When professor Doug Kmiec asked and answered the question in 2008 about whether Catholics could vote for Barack Obama he didn’t manage to convince a single soul. I mean that no one changed their vote based on his book. But he did demonstrate how hard one had to suspend disbelief in order to vote for for then-Senator Obama.
Kmiec quoted Pope Benedict on page 78 of Can a Catholic Support Him?: Asking the Big Question about Barack Obama. And so we read:
“As far as the Catholic Church is concerned, the principle focus of her interventions in the public area is the protection and promotion of the dignity of the person, and she is thereby consciously drawing particular attention to principles which are not negotiable. Among these the following emerge clearly today: the protection of life in all its stages, from the first moment of conception until natural death; recognition and promotion of the natural structure of the family, as a union between one man and one woman based on marriage… and the protection of the rights of parents to educate their children.” (Address to Members of the European People’s Party 30 March, 2006)
Kmiec should at least be credited with putting forward the toughest argument against his candidate. According to the Pope the non-negotiable issues are abortion, embryonic destructive research, euthanasia, cloning, traditional marriage, and parents’ rights in education. But in answer to this, Kmiec defends Obama.
“Does Senator Obama contradict any part of that papal list? He is on record as wanting to ‘discourage’ abortion; he has spoken in favor of the importance of family and supports a definition of marriage that is limited to a man and a woman – its ‘natural structure.’ The Senator’s faith-based initiative is strongly aimed at assisting parents – in the best traditions of Catholic subsidiarity – with education.”
Kmiec goes on, but the above paragraph is damning enough. President Obama has done nothing to discourage abortion. Indeed, he has insisted, in a manner much bolder than even I thought possible, that abortion be made more available, that citizens pay for it, that Catholic institutions pay for health plans that now have to cover abortifacient drugs, and that any attempt to resist will be met with penalties…or fines… or taxes… I can’t keep track.
President Obama has done anything and everything he can to carry through several parts of the Freedom of Choice Act without having to pass the act itself, which Kmiec believed was not likely given the Barack Obama he knew, the Senator he had spent time with, the man he had grown to admire.
In an October 2008 interview, Kmiec was asked by an Eric McFadden whether or not Obama would try to overturn the Hyde amendment which bars federal funds from going to pay for abortions and mandate coverage for abortion on demand. To this Kmiec answered in part:
“Again, ‘mandate coverage for abortion on demand’? This has never been Senator Obama’s position.”
Yet here was are, four years later, finding ourselves dealing with a health care law with mandates that include federal funding of abortion… just as we thought… just as the bishops warned. Were those warnings paranoia? Were they Religious Faith Partisans, as Kmiec labeled them? Or were they really just people who knew that a Democratic politician from Chicago who had voted three times against saving babies born after botched abortions could do nothing else but to expand abortion?
As for marriage, well we know that the President has “evolved” on that issue. He has directed that his Justice Department refrain from enforcing the Defense of Marriage Act. He has thrown his support behind attempts to repeal it. He has said that the States should be able to decide for themselves what marriage means. He has no problem with it personally.
This ought not be a surprise though. The political base of the Democratic Party simply would not stand for it much longer. But more than that Barack Obama has always just said what he needs to say in order to get elected. He was for gay marriage in 1996 when running for Illinois State Senate. He was undecided while running for re-election in 1998. He was against it 2004. Then in 2006, after becoming a Senator from Illinois, he wrote in The Audacity of Hope that he could be wrong. What exactly did Professor Kmiec see or not see here?
Finally, in terms of parental rights, it was President Obama who ended the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program by capping it at the current students enrolled. The program is a proven help to low-income, mostly African American children in the Washington D.C. area who can get vouchers to attend private and parochial schools. The rights of parents to send their children to the best schools so that the kids can escape the grinding poverty of the District didn’t matter to President Obama in 2009 and it still doesn’t.
While an agreement to re-fund the program was reached recently, Obama’s 2013 budget requests zero funding for the program. Nothing. Sorry, parents. You gotta send your kids to the failing school down the street.
If nothing else, this demonstrates the kind of self-delusion one has to adopt in order to defend then-candidate and certainly now President Obama over and against the words of the Holy Father. Perhaps Ambassador Kmiec can be excused for having been too starry-eyed. Perhaps he was just so offended by having been refused communion – which I do think was an injustice – that his judgment was clouded… for several months afterwards.
Whatever the case, let’s pray that Kmiec, who does still on occasion attempt to defend Obama, comes to his senses and rejoins reality.