Hypocrisy Reigns….Shouldn’t it matter that conservatives don’t get exercised at all over pro-choice Republican Catholics in high-profile positions? Sure, from time to time they take on PCRCs (we’ll use the shorthand for simplicity’s sake) like Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, but that’s because they don’t consider them “real” Republicans anyway. When push comes to partisan shove, however, most conservatives appear to be willing to set aside their single-minded campaign to promote the sanctity of life for the sake of some high-wattage pols.

Look at the line-up for next week’s Republican Convention. On three out of the four evenings, the primetime programming stars a high-profile Republican Catholic who also happens to be pro-choice. Between Arnold Schwarzenegger and George Pataki, their states are responsible for 35 percent of the abortions performed in the U.S. And yet you’ll hear nary a peep of protest about this from the conservative Catholic League, a supposedly “non-partisan” organization that has been frothing in continuous outrage over John Kerry’s pro-choice leanings.

The dirty little secret about these groups is that they don’t demand that Catholic politicians — who, according to church teaching, should be held to a higher standard because of their visible status — conform to all church positions on issues like the death penalty or war or immigration reform or combatting poverty. And they don’t really care if PCRCs stray from church teaching on abortion (sounds like you need to read Evangelium Vitae a bit more carefully, guys…)

What they do care about is defeating Democrats. Some of them don’t even try to gloss over that fact. Deal Hudson (the now-disgraced and resigned former head of Catholic outreach for the Bush/Cheney campaign) told the Washington Post last spring that “he believes the denial of Communion should begin, and end, with Kerry.”

So they’re hypocrites, you say. Thanks for the newsflash, brainiac. So what?

The so what is that, for whatever reason, journalists listen to these guys. Remember last spring, when John Kerry couldn’t take a step without some reporter trying to examine his molars for evidence of unswallowed communion host? The issue of whether or not Kerry should, as a pro-choice Catholic, take communion was pressed by conservative Catholics with a partisan agenda and it was wholeheartedly accepted as a relevant story by most major news outlets.

How many reporters do you think are going to ask Rudy Giuliani or George Pataki or Arnold Schwarzenegger if they should refrain from taking communion? Or will call up the bishops of these men and ask whether these PCRCs should be denied communion? Shouldn’t it be a story that Republicans get a pass for the sole reason that they are Republicans? And that certain conservative Catholic organizations only care about abortion when they can use the issue to knock around Democrats?

The silence coming out of the Catholic League regarding the prominence of a bunch of heretical babykillers at the GOP Convention is simply deafening. Perhaps they’re still busy defending Hudson, who — according to a press release issued by the group last week — has been unfairly maligned when all he did was have sex with a “drunk” who was clearly asking for it. Nice.

Next time reporters are tempted to let these guys drive the story, they should think twice. And while they’re at it, they might want to turn the tables and write about the partisan involvement of supposedly neutral religious figures. Until then, we’ll keep our ears perked for a hypocrisy watch next week. I’m sure the protests by angry pro-life Catholics just haven’t been announced yet…

Amy Sullivan

Amy Sullivan is a Chicago-based journalist who has written about religion, politics, and culture as a senior editor for Time, National Journal, and Yahoo. She was an editor at the Washington Monthly from 2004 to 2006.