If the Minnesota DFL intended to make a splash in an otherwise-obscure state Senate race, well, they succeeded. The party, which is the Minnesota version of the Democratic Party, sent out a mailer attacking Republican challenger and Christian minister Dan Hall by accusing him of ignoring the poor for opposing ObamaCare. However, the front of the postcard shows a headless man wearing the traditional shirt and collar worn by Roman Catholic priests, with a button that proclaims “Ignore the Poor” — which has a large number of Catholics in Minnesota angry over a perceived attack on their church. KSTP reported on the mailer and the DFL silence last night:
A political mailing is causing a major stir in one race, and even the Catholic Church is weighing in on it.
It is part of a two-piece mailing, 10 thousand pieces in all that the DFL Party sent out last week.
One ad shows what appears to be a Catholic priest wearing a button that says “ignore the poor.” …
Hall, who says he spent 30 year serving the poor, says the ads are “way out of line,” and he believes they’ll backfire.
Consider this Minnesota’s Aqua Buddha moment. Luke Hellier at Minnesota Democrats Exposed has the full scans of both sides of the mailer. The picture of the priest wearing the button includes the text, “Independent expenditure paid for by the Minnesota DFL State Central Committee, Brian Melendez, Chair[.]”
The flip side of the mailer is a classic case of a cheap-shot, last-minute attack campaign that both parties indulge in the final stretch of an election, but the front picture goes way beyond anything in recent memory in attacking a church of any kind in a political campaign. The full context in which this was issued makes it difficult to believe the archdiocese’s expressed hope that this was just a poor decision. A few weeks ago, the Catholic bishop issued DVDs with the Catholic Church’s arguments on same-sex marriage, which the DFL and its supporters decried as interference in the election. This looks suspiciously like payback.
Beyond that, though, this demonstrates a long-standing argument from Democrats on social justice and helping the poor. They argue that the only way to do that is through government programs that redistribute wealth, and that anyone opposed to such programs — or even the size and scope of such programs — hate the poor and downtrodden. Some people believe that the call to help the poor was an individual call, and people like Dan Hall spend their entire adult lives doing the work themselves rather than having government force the money from other people to get it done. Furthermore, while government “safety net” programs have a place for the truly defenseless, they’re much less efficient than a group like Catholic Charities, which generates almost $3 billion a year in donations, with more than 90% of the money going directly to program recipients, not spent on layers of bureaucrats.
There are several layers of hostility behind this attack mailer, and Catholics aren’t the only targets. Small wonder the DFL has decided to stonewall in the aftermath.