If in 2008 you had pondered the outcome of a winner-take-all matchup between president-elect Barack Obama and then Archbishop of Milwaukee Timothy Dolan, I think few would’ve considered it a fair fight.

As President-elect Barack Obama stood between the Greek columns giving his acceptance speech, not only the country applauded but the world. There were few who weren’t moved. Barack Obama was a man astride the Earth.

One can look back now and say he was just reading off a teleprompter or that the Republican Party had nominated a candidate who was never really sure he wanted to beat Obama. One could even say that the image of Obama between the columns was a foreshadowing of the overreach that would lead to so many difficulties later. But all of that came later. Think of the man at that moment. All things seemed possible for that man, at that moment. Even his opponents were proud of what his election said about the country.

And now oppose this image in your mind with the then chubby amiable archbishop of Milwaukee who had little national notoriety at the time. To most culture watchers, he likely would’ve been classified as likable middle management of a increasingly irrelevant institution. Dolan’s own diocese was awash in allegations of clergy abuse. In his own words, he was “haunted” by the scandal.

But let’s face it, if some fever brained Vegas mind created a matchup between the president-elect and the Archbishop of Milwaukee, it likely would’ve been considered a warm up bout for Obama. An under card.

So…what happened?

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