They don’t vote as a bloc, but they have tendencies.  The ethnic Catholics of the Midwest, aka Reagan Democrats, can decide elections.

This came to mind yesterday evening as I happened to hear Texas Ted on the Levin Show.  He’s no longer Texas Ted, he’s now Parson Cruz.  They were talking about the jailed county clerk in Kentucky, and “Ted”, as Levin calls him, sounded very much like an evangelical preacher giving a Sunday sermon to the faithful.  It struck me that that’s part of the problem I’ve always had with him.

I was raised as an ethnic Catholic.  My mother and her family were from Irish and German Catholic immigrant stock, and I was an altar boy who was instructed by the nuns at St. Cornelius grammar school in Richmond.  Catholics have an aversion to Bible thumping evangelists.  Back when I was a kid some of them were anti-Catholic.  I don’t think that’s true very much today, but the discomfort remains.  American Catholics are not evangelical or charismatic.  A Catholic Mass is a very formal, low key affair.  If you feel some religious enthusiasm coming on, keep it to yourself.

Maybe I’m a little oversensitive, but whenever I see a politician coming on like a preacher, I get turned off.  Cruz definitely had that effect on me from the Levin show.  It could be a problem for him.  It’s something to keep an eye on.

I’ve mentioned before Cruz’s other big problem, arrogance.  He’s so certain of himself, and enamored of his own intellect, and so experienced in the techniques of debate, that he has not a glimmer, not a scintilla, of humility.  Has Parson Cruz ever told a story on himself, one where he came out on the short end?  He probably can’t think of one.

Self deprecation is one of the greatest political tools.  In the second debate with Mondale, when the Gipper joked about how old he was,* he sealed a landslide.

I think Kasich’s childhood was similar to mine.  He’s an ethnic Catholic, Czech and Croatian.  After his parents were killed he joined a Protestant Church, but the boy is father to the man, and his religious sensibilities will always be the ones he absorbed in his youth.  You’d think he would know how to communicate with his fellow Midwest ethnic Catholics.  In fact, I’ll bet he does.

In most things in life, the more experience you acquire, the better you get.   Politics is no exception.  You’re better off with the old pro.

I liked being an altar boy.  You were up by the altar, in front of everybody, and you got to ring bells, and pour water and wine, and hold a plate under communicants.  My Grandmother and Aunt Mary were devout Catholics, and I liked doing things that pleased them.  I remember having to memorize all the Latin responses.  I can remember them today.

Ad Deum qui laetificat, juventutem meum.

I go to the altar of God, the joy of my youth.

“I will not take advantage of my opponent’s youth and inexperience.”

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