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My Take: Obama pledged to dial down the culture wars. What happened?
The author says that Obama has let down antiabortion Democrats.
September 6th, 2012
11:30 AM ET

My Take: Obama pledged to dial down the culture wars. What happened?

Editor's note: Michael Sean Winters writes the blog "Distinctly Catholic" for the National Catholic Reporter and is the author of "God's Right Hand: How Jerry Falwell Made God a Republican and Baptized the American Right."

By Michael Sean Winters, Special to CNN

Four years ago, anti-abortion Sen. Robert Casey addressed the Democratic National Convention.

“Barack Obama and I have an honest disagreement on the issue of abortion,” he said. “But the fact that I am speaking here tonight is testament to Barack’s ability to show respect to the views of people who may disagree with him… he’ll pursue the common good by seeking common ground rather than trying to divide us.”

The next day, speaking to fellow anti-abortion Democrats, we all admitted we had been moved to tears by Casey’s speech.

As candidate and as president, Obama promised he would try and heal the culture wars.

”Let's honor the conscience of those who disagree with abortion and draft a sensible conscience clause,” he said in 2009 at the University of Notre Dame, a Catholic university, “and make sure that all of our health care policies are grounded not only in sound science, but also in clear ethics, as well as respect for the equality of women.”

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He retained the White House faith-based office President George W. Bush had created and even increased funding for religiously affiliated charities.

This week in Charlotte, Nancy Keenan, the president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, addressed the convention. Nearly all the politicians who spoke celebrated the party’s commitment to legalized abortion, offering some of the biggest applause lines of the convention.

Anti-abortion Democrats were crying again, but they were not tears of pride.

It has been clear for some time that President Obama’s campaign has concluded that they were never going to win the same levels of support among moderate, white, working class voters that propelled him to victory in 2008. Whereas in 2008, he was seen as a remedy for the bad economy, Obama is now seen as the cause, or at least not as the cure.

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So the president is re-litigating the culture wars he promised to salve in 2008. It’s one way to keep the Democrats from having to talk about the 8.3% unemployment rate.

And, so while one expected the Republican Party to be engaged in the culture wars, instead it is the Democrats, feeding off President Obama’s decision to bait-and- switch, that are stoking those wars.

Last November, President Obama met with Cardinal Timothy Dolan, president of the U.S. bishops’ conference. Obama said that he understood the Catholic Church’s concerns about a new White House contraception mandate that requires employers to provide no-cost contraception coverage to virtually all their employees. That includes those who work at church-run organizations like schools and hospitals.

Fixing this problem wouldn’t have been difficult. Obama could have expanded the exemption and allowed women who work at Catholic institutions to get contraception coverage through the exchanges set up by the Affordable Care Act.

Instead, the president announced there would be no change in the conscience exemption.

What happened? Women’s groups besieged the White House with complaints and the Obama campaign needed the fundraising support of pro-choice groups like Emily’s List. And so, Obama picked a thoroughly unnecessary fight with the Catholic Church.

The HHS mandate was the straw that broke the Church camel’s back.

But Obama’s Justice Department had earlier entered a Supreme Court brief arguing that churches had no special protection in the hiring and firing of their pastors, only to have the Supreme Court unanimously reject their view.

Then Obama’s Health and Human Services Department denied a grant to the bishops’ conference program to help the victims of human trafficking because church agencies would not provide or promote contraception, even though the program got high marks from HHS staff.

This week’s convention speeches are more evidence that Obama is still pursuing a strategy of exciting the base and suburban women and forgetting about culturally conservative Democrats.

“[The president] believes that women are more than capable of making our own choices about our bodies and our health care,” first lady Michelle Obama said to thunderous applause.

It is possible the strategy will work.

For every culturally conservative Catholic voter Obama loses in western Pennsylvania, he may pick up the vote of an affluent, politically unaffiliated, nonchurch-going and decidedly pro-abortion rights woman in the Philadelphia suburbs. She might be in a position to write a check to his campaign as well.

And it’s true that some Republican actions have made it easier for the Democrats to rally the pro-abortion rights faithful.

In the key swing state of Virginia, the Republican legislature and governor passed a law requiring women to undergo a transvaginal ultrasound before getting an abortion, leading many centrist voters to conclude that it is the Republicans, not the Democrats, who are extreme on abortion. In Congress, Republicans tried to cut funding for Planned Parenthood.

What may work for Obama, however, will prove disastrous for his party.

It is difficult to see how Democrats will ever reclaim the House unless they win back the seats once held by anti-abortion Democrats like Kathy Dahlkemper of Pennsylvania , Bart Stupak of Michigan and Steve Dreihaus of Ohio. All three of those seats went Republican after anti-abortion groups targeted them because of their vote in favor of health care reform.

Branding the party as rigidly pro-choice, and even refusing to include “big tent” language on abortion in the party platform, will not help Democrats reclaim the House, so we can all look forward to more culture wars in the future.

Abortion rights groups and the Obama campaign may have cut off their nose to spite their face by reigniting the culture wars. No one looks forward to four more years of squabbles between a GOP-led House and President Obama.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Michael Sean Winters.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: 2012 Election • Abortion • Barack Obama • Politics

soundoff (495 Responses)
  1. Mac

    What happened was the most racist loudmouths in this country JUST CANT HANDLE a black person being in charge. Please dont blame Obama for the hatred spewed by the Becks, Limbaugh's & other small minded bigots.

    September 7, 2012 at 8:55 am |
  2. harlem77

    And if Bush wasn't "that" bad and Democrats should stop blaming him...then why wasn't he invited to speak at the RNC???

    September 7, 2012 at 8:54 am |
  3. obama is Out Of Touch with reality

    obama is nothing but lies, I cannot wait to see how obama spins the jobs report, only 96000 jobs in August and the revised June and July jobs reports are down, but obama will make a big deal out of the fact that unemployment went down, but tell the truth, it went down because people have quit looking, labor rates are only taken on those who are looking not those that the obama administration have already said no more to. Its time for this idiot to go and put a businessman in charge, bye bye obama.

    September 7, 2012 at 8:51 am |
    • harlem77

      YEAH!!! A REAL businessman like ROMNEY!! WOOOHOOO he's almost as good as BUSH was!!!! YAAAYYY!! Deregulation, he we come!!! Can't WAIT for more banks to shaft us!! This is going to be awesome!

      September 7, 2012 at 8:58 am |
    • harlem77

      ahem, excuse me. *here* ...got so excited for Romney. He's SO trustworthy!! Such a blessing, that man.

      September 7, 2012 at 8:59 am |
  4. UDidntBuildThat

    I honestly do not understand how one can go to church, worship and then go home and advocate for the very things that are against the churches teachings. This is not a religious issue its is simply logic. How do u reconcile that u claim to be Catholics or strong christians, then support a party whose platform took out the word of God and strongly advocates for unfettered abortion even right up to delivery.
    I just don't get it. I see the the Nuns, Kennedy, Pelosi, Biden etc out there campaigning for abortion gay marrigage in one breath then strongly invoke their faith in the next. No one calls them on it not even their church. It is all so hypocritical.

    September 7, 2012 at 8:50 am |
    • sqeptiq

      Pretty much the same way you go to church and then go home and advocate executing mentally retarded people or starting wars of choice, and cutting food lunches or food stamps.

      September 7, 2012 at 8:56 am |
    • Phranque

      Simple answer: Becasue greed and ambitions blind human dignity and morals

      September 7, 2012 at 9:00 am |
    • c

      The most wonderfull gift GOD gives in Free will. God is a great and Merciful God who extends Grace to ALL sinners, HE looks at every aspect of a person life and deeds, and decides how He will deal with them. even the people who say they don't believe in Him. Who are we to judge and or choose how another person thinks or is supposed to think. Did you notice that President Obama told the delagtes to put GOD back in.

      September 7, 2012 at 9:04 am |
    • UDidntBuildThat

      sqeptiq, u do not speak for me. U do not know what I advocate, whether I go to church, whether I'm gay etc. But it shows your typical Democrat mentality to decide what we are all thinking. Could u be more moronic?

      It is a simple question. How do u reconcile being a devoute christian/catholics but go against the teachings of your church? The mere fact that the word "God" was removed should be a red flag "c". Obama only "put it back" b/c of the controversy & pressure fr his black pastors! Were there no controversy, it would not be in the Dems platform. showing once again the hypocrisy! For me u r either a devout christian/catholic or u r for the Dems and what they stand for. But the Dems want to have it both ways. That is hypocrisy!

      September 7, 2012 at 9:15 am |
    • UDidntBuildThat

      sqeptiq- One more thing. Since u mentioned food stamps, what does it say when the number of people on food stamp have gone up tremendously since Obama has been in the WH. The stimulus was suppose to have unemployement down by 5% right now according to Obama. Is that what he means by shared prosperity? Eventually everyone on food stamps dependent on the govt to ensure votes? Exactly who is advocating for cutting food stamps? Who is advocating that the mental folks like you be put to death? Again your lack of intellect comes shining thru kool aid drinker!

      September 7, 2012 at 9:21 am |
  5. PraiseTheLard

    Could it be that Catholics are against abortion because they need more young boys to molest?

    September 7, 2012 at 8:49 am |
    • w5cdt

      The realistic answer is they need franchise growth.

      September 7, 2012 at 8:50 am |
  6. Stating the Obvious

    What about Zoophilia? He really loves his goat, he's an adult, shouldn't he be able to love who he wants?? That's what I heard the president say, is that what's next? People don't choose pedophilia either! Do we recognize that???? He will crash the financials of this country and push what's left of the moral foundation off the cliff!!

    September 7, 2012 at 8:47 am |
    • harlem77

      Goats and children are the same to you as consenting adults?

      September 7, 2012 at 8:51 am |
    • harlem77

      And in the last 20 years, while one Democratic president had an affair with a grown woman, how many "Christian" Republican politicians have been caught in gay acts with young men?

      September 7, 2012 at 8:53 am |
    • Chris R

      zoophilia and pedophilia are illegal because you don't have two consenting adults involved. look, marriage is a legally binding contract granted by the state – religion, faith, procreation, etc have no bearing on this contract whatsoever.

      September 7, 2012 at 8:54 am |
  7. Stating the Obvious

    What is next? Do we allow polygamy? Why shouldn't they all marry? They are adults and 'in love' as the president put it.

    September 7, 2012 at 8:44 am |
    • Chris R

      honestly i don't see the problem with polygamy as long as all parties are fully aware of it. in other words all members of the group marriage would need to sign into the contract each time a new member is brought in. that's about it though.

      September 7, 2012 at 8:59 am |
    • SuZieCoyote

      The problem with polygamy is the cultures that practice it end up with older and older men marrying younger and younger women (i.e., brides as young as 9 years old in Islam). Girl children are brainwashed to believe that this is God's plan for their lives. It happens in Islam, AND in the fundamentalist Mormon sects. I have seen no polygamous culture, current or past that has not followed this pattern. Adults "married" to 2 or 3 other adults isn't an issue as adults have the right, in the US, to live in any arrangement and make any contracts they want.

      September 7, 2012 at 9:04 am |
  8. Stating the Obvious

    Suicide is illegal!! That's my body, why can't I kill it??

    September 7, 2012 at 8:43 am |
    • PAUL

      Jesus Got Punked!!!

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QmigBOhYTns

      September 7, 2012 at 8:46 am |
    • Chris R

      good point, there is no reason why it should be illegal and it is only a crime in 6 states.

      September 7, 2012 at 8:57 am |
  9. Chris R

    i'm a catholic and i have only one response to all of this. i'll keep it simple so everyone can understand it –
    No Exceptions For Religions!

    for the love of god i hope i don't have to explain that.

    September 7, 2012 at 8:43 am |
  10. SuZieCoyote

    When you Catholics take your grubby hands out of the wombs of non-Catholics, then the culture wars will end. They can't end as long as you attempt to repress and control half the population with your minority religious views.

    September 7, 2012 at 8:41 am |
  11. BurnNotice

    We wonder how many deformed and disabled babies "Mr. Catholic" has adopted?

    How many Downs Syndrome babies has Cardinal Dolan adopted?

    He's' just a tired old crank wearing a house-coat, pretending that he doesn't have a penis.

    September 7, 2012 at 8:39 am |
  12. KyleGlobal

    Since when is ensuring equal rights for gay American citizens and given women control of their own bodies a war on anything (other than bigotry and big government)?

    September 7, 2012 at 8:39 am |
  13. Major

    The Senate is working on their FOURTH straight year without fulfilling their legal requirement of passing a budget, in spite of the fact that the House has passed one every year. The House has passed (twice) a balanced budget amendment to end our fiscal insanity, but the Senate refuses to even vote on it. The House has passed FIVE jobs bills that the Senate refuses to even vote on.

    Those facts make it obvious that he Democrats are the real party of "no" and the real reason we have not had an economic recovery!

    September 7, 2012 at 8:37 am |
    • Sarah

      Congress has passed a budget every year. Your post is the kind of idiocy that comes of getting most of your news from Fox and Glenn Beck. Turn off the TV and read a newspaper!

      September 7, 2012 at 8:40 am |
    • KyleGlobal

      Yes, and how much did they work across the aisle in the House on the budgets they passed? They were pure partisan jokes, not real, negotiated budgets between two parties in a republic.

      September 7, 2012 at 8:40 am |
    • al

      It is always easy to ignore the facts and the bigger picture and see only what you want to see. Everyone knew the budget would never get taken up in the Senate and there is no law that says we have to have a budget, even thought I believe they should. As for the jobs bills, that is just not a fact. There are some regulation bills before the Senate that they have not dealt with, not one single bill in that stack will produce one single job.

      Lets discuss the 150+ filibusters done by Senate republicans to stop bills from even coming up for discussion. Is this proper? You just want to blame someone but refuse to blame those people doing the real stonewalling, the republicans.

      September 7, 2012 at 8:43 am |
    • c

      But, But , But – the Repub God hates everybody but tea baggers vetoed all of them- why-they wanted to oppose Obama every chance they got,; even at the expense of the American people. Obama 2012!!!

      September 7, 2012 at 8:50 am |
  14. rla

    A cult president, culture wars and the near prospect of spending as much on the debt interest as we take in revennue- Obama = greece and the nation is in doubt– Vote wisely this november

    September 7, 2012 at 8:37 am |
    • snowyowl

      The wise vote is for the candidate who supports a balance between spending cuts and new revenue so that the most vulnerable citizens are not thrown under the bus. Therefore the wise vote is for Obama.

      September 7, 2012 at 8:47 am |
  15. tony

    It is a bit much for someone who writes a hagiography of Jerry Falwell to criticize anyone else for engaging in the culture wars.

    September 7, 2012 at 8:37 am |
  16. Tex71

    The only lie here is a whopper – that working to save the middle class is a "culture war". That is like saying that cows have a war on the meat industry.

    September 7, 2012 at 8:36 am |
    • rla

      Yea that- like all the other smoke and mirrors has really worked out after trillions and decades of trying to do this by the liberal crowd!!! FAILED

      September 7, 2012 at 8:38 am |
    • snowyowl

      rla – liberals balanced the federal budget. When have conservatives ever accomplished that?

      September 7, 2012 at 8:49 am |
    • AmesIA

      Going back 80 years more jobs have been added on Dem's watch than GOP and lower deficits as well. If you can add with your shoes on go to the labor statistics yourself.

      September 7, 2012 at 8:50 am |
  17. snowyowl

    I am Catholic, and I agree with 'Nuns on the Bus': the Republican budget is immoral. I and my entire Catholic family will proudly vote for President Obama, the candidate who most closely reflects Christian values by caring for people, not corporations, not billionaires.

    September 7, 2012 at 8:36 am |
    • rla

      Think about you choice as the nation bankrupts in 2025 and we all go down the economic tube... THINK

      September 7, 2012 at 8:40 am |
    • James Faulconer

      It's difficult to imagine a true Catholic voting for someone who is a proponent of abortion.

      September 7, 2012 at 8:41 am |
    • Chris R

      as a catholic we believe that each person must make their own decision when faced with temptation. you don't prevent sin by removing temptation but by strengthening faith. sadly the bishops seem to have forgotten this biblical lesson.

      September 7, 2012 at 8:46 am |
    • snowyowl

      You need to expand your imagination, and perhaps your recall of what our faith actually teaches: it teaches that God created people with freewill, and that he gave Mary a choice. Now, who are we to take away that freewill and that freedom of choice?

      September 7, 2012 at 8:51 am |
    • AmesIA

      James – your post is revealing in its subtext. It is only the GOP that defines who is "Truly American" who is "Truly Christian" who is "Truly Human". That is a problem and a big one. When you are against abortion but ...pro death penalty, pro preemptive war, against nutrition security, against healthcare for the poor and indigent, against environmental justice. Then you are what Jesus warns us of in Matthew 6 – a hypocrite shouting your piety from the street corner.

      September 7, 2012 at 8:56 am |
    • James Faulconer

      AmeSIA you accuse my simple statement of being revealing in it's subtext yet from it you glean that I support the death penalty and apparently war. I am not Catholic but am versed enough in it's doctrine to know that it is decidedly against abortion. While we are granted free choice, it is not poor choice that is to be applauded, merely tolerated. Jesus indeed saved a sinner from persecution, but his parting words 'Go, and sin no more' are not an endorsement of sin but rather forgiveness of the past sin with expectations that it will not be repeated. Personally I do not care what someone does with their body, but if one follows a particular religious path, but carves from it convenient exceptions, then what's the point? Is a true Muslim someone who eats pork but says "Oh, I don't agree with that part of it." We are all free to have abortions, eat pork, shave our beards, or eat unblessed meats, but someone should call out as fraudulent those who pretend to be devoted members of a faith that do not practice what they preach.

      September 7, 2012 at 9:04 am |
  18. John S

    The problem with Obama is that he compromises on everything. No convictions on anything. Even health care mandate has exemptions and allows Unions to get around the payroll contribution mandate. Why is that? I thought his message has been equal and fair treatment? Then why cater to special interests? Because special interests whine and cry and threaten to not support Obama. That's why. People may not like what the GOP stands for but at least they are more consistent. Obama just tells everyone what they want to hear.

    September 7, 2012 at 8:35 am |
    • charles

      oh please, with Romney at the top of the ticket you are concerned with OBAMA's consistency and conviction? c'mon, Romney has done more 360's than Tony Hawk....

      September 7, 2012 at 8:40 am |
    • snowyowl

      Yes, the Rebubs are consistent. Consistently intolerant, consistently for corporations over people, consistently anti-science, consistently anti-immigrant, consistently anti-education, consistently holier-than-thou while not practicing what they preach. Obama tries to compromise, he is criticized. Obama compromises, he is criticized. Which leads me to the next Rebublican consistencies: criticism without knowledge, unwillingness to compromise even for the good of the nation, hostility to the President and to Democrats bordering on mental disease.

      Yes Republicans are consistent: consistently on the wrong side of the facts, of the issues, and of what's good for America. I am voting for Obama, and though I grew up Republican, barring major reform in that party I am unlikely to ever vote for a Republican again.

      September 7, 2012 at 8:43 am |
    • c

      So you don't have a problem with Romney and his rich cohorts deregulating tax code's ;that will only benefit wealthy Americans and corporations at the expense of the middle class. Clinton was right WE KNOW TRICKLE DOWN DID NOT & DOES NOT WORK. I mean absolutely no disrespect- but do you honestly think someone who puts his money on foreign bank accounts to avoid paying INCOME taxes- has the best interest of the American people at heart.

      September 7, 2012 at 9:18 am |
  19. jrm03063

    It's the GOP that wants to label pro-choice Democrats as pro-abortion – people who fall for that lie will fall for all sorts of lies. Democrats want to make sure every woman has a GENUINE choice. Options for adoption – options for support to raise an unexpected child – options to continue education even when raising an unexpected child – these sorts of things are part of providing women with a real choice – and Democrats support them. We know that the GOP is against legal abortion – but are they really in support of women facing an unplanned pregnancy?

    September 7, 2012 at 8:34 am |
    • John S

      Its funny how people focus on one topic that in any poll is not a primary issue for most American's. Jobs and the economy are far higher on the list. The argument of abortion has gone on how long? No matter what side of that issue you are on. I would suggest people stop being so focused on one topic in a Presidential election. After all the President has so many more issues to deal with and American's have so many more pressing problems that affect them so much more then abortion.

      September 7, 2012 at 8:40 am |
    • NOBama 2012

      How is a pregnancy unexpected? According to scripture (which the Dems were so keen on emphisising, only after they got called out on the God issue) the immaculate conception only happened once! Why should my tax dollars go to support someone who didn't have the common sense not to bring a child into the world when they knew damn well they couldn't afford them. Furthermore, why should my tax dollars go towards paying for contraception when most of the people taking it do so not for a medical condition but so they can "have a good time" and not worry about the consequences...and why should my tax dollars be forced to pay for the murder of the innocent...you bleading heart liberals talk of giving people a chance and opportunity but you deny chance and oportunity to the weakest of all, unborn children.

      September 7, 2012 at 9:43 am |
  20. Rudedog

    Seems to me that repubs are just trying to stop Obama instead of trying to run the country. There must to be some middle ground. It is way unfair to blame Obama, you must be a blind political hack to not see it is the repubs who want to gum up gov.
    "You didn't build that" is proof they are more willing to hang on to nonsense than deal with real issues.

    September 7, 2012 at 8:30 am |
    • James Faulconer

      The accusation that Obama's failures are due to Republican blockades is a stale lie. When he entered office the majority of the public supported him and the Dems owned the House and Senate. If you can't get what you need with a blank check, you simply don't know what you are doing. The Republicans ARE trying to run the country, stopping Obama is the first step in that process.

      September 7, 2012 at 8:40 am |
    • Sarah

      James Faulconer, do you not remember that during the first months of Obama's presidency the GOP engaged in an unprecedented, record number of filibusters? They blocked virtually everything from coming to a vote, even simple House resolutions. That's how they got the nickname of the Party of No. Stop trying to revise history.

      September 7, 2012 at 8:42 am |
    • John S

      You are right government inaction is everybody's fault including the President who last I knew was the "leader" of this free country. As a "leader" he is supposed to lead and work with other branches of government such as Congress to make legislation that helps America. I do not believe he has done so and in one case with our debt crisis several months ago he told the American people to call on Congress to pass a debt increase ceiling. Now why does the President of the USA ask its people to do his work? This is why we elect a President. To lead government. Not to pass blame on previous administrations or other branches of government or other parties. The President has to lead and accept blame for failures as well as successes. I do not believe Obama is capable of leading.

      September 7, 2012 at 8:45 am |
    • Chris R

      john, calling on the american people to pressure a recalcitrant congress *is* part of how the president leads. it's called the bully pulpit and has been used by presidents for almost the entire span of this country's history. also, keep in mind that leadership often requires the cooperation (even grudging) of those being led. we've seen little indication that certain parts of the legislature are willing to accept obama's leadership on any level.

      September 7, 2012 at 8:50 am |
    • PraiseTheLard

      It's obvious that legislators like Mitch McConnell hate everything Obama stands for much more than they love their country.

      September 7, 2012 at 8:55 am |
    • James Faulconer

      Sarah the GOP got it's nickname of the party of 'no' from the Dems, to distract from the fact that they could not get anything done. They owned the Executive and Legislative branches of government, pushed health care legislation during a time of economic crisis while Americans looked on in bewilderment, and when the job market did not spontaneously recover the Democratic party reverted to 'It's their fault', instead of taking responsibility. No business succeeds when those in charge take no responsibility for their shortcomings. This country needs someone that knows how to run a business, not someone who simply points fingers at the boss the company had 4 years before.

      September 7, 2012 at 8:58 am |
    • UDidntBuildThat

      Sarah, when Obama asked for the stimulus in Jan 2009, Republicans wanted to work with him. Obama told them in no uncertain terms that election have consequences and "we won". It was an indication that Obama did NOT want to work with them at all. That is a fact!! Shows u the type of "leadership" we got with Obama. So when they told the Republicans to go away, Obama and the Dems turned around and labeled them the Party of NO. B/c Repub had no say but yet the Dems wanted them to sign off blindly on everything. Repubs warned Obama what he and Pelosi were doing will not work. They refused to listened. In every Bill, Repulicans tried to offer solution. Dems rejected every single one. Get ur facts straight and put down the kool aid!

      September 7, 2012 at 8:58 am |
    • harlem77

      Short-term memories, Republicans?? We're not making this up, the platform was ANNOUNCED 4 years ago – STOP OBAMA! That was it!! Which is WHY, 4 years later, no one at the RNC could talk about anything positive. No positive ideas, no positive thinking. Because the entire 4 years was focused on getting Obama out. They. Said. It. Themselves.

      September 7, 2012 at 9:06 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.