Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Douglas W. Kmiec on "The Moral Duty to Inquire"

(Hat tip: Rick Garnett at Vox Nova)

Doug Kmiec follows up on his "Catholic Reaganites for Obama" piece in Slate with this piece at Catholic Online:

LOS ANGELES (Catholic Online) - Recently I wrote a column for Slate in which I expressed some misgivings about prospective Republican nominee John McCain.

Like other conservatives, I have my doubts about the Senator’s conservative political credentials, but I agree with former President Bush, that it is an admirable quality to be both principled and capable of reaching across the aisle to strike an agreement that does not forfeit principle, but in the art of politics, advances the common good.

It was in that spirit that I took up the task of considering the candidacy of Senator Barack Obama and whimsically entitled my essay: “Reaganites for Obama?” The question mark was not just there for effect. It was there to indicate – well, frankly, that I thought Senator Obama’s eloquence and statesmanlike attention to the genuine concerns of the American public at large deserved a closer look.

People I respect are suspicious, and I have doubts as well. My friends remind me that no matter how noble Senator Obama may be personally, the Democratic Party has become too enmeshed with a counter-cultural agenda that is antagonistic to the well-being of families.
[ED.: Exactly. Which is the primary reason that, despite my differences with the GOP, I do not vote for the Democrat Party.]


But I know this, as a Christian I am neither left nor right, nor Democrat nor Republican axiomatically. John Paul II admonished us to understand that Catholics represent even something other than a “third way” between that which is liberal and conservative.
[ED.: The problem, Professor Kmiec, is that if you're looking to back a candidate with real world experience and a track record in engaging in "something other" than merely liberal or conservative politics, that person is the "maverick" John McCain, not the reliably left-liberal Obama.]

Catholic social teaching is simply true because it is based on the truth of the human person. As a loyal American who proudly served President Reagan and the first President Bush as their constitutional legal counsel and who wants the best for my nation at a time of great challenge, it is my intention to discern from thought and prayer, and not blind partisanship, what Catholic social teaching means when it is applied to the remaining candidates in this national campaign.

No amount of faux-Catholic blog intimidation should stand in my way – or yours.

[Read the whole thing]

(emphasis and editorial commentary added)

My Comments:
The reference to "faux-Catholic blog intimidation" is to this piece by Deal Hudson at InsideCatholic, which, despite my disagreement with Professor Kmiec's initial piece on Obama, I, too, thought was a little harsh. Professor Kmiec responds to Hudson's claim that he is angling for a Supreme Court appointment as follows:
For the record, having spent a lifetime writing in defense of human life in its fullest sense; in its natural laws sense; in its unmistakably Catholic sense; it is past ridiculous to suggest that I have any interest in exchanging my soul for a Supreme Court appointment . . . or any other equivalent of Richard Rich’s Attorney Generalship of Wales.
Which would have been equally true had Professor Kmiec written:
For the record, having spent a lifetime writing in defense of human life in its fullest sense; in its natural laws sense; in its unmistakably Catholic sense; it is past ridiculous to suggest that I am the sort of person a President Obama would ever nominate to the Supreme Court.
Here's Professor Garnett's take on this latest piece by Professor Kmiec:
... Although I think the original piece was, in several respects, misguided, I also think that most of what he says in this second piece — e.g., the Faith and Catholic Social Teaching are not the property of one party, Catholic voters have a range of issues to consider, etc. — is sensible.

My own sense, for what it’s worth, of some conservatives’ reaction to Prof. Kmiec’s original piece was not so much that they thought (certainly, I didn’t) that it is wrong to “inquire”, from a Catholic perspective, into the merits of the Obama candidacy, but that Kmiec’s original piece mis-framed the debate (as the second piece, for the most part, does not — I say “for the most part” because the second piece still appears to regard the Catholic position on immigration as weighing against McCain and for Obama, which is not how I see the matter.)

In any event, check it out. Prof. Kmiec, everyone knows, has been a stalwart defender of religious freedom and the sanctity of life, in the academy, in law, and in policy, for decades. I do not believe that Sen. Obama — his attractive personality notwithstanding — is, in fact, a “Catholic natural”, but certainly, as Prof. Kmiec contends, it is entirely appropriate to ask whether Obama is, all things considered, the better choice for a Catholic. I don’t think he is, but I’m sure others will disagree.

Previous Pro Ecclesia posts on this subject:
Professor Bainbridge: "Will Catholic Reaganites Go for Obama?"

Deal Hudson: "Preacher Man: Barack Obama and the the Gospel of Liberalism"

"Sorry, Doug Kmiec, But This Catholic Isn't Buying Obama"

Ramesh Ponnuru on Douglas Kmiec and "Catholic Reaganites for Obama" [UPDATED]

Romney Advisor Says Obama "a Natural for the Catholic Vote"

Obama "Post-Partisan"? Ask John Roberts

Obama and the "Pragmatic Center"

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At 2/20/2008 4:43 PM, Blogger Tito Edwards said...

"...or any other equivalent of Richard Rich’s Attorney Generalship of Wales"

What a great line from "A Man for All Seasons".

For the record, I'm of Welsh descent and I don't take any offense whatsoever (technically Norman-Welsh).

Tito the Norman(-Welsh)

"For Wales Richard?"

At 3/26/2008 3:30 PM, Blogger Joe Reciniello said...

Mr. Kmiec

You may be a legal scholar, as well as possess a tremendous intellect but your reasoning is highly flawed. Being that you call yourself a conservative Catholic you should be familiar with the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Catholic Church (copyright 2004 Libreria Editrice Vaticana). If you have read it, please read it again.

I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.
C. S. Lewis


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