Thursday, May 15, 2008

Did Doug Kmiec Just Now Catch On That Obama and NARAL Are Politically Conjoined? [UPDATED]

Erstwhile "Reaganite" and now Obamolochite Douglas Kmiec writes at Catholic Online:

Having been drawn to Senator Obama’s remarkable “love thy neighbor” style of campaigning, his express aim to transcend partisan divide, and specifically, his appreciation for faith ("secularists are wrong when they ask believers to leave their religion at the door before entering into the public square"), I did not expect to be clobbered by co-religionists.

On the blogs, I have been declared “self-excommunicated,” and recently at a Mass before a dinner speech to Catholic business leaders, a very angry college chaplain excoriated my Obama-heresy from the pulpit at length and then denied my receipt of communion.
[ED.: Daaaaaaaamn. That's one rebuke that must've stung. UPDATE: And the denial of Communion part appears to have been inappropriate - see UPDATE #3 below.]

It won’t help now that the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL) has endorsed Obama over Clinton. This is an endorsement that is deeply troubling unless the good Senator Obama intends to match it with the sobering acknowledgment that abortion is less “right,” than avoidable tragedy. [ED.: WTF? Are you seriously going to pretend to be "troubled" or surprised in any way that Obama was endorsed by this group after he promised the abortion lobby that he "will not yield" on their pro-abort agenda? Kmiec's dissembling attempts to make Obama come off as representative of some sort of pro-life middle ground become more and more insulting to the intelligence and common sense of pro-lifers with each new defense he writes.]

Catholic instruction provides that “a well-formed Christian conscience does not permit one to vote for a political program or an individual law which contradicts the fundamental contents of faith and morals.”

That obviously would preclude a Catholic voter from supporting a referendum providing public funding for abortion, but what about a candidate like Obama who is not pro-abortion, but of the view that the civil law best leaves this question to the mother in consultation with their own clergyman and doctor?
[ED.: And there we have it, folks. He finally comes out and adopts the Gerald Campbell position that "pro-choice" really isn't "pro-abortion" - which is at odds with the view taken by the Bishops*, by the way - and officially baptizes "pro-choice" as a legitimate postition for a Catholic to hold and vote in favor of. Professor Kmiec has now become an apologist for the "pro-choice" position. "Consultation with their own clergyman and doctor" my ass! As if that somehow gives someone license to kill people. I suspect that next you'll be adopting the "safe, legal, and rare" rhetoric.]

But there's a deeper question: Are Catholics -- indeed people of all faiths and no faith -- who address the wrenching economic or social circumstances or misinformation that pressure a mother into believing she has no alternative but to take the life of her unborn, really pro-abortion?
[ED.: Excuse me while I choke on my own vomit!]
(emphasis and editorial commentary added)

Here's how one Hot Air contributor responded to Kmiec's drivel:

... Kmiec’s solution to the NARAL dilemma is to have Obama propose a “fulsome initiative” to promote adoption; evidently that would restore his anti-abortion bona fides to a level worthy of a pro-life voter’s vote. If you believe abortion is murder, though, why would some sort of hortatory measure like that suffice? It’d be like if Obama proposed letting family members euthanize Alzheimer’s patients so long as there was some “fulsome initiative” to inform them of the virtues of letting them live. Some behavior is immoral to a degree that we merely cajole, other behavior is immoral to a degree that we prohibit. How did abortion end up in the former category for anti-abortion advocate Doug Kmiec? And what on earth does it mean to say that Obama “is not pro-abortion,” as though that’s some mark of distinction? There isn’t a single mainstream pro-choice politician I can think of, left or right, who doesn’t load up his/her abortion rhetoric with lip service about what a tragedy it is, how it should be safe, legal, and hopefully rare, etc. Anything less would be ghoulish. As such, Obama’s hesitancy isn’t evidence of virtue, it’s evidence of his being barely sentient enough to know that he’d better be sober in how he talks about this lest those independent voters he needs head for the hills...
(emphasis added)

To be honest, I'm beginning to wonder if Kmiec is having second thoughts about his decision to go over to Obama, but feels "stuck" and has the need to intellectually save face. That might describe the increasing incoherence and illogic on display in each new justification he issues.

Or maybe he's just defending the indefensible and there's no logical or coherent way to do that. Either way, Kmiec's become a total embarassment to Catholic legal scholarship.

* "... While it is always necessary to work to reduce the number of abortions by providing alternatives and help to vulnerable parents and children, Catholic teaching calls all Catholics to work actively to restrain, restrict and bring to an end the destruction of unborn human life..." From “Statement on Responsibilities of Catholics in Public Life”, March 10, 2006.

Darwin highlights another disturbing aspect of all this - Kmiec's Obama exists only within Kmiec's own imagination:
The other mildly disturbing thing about all this is that Kmiec seems to be dealing almost entirely with an Obama that exists entirely within his own head. A couple weeks ago he was excited about Obama supporting the 95-10 initiative -- except that Obama does not support that.

Now he says Obama should prove he's not really pro-abortion by advocating adoption -- but Obama doesn't show any signs of being disturbed by NARAL's endorsement.

This seems to be another case of a smart (perhaps too smart) person treating Obama as the tabula rasa on which to write out all his own concerns, without ever actually consulting the real Obama.

Feddie and M.Z. add their takes.

UPDATE #3 (16 May)
Canon lawyer Ed Peters opines that the priest was wrong to deny Kmiec Communion:
... But to deny Kmiec holy Communion for his actions to date? No way. In the face of Canons 18, 213, 843, and 912, Canon 915 indeed authorizes withholding Communion from those who (a) obstinately, (b) persevere in (c) manifest (d') grave (d'') sin. But about the only thing Kmiec is (so far) is manifest.

I have been urging for years that greater respect for Our Lord in the Eucharist be shown by, among other ways, withholding holy Communion from certain figures who fail to meet the requirements set out in canon law. I suppose it's inevitable that, with steps finally being taken toward the enforcement of Canon 915, some hotheads are going to misapply the law. But that's not the law's fault; that's bad catechesis, something over which even priests can stumble.

In short, by my read, Prof. Kmiec is owed an apology.

UPDATE #4 (16 May)
A must-read comment by one of Feddie's readers at Southern Appeal.

Previous Pro Ecclesia posts on this subject:
Deal Hudson on "How Obama's Catholics Will Dodge the Infanticide Question"

Kmiec's Dishonesty [UPDATED]

Catholic Teaching and Political Risk Taking: When Credit Isn't Given Where Credit is Due [UPDATED]

Kmiec's Wishful Thinking on Obama and Abortion

The Curt Jester: "Shameless Garment" [UPDATED]

So-Called "Catholic Reaganite" Doug Kmiec Endorses Obama [UPDATED]

"No'bama for Me, Thanks"

Can a Catholic Vote for Obama?

Obama's Pledge to Planned Parenthood: “I Will Not Yield"

Deal Hudson: "Barack Obama's Catholic Problem"

"Why American Catholics are Supporting Barack Obama

Catholics at the Ballot Box

How the Catholic Left Will Tackle McCain

Why Does Kmiec Criticize McCain for Positions on Which He Gave Romney a Pass?

Deal Hudson on "Douglas Kmiec and the Lure of Obama"

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

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 5/15/2008 2:49 PM, Blogger Darwin said...

The other mildly disturbing thing about all this is that Kmiec seems to be dealing almost entirely with an Obama that exists entirely within his own head. A couple weeks ago he was excited about Obama supporting the 95-10 initiative -- except that Obama does not support that.

Now he says Obama should prove he's not really pro-abortion by advocating adoption -- but Obama doesn't show any signs of being disturbed by NARAL's endorsement.

This seems to be another case of a smart (perhaps too smart) person treating Obama as the tabula rasa on which to write out all his own concerns, without ever actually consulting the real Obama.

At 5/15/2008 3:05 PM, Anonymous crankycon said...

While the denial of Communion was a suspect decision - is support of a pro-abortion politician truly an action that merits denial of the sacrament? - Kmiec is still as confused as ever. The whole article is just rambling, and quite frankly I'm almost to the point of questioning the man's sanity.

At 5/15/2008 3:10 PM, Blogger Jay Anderson said...

I think the key is not so much that Kmiec supports Obama (I agree that Communion should not be denied for mere support of a pro-abortion candidate, especially if one's support is in spite of the candidate's pro-abortion stance), but that Kmiec is actually defending Obama's "pro-choice" position. That makes it more problematic. While I'm not sure that justifies denying Communion to someone, I think that Kmiec's outspoken defense of Obama's stance is probably why this particular priest acted in this way.

At 5/15/2008 3:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you have to make an argument, the odds are that whatever you are talking about isn't manifest. Considering he has a fairly long and distinguished record of pro-life advocacy, this was a particularly thuggish act that should be addressed swiftly by the bishop or superior.

At 5/15/2008 3:25 PM, Blogger Jay Anderson said...

I agree that the priest probably acted inappropriately, but I'm not sure I'd go so far as "thuggish".

At 5/15/2008 3:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kmiec's reasoning is bizarre. Jay, you're absolutely correct that there's no difference between his defense of Obama and the standard liberal Catholic's defense of supporting pro-abortion candidates. How could Kmiec have strayed so far from his conservatism and his Catholicism? Simply bizarre.


At 5/15/2008 3:52 PM, Blogger Jeff Miller said...

Kmiec gets more incoherent everytime he speaks.

NARAL endorsing Obama is like being shocked that their is gambling going on around here. The only charitable thing I can think about Kmiec is that he is massively stupid.

Of coruse if Hillary had been leading at thit time they would have happily endorsed her. But surely Obama is their desired target since he doesn't even pretent that abortion is a "tragedy" like Hillary did. Though she has dropped all of those pretenses in this race with Obama.

At 5/15/2008 3:55 PM, Blogger Paul, just this guy, you know? said...

I agree with the priest; would that denying Kmiec communion might have had the intended effect, and caused Prof. Kmiec to reconsider his support of Sen. Obama. But no, like any liberal pro-abort, Kmiec doesn't stop to think anything beyond that a rebuke is only an undeserved insult.

Not being in the legal profession like you, Jay, I never heard of this guy Kmiec before you started discussing him here, when he first endorsed Obama. You keep talking about Kmiec as if he were pro-life, but that's certainly more than I know.

If you're unhappy with the number of convenience store robberies in your neighborhood, you enforce laws against robbery and make sure to arrest and incarcerate those caught doing it. You don't go around promoting "alternatives" to robbing convenience stores.

But, apparently according to the pro-abort crowd, if you're unhappy with the number of abortions, you must keep abortion legal in all situations, and you have to talk about welfare, and adoption, and, before during and after all other discussion, contraception.

I wonder if these people think that slavery might have been ended that way; if only the plantation owners had been offered more alternatives to slavery!

Prof. Kmiec and his ilk really touch a nerve with me, because in addition to countenancing the killing of helpless innocents, they are liars, and they want to fool people like me into embracing abortion as they have.

Now, I'm sure Prof. Kmiec would deny that he has embraced abortion, but I don't care about that, because he's a liar; he may be lying to himself also, but he's certainly lying to me.

But in publicly teaching that support for a pro-abort like Obama (especially when laced with lies like Kmiec's denial that Obama is "pro-choice" rather than "pro-abortion") can possibly be consistent with Catholic teaching, I believe that Prof. Kmiec is advocating a formal heresy, and that he should not only be denied communion, but that he should be called upon by his bishop to recant on pain of excommunication.

The only defense for him that I can see is that he's not consciously lying to us, because he's already lied to himself. That may be a mitigating factor come Judgment Day, but it does nothing to lessen the scandal he's causing now.

At 5/15/2008 5:29 PM, Blogger Darwin said...

I don't think that the chaplain described (assuming there's not more to the story that Kmiec describes) probably did not act in the wisest and most pastoral manner.

However, at the same time, it seems to me a sad commentary on the nature of Kmiec's thinking (and in fairness, that of many in modern America) that he does not seem to have taken this priest's words and actions as any kind of a hint that he might be heading down the wrong path. He shows no sense of respect for authority, nor consciousness that we are given shepherds that we might follow them.

Even assuming that he has thought through his position with such thoroughness that no change of mind is possible, he should at least respect the conscience of the priest involved, who no doubt is acting in good faith and with Kmiec's spiritual well-being in mind.

If Kmiec really believes so much in building bridges with those who disagree with him (supposedly his reason for supporting Obama) he should be able to accept this chaplain's action for the well-meaning (if perhapd mis-directed) action that it probably is.

At 5/16/2008 6:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kmiec went out on a tree branch, sawed it off and now is shocked, shocked, that he simply isn't able to sit in mid-air. His increasingly bizarre support of Obama is one of the more amusing, in a sad pathetic way, political events thus far of this year.

At 5/16/2008 5:12 PM, Blogger John C. Hathaway said...

So, the priest preached about this topic, and then denied him communion?

Hmm. How about if a priest preaches contraception, and then a contraception-prescribing OB/Gyn comes up to the altar? Would it be "unpastoral" to deny that doctor communion?

Why do people seem more concerned about human respect and about literal interpretations of Canon Law than about the sanctity of the Eucharist?

At 5/16/2008 8:10 PM, Blogger Kyle R. Cupp said...

I’ve not yet found Kmiec’s case for supporting Obama persuasive. His conclusion that Obama would be better on saving unborn lives than the alternative candidate remains as of yet unproven. That said, I see no conclusive evidence that Kmiec is lying or advocating formal heresy, as Paul says. Wishful thinking, maybe. As far as I can tell, Kmiec believes that Obama is the more pro-life candidate, that Obama would be better on the abortion issue than McCain, that he would save more lives. He’s essentially made a pro-life and even Catholic case of choosing Obama in this particular election. As I said, it’s not convincing. He hasn’t denied Catholic teaching on abortion, he’s applied it to this particular election and arrive at his conclusion. Is he wrong? Could be, but he’s not a heretic for that.

Perhaps I missed it, I don’t see that Kmiec has embraced the pro-choice view as legitimate in itself. Right after stating that Obama is pro-choice and not pro-abortion, Kmiec writes: “Catholic voters in this circumstance are asked to consider what other social goods Obama represents and whether they can honestly and openly say that they are supporting him for that reason and not his stand on abortion.” Seems to me that Kmiec does not hold Obama’s abortion stance as the correct stance, but that in spite of Obama’s stance on abortion, he’s still the preferable option, even surprisingly on abortion. Here’s a question: would Kmiec be pleased if Obama suddenly wanted abortion outlawed? I suspect he would be.

Also, the distinction between pro-abortion and pro-choice is a valid one and not at odds with the Bishops’ view. The pro-abortion position states that abortion is a good thing (in some sense or another). The pro-choice position makes no judgment about the morality of abortion: it’s a position about its legality. The terms have two distinct meanings.

At 5/17/2008 7:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You idiot. This professor's support for Obama is not procuring abortions.

Obama's pro-choice stance is not procuring abortions. Abortion is legal because of Roe v. Wade. Nothing Obama says or does can add or detract from the legality of abortion.

It is in the hands of the Supreme Court, not the politicians in Washington.

If you all support McCain, this does not mean you are pro-unjust wars and torture. Similarly, if you voted for President Bush, this does not mean you are in favor of torture, pollution of the environment, and the death penalty. You cannot have it both ways.

At 5/17/2008 8:53 PM, Blogger Kyle R. Cupp said...

"Nothing Obama says or does can add or detract from the legality of abortion. It is in the hands of the Supreme Court, not the politicians in Washington."

Not true, Anon. Obama and others can strengthen the legality of abortion through measures such as the Freedom of Choice Act.

At 5/18/2008 7:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

""Nothing Obama says or does can add or detract from the legality of abortion. It is in the hands of the Supreme Court, not the politicians in Washington."

Not true, Anon. Obama and others can strengthen the legality of abortion through measures such as the Freedom of Choice Act."

Kyle is correct. Additionally Obama would be able to appoint Supreme Court Justices. Considering the age, and ill health, of some of the Justices I think the next President is almost guaranteed at least three appointments. Then the "politicians in Washington" in the Senate vote on the appointments. The "polticians in Washington" in the White House and the Senate have the long term say on whether Roe, abortion on demand, will stand or fall.

And by the way anonymous there has been no more ardent foe of anything smacking of torture than John McCain. As to unjust wars, we simply disagree. I view both Afghanistan and Iraq as just wars, as does McCain.

At 5/19/2008 3:12 PM, Blogger Jay Anderson said...

Anonymous said: "You idiot."

Hey Greg,

If you're going to get on here and engage in name calling, at least have the guts to use your name.


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