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Inside politics

Biden should trust his Catholic heart

Giuseppe Ciccia/NurPhoto/Getty Images

Joe Biden’s Catholicism goes deep, says Andrew Sullivan in The Weekly Dish. At the G7 summit in Cornwall, he even went to Mass at a local church. This explains his liberal, compassionate attitude to immigrants, to gay and transgender people, and to tackling climate change. But he has “tragically blurred” Catholicism with critical race theory. The latter sees the world as a “zero-sum power struggle between ‘white’ and ‘non-white’”. But for Catholics “there is ‘neither Greek nor Jew’ – there is only humanity”. Biden is supporting “postmodern conceptions of gender identity” and pushing for “equity”, which, by allocating jobs to under-represented identities, “treats individual souls as simply fodder for benign social and racial engineering”.

He should focus on his faith instead. Catholicism’s “compassionate centre” can make supporting the poor a “moral” rather than ideological position, and its “notion of a common good” provides a defence of environmentalism that appeals to non-leftists. It “embraces sexual minorities by focusing on individual dignity” rather than sex itself, and “it can defend the police as essential to order, while tackling the abuse of some”. Presenting his policies in these terms would be far more effective, and “more consonant with Biden’s actual soul”, than his “awkward adoption of woke mantras”. Biden’s “Catholic heart” is the president’s “secret weapon”. He should use it.

⛪️ Biden is only the second Catholic president after John Kennedy, says The Economist. Like George W Bush and Jimmy Carter, he is deeply religious, and even considered joining the priesthood. Many Catholic bishops in America want to deny Biden communion because of his pro-abortion stance, but a survey of Catholics in the US found that two-thirds think he should continue to receive it.

Rumsfeld loved to squash his opposition

Donald Rumsfeld approached the game of squash the way he ran the Pentagon: mercilessly. The former US defence secretary, who died aged 88 this week, played the game every day – and, as his assistant in the mid-2000s, I was often his opponent, says James Stavridis in Bloomberg. “The boss” often left blood on the walls when he bounced off them, and walloped every shot (no fancy stuff). On winning a point, he liked to turn to me “with a smirk and say, ‘speed kills’”. Anybody who ever got in his way, on or off the squash court, will identify with that.

Mrs Javid’s healthy scepticism  

Sajid Javid, the new health secretary, was born and raised in Rochdale. Walking to school age seven, he’d have to dodge groups of National Front members roaming the streets, he told Nick Robinson on BBC Radio 4’s Political Thinking in 2019. His father, who came to Britain from Pakistan, was known as “night and day” due to the number of jobs he had. 

He instilled a strong work ethic in Javid and his four brothers. Javid “regularly” rereads a passage from The Fountainhead, Ayn Rand’s novel about the triumph of the individual over oppressive big government. He says he admires its spirit of self-belief. His wife is less keen. He read it to her when they were students, and she said she’d have nothing more to do with him if he tried again. 

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The British Museum’s new star exhibit

George Osborne, “found under a pile of money at a boutique investment bank”, has been installed as chairman of the British Museum. His political legacy seems so remote, it could become an exhibition, says Robert Shrimsley in the FT. “Visitors will marvel at the policy of cosying up to China and the badge saying ‘Beijing’s BFF in the west’” – and they’ll be “astonished to discover that as recently as 2015 the Conservative party did not hate the metropolitan elite”. Yet Osborne has studiously maintained good relations with Boris Johnson’s regime, “on the obviously wise precaution that you never know where your ninth job is going to come from”.