Monday, February 02, 2009

Catholic World Report: "Douglas Kmiec and His Misinformation Offensive for Barack Obama"

(Hat tip: Mark Shea)

W. James Antle, III, deconstructs Prof. Kmiec's Obama sycophancy in the February 2009 issue of The Catholic World Report:
... Thus began Doug Kmiec’s role as a leading Catholic and pro-life apologist for Barack Obama, culminating in a book entitled Can a Catholic Support Him? Asking the Big Questions About Barack Obama. Other self-described conservatives, many of them anything but conservative when it came to social issues, also endorsed Obama. Other professing Catholics who have traditionally been aligned with the Democratic Party did so as well, emphasizing an ever-expanding list of “social justice issues” that must take precedence over the lives of the unborn and the integrity of the family. But only Kmiec aimed his appeals squarely at socially conservative Catholics and tried to persuade them that a vote for Obama would in some real sense advance their pro-life, pro-family values.

Obama’s abortion voting record—which in 2007 earned 100 percent ratings from NARAL and Planned Parenthood but 0 percent from the National Right to Life Committee—suggests he would be a one-man Freedom of Choice Act. But Kmiec has tried to put a very different spin on Obama’s abortion stance.

“It is well known that Senator Obama has clearly stated on numerous occasions his support for restrictions on late term abortions,” he told the religious website Beliefnet. “Indeed, Senator Obama has identified the need to draft a clearly defined health exception, the responsible narrowing of which [the National Right to Life Committee’s] Doug Johnson and I—and perhaps the entire right-to-life community, including the dear late Henry Hyde himself—have been advocating for decades.”

Obama has done nothing of the sort, except when trying to emphasize his “common ground” with religious believers and abortion opponents... Kmiec is willing to take Obama’s rhetorical concessions without demanding any substance.

Substance is nevertheless what Kmiec says his Obama advocacy is all about. Throughout the 2008 campaign, he maintained that Obama would do more to reduce the incidence of abortion than any Republican president. “McCain’s commitment, as he stressed in the debate, is to try to reverse Roe vs. Wade,” Kmiec acknowledged in the Los Angeles Times. “But Republicans have been after this for decades, and the effort has not saved a single child.” Obama, meanwhile, would offer economic support to expectant mothers, including those in crisis pregnancies, an approach he described elsewhere as the “difference between criminalization and compassion.”

One can justifiably criticize the Republican Party for the lack of seriousness with which it has often fought for the unborn and condemn the role Republican-appointed judges have played in the Roe regime. But Kmiec is clearly stacking the deck: Republicans are found wanting if they fail to enact the entire pro-life agenda while Obama gets a pass for adding free pre- and postnatal care to the entire pro-abortion agenda. Though the pro-life movement has fallen well short of its ultimate goals, Kmiec’s assertion that its political efforts have not saved a single child is demonstrably false.

Michael J. New, an assistant professor of political science at the University of Alabama, has done a number of studies that show pro-life legislative and regulatory initiatives have saved many children. Three of his studies have shown that state-level restrictions on the public funding of abortion have reduced the incidence of abortions by more than 10 percent. Activists on both sides of the abortion debate agree that the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits Medicaid funding of elective abortions, has reduced abortions. By some estimates, this policy has prevented over one million abortions since the late 1970s.

Other pro-life policies have also had an impact. “There exist at least eight studies in peer reviewed academic journals…which demonstrate that pro-life parental involvement laws reduce the in-state abortion rate for minors anywhere from 13 percent to 19 percent,” New writes. New’s own research shows an even larger decrease in the abortion rate that holds up when enacted laws are compared to those nullified by the judiciary, suggesting it is changes in the law rather than values that made the difference.

The number of abortions has fallen in 12 of the last 14 years, resulting in a 21 percent decrease in total abortions. Some of the biggest declines have occurred in the states that have been most active in passing abortion restrictions. Between 1992 and 2000, the number of states enforcing informed-consent laws rose from virtually zero to 27; the number of states banning or restricting partial-birth abortion grew from zero to 12; the number of states enforcing parental-involvement statutes climbed from 20 to 32.

Two things happened over the course of the 1990s. First, there was an increase in the number of pro-life legislators from both parties elected to state legislatures and the US Congress. Second, while pro-lifers failed to overturn Roe v. Wade in 1992, that year’s Planned Parenthood v. Casey decision expanded the number of abortion restrictions that consistently pass judicial muster. Therefore, there are in fact good reasons to believe that having pro-life elected officials make policy and appoint judges can save lives even if they fall short of extending full legal protection to all unborn children.

If Kmiec were merely an outlier, his mistaken views would be of little consequence. Unfortunately, arguments like his are persuading some pro-lifers to turn away from policies that have been proven to reduce abortions and instead embrace welfare measures that may not have the same effect. Pro-lifers frustrated by the durability of Roe and pro-life progressives are the most susceptible to Kmiec-like appeals.

Kmiec has at times hinted that his Obama endorsement was actually motivated by his dissent from the Republican line on other life-and-death issues, such as the Iraq war and capital punishment. While these are serious moral issues, Kmiec has never made them central to his public pro-Obama arguments, preferring instead to dissuade pro-lifers from worrying too much about the Democrat’s position on abortion. Moreover, as Pope Benedict XVI (then Cardinal Ratzinger) wrote, “There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia.”

Worse, in a pre-election op-ed for the Los Angeles Times, Kmiec came perilously close to the “personally opposed but” position on abortion.
[ED.: "Perilously close"? Ya think?] “Sometimes the law must simply leave space for the exercise of individual judgment, because our religious or scientific differences of opinion are for the moment too profound to be bridged collectively,” he wrote. Kmiec suggested this “sensitive moral decision” should “depend on religious freedom and the voice of God as articulated in each individual’s voluntary embrace of one of many faiths.”

Kmiec can deceive himself as to the impact of Obama’s policies on the lives of the unborn. He is not, however, entitled to lead others astray about it with misinformation and poor reasoning.

[Read the whole thing]
(emphasis and editorial commentary added)

The Passion of the Kmiec - A Pro Ecclesia Timeline:

February 2009

Catholic World Report: "Douglas Kmiec and His Misinformation Offensive for Barack Obama"

January 2009
Kmiec Claims He's In the Loop for Vatican Post

American Papist's Open Letter to Prof. Kmiec

Kmiec the Martyr

Prof. Kmiec Eulogizes Fr. Neuhaus in a Manner That is All About Prof. Kmiec and Justifying his Obama Vote [UPDATED]

December 2008
Prof. Bainbridge on Doug Kmiec and U.S. Diplomatic Relations with the Holy See

November 2008
Vatican Official Says Kmiec Will Not Become New Vatican Ambassador

The Kmiec Catholic Re-Education Camp

Former Student of Prof. Kmiec Calls Him Out on "Revealing His True Colors"

A Modern-Day "Vicar of Bray"

Douthat Smacks Kmiec

Amy's "Wrap-Up" of Pre-Election Abortion Coverage


October 2008
George Weigel on Kmiec's "Flawed Thinking"

Archbishop Chaput: Kmiec Doing a "Disservice to the Church"

Mainstream Media Compliant in Obama's "Faith Outreach" Pitch

Bill Donohue: "I'm Catholic, Staunchly Anti-Racist, and Support David Duke" [UPDATED]

Debate Over at Amy's: Should Catholics Work for Legal Restrictions on Abortion?

Deacon Fournier Puts Smack Down on Prof. Kmiec

Kmiec's Payoff? [UPDATED]

September 2008
The Obama-Kmiec Magical Mystery "Faith Tour"

Deacon Fournier: "Doug Kmiec’s ‘Can a Catholic Support Him?’ Asks the Wrong Question"

Ponnuru Raps Kmiec for Defending Obama's Born-Alive Vote

"Separate But Equal" Redux - Pro-Life Edition

Mark Stricherz: "Why the Democratic Abortion Strategy is Worse"

Whither the "Catholic Vote"? Some Interesting Posts at the Fidelis Blog

August 2008
Darwin Catholic: "Douglas Kmiec, Master of Dissembling" [UPDATED]

Prof. Rick Garnett on Kmiec's "Missing the Point"

A Former Student of Prof. Kmiec Speaks Out ...

Prof. Kmiec Shifts the Goalposts

Kmiec's "Bridge Too Far"? Obama's Attacks on Justice Thomas

Without Further Ado: Doug Kmiec on McCain v. Obama at Saddleback [UPDATED]

Paging Prof. Kmiec ...

Doug Kmiec Claims Democrats Making "Steps Toward Honoring Life" in Platform

Prof. Garnett Takes on Prof. Kmiec ... Again

Casey Jr. to Get Prime-Time Slot in Denver to Appease Catholics [UPDATED]

July 2008
Fr. Neuhaus Responds to Doug Kmiec

Deal Hudson's Open Letter to Doug Kmiec

National Catholic Register on Catholics, Kmiec, and Obama

Prof. Hadley Arkes: "Political Distraction Among the Catholics"

June 2008
Doug Kmiec - What He Said Then vs. What He Says Now Re: Constitutional Jurisprudence

What is the "Pro-Life Position" Regarding Abortion?


Unrequited Love

Doug Kmiec: "After Meeting with Barack" [UPDATED]

Cranky Conservative: "But At Least He Says It with a Smile"

Doug Kmiec Again Places Platitudes Above Policy [UPDATED]

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!

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]

May 2008
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]

April 2008
Kmiec's Wishful Thinking on Obama and Abortion

March 2008
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?

February 2008
Obama's Pledge to Planned Parenthood: "I Will Not Yield"

"Why American Catholics are Supporting Barack Obama"

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"

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