Monday, June 16, 2008

Doug Kmiec Again Places Platitudes Above Policy [UPDATED]

See how many platitudes you can spot in this piece by Prof. Douglas Kmiec in The Chicago Tribune:

A few days ago, I had the privilege of engaging Sen. Barack Obama in private conversation for several hours with Rev. Franklin Graham, Bishop T.D. Jakes and a diverse group of 30 or so religious leaders from Protestant, Catholic, Evangelical and other traditions.

This was an unprecedented sit-down for any political figure, let alone a much-in-demand presidential candidate. Why would the presumptive nominee of the Democratic Party devote so much time talking faith rather than politics? Quite simply, because it is the senator's deep personal faith
[ED.: Which somehow posits that it's okay to kill the unborn.] that explains his audaciously positive hope [ED.: Please kill me now so I don't have to hear that crap all the way until November and, heaven forbid, beyond that.] for his country.

Obama's life is one of accomplishment in the face of unexpected challenge [ED.: As compared to the guy who was tortured in a POW camp?] — the all-too-usual perils of an absentee father overcome by the extraordinary love of mother and grandparents; a home with little religious practice surpassed by an early education in Catholic schools and a later immersion in the hard work of faith assisting the poor in Chicago. When Obama picks up the political glass it is uniformly half full [ED.: Gag! Give me a break!], and frankly, when he encounters the skepticism of others—as he occasionally did in our meeting—he casts a smile that doesn't discount or disregard doubt [ED.: He "respects" us and smiles at us as he goes about implementing policies that are completely antithetical to what we believe in.], but somehow manages to engage it with the intelligence of everyone in the room.

The discussion dwelt at some length on abortion. Obama said he earnestly [ED.: Kmiec's support for Obama swings mighty heavily on "the importance of being earnest".] wants to "discourage" the practice [ED.: Why does he want to "discourage" this "fundamental right" on which he "will not yield"?] despite the distortions of some who think if they affix the "pro-abortion—won't overturn-Roe-label" to the senator, pro-lifers like myself won't give him the time of day. [ED.: Oh, bite me. Obama's schtick is nothing but the "Personally opposed, but" gobbledy-gook we've heard from pro-abort politicians for years. Why don't you be honest as to the REAL reason you're willing to fall for it this year (your justifications to date - including this one - have been wholly lacking), rather than acting as though Obama's pro-life critics are the ones stepping out of line.] Sorry, good friends, not this year. [ED.: Thankfully, I'm not your friend (much less your "good friend"), so I don't feel the need to coddle and praise you as some sort of "pro-life stalwart" with whom I'm merely having a minor family disagreement.]

Not to understand that there is more than one rather indirect and elusive judicial way to address an intrinsic evil understates the ingenuity of the devout. [ED.: The only one engaging in an either/or mentality regarding how to end abortion is you, Dougie.] Describing the abortion decision as a "difficult, deeply moral one," [ED.: No it's not "difficult", at least not to one with a well-formed conscience! We're talking about killing people. Stop giving politicians credit for "recognizing" the moral issue at stake, yet who then come down on the wrong side of it. I watched "Knocked Up" last night. When even a profane Hollywood send up like that can't bring itself to utter the "A" word, much less have its protagonists even remotely consider going through one, it's clear that your guy is on the wrong side of the "difficult, deeply moral" decision.] Obama sees it as one only the woman can make. Unless her choice affirms life that is not my Catholic view, and I told him so. But disagreement or not, it is abundantly clear from our conversation that Obama shares a common aspiration to reduce the incidence of abortion. [ED.: In other words, "safe, legal, and rare". We've heard it all before.]

How? Obama is committed to encouraging "responsible sexual behavior," discouraging unwanted pregnancies, promoting adoption as a more viable, affordable and appealing option than it presently is [ED.: Who ISN'T committed to those things? Well, besides Obama's friends in Hollywood, the radical feminist movement, etc. And why do I think when Obama talks about these things what he means is providing birth control to minors?], and putting off limits in a manner consistent with the law as the justices see it, late-term abortion. Obama will not exclude abortion from medical coverage [ED.: So, why is it again that we're supposed to support him? You realize, don't you, that this would overturn the Hyde Amendment, right? You know, the law credited with having saved an estimated 1 million lives?] to fulfill a health exception "rigorously defined." [ED.: Yeah, right. We know "mental and emotional health" will be part of the equation, and that all it will take is someone claiming to have lost sleep over a pregnancy to overcome that hurdle.]

This replays where we disagree, but the meeting, itself, keeps revealing his appreciation for both the significance of faith and faith differences and an open mind sensitive to the need to protect religious freedom. [ED.: Again, this is the political equivalent to "He said he'd respect me in the morning."]

Obama complimented my old boss, President Ronald Reagan. Reagan talked in 1980 of "family, work, neighborhood, peace and freedom," but never unleashed any systematic revival of the first three, even as he secured—for his time at least—a better peace.

Reagan was high-minded enough, but his prosperous friends did not always notice that the needs of the middle class could be caught in the switches—too well off for help, and stretched too thin not to be subject to spikes of real economic pain. If the middle-class was sometimes left unattended, and it was, no amount of the "trickle down" gospel could effectively answer the "cry of the poor." [ED.: Ah, nice. A little Reagan bashing from a former employee. Prof. Bainbridge had it right in questioning whether Kmiec is more accurately described as a "former" conservative. He certainly appears to no longer fit the bill of a "Catholic Reaganite".]

Obama's conception of promoting the common good [ED.: As Deacon Fournier recently wrote: "Even if a group uses the phrase 'Common Good' ... in its rhetoric, we need to examine such a group very closely. We need to look, so to speak, 'under the hood' and kick the tires. Where does this group stand on the right to life? This issue is to our time what slavery was to another era." To put my own paraphrase on Deacon Fournier's quote, any notion of the "common good" that does not make room in our laws for the unborn is neither "common" nor "good".] is situated in those regular but welcoming neighborhoods most of us call home—foreclosure aside. He intends to ask government and non-governmental entities—and you and me—to do our part.

Frankly, it is more than a little exhilarating to be given that much faith and trust. [ED.: You see, it's all about Kmiec and how he "feels". This line confirms for me what I've believed for a while about people like Kmiec. To some extent, I think the so-called "Obamacon" phenomenon is based upon a need for some in the conservative "intelligencia" to feel "relevant" - to be part of something that's "happening now". Obviously, John McCain doesn't fit the bill. I've wondered for some time whether that is what is primarily motivating Prof. Doug Kmiec to back Obama, as his writings in justification of that support (as evidenced by that last line in this piece) certainly demonstrate this sort of "neediness" on his part. Meanwhile, those of us who are doing the heavy lifting out here in flyover country don't feel a similar need to back a guy who is so antithetical to our beliefs in order to feel "relevant". We meet that need by merely doing our jobs in our parishes, our homes, and our communities.]
(emphasis and editorial commentary added)

But that's not even the worst of it. Hat tip to our friend Darwin who emailed the link to Kmiec's article to me, but who, more importantly, directed my attention to Kmiec's attribution at the bottom of the article:

Douglas W. Kmiec, who was denied communion by a priest for endorsing Barack Obama, is a professor of constitutional law at Pepperdine University and was an assistant U.S. attorney general during the Reagan administration.
(emphasis added)

Are you frickin' kidding me? I figured we'd be hearing Kmiec tout the "I was denied Communion" red badge of "courage" sob story from now until election day, but I never thought he'd stoop as low as basically adding it to his resume. A disgusting bit of self-promotion passing itself off as martyrdom. Shameful.

See also Christopher Blosser's post "Sucker" at Catholics in the Public Square.


UPDATE
Feddie: "I know of no other way to say this ... Professor Kmiec is dead to me."

Opinionated Catholic: "Catholic Professor Kmiec Using Eucharist As A Political Weapon?"


UPDATE #2
Ramesh Ponnuru writes:

... Doug Kmiec is still spinning unconvincingly for his new candidate.

The next time Obama does an outreach event with conservative or moderate evangelicals or Catholics, I hope someone will ask him how his support for taxpayer-funded abortion squares with his earnest desire to reduce the incidence of the procedure. (Obama is a co-sponsor of the "Freedom of Choice Act.") And do these folks that Mr. Thoughtful's campaign can't even bring itself to call them "pro-life," instead using the term "
anti-choice"?

One more thing: The bio line on Kmiec's op-ed begins, "Douglas W. Kmiec, who was denied communion by a priest for endorsing Barack Obama . . ." Do we have anything other than's Kmiec's say-so that this event ever occurred? And is Kmiec planning to put it on his business cards from now on?
(emphasis added)


UPDATE #3
HotAir: "Pro-life Romney advisor turned Obama fan gets an audience with the Messiah"

Creative Minority Report: "The Ingenuity of Devout Oxymorons"


UPDATE #4 (17 June)
Zoe Romanowski at InsideCatholic:

... Reading the entire piece, there's something slightly over the top about Kmiec's reflections on Obama. A bit of a guy-crush, perhaps? Many are smitten with the senator, but if they made it a little less obvious, it might help their case.

UPDATE #5 (17 June)
Notre Dame Law Professor Rick Garnett at Bench Memos on National Review:

Kmiec's Efforts to Persuade Still Fall Short

... The point that some of us have been making to Doug is not that it is impossible for someone who supports Roe to also have a good-faith desire to "discourage" abortion. It is, instead, that Sen. Obama's record, and his public statements to people who, unlike Doug, very much want to hear him offer — and do hear him offer — his full-throated, unqualified support for abortion rights, do not seem to provide a basis for concluding that, in fact, he would be willing to do anything to "discourage" abortion, other than to support social-welfare initiatives which he would support in any event. (The point here is not to criticize such programs — if they work, fine [Which reminds me, has Obama endorsed 95-10 yet?]. It is to remind Doug that these programs and efforts will come packaged with a roll-back of the few pro-life legislative and executive-branch victories that have been secured during the past decade or so.)

Abortion aside, the judges that Sen. Obama will nominate (and that the Senate will certainly confirm) will bring an understanding of constitutional law to the Court that is entirely irreconcilable with the vision that Doug has been advocating for years. Again, it's not just about Roe. I'd like to hear Doug's account of why it suddenly no longer matters that justices approach constitutional interpretation as he has, for many years, been saying they should approach constitutional interpretation.

But, back to abortion: even if it is true — of course it is true — that overturning Roe would not end abortion, and that there are ways to reduce the number of abortions that do not involve overturning Roe — and even if we accept, as I do, that many reasonable, faithful Christians will conclude, given the givens, that their best option is to vote for Obama, the fact is that President Obama will sign legislation and issue executive orders that remove currently existing regulations, that undermine conscience-protections and religious-freedom protections for hospitals and health-care professionals who do not wish to participate in abortion, and that use public funds to pay for abortions and embryo-destroying research. This is not just about Roe, and Doug knows it. Perhaps there are "distortions" going on, but, with all due respect, they are not coming from those who report accurately Sen. Obama's publicly expressed views and record on abortion. "Sorry, good friend."
(emphasis added)

Heh. Looks like Rick's patience with the mollycoddling-agree-to-disagree-in-good-faith-with-the-"pro-life-stalwart"-with-whom-we're-having-a-minor-family-disagreement approach to addressing Kmiec's sophistry has just about run out.


UPDATE #6 (18 June)
Carl Olson: "Sen. Obama's "open mind" about abortion", which includes this outstanding explanation of the pro-life position (contra Prof. Kmiec) by Prof. Francis Beckwith:

The truth is that Doug Kmiec does not have a conceptual grasp of what the prolife position actually is. It is not about "reducing the number of abortions," though that is certainly a consequence that all prolifers should welcome. Rather, the prolife position is the moral and political belief that all members of the human community are intrinsically valuable and thus are entitled to protection by the state. "Reducing the number of abortions" may occur in a regime in which this belief is denied, and that is the regime that Senator Obama wants to preserve. It is a regime in which the continued existence of the unborn is always at the absolute discretion of the postnatal. Reducing the number of these discretionary acts by trying to pacify and accommodate the needs of those who want to procure abortions--physicians, mothers, and fathers--only reinforces the idea that the unborn are objects whose value depends exclusively on our wanting them.

Imagine if someone told you in 19th century America that he was not interested in giving slaves full citizenship, but merely reducing the number of slaves. But suppose another person told you that he too wanted to reduce the number of slaves by granting them the full citizenship to which they are entitled by nature. Which of the two is really "against slavery" in a full-orbed principled sense? The first wants to reduce slavery, but only while retaining a subhuman understanding of slaves as part of our juridical infrastructure. The second believes that the juridical infrastructure should reflect the truth about slaves, namely, that they are in fact human beings made in the image of their Maker.
(emphasis added)

Hat tip: The Cranky Conservative


UPDATE #7 (18 June)
Speaking of Prof. Beckwith, here's his post on the subject at Southern Appeal: "Doug Kmiec: Between Barack and a Hard Place"


UPDATE #8 (18 June)
Gerard Bradley: Kmiec's Pro-Obama Schtick "a Dud"


Previous Pro Ecclesia posts on this subject:
Prof. Bainbridge on "Obama, Abortion, & Catholics"

Prof. Rick Garnett on Kmiec's Latest Nonsense

Deacon Keith Fournier: "Why I Disagree with Doug Kmiec, Once Again"

Give It a Rest Already, Prof. Kmiec!

Deacon Keith Fournier: "No More ‘Left’ or ‘Right’, Time for a New Catholic Action"

Doug Kmiec's Newfound Celebrity Status Among Those on the Left

Doug Kmiec Soon To Be Sorely Disappointed

E.J. Dionne on Kmiec Being Denied Communion [UPDATED]

Deal Hudson on Prof. Kmiec and Blurring the Lines Between "Pro-Choice" and Pro-Abortion

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

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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9 Comments:

At 6/16/2008 11:55 AM, Anonymous crankycon said...

Wow. I actually left a comment at Southern Appeal saying that at least he didn't mention being denied Communion. I guess he doesn't have to since it is now officially part of his frakkin byline. What a complete loser.

 
At 6/16/2008 12:04 PM, Blogger Dale said...

I pray God Kmiec one day recognizes how foolish his credulous, uncritical pom-pon shaking for Obama was.

 
At 6/16/2008 12:45 PM, Blogger Paul, just this guy, you know? said...

You're too generous, Dale. I have no doubt whatever that Kmiec is fully aware of what he is doing. I am honestly curious as to what, other than simple Christian charity, makes you think that he might be an unwitting accomplice. I'm sure that he's actively chosen to be a fuly aware accomplice to the Obama campaign.

One of the old rules I live by teaches us: "Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity."

But Prof. Kmiec is not stupid (and neither is Senator Obama). Stupidity doesn't explain his writings and actions.

 
At 6/16/2008 12:53 PM, Blogger Tito Edwards said...

Jay,

You are in rare form today. You've reached a higher level of analysis and wit that will make it harder for me to achieve.

Tito

 
At 6/16/2008 12:56 PM, Blogger Dale said...

Paul:

(1) Charity is part of it. (2) A lot of otherwise sensible people have been taken in by the Obama charm. (3) He has a credible record of being a careful pro-life thinker.

Smart people can be the dumbest people I know. Self included. Sometimes you {I'm using the indefinite here) can get on a train of thought that takes you on the Trans-Siberian Railway of stupid.

For me to chalk it up as malicious I need more evidence, apart from shoddy, slipshod and star-struck thinking, all of which Kmiec has been manifesting in spades.

However. I *am* getting closer to that threshold. The longer he trades in tropes and avoids inconvenient facts, the more I am coming to the sad and reluctant finding of malice.

 
At 6/16/2008 1:20 PM, Blogger James H said...

I just linked to your article and I mentioned that is omething that Rudy had more respect not to use COmmunion as a political weapon than this Prominetn legal mind

 
At 6/16/2008 5:40 PM, OpenID discalcedyooper said...

I just linked to your article and I mentioned that is omething that Rudy had more respect not to use COmmunion as a political weapon than this Prominetn legal mind

This is like saying an abused person shouldn't have aggravated her spouse. I don't think it is all that healthy for him to keep revisiting the incident, but he ain't the one who politicized it.

 
At 6/16/2008 8:01 PM, Anonymous Victor said...

There has GOT to be more to the story of what Kmiec sees in Obama than these barrage of these often mutually incompatible and always piss-poor intellectual reasons. The guy is just too smart and had too good a pro-life reputation for THIS to be all there is.

I'm really thinking there has GOT to be something deeply and irrationally personal at stake here like did McCain bed Mrs. Kmiec or kick their dog or something? Does Obama have pictures of Kmiec and some barn animals, or papers showing Kmiec embezzled from his parish or cheated on the bar exam ... or WHAT???**


** Note: This is simple speculation about the kinds of things -- Not. Meant. Literally. I have no specific knowledge, and if I did, I would not be repeating it.

 
At 6/17/2008 12:28 PM, Blogger LargeBill said...

Maybe Kmiec is afraid that failure to vote for and support Obama is evidence of his racism. There is a "priest" out there spreading that line of thought.

http://keaneobservation.blogspot.com/2008/06/hey-you-over-there-if-you-dont-vote-for.html

 

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