy world outlooks and bullying roles
earned them the nicknames Dr. No and Cardinal No. One is called Washington's
Darth Vader, the other the Vatican's Darth Vader.
W.'s Doberman and John Paul's "God's Rottweiler," as the new pope was
called, are both global enforcers with cult followings. Just as the vice
president acted to solidify the view of America as a hyperpower, so the new
pope views the Roman Catholic Church as the one true religion. He once
branded other faiths as deficient.
Both like to blame the media. Cardinal Ratzinger once accused the U.S. press
of overplaying the sex abuse scandal to hurt the church and keep the story
on the front pages.
Dr. No and Cardinal No parted ways on the war - though Cardinal Ratzinger
did criticize the U.N. But they agree that stem cell research and cloning
must be curtailed. Cardinal Ratzinger once called cloning "more dangerous
than weapons of mass destruction."
As fundamentalism marches on - even Bill Gates seems to have caved to a
preacher on gay rights legislation because of fear of a boycott - U.S.
conservatives are thrilled about the choice of Cardinal Ratzinger, hoping
for an unholy alliance. They hope this pope - who seems to want a smaller,
purer church - encourages a militant role for Catholic bishops and priests
in the political process.
Cardinal Ratzinger did not shrink from advising American bishops in the last
presidential election on bringing Catholic elected officials to heel. He
warned that Catholics who deliberately voted for a candidate because of a
pro-choice position were guilty of cooperating in evil, and unworthy to
receive communion. Vote Democratic and lose your soul. "Panzerkardinal," as
he was known, definitely isn't a man who could read Mario Cuomo's Notre Dame
speech urging that pro-choice politicians be allowed in the tent and say,
"He's got a point."
The Republicans can build their majority by bringing strict Catholics and
evangelicals - once at odds - together on what they call "culture of life"
But there's a risk, as with Tom DeLay, Dr. Bill Frist and other Republicans,
that if the new pope is too heavy-handed and too fundamentalist, his
approach may backfire.
Moral absolutism is relative, after all. As Bruce Landesman, a philosophy
professor at the University of Utah, pointed out in a letter to The Times:
"Those who hold 'liberal' views are not relativists. They simply disagree
with the conservatives about what is right and wrong."