Obama's Traditionalists

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I don't have much to add to the interesting interesting discussion about Barack Obama's remarkable gains among traditionalist Catholics; I think all of the theories being floated - from the impact of the Iraq War to the possibility that pro-life Catholics might have been more willing to vote for a pro-choice Protestant like Obama than for a pro-choice Catholic like John Kerry - probably contain some element of truth. As an inveterate Doug Kmiec critic, though, I'd be cautious about overestimating the impact of the "pro-life, pro-Obama" lobby on this shift: Not because the Kmiecs of the world didn't have an impact, necessarily, but because I suspect Steve Waldman is right that their biggest impact came in giving pro-life Catholics "permission" to do something that they wanted to do anyway ... and the reasons that a Catholic traditionalist might have wanted to vote for Obama anyway are probably bigger problems for the anti-abortion movement in the long run than the tissue-thin claim that the Democratic candidate was somehow the real pro-lifer in the race.

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Ross Douthat is a former writer and editor at The Atlantic.

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