Al Smith Indigestion

1960

In the eyes of the civilized world outside of New York City, which is not to imply civilization everywhere outside of the city nor to exclude civilization from her, it might seem strange that the annual Al Smith Dinner would feature every four years the two leading presidential candidates (with the exception of 1996 and 2004):

1960     John F. Kennedy (D)    Richard Nixon (R)
1964     Lyndon B. Johnson (D)    Barry Goldwater (R)
1968     Richard Nixon (R)    Hubert Humphrey (D)
1972     Richard Nixon (R)    George McGovern (D)
1976     Jimmy Carter (D)    Gerald Ford (R)
1980     Ronald Reagan (R)    Jimmy Carter (D)
1984     Ronald Reagan (R)    Walter Mondale (D)
1988     George H. W. Bush (R)    Michael Dukakis (D)
1992     Bill Clinton (D)    George H. W. Bush (R)
1996     Bill Clinton (D)    Bob Dole (R)
2000     George W. Bush (R)    Al Gore (D)
2004     George W. Bush (R)    John Kerry (D)
2008     Barack Obama (D)    John McCain (R)

Cardinal Dolan is taking heat for inviting this year both the president and the presumptive Republican nominee. Before defending or denouncing His Eminence, it might be good to ask a few questions about the Dinner’s election year invitations:

2000

Is it an endorsement of both candidates as though the outcome of the election does not matter?

Is it a non-endorsement of either candidate as if it were a presidential debate except that they only tell jokes?

Is it an endorsement of the political system?

2008

Is it akin to election appearances at a State Fair with the exception that it raises millions of dollars for Catholic Charities?

Is it a statement that the Church ranks above the government

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