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."His audaciously positive hope for his country"? Here, Kmiec is citing the title of Obama's book The Audacity of Hope. I'm almost embarrassed for Kmiec and his over-the-top giddiness.
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 that explains his audaciously positive hope for his country.
The editorial contains more of Kmiec's disingenuousness about Obama's position on abortion:
... it is abundantly clear from our conversation that Obama shares a common aspiration to reduce the incidence of abortion.Can Kmiec not see the obvious sleight of hand being dealt to him by Obama? Obama is using code words for greater abortion access and education, federal funding for abortions and abortifacient "contraceptives," less religious freedom for health-care professionals, and who knows what else.
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, 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 to fulfill a health exception "rigorously defined."
Obama's life is one of accomplishment in the face of unexpected challenge - 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.Here, Kmiec's intellectual dishonesty really shines through: Kmiec is mentioning Obama's slim Catholic education in order to score rhetorical points, while conveniently ignoring Obama's much closer links to Islam and the radical black Christianity of Rev. Jeremiah Wright.
Finally, the editorial is captioned in this way: "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." Kmiec's martyrdom over being denied communion is really tiring. If it happened, it was a mistake by the minister of communion, not a mistake of the Church. Professor Kmiec, put the martyr complex to bed, please.
Thankfully, over at Mirror of Justice, Professor Rick Garnett of Notre Dame Law has a rebuttal which tears apart Kmiec's flimsy position. Here's to hoping that Kmiec takes Garnett's arguments seriously.
UPDATE: In the comments, Buttercup alerts me to more from Kmiec.
Over at National Review's The Corner, there is an exchange between Kmiec and Ramesh Ponnuru. (See Ponnuru's post, Kmiec's response, and Ponnuru's reply.) What I find interesting is Kmiec's defensiveness and instinctive accusation of "personal libel" when, objectively, there is no libel. It reminds me of the perpetual problem we have here at Fumare with unfounded accusations of "calumny."
Kmiec also has a long article over at Catholic Online about his meeting with Obama. Here are my thoughts:
-Kmiec begins his article by disingenuously bringing up the spectre of racism, even though McCain has never made race an issue.
-Kmiec implicitly accuses McCain of "supporting water-boarding and other forms of torture." (I know that McCain is more pro-Iraq than Obama, but I don't know what his position is on water-boarding and torture.)
-Kmiec illogically argues that Obama's abortion position is more desirable than McCain's because it is more in line with subsidiarity and prudence. Kmiec ignores the fact that McCain's pro-federalism position completely encompasses Obama's, because under McCain's position, the ultimate abortion decision is STILL with the mother. Further, Kmiec fails to see that Obama's position is contrary to subsidiarity because decisions about abortion restrictions are taken out of the hands of individuals and the states, and is made a federal issue that cannot be questioned.
-Kmiec claims Obama has one position on abortion, while recognizing that Obama's own words contradict this position. Isn't that a definition of insanity?:
Those who are pro-abortion, as I see it, are those who advocate the practice as a matter of fundamental right or as part of a radical, often feminist, agenda that takes no account of the moral weight or significance of unborn life. This is not Senator Obama's position, though before our meeting, and during it, I would take issue with him and his advisors for occasions where he has, in my judgment, spoken with less clarity than he should to differentiate himself. ... He reminds me that he speaks consistently to those who are both pro-life and pro-abortion and for the most part I have found that to be true.
-Kmiec again says the ridiculous argument that though it would be great if the Supreme Court directly outlawed all abortion entirely, that is never going to happen, therefore it doesn't really matter whether a pro-life Thomas or a pro-abortion Ginsburg gets appointed as Supreme Court Justice.
-Weird mental gymnastics by Kmiec:
Nevertheless, like the Archbishop, I have been looking for opportunities in dealing with both campaigns to reaffirm what Mother Teresa taught us so well and that is that no child should ever be seen as a burden or a punishment.
For example, I shared with Senator Obama's senior campaign advisers, and more recently with the Senator himself, that it was deeply unfortunate that the Senator during an off the cuff question and answer session during the Pennsylvania primary seemed to characterize an unwanted pregnancy as a penalty.
The Senator said frankly the rigors of the campaign had resulted in his not expressing well that the "punishment" he was referring to was not the child, but the social circumstances and lack of maturity that would deprive a young, often teenage, pregnant woman of the joy families experience when there is news that someone in the family is with child.
While some may say this is merely a politician's post-hoc rationalization, I have reason to believe it was more than that. Having been blessed in my own family with five children, and appreciating how each has permitted my wife and myself to be co-creators of God's universe, I can well understand how not perceiving a child in that way would truly be punishing.
-Kmiec takes McCain to task for using "spare embryos" in the context of the stem cell debate. Isn't Obama as bad or worse than McCain on embryonic stem cells?
-Kmiec on how Obama will reduce abortions: "[Obama] would also prohibit late-term abortions, consistent with the requirements of the Constitution as interpreted by the Court. Such requirements usually entail an exception for the health and life of the mother." Isn't Kmiec a law professor? Doesn't he know that the "health" exception is no exception at all, as it is interpreted by the courts?
-The last section is so saccharine as to make one sick. "It is the Senator's voice that America should hear discussing his desire and plans for strengthening family, fatherhood, or how we must recommit to universal values of integrity and honor. The founders may have been pessimistic about human nature, but in keeping with the "yes we can" theme of his campaign, Obama is not."
Professor Kmiec, Obama is not the Messiah.