Pope Francis, Chris Christie, Bobby Jindal, Paul Ryan and Marco Rubio walk into a bar...
OK, so that's not going to happen. But say it did. What would the new pope want to talk about, and what would the these most visible Catholic members of the new GOP say?
For the benefit of the Beltway conservatives who spent the week at CPAC, or the MSMers who think pope stories matter only for the two weeks before and the week after a conclave, here's the key: The election of Francis as pope will not only profoundly change the Roman Catholic Church in the world, it will deeply impact American politics because of the impact of Catholic voters on elections.
But conservatives in America have got to realize that his election will almost certainly make the Catholic vote in America more difficult to appeal to much less win because this pope will talk about the poor always and everywhere, and the GOP has not yet developed the ability to do so with compassion and effectiveness though it ought to welcome the conversation.
The struggle over the Catholic vote has been front and center for the past three elections, with W winning that contest in '04, and President Obama in '08 and a near-tie in 2012. But the tie of this past November was really the merger of two blow-outs: Romney won white Catholics by 19 points and lost Latino Catholics by 54 points!
Now comes a new pope who will emphasize again and again the needs of the poor. (Be sure to read his account of why he chose the name Francis, wherein he gives credit to Cardinal Hummes).