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    AmP Countdown: Time left to demand that Congress make health care reform pro-life: 2009-11-07 18:00:00 GMT-05:00

    Tuesday, September 22, 2009

    Obama: On Douglas Kmiec's complete moral meltdown

    Prof. Douglas Kmiec of Pepperdine University was the most visible Catholic apologist for Barack Obama in last year's presidential election. During that time, I frequently blogged about my profound disagreement with his pro-Obama advocacy, stemming from a false articulation and exposition of Catholic prudential principles.

    After Obama was elected, Dr. Kmiec was awarded the ambassadorship to the Catholic nation of Malta.

    Now, in his first interview with the Times of Malta, Dr. Kmiec displays what I can only describe as a complete intellectual meltdown. He describes his first encounter with Mr. Obama:

    Even though there were areas of disagreement, Mr Obama pointed out the responsibility of government to provide a family wage, to care for the environment and to provide healthcare for the uninsured.

    "When I thought about all these things, I thought 'this is my catechism come to life' because we are called to each of these things in the social teachings of the Church."

    It is for that reason, Prof. Kmiec says, that he was convinced he had found a person of intelligence who had articulated a set of views and policies he could easily support.

    Come again - the most pro-abortion, pro-same-sex marriage president in history, and Dr. Kmiec sees him as a "catechism come to life"? By that definition, what pro-abortion, pro-same-sex marriage politician is not a catechism come to life? Does Dr. Kmiec have no sense of objective assessment? Do words and actions mean anything to him? Or is someone "pro-life" simply through a subjective self-assessment with no correspondence to reality?

    Dr. Kmiec's support of Obama has become more extreme as the evidence to support his views about the President have become more impossible to substantiate. If Dr. Kmiec truly thought this about Mr. Obama when he first met him, why did he withhold such high praise until now?

    I would suggest it is because Dr. Kmiec is going for broke. After all, no one takes him seriously now who does not already agree with his unstated first principles (that abortion is a reality we just have to "live with", for instance) - so why not become explicit about how warped is his integration of Catholic moral teaching and prudential instruction?

    I mean, what other conclusion can one come to when you read passages like this:

    Prof. Kmiec admits that this approach to abortion is not the ideal solution, saying that poverty or not being married is no excuse to take the life of a child. However, he believes one should be realistic about the problem and if the abortion rate could be reduced - and some studies point out that tackling poverty could lead to fewer abortions - "this seems to me a good interim step".

    "I prayed on this," he explains, pointing out that Pope John Paul II had said that Catholics must be clear on their stand on abortion but also that people in political life could sometimes do less than they would like to do as long as there were moves towards the protection of life.

    "Mr Obama has taken some steps towards this, perhaps not as fast as some would like," he says.

    This is delusional. Mr. Obama has "taken steps towards the protection of life ... not as fast as some would like" in Dr. Kmiec's view? In fact, Mr. Obama has taken steps in the opposite direction. And fast.

    Consider: Mr. Obama has chosen to fund oversees abortions at US taxpayer expense. He has destroyed President Bush's faith advisory board and populated it with pro-abortion representatives. He has appointed not a single pro-life Catholic or political figure to any position of responsibility in his administration. He continues to lie about the existence of abortion provision in his multiple health care provisions (a fact verified by multiple mainstream news media organizations). He has not lifted a single finger when Democrats in Congress have thwarted repeated attempts by Republicans to exclude the expansion of abortion funding and coverage from these health care plans. He has not put a single conscience clause provision into writing. His Democrat-controlled Congress is poised to pass legislation that will drastically expand the federal funding which Planned Parenthood and other abortion mega-providers will receive annually. He has ended the federal ban on embryonic stem cell research. And these concrete examples are only those which come immediately to mind.

    I was at the debate on life issues between Dr. Kmiec and Dr. Robert George at the National Press Club here in Washington DC earlier this summer. At one point, Dr. George asked Dr. Kmiec to name a single pro-life initiative that Dr. Kmiec knew Mr. Obama has proposed or supported. Dr. Kmiec could not. Several months down the road, there is still nothing one can point to. There is even more one can point to as evidence that Mr. Obama is not pro-life or pro-marriage. He has never made any secret of his pro-abortion stance. It is pitiful to defend someone who sees no point in defending himself on these and other issues.

    This interview is also pitiful, as are the continued attempts by pro-Obama Catholics who try to argue that Mr. Obama - despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary - is a pro-life politician, or is a good example of a "catechism come to life." But Dr. Kmiec and his friends have learned that the best way to lie, is to repeat the lie.

    And so, here we are, with more lies, or at least delusion.

    Either way, I hope that sane individuals who have witnessed Kmiec's meltdown are taking note.

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    Thursday, September 03, 2009

    Rewarded: Doug Kmiec gets his send-off to Malta

    Douglas Kmiec, Obama's most devoted Catholic defender, was sworn-in yesterday as Obama's new ambassador to the Catholic country of Malta, and Dan Gilgoff was there.

    As Gilgoff says, "The Obama administration's faith outreach operation can make for some pretty bizarre scenes."

    It also provides an opportunity for Kmiec to utter some pretty bizarre lines, like this one: "We live at a time when even at some great universities, a spirit of narrow-mindedness sets in over a spirit of inquiry."

    In this case, the "spirit of inquiry" that inspired Mr. Kmiec to support Barack Obama for President, has - lest we forget - resulted in not a single discernible step towards building a culture of life in this country, despite all of Mr. Kmiec's promises that Obama would do this. 

    Instead, Obama has subsidized foreign abortions with our tax money, is attempting to "mainstream" abortion funding in his health care plans, will allow hundreds of millions of dollars to go to abortion providers like Planned Parenthood, and has not introduced any sort of conscience protection for Catholic health care providers and doctors. And that's just a sample. I'm not even talking about euthanasia and same-sex marriage, also core issues of Catholic concern.

    Of course, pointing out these sorts of facts does not get you an ambassadorship to Malta.

    I'm just too "narrow-minded" to deserve that, I guess.

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    Wednesday, July 08, 2009

    Kmiec gets a cold reception; Malta picks up on previous rumors

    I have to wonder how Malta - a proudly Catholic county - feels about getting Doug Kmiec as their U.S. ambassador

    The Malta Today, for instance, over the weekend picked-up on previously-reported rumors published by the Catholic News Agency that Kmiec was refused as Holy See ambassador before getting Malta as a second-pick (ph/t: Catholic Culture).

    In other news, Wales is reportedly displeased with the recently-announced assignment of Richard Rich as its new attorney general.

    update: in support of my claims here, CNA notes "Maltese newspaper editor comments on Kmiec’s proposed ambassadorship" saying Kmiec is "somewhat of a poisoned chalice".

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    Thursday, July 02, 2009

    Breaking: Doug Kmiec appointed ambassador to Malta

    That is what Catholic News Service is currently claiming via Twitter.

    Malta sounds like a fun vacation spot. Kmiec is at long last getting his payback from the Obama administration for his protracted support.
    Of course, Malta is a 98% Catholic country which bans abortion and protects marriage by law. Since Kmiec is good at catching the drift of the prevailing winds, Malta actually seems like a good choice for his exile. It'll be easy for him to argue the status quo.

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    Friday, May 29, 2009

    Video & Text from George/Kmiec debate

    For Robert George's text: "Obama and His Pro-Life Apologists".

    For C-SPAN video of the entire debate: CLICK HERE.

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    Thursday, May 28, 2009

    Live Coverage: Robby George of APP debates Doug Kmiec

    I am at the National Press Club live-twitteringa debate between Robert George and Douglas Kmiec on the topic "The Obama Administration and the Sanctity of Human Life: Is There a Common Ground on Life Issues?, What is the Right Response by 'Pro-Life' Citizens?".

    So please follow my live AmP twitter updates here. I may also update this post below.


    A live feed of the event may also be here or here.

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    Wednesday, May 27, 2009

    Live Coverage: Doug Kmiec, Abp. Dolan, Robby George, Mary Ann Glendon

    Tomorrow (Thursday) will be an incredibly busy day of AmP live-blogging/twittering.
    Starting at 9:30 AM I will be covering a symposium hosted by CUA's School of Law, starting with Archbishop of New York Timothy Dolan, then at 10:00AM the keynote address of Mary Ann Glendon.
    In the afternoon, at 1:35PM I will be covering the keynote address of Prof. Robert George, Director of the Madison Program at Princeton University and the founder of the American Principles Project, and perhaps sticking around for the closing remarks of Archbishop of Washington Donald Wuerl at 3:30PM.
    At 4:15PM I will be at the public launch of the American Principles Project event in downtown Washington DC.
    Promptly at 5:00PM I will be live-blogging an extremely important debate between Doug Kmiec and Robert George at the National Press Club on the topic: "The Obama Administration and the Sanctity of Human Life: Is There a Common Ground on Life Issues?, What is the Right Response by 'Pro-Life' Citizens?"
    The debate will be moderated by Mary Ann Glendon and will conclude at 6:30PM.
    As you can see, it's going to be an extremely full day. Keep it tuned here and over at my AmP Twitter page for the latest updates. And please spread the word among those who might be interested in these topics.

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    Tuesday, April 28, 2009

    Cardinal Rigali:"The truth is the opposite" in response to Doug Kmiec column in CNS

    It was news to me that Kmiec even had a regular column at the Catholic News Service.

    Jack Smith at the Catholic Key blog says I'm not alone in having missed this embarassing collaboration:
    "Many are surprised to find that Doug Kmiec has a regular column for the bishops' Catholic News Service. He has had one for quite some time and for quite some time it was the best column available at CNS.

    Then Kmiec's original candidate for president, Mitt Romney, failed and the rest of Kmiec and his column's history has been a spectacle of descent into self-absorption and shameless apologetic for President Obama's anti-life policies."
    And now he's got himself into real trouble:

    "Apparently [Kmiec] went too far last week with his column titled, and I'm not kidding, "New ethically sensitive stem-cell guidance from the Obama administration". Cardinal Rigali as head of the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities has responded with his own column this week."
    Cardinal Rigali begins (read the full article HERE):
    "Law professor Douglas Kmiec states in an opinion piece distributed by Catholic News Service that the new policy is “ethically sensitive” and in important respects “more strict” than President George W. Bush’s policy that preceded it.

    The truth is the opposite."
    Note two things: 1} Cardinal Rigali points out that our own Catholic News Service assisted in disseminating Kmiec's writing (ouch!). 2} Cardinal Rigali could not be "punchier" in his flat disagreement with Kmiec:

    "Kmiec says the new guidelines are limited to embryos created for fertility treatment that “would have been discarded if not devoted to medical research.”

    That is also not true."

    Double "punchier" ouch!
    Cardinal Rigali actually published his response in CNS as well. LifeSite's Kathleen Gilbert caught up with him recently and interviewed him about the Notre Dame siutation, which he says "evades common sense".

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    Monday, April 20, 2009

    Kmiec cites fictitious quotation from St. Thomas More

    Pseudonymous blogger "Thomas More" doesn't appreciate it when posturing Catholic academics quote fictitiously from famous Catholic martyrs:

    "I recently watched the Dr. Doug Kmiec and Dr. Hadley Arkes debate [video here] that happened a month ago at Villanova. One of the debaters, Dr. Kmiec, engaged in one of my most disliked pet peeves; quoting the fictional St. Thomas More."

    This is a terrible injustice to the legacy of St. Thomas More, who was most upright in enforcing the law of men and God. You see, St. Thomas More informed by his Catholic conscience would know that abortion is murder. He would punish those guilty of abortion as committing a crime. Indeed, he took great pride in his defense of the faith, including punishing heretics with the force of law. Does this sound like a man who would just let the current administration's endorsement and funding of abortion as a good just slide? St. Thomas More stood against the King of England, a.k.a. the sovereign of England, and willingly lost his head for Christian Marriage and papal authority.

    It's sad that Kmiec has to go to a movie adaptation of a saint's life to find agreement with his views.

    What's next, words of wisdom from the Gospel according to Jesus Christ Superstar?!

    Meanwhile, Robert George has answered Kmiec's latest prevarications in a brutally-complete way.

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    Friday, April 17, 2009

    Video: Colbert interviews Kmiec

    Just went live on the Comedy Central website:
    The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
    Douglas Kmiec
    Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorNASA Name Contest

    I'll watch it over my lunch break, if I have time.

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    Doug Kmiec was on Colbert Last Night

    I forgot and didn't get to see it - did you?

    I'll embed the video once it is (legally) online.

    update: I'll be posting the video at 11:30am EST. So check back then!

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    Monday, April 06, 2009

    Video: Hadley Arkes debates Doug Kmiec

    From Moral Accountability:

    The Matthew J. Ryan Center at Villanova University has posted the video recordings of the Cicero Podium Debate between Professor Hadley Arkes (Amherst College) and Professor Douglas Kmiec (Pepperdine Law School). This event took place on February 13, 2009.

    Part I:

    Part II:

    I hope to have a chance to watch some of it later this evening.

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    Thursday, April 02, 2009

    WaPo Op-Ed: Does Obama risk losing Catholics?

    Finally some mainstream awareness that Obama is no friend of the Catholic Church, despite what he says:

    [During the November election,] a number of Catholic thinkers set out a "pro-life, pro-Obama" position -- disagreeing with Obama's pro-choice views but trusting in his moderate instincts and conciliatory temperament.

    So far, Obama has done little to justify this faith. His initial actions on life issues -- funding overseas abortion providers, removing restrictions from federally funded medical experimentation on human embryos, revisiting conscience protections for pro-life health-care professionals -- have ranged from conventional to radical. And this may be one reason Obama's support among Catholics has eroded

    ... Catholics are having second thoughts, but it could get much worse. If the president and Congress are not careful on several issues, these concerns could open a major rift between the Catholic Church and the Democratic Party.

    ... Obama's Catholic supporters would feel betrayed and discredited -- and rightly so. The Catholic hierarchy and Catholic health professionals would feel assaulted by the president -- and they would be correct. And President Obama would not need to worry about future invitations from Notre Dame. - Michael Gerson in The Washington Post

    Mind you - there's another alternative: Obama and the democrats could seriously revisit their commitment to abortion "rights."

    In the meantime, the Church is not backing down. And she has a good history of not blinking.

    Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal details the fine work of (to which I contributed during the election as a blogger) and other online innitiatives promoting a culture of life online.

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    Saturday, March 21, 2009

    Robby George challenges Doug Kmiec to Public Debate on Cloning

    Dan Gilgoff has been publishing an email exchange between "conservative Catholic legal scholars Robby George and Doug Kmiec over whether President Obama's executive order on embryonic stem cell research authorizes federally funded human cloning."

    At the end of this (progressively more frustrating) correspondence, Robby issues a gentleman's challenge:

    Given what is at stake for the cause of human life in President Obama's new policy, Doug, I invite you to debate me on the question: "Did President Obama Prohibit Human Cloning?" I would be happy to host the debate here in Princeton, and pay all expenses for your travel, etc. Alternatively, I will be happy to come to Pepperdine at your convenience and at my own expense, if you would prefer that. Or I could make arrangements for us to debate the question in Washington, DC or any other city that is convenient for you (again, covering your expenses). Perhaps we could hold the debate at the USCCB [United States Conference of Catholic Bishops] or at CUA [The Catholic University of America], where we both have many friends and where our discussion would, I'm sure, draw many of our fellow Catholics. I will be happy to take care of the arrangements; all you need do is show up and present your arguments. It is very important for our fellow citizens to know whether or not President Obama prohibited human cloning, and to understand exactly what his policy is on the creation of new human beings by SCNT and other methods to be destroyed in federally funded biomedical research in the embryonic stage of development. A public debate between us would, I'm sure, help to enhance public understanding. I sincerely hope you will consider and accept.

    Given how it impossible it seems for Kmiec to debate rationally these topics (having read this most recent exchange of his), I have dim hopes of him accepting. I'm surprised, in fact, that he was willing to go head-to-head with Robby in a quasi-public forum in the first place. Maybe he thought he would fare better if he was given the time to prepare his remarks in advance. If so, I think he was mistaken.
    At any rate, it will be interesting to see how he declines, presuming he does.

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    Thursday, March 12, 2009

    Oh *come on*, Kmiec!

    Quit dragging your faith into everything (including the mud), stop making interminable excuses for your woefully ill-considered support of Barack Obama as a "pro-life" candidate, and -finally- cease trying to honestly make us believe that forcing taxpayers to fund groups that promote and perform abortions abroad is a pro-life move.

    I've spilt my ink on Kmiec, but at this point, he seems convinced that he can win this debate by talking-over-and-longer-than everyone else. Well, if he wants to respond to the arguments raised against his positions, we'll talk. I'd be happy to debate him, in fact. My email is public.

    In the meantime, however, I've stopped listening. I'm too busy trying to build an authentic culture of life with whatever meager means are at my disposal to patiently defuse another of Kmiec's thought-bombs.

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    Thursday, March 05, 2009

    Kmiec brilliantly defends the Church's teaching on same-sex marriage .... not

    Instead he tries to broker a deal that sells Catholic teaching far short:

    One conservative constitutional scholar has said that the court could both affirm its historic May 15 ruling giving gays equality and uphold Proposition 8 by requiring the state to use a term other than "marriage" and apply it to all couples, gay and straight.

    "The alternatives are for the court to accept Proposition 8 and authorize the people to rewrite the Constitution in a way that undermines a basic principle of equality," said Pepperdine law professor Douglas Kmiec. If the court overturns Proposition 8, "that is the short course toward impeachment."

    ...Kmiec, a Catholic, said he reluctantly voted for Proposition 8 "because of the instructions of my faith community" but felt "entirely unsatisfied" with the outcome. (LA Times)

    Let's just draw out what Kmiec is actually saying:

    • He's offering a purely semantic solution, as if that would satisfy either side
    • If homosexuals can't marry, Kmiec says, that undermines a basic principle of equality
    • Kmiec reluctantly follows the teaching of the Church and finds its guidance "entirely unsatisfy[ing]"

    I'll just let his own words stick to him.

    Meanwhile, justices in California are arguments "for and against the validity of the controversial November ballot measure that barred same-sex unions in California by declaring marriage only for a man and a woman." (Saramento Bee).

    I guess Kmiec is more liberal than Cardinal Mahony on this issue. That's quite an accomplishment.

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    Wednesday, March 04, 2009

    Breaking: Abp. Naumann responds to Sebelius appointment/Brownback endorsement

    John Norton at Our Sunday Visitor has an excellent, timely interview with Abp. Naumann on Kathleen Sebelius and Senator Brownback, etc. Some pull quotes follow.

    On Sebelius' claims of a "pro-life" record:

    Archbishop Naumann: I think that’s very, very dishonest and not at all accurate. It’s true that abortion dropped during her term as governor but I don’t think she really had anything to do with it, although she likes to take credit for it. And in fact, during that time she vetoed measures that could have helped prevent abortion.
    On Obama's choice to pick Sebelius, and Sen Brownback's going along with it:

    I personally find it offensive that he would choose a pro-legalized-abortion Catholic to head this office. I think, as I interpret Sen. [Sam ] Brownback’s and Sen. [Pat] Roberts’ support of sorts for the nomination — it’s simply saying we elected President Obama with the positions he took. We can’t expect that he’s going to appoint someone to these cabinet positions that do not share his views. And in a sense I can understand that. When there is a pro-life president, we resent if there is an effort to try to prevent the president from appointing people who share his vision. So, I can understand why they might acquiesce, I guess, is the best way to put it, to her appointment.

    Finally, as a bonus, what he thinks of the organization Catholics United:

    Archbishop Naumann: I don’t think they have much impact and I don’t pay much attention to them personally. And I think from what you just read, they’re either not very honest or they’re not very competent in the research that they do.
    Actually, they're both: competent and dishonest. They know what they are doing.

    Also, on a related note, Matt Bowman has an excellent article in the American Spectator today:

    But the most intriguing component of Sebelius's nomination is her Catholicism. Not that Catholic abortion supporters are rare -- see Obama's failed nominee to HHS, Tom Daschle. But Sebelius is significant as an attempt by Obama to foment a civil war within Catholicism to neutralize its pro-life efforts.

    Like a shrewd general, Obama is using Catholics themselves as his ground troops.
    Two dozen prominent Obama supporters quickly launched a letter supporting Sebelius, and claiming that they are Catholic and pro-life. The letter's signers are the same liberal Obama Pro-Lifers from his presidential campaign, led by Professor Doug Kmiec and the Soros-funded group "Catholics United."

    The first step to responding to these sorts of attacks is to realize that one is being attacked. Kmiec, Sebelius, et al. are making a concerted effort to destroy the connection between being Catholic and pro-life.

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    Monday, February 23, 2009

    Kmiec's epic fail in Time magazine

    When I found out Doug Kmiec had shot out an article for Time magazine in the wake of Pelosi's meeting with Pope Benedict, I geared myself up for yet another point-by-point critique of his flawed arguments.

    This time, however, I don't even need to take the trouble, because the entire premise of Kmiec's latest piece is factually in error. To see why, first I will summarize Kmiec's argument.

    Kmiec says:

    "If you read [the pope's statement to pelosi] carefully, the statement is actually quite radical — perhaps unintentionally so. The brief message — just two short paragraphs — draws no distinction between the moral duties of Catholic policymakers and Catholic judges to work against abortion.

    As a lifelong Catholic, Pelosi could not feign surprise at being called upon by the Church to use her gift for persuasion to restrict abortion legislatively, or at least not to be its advocate. But until now, the Church had not formally instructed judges in a similar fashion. As written, the Pope's statement has the potential, at least theoretically, to empty the U.S. Supreme Court of all five of its Catholic jurists and perhaps all other Catholics who sit on the bench in the lower federal and state courts."

    Kmiec spends the rest of his time flushing out the implications of Pope Benedict's supposed admonition to "jurists" telling them to, in Kmiec's words "undertake an activist, law-changing role."

    Out of this mistaken interpretation, Kmiec tries to create a lose-lose scenario where jurists are stuck between the rock of Peter and the hard place of their judicial oath.

    Kmiec next handily provides a solution to his self-created dilemma, saying the Vatican should renege its statement and re-introduce the distinction between jurists and legislators.

    .... now comes the reality check: the Vatican statement does include the necessary distinction in terminology.

    From an AmP source with extensive experience in Italian legal matters:

    "... giuristia is not the word an Italian author would use when referring to a judge. He would use giudice. A giurista is someone who attends to he law as a matter of profession, most frequently a lawyer, or a professor of law. But a giudice is a magistrate who evaluates the merits of an argument in a case or controversy.

    In American law, distinctions between words carry great significance; and in Vatican press releases, the spokesmen for the Holy See select their words very carefully. In this instance, the press office elected to use the more vague term giuristi rather than the specific term giudici. However, Kmiec misses this critical distinction."

    Kmiec's "missing" of this critical distinction creates his entire argument. Consequently, once it is made clear that the Vatican did use its words right, Kmiec is left out in the cold, actually saying nothing.
    Re-reading Kmiec's piece then becomes comical once you realize his premise is false: the statement is not, in fact, "quite radical - perhaps intentionally so" ... it is actually quite logical -intentionally so. The statement is not a "sharp break with the past." The Church's teaching is aware that the responsibility to defend life ought to be "applied in light of the scope of office."
    Proceeding in the same vein, someone in the Vatican office did not "in the rush of the event [...] mistakenly included the judicial terminology" ... it was Kmiec who, in the rush of trying to publish in Time, didn't bother to double-check his Italian-language comprehension skills.
    (.. and this is the man who hopes to become the U.S. ambassador to the Holy See?!)
    So, if Kmiec hasn't actually illumined a "surprising" and "overlooked" aspect of this recent statement, what can we learn from his writing?
    I'd offer this observation: Kmiec is predisposed to seeing difficulty and crisis whenever one attempts to bring one's Catholic faith into politics. Because of this pessimism, his initial reaction to the Holy See's communique was not to check his translation or try to understand what the Holy See was saying, but instead to criticize it and call on them to change.
    In reality, however, the Church's admonition to public servants is reasonable, is informed, and is livable.
    You just have to give it a chance - and yes, even pull out your English-Italian dictionary once in awhile.

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    Tuesday, February 17, 2009

    A critique of more weak Kmiec speak

    Don't let the cutesy blog title fool you, keeping tabs on Kmiec is always serious business. Kmiec, of course, is the most prominent "pro-life" Catholic supporter of Barack Obama. What has Kmiec been up to lately?

    Back in late January, Kmiec explained his abortion views at a Pepperdine faith forum. He confirmed once again that "he thinks his name may possibly be considered for the position of Vatican Emissary in Obama's administration."

    Kmiec seemed to suggest that he believes in delayed hominization (underlining mine):
    "Abortion is an intrinsic evil that can be justified under no circumstances. The Church takes the position it does … not because of the Bible - although it believes in the inerrancy of the Bible - but also … as a matter of objective scientific fact that this human zygote is human, and if you don't interfere with it, it will become a person, and by virtue of that, it's entitled to legal protection."
    The Church does not teach when the zygote becomes a human person, but it does teach that the zygote ought to be treated "as a human person" from the first moment of its conception. It does not say that the zygote becomes a human person at some later stage of development, as Kmiec does here.

    One freshmen seemed to get what continues to escape Kmiec:
    "What really stood out to me was hearing … that Obama wanted to limit abortions, [when] that very day, the Mexico City Policy was reversed," said [Seaver freshman Mimi] Rothfus.
    Yes, reality can have a harsh ring to it sometimes.
    On the 10th, Kmiec published an article in Sojourners, talking about Obama's new Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. He says "President Obama is off to a fine start." I have so much to say here, but will limit myself to one quotation:
    "Many Catholics, including myself, were disappointed by the president’s reversal of the Mexico City executive order, which blocked foreign aid to groups that include abortion referrals among their health services. The president’s rationale was motivated by Third World conditions, and we need to ask ourselves how we in opposition would formulate an answer for the millions of non-Catholics who were at risk of fatal illness in developing countries for lack of non-abortifacient, contraceptive services that were swept within the previous policy."

    Wrapped up in this dense block of verbiage is a very simple message: third world countries need contraceptives, Kmiec thinks. He evidently needs to review his Church teaching: artificial contraception is universally wrong, based on the natural law. It's not just wrong for Catholics, ergo, Catholics ought not promote artificial contraception to anyone.

    Also on the 10th, Kmiec published an article in the National Catholic Reporter. The substance:

    Today the church has strategically (might it be said, prudentially in light of the perspectives of other faiths?) chosen to take incremental steps to conform human law to God’s, and perhaps that means that all of us -- the church included -- need to more charitably assess efforts to promote the choice for life premised upon social and economic support. Such support, at a minimum, should physically and materially strengthen the community, and perhaps an economically recovered America will also be spiritually revived such that the Supreme Court will once again describe us, as it did pre-Roe, as a “religious people whose institutions presuppose the existence of a Supreme Being.”
    Once again I find myself mystified by a Kmiec argument. The fact of the matter is that under the Obama administration we can look forward to a farther widinening gap between God's law and human law on the issue of abortion. The legal limitations set on abortion will be gradually rolled back. Obama has promised this. Furthermore, I see no guarantee that economic prosperity will cause spiritual rebirth. Typically, it would seem to me, the opposite is the case. Finally, Kmiec's wait-and-see approach is a very handy way to dismiss opposition to Obama's here-and-now problematic solutions (e.g., reducing problem pregnancies by expanding contraceptive access).
    I predict that as Obama's presidency continues, and as he is allowed to implement more of his program, Kmiec's tenuous arguments will continue to appear more and more threadbare. Kmiec will, as a result, be forced to more desperately stretch his rhetorical justifications over the contradictions between what Obama is actually doing, and what Kmiec would have us believe he is about.

    Finally, last week, on the 12th, Kmiec had a public debate with Hadley Arkes at Villanova University. I'm trying to track down a report of how it went down.
    And that's the "weak Kmiec speak" news.

    update: Adam Raha at Sober Inebriation:
    Upon contacting Villanova University, I was told by Anne Hischar that the debate will be aired in its entirety online at in about two weeks.

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    Friday, January 23, 2009

    Kmiec claims consideration for Vatican diplomatic post

    Kmiec is in snug with Obama, as his university's newspaper is eager to make clear:

    Pepperdine School of Law's Douglas Kmiec, professor of constitutional law and advisor to Obama's presidential campaign, was especially privileged with proximity to the new president during inauguration festivities. Following a national day of service in honor of Martin Luther King Jr., Kmiec and his wife Carol attended a private worship service with Obama on Tuesday morning, as well as the Illinois inaugural ball in the evening.

    Oh, and that ambassador job he's denied having any interest in (underlining mine)?
    Kmiec.... confirmed that Obama may be considering appointing him to the position of Vatican Emissary."The President is nowhere close to determining such things because of the order of events … everyone's first order of business is economic recovery," Kmiec said. "At the appropriate time, when diplomatic relations through the State Department need to be addressed, I think my name would be part of the discussion."
    Well, I guess he actually was.

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    Tuesday, January 13, 2009

    An open letter to Doug Kmiec (on behalf of the “right-wing Catholic blogosphere”)

    Doug Kmiec has published a lengthy article in Commonweal accusing the “right-wing Catholic blogosphere” of perpetrating “unrelenting personal attacks” upon him during the Presidential election cycle.

    He calls these conservative Catholic blogs his “online tormentors” comprising a “hate-filled blogosphere” who practice a “politics of odium” and are “preoccupied with demonizing” him, thereby “spinning a web of pervasive falsehood” without even “[indulging] a microsecond of charitable thought before hitting the send button.”

    These are very harsh words. Indeed, they are about as harsh as the language he accuses the “right wing Catholic blogosphere” of using when they have criticized him.

    Because Kmiec also lumps-in conservative Catholic bloggers in his accusations, and I am myself a conservative Catholic blogger with a sizable readership, I am issuing a public correction in response to his article. I have mentioned Kmiec by name in almost one-hundred blog posts during the election cycle so am well-informed about the situation, which is in dire need of a reality check after Kmiec’s misleading narration.

    At the outset, Kmiec makes no distinction between the reasonable criticisms his arguments have received from the shrill hip-shots that also make their way into the blogosphere. Hyperbolic fluff has always been part of the background noise of the blogosphere, but to equate that with the excellent Catholic journalism represented in many blogs is the worst sort of overgeneralizing. It is like complaining that “the press” is persecuting you, and then proceeding to quote exclusively from the National Enquirer gossip pages.

    So who exactly are these “right-wing Catholic bloggers”? Is Kmiec referring to popular bloggers such as Amy Welborn, Jeff Miller, Steven Gredanus, Mark Shea, Carl Olson, Fr. John Zuhlsdorf, myself (all of whom have blogged about Kmiec)? Together these figures represent a heavy proportion of the Catholic blogosphere’s readership, and yet, having read practically every post they have written on Kmiec, I’m hard pressed to think of a single example of rank uncharity in them. Indeed, I doubt a single one of Kmiec’s infamous quotations will be found on their published pages.

    What does that leave? Comment boxes and smaller blogs. Now make no mistake, I’m not denigrating smaller blogs – there are real gems out there and I read many of them. Neither am I defending the uncharitable comments that have doubtlessly been made. But what Kmiec has in essence done is to complain about any instance of uncharity in the blogosphere. Considering how easy it is to publish a blog, it is almost like criticizing free speech. Kmiec is asking that we shut down (or criticize heavily) an open room of vocal Catholics because of a few hecklers.

    Kmiec’s choice to only call out the hecklers has allowed him to avoid other legitimate, constructive criticisms of his position. Here he has perfected the art of misdirection by turning the debate away from the issues onto the personal hurt he feels he has received.

    For someone who “never thought it was mainly about [him]”, Kmiec spends most of the time talking about himself, long after he apparently gave up pursuing an open debate in a public forum (or any even playing field). Instead he has chosen to portray himself as some sort of martyr in his Catholic support for Obama.

    This is exceedingly strange to me, because a universal trait of martyrs is that they do not complain about or bring attention to the fact that they are martyrs. And yet Kmiec says: “I have at times considered the blog calumnies hurled at me as penance for occasions when I have put on a bit of a false front.” Far from offering this persecution up, Kmiec has chosen to wear it on his sleeve. He misses no opportunities of mentioning a time he was denied Communion for his public stance (a decision I condemned) and the loss of many friendships he has suffered (should not that at least give one pause?).

    I do not have equal space to respond to each of Kmiec’s claims, but I can briefly respond to a few of them to provide a sense for how he is misrepresenting the true state of affairs.

    First, FOCA is not a “wedge” issue between the Church and the incoming Obama administration, as Kmiec asserts. Obama is on record promising that he would sign it into law. Such a statement reveals the President-elect’s character and priorities. If Obama does not support FOCA, he should not have promised to sign it into law. But you will find no instance of Kmiec admitting that either Obama lied (or pandered) to his supporters or Obama really is so extreme in his support of unrestricted access to abortion.

    Second, Pope Benedict does not have to personally tell someone to remove a page from their book for them to know their presentation of Church teaching is misleading. Kmiec’s offer to do so is absurd because it will never be taken up, for such interventions are not the task of the pope. It is, however, the responsibility of local bishops to speak out when they think clarification is needed, and yet every time a bishop has done so, Kmiec has either disagreed with them or ignored them. Indeed, dozens of bishops have called into question Kmiec’s distinctive arguments for how a Catholic can support Obama, but unless such admonitions bear the papal seal, Kmiec evidently feels free to disregard it.

    Third, Kmiec tries to portray episcopal disagreement with his positions as always a case of misunderstanding or prejudice (aided by that tireless machine of right-wing propaganda, the conservative Catholic blogosphere, Kmiec would claim). In fact, one of Kmiec’s detractors with the highest visibility (as well as the author of a New York Times’ bestselling book on the subject of faithful citizenship), Archbishop Charles Chaput, can hardly be described as ignorant of American political history, reality, or Kmiec’s own position. How does Kmiec respond to this sort of criticism? Again, not with counter-arguments, but with cries of “foul!”. I could go on, but these cases begin to establish a pattern of obfuscation.

    In fact, one faces a daunting task when trying to discover any sort of sustained argumentation from Kmiec in his latest Commonweal piece. His claim that he remains “unabashedly prolife” simply cannot stand on its own when he supports a President with a 100% rating from NARAL, who promises his supporters to sign into law FOCA, and has demonstrated no desire to undermine the judicially-established and morally repugnant right to abortion in this country. And when Kmiec relates tales of meeting Obama and having the future President say that he was “left empty until he knelt before the Cross”, and that Kmiec believed him, I am left thinking, “well, that’s wonderful, but Obama will elect pro-abortion supreme court justices.” And regardless, Obama’s personal confessions of spirituality are not an argument, and they will not help the cause of defending unborn life in America.

    The preceding is just a taste of the reality check I believe is necessary after Kmiec’s charges. The Catholic blogosphere he describes is something completely alien to my experience, and only exists to the degree that mold clings to a tree. The idea, for instance, that the Catholic blogosphere is too busy demonizing their “brothers and sisters in Christ” who voted for Obama that they take no time to give other matters competent discussion is simply preposterous. Someone who has evidently kept such a close track of the Catholic blogosphere should know better than that. Most Catholic bloggers have moved on and are sincerely, energetically, attempting to continue defending the cause of unborn life as best they can. Kmiec, in contrast, is still nursing old wounds by rubbing off the scabs.

    This observation about different perspectives yields my last point. I am willing to admit that some individuals have been too energetic in their condemnation of Kmiec’s positions (I have also argued that they constitute a slim minority when compared to the mainline critique), but Kmiec never seems aware that the motivation behind their over-zealousness is, on the whole, a pure one: they really care about the babies. They really think the babies are more in danger as a result of Kmiec’s support for a candidate who does not believe, as Catholics do, that babies must be protected inside the womb.

    Kmiec ends his article by quoting Obama about the necessity of applying the golden rule. I find such a move ironic after Kmiec has spent pages grossly misrepresenting and unfairly describing plenty of sincere souls. One would think he did not even indulge a microsecond of charitable thought before hitting the send button (his words). But what is worse is that he did, and I hope that readers will take more than a microsecond in forming their opinion of what he (and I) have said. But I'll try to give this discussion a little nudge forward....

    If Kmiec is so concerned with setting the record straight for posterity (as well as the immediate four-to-eight years ahead), I will offer this: I readily condemn the calumnies he has undergone by the nameless bloggers. He is, of course, also more than welcome to read through the almost one-hundred posts I have written which mention him to see if I am ever guilty of the same. But I ask for this response: that he apologize for the overgeneralizing and wild mischaracterization he has perpetrated against the “right-wing Catholic blogosphere”, who, in my estimation, have actually shown an admirable restraint in their dealings with someone that they genuinely believe is endangering unborn lives and setting a dangerous example of Catholic voting in U.S. democratic elections to come. It is time for Doug Kmiec to practice the golden rule he preaches. +++

    update: I am heavily quoted today by CNA on this topic: "Catholic bloggers respond to Kmiec criticism."

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    Tuesday, November 25, 2008

    Kmiec for Vatican Ambassador?

    A double dose of stupid this week from Michael Sean Winters.

    Last Friday I took apart Winters' attempt to claim that Tom Daschle's appointment as Secretary of HHS was a "step in the right direction."

    Now I find that Winters is arguing that Doug Kmiec would be a good choice (indeed, the "perfect candidate") for US ambassador to the Vatican.
    Oh boy, here we go again. Luckily, we don't have to go far....

    Longtime associates of Professor Kmiec denounced him, often in ways that lacked all charity, suggesting bad logic or bad motives or both. There is no better way to answer those who argued that no Catholic could vote for Obama in good conscience than to see the man who wrote the book (literally!) defending the proposition that Catholics can and should vote for Obama being received in the Sala Clementina by Pope Benedict XVI!

    Winters implies that "longtime associates" turned on Kmiec. In fact, Kmiec turned on them. Kmiec turned himself around several times. For instance, after originally supporting the Republican Mitt Romney, Kmiec then supported Obama. After originally claiming "beyond life issues", Obama was a good choice for Catholics, Kmiec went on to claim the Obama was the natural choice, "upon even a moment's reflection." In other words, which side in this debate has been "longtime" in their position? That's right - not Kmiec.

    As for the "lacking all charity" jab, Kmiec continually hides behind a smokescreen of holier-than-thouness, without ever engaging his opponents in substance. In fact, Kmiec's normal tactic is to claim that anyone criticizing him, de facto, must be speaking uncharitably. The reality that the criticism might be founded in reason and fact, seems to conveniently escape him. Having watched this debate closely, most interlocutors seemed to be trying their best to reach Kmiec, scratching their heads all the while. They've demonstrated an over-abundance of charity, considering they are dealing with someone who they genuinely believe is undermining the cause of defending unborn life in our country.

    And it is so untrue for Winters to claim that the Kmiec-critique contained "bad logic, bad motives or both." In fact, Kmiec seemed to run from a debate with intellectual Catholics whenever he could. He refused to publicly dialogue with bishops, he continually turned down opportunities to debate his position with prominent pro-life Catholics, opting instead for a well-funded, whirlwind tour of Catholic campuses where he rallied for Obama. Controlled Q&A sessions with liberal undergraduates is not where you test the mettle of your position. And shilling for a candidate who raised the ire of an unprecedented number of American bishops is not good credentials for a diplomatic appointment to the Holy See.

    Oh, and Winters last claim that Pope Benedict's meeting with Kmiec would somehow be an endorsement of Kmiec's position is simply ludicrous. The Pope takes what he gets, and I'd love to see Winters come out and say that the Pope's meeting with Mary Ann Glendon (the current Republican ambassador) is somehow an endorsement of her entire public career. For someone who claims so much knowledge of what the position of ambassador entails, it's amazing that he would have these sort of blindspots still.

    ... okay, that's just one short paragraph of Winter's post that I've decided to answer.

    Winters similarly displays a certain unexplainable myopia in his presentation of the situation. Again:

    Notwithstanding the sparring over abortion, Kmiec’s influence in the campaign grew from there – helping the campaign draft platform language supporting economic assistance that would encourage the decision of a pregnant woman to choose life, writing his book explaining why Obama might be voted for in good conscience (the book ranked #1 for a number of weeks in its category on Amazon), and then personally carrying the message to the battleground states of Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Michigan.

    I have to wonder where Winters is getting his statistics. Currently Kmiec is ranked #31 in Political Reference and #59 in Government Elections. By contrast, Archbishop Charles Chaput's book, Render Unto Caesar, which I have talked about often and represents the most comprehensive, authoritative refutation of Kmiec's argument, is currently (still!) #1 in Catholic Inspirational, #1 in Roman Catholicism, and #1 in Church & State.

    If Winters is really serious in claiming that Amazon rankings are a measure of the influence and level of acceptance an individual's arguments merit ... well, Catholics who are reading, read Chaput, not Kmiec.

    A final observation:

    Kmiec has shown no interest in an administration appointment.

    What sort of interest should Kmiec show? When was the last time, when asked, anyone being considered for a post said "yes, I'd be thrilled to accept it, and eager"? Again, Winters says things he presumes are arguments, but upon reflection, turn out to actually be counter-arguments.

    In other words, if Kmiec is uninterested in an appointment, he has a very funny way of showing it - because throwing oneself into the pro-Obama movement is an unlikely way to remain hidden from view in an Obama administration (which would make Winters wrong). And if Kmiec is interested in an appointment ... well, everything he has done makes sense, and, again, Winters is wrong.

    Regardless of what happens to Kmiec, it's encouraging to see that Winters is already laying the groundwork for his canonization cause. In the meantime, Kmiec should focus on fixing his credentials.

    update: I'm not surprised and pleased to see that a certain official of the Vatican's Secretary of State agrees with me.

    [photo credit: ProLifeProObama]

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    Friday, November 07, 2008

    On letting Doug Kmiec have it

    Many, many people are tiring of Doug Kmiec's incessant need to argue against people while never actually responding to the substance of their counter-arguments. Kmiec also displays an incredible presumption whenever he claims to be more concerned about the lives of America's unborn than our very own bishops. (I mean - really? - what do they have to gain? Not much. What do you have to gain? Well, apparently something you find very worth it.)

    Archbishop Chaput charitably responds to Doug Kmiec's open letter to him, corrects Kmiec's claim that they are friends ("[we] have had little contact in the past"), notes that there are "serious falsehoods and misdirections in Prof. Kmiec's ''prolife'' advocacy for Sen. Obama" and concludes by saying "I look forward eagerly to Prof. Kmiec's vocal advocacy against these profoundly unjust policies" in the future Obama administration.

    In other words - the ball is in Kmiec's court, so he should take some time off from the lecture circuit if that's what it takes to free up his schedule to purse the reduction in abortions he has promised under an Obama presidency. Fumare, however, sees something else in Kmiec's future:

    What will be Kmiec's reward from Obama's New Hope America? My guess: He will head up a new "pro-life" special commission in the Obama administration that will be charged with the task of "reducing abortions, by reducing unwanted pregnancies."

    It will be the equivalent of the Faith Based Initiatives program - a program that made it seem like the Bush Administration was pro-Christian, but was intended to do nothing except keep the Evangelicals in the Bush camp. This new "Pro-Life" program will serve to do the same thing for the Obama Pro-Lifers: keep them in the Obama camp for 8 years.

    Ross Douthat tries to give Kmiec the best possible read and comes up with this:
    I suppose I could find a thing or three to agree with in Kmiec's longer list of ideas for how the party he abandoned could win back his vote. But frankly, I don't see the point. I understand that the pro-life position on abortion does not command majority support in the United States and that people of good will can disagree on the subject. And I have no doubt that the Republican Party can profit from greater dialogue between its pro-life and pro-choice constituents—and do a better job, as well, of addressing itself to both pro-lifers and pro-choicers who aren't already inside its tent. But I can't begin to fathom why the GOP should consider taking any advice whatsoever from a "pro-lifer" who has spent the past year serving as an increasingly embarrassing shill for the opposition party's objectively pro-abortion nominee.
    "Increasingly" is the only charitably way I can describe Kmiec's latest, in which he marvels at the election of Obama in an America that used to deny that African-Americans were human persons with rights. The response is, of course, that we elected someone who thinks unborn humans don't have rights. But once again, reality seems to have little effect on Mr. Kmiec.

    update: Good heavens. In response to Douthat's entirely reasonable observations, Kmiec responded with an embarrasing attempt to dodge the accusations by accusing Douthat of ... I dunno, "uncharity"?!

    In response, Tucker Carlson really did have it, and really let Kmiec "have it":

    Hey, Doug. Toughen up. Seriously. I've read suicide notes that were less passive-aggressive than this. Let's review what actually happened: You argued that Obama is not a pro-choice extremist. Ross disagreed. Rather than respond with a counterpoint, you got hysterical, dismissing Ross as a hater, even fretting about the future of his soul. Come on. Get some perspective. And for God's sake, stop whining.

    ... I understand it must have hurt when Ross accused you of shilling for Obama. On the other hand, he's right. You did shill for Obama. That's not Ross' fault. Don't blame him.

    But if you are going to blame him, do it directly, like a man, without all the encounter-group talk and Pope quotes. People often attack the religious right, sometimes with justification. But as you just reminded us, there is nothing in the world more annoying than the religious left.

    What Tucker doesn't point out, and I will, is that Kmiec also is guilty of substantive factual errors in his contribution ("54 percent of the Catholics in America saw exactly what I see in Barack Obama" ... sorry, 54% of those who voted may have seen this") as well as completely unintelligible lines like "[Obama's] party commitments have not let his mind free of ill-considered measures like FOCA" (what?!) and then, typically, Kmiec accuses others of what he has himself done: "It is better to be part of that honest effort than the passive, smug Republican partisan complacency that thinks of the defense of human life as just another issue to be ranked and, worse, ranked lowly" (but that's what you yourself have in fact done, Kmiec - clearly!).

    I'd say more, but I have to go catch a plane. It's about time for a Kmiec-free few days.

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    Wednesday, November 05, 2008

    Doug Kmiec has seen my YouTube interview

    Or so Kmiec implies in the public letter he wrote to Abp. Chaput yesterday (who has responded here).
    You can watch the YouTube interview Kmiec refers to right here. Now that we know what the political future holds, it is helpful to see where Abp. Chaput predicts the cultural and religious future of our nation is headed.
    As for Kmiec's 11th-hour letter to the Archbishop, I have a few observations:
    • I dislike his tone. This is not a dinner party disagreement. Human lives are literally at stake in this debate.
    • Kmiec ignores the issues he can't handle. He has his own idea of what this debate is about, and constantly refuses to move away from his talking points. This is not what happens in a debate - this is instead a propaganda tactic. Has he ever spoken about FOCA, for instance?
    • Kmiec calls for collaboration in what is already happening and Catholics are already doing, as if he had thought of the idea. Supporting women who face problem pregnancies? Check. Finding ways to make adoption an alternative over abortion? Check. A Human Life Amendment? (seriously?!) Well, check that too. Sure, more could be done in these three areas - but Obama is against many of these proposals and they will be harder to achieve when he is President! How can Kmiec hope for these when the candidate whom he supports is against them? It's schizophrenic. I simply don't see the logic here.

    And as for Kmiec's comment that "Intemperate language and hyperbolic argumentation may play well on the blogs", two things:

    • There might be intemperate language and hyperbolic argumentation out there. But there is also sound, logical critique - critique that Kmiec has never been able to answer to my satisfaction. I should start a counter for every time he claims to be a martyr and treated unfairly when people disagree with him or criticize his position. A man of his experience shouldn't need me to tell him to get over it and move on.
    • I'd be happy to debate or interview Doug Kmiec in person anytime he wants. How's that?

    Finally, see my 4th conclusion that I write about in this post. That prediction is now a reality....

    update: stop the presses, Archbishop Chaput has responded himself.

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    Thursday, October 23, 2008

    On Keeping/Kicking Kmiec Out

    One bishop (Most Rev. Lawrence E. Brandt, JCD, PhD of Greensburg, PA) is trying:

    Yesterday afternoon I received word that Seton Hill University had extended an invitation to Mr. Douglas Kmiec to speak on its campus regarding faith and politics. I have attempted in vain to reach the President of Seton Hill, Dr. JoAnne Boyle in this regard, but to no avail.

    As the teacher of authentic Catholic doctrine in the Diocese of Greensburg, I feel compelled to state in view of this situation that Mr. Kmiec distorts Catholic teaching by making it synonymous with his own personal views. There is no “other” Catholic position except the one which appears in authentic Church documents. His misrepresentations of Catholic doctrine do a grave disservice to the Catholic community and far beyond.

    I seriously question the good judgment of the University administration in allowing him a platform on campus.

    ... Is it any wonder then that not only the demonstrators at the event, but many others as well, consider his presentation an offensive trivialization of the institution's declared Catholic identity!

    In a related vein, I wonder how this will go?

    Decide in Faith: A Presidential Forum

    Now you will have the chance to ask some questions! All questions will be based on Catholic Social Teaching! Questions submitted on this web site will be reviewed nd selected for the forum by a panel of Catholic college students and young adults!

    Featuring Catholic Surrogates from the Presidential Campaigns // Senator Obama: Professor Douglas Kmeic, Author, Former Advisor to President Reagan // Senator McCain: Brian Palmer (R-Romeo) // Panel: College Students and Young Adults // Moderated by Fr. David Buersmeyer, Pastor of SS John and Paul in Washington, MI

    An AmP Shout Out to the person who prints out one of the many arguments I've made against Kmiec's position and asks it during the debate. Audio/video would be a plus, too.

    update: Seton Hill University says it will release a statement soon.

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    Wednesday, October 22, 2008

    Weigel fires back at Kmiec, Cafardi & Kaveny

    Catholic pro-Obama figures Nicholas Cafardi, M. Cathleen Kaveny, and Douglas Kmiec recently attempted to write a "Catholic Brief for Obama" in Newsweek. I thought it was balderdash.

    George Weigel did too, but he puts it so much better (again, in Newsweek). Some of the best quotes:

    Do Professors Cafardi, Kaveny, and Kmiec imagine that they have a better grasp of Senator Obama's views on the life issues than, say, the National Reproductive Rights Action League [NARAL], or other pro-choice Obama supporters?

    ... How is it possible to square a concern for women in crisis with support of the presidential candidate who favors ending the modest federal funding some of those crisis pregnancy centers now receive? How is it "pro-life" to support a presidential candidate who is publicly committed to requiring any federal legislation in support of pregnant women to include promotion of abortion?

    ... The truth of the matter, alas, is that most Catholic politicians are woefully ill-informed about the moral logic of the Catholic Church's teaching on the life issues, which is not a moral logic for Catholics only. This reflects an enormous failure on the part of too many pastors and bishops. That failure is compounded when prominent Catholic intellectuals who may wish to support a candidate for other reasons fail to make clear that the candidate's views and public record on the life issues are reprehensible. That compound failure is made even worse when such a candidate is repackaged as the "real" pro-life candidate.

    ... Should Senator Obama be elected president, Professors Cafardi, Kaveny, and Kmiec will enjoy a brief moment of satisfaction. That moment will likely be followed by the discovery that they have far less credit in the new administration's bank than NARAL and other longtime Obama supporters.

    What he said (and what I've been saying, for some time now, just less well).

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    Monday, October 06, 2008

    CUA student posts open letter to Professor Doug Kmiec

    I thought this was an excellent summary response. This was written by Therese Cory, a graduate instructor at the Catholic University of America. AmP readers will recall that I have taken issue with Kmiec's arguments, as well as the "Pro Life, Pro Obama" website.

    Dear Prof. Kmiec,

    I wish respectfully to protest against the claims on your new website, "Pro Life, Pro Obama," that pro-life Catholics can in clear conscience vote for Senator Obama.

    As a philosopher myself, I respect the fact that you have clearly given long and serious consideration to the problem of pro-life voting. Nevertheless, it seems that one should consider whether promises to fund programs for pregnant mothers counterbalance the social and moral damage done by the strong pro-abortion positions that Senator Obama and his party support, including universally funding abortions through Medicare, banning state parental consent legislation, etc. (see FOCA) This kind of legislation sends the message that abortion is acceptable and makes it more rather than less easy to get an abortion. I heartily endorse offering support to pregnant mothers to alleviate the social problems which fuel abortion. But it seems that such support will be in vain, if a government also sends the contradictory message that abortion is a morally neutral event, by vastly increasing abortion availability. How can truly support the needs of a pregnant mother, without encouraging her as to the value of the life she bears, and while cementing a culture of increasingly free and easy access to abortion?

    As a Catholic, moreover, I cannot help but find Senator Obama's pro-abortion voting record antagonistic to the goals set out by recently by numerous U.S. bishops on pro-life voting, and I see no indication that his accession to the presidential office would result in a change of direction. You mention that Senator Obama does not support late-term abortions. But what about his support for partial-birth abortion and criticism of the Supreme Court's upholding of the partial-birth ban? This point at least deserves mention on your website, in view of presenting a complete case. Moreover, his voting record on the case of infants born alive deserves closer investigation; his explanation that the bill in question would overturn Roe v. Wade is most questionable, in view of the provisions stated in the bill (see for instance, here).

    In conclusion, Senator Obama's position clearly contravenes the Catholic position on the value of human life. While it may be unrealistic to expect a reversal of Roe v. Wade in the immediate future, Obama's policies would usher in a new era of unprecedented funding for and unrestricted access to abortion. It would consequently solidify the culture of disregard for the value of unborn life. No matter how many mother-friendly programs we support, how can we truly be "pro-mother" when we are constantly sending the contradictory message that her unborn child is of no value?


    Therese Cory
    Please consider sending your own letter to Professor Kmiec here:

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    Wednesday, October 01, 2008

    "Pro-Life, Pro-Obama" website launched

    As proof that "the best lie is a bold lie," I give you the quote of the day:

    "Can you be pro-life and support Senator Obama? The answer - upon even a moment's reflection - is 'unequivocally yes.'" (Doug Kmiec, ProLife-ProObama)

    Kmiec has jumped the shark. He had once crafted perhaps the single best justification argument for a pro-Obama vote, but now this ... this is all-out vote pandering.

    The idea that Catholics can honestly determine that Obama is pro-life "upon even a moment's reflection" is simply absurd beyond argument, looking at the facts. And deciding after a moment's reflection? I'm positive that claim does not even apply to Kmiec himself!

    Kmiec surely took more than a moment's reflection to support Obama. In fact, he took years.

    Kmiec is throwing all of his eggs into the Obama basket to win over the "Catholic vote," including his previous record: "As Ronald Reagan's legal counsel and as a dean and professor at Catholic University and Notre Dame, I have worked to put the law on the side of life where it belongs."

    The point? "Catholic University and Notre Dame hired me! See? I'm Catholic. You can trust me."

    Kmiec is the face of Obama's Catholic support. And I'm exasperated by him using his faith to deceive fellow Catholics and make his (arguable) conclusions obligatory upon the rest of us. He is systematically challenging and making a mockery out of every Catholic voter's guide issued by the American bishops, he also makes a shambles of the process by which Catholics are called to inform their conscience, and frankly ... he demonstrates either a deep ignorance or a pathological inability to admit the shortcomings of his candidate.

    Kmiec is essentially saying that Catholics must vote for a candidate who can only be called "pro-life" despite his own intention to unequivocally support universal access to abortion. If Obama doesn't want to be pro-life in the proper sense, how are we being pro-life in the proper sense by voting for him?

    Let me be very clear: what I take issue with here, specifically, is Kmiec's claim that Obama is somehow a natural or obvious choice for Catholic voters. To say that, one must simply dissent from the Church's teaching that abortion, and the legal support of abortion is gravely wrong.

    If Kmiec claims to be a Catholic in good standing, a Catholic to whom other Catholics can look with confidence, I'd like to see one example where he has read the recent writings of Catholic bishops on this and related topics.

    Endlessly complaining about the persecution one has received from lay Catholics is an empty self-martyrdom if one continues to obstinately avoid dialogue with the shepherds of the Church.

    Catholics know this, and Kmiec should know better. If his position is so obviously the Catholic one, why is he scared to approach the shepherds of the Church - the guardians of what truly is Catholic - with his argument?

    I predict we can expect a well-organized media onslaught of Kmiec-clone arguments in the remaining weeks leading up to the election. Sadly PACs and grassroots political organizations frequently have better access to the Catholic faithful than do our own priests and bishops.

    But don't be fooled, don't just trust the "experts" - listen to what the bishops are saying. I would challenge anyone to find what Doug Kmiec is saying, printed-up in a voting guide issued by the U.S. Bishops this year.

    You won't.

    Right on schedule: Nicholas Cafardi of the Religion News Service in National Catholic Reporter.

    Let's see....

    • Selective reading of Faithful Citizenship while ignoring key passages? Check.
    • Despair at ever overturning Roe and exhortation to get over it? Check.
    • Lying in the claim that McCain and Obama are identical on ESCR? Check.
    • Gross overstatements about the new DNC platform's language re: abortion? Check.
    • Claim that reducing poverty outweighs the DNC plan to liberalize abortion legally? Check.
    • Claim that republicans have more total moral baggage than Democrats? Check.

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    Kmiec defends pro-Obama position in conference call

    This morning I was able to listen-in on some brief parts of a conference call hosted by the Matthew 25 Network which featured Doug Kmiec defending his position that a Catholic can support Barack Obama for President.

    John Allen asked a very interesting question and has posted Kmiec's response.

    I only heard bits and snatches of Kmiec's comments in response to a CNS question about the reaction he has encountered subsequent to coming out in support of Obama as a Catholic. He did, however, make some sort of claim that the blog world has been filled mostly with hatred for him and that most of his critics haven't even bothered to read his book.

    I have a few reactions to Kmiec. First, my extensive criticisms of his position have always been based on his public position and actual words. As you can see, I've found plenty of material right there.

    Second, as for reading Kmiec's book, here's the best review of it I've read so far:
    "It doesn't contain anything new, but it does make the best argument that can be made for a preposterous position." (source.)
    Kmiec's arguments aren't anything new, and what he says in the book is simply a more extended version of the argument - albeit refined with greater precision - that he's already been peddling. It's an argument I've extensively critiqued on these pages, and think simply does not hold up.

    I'll end with an observation about this Matthew 25/Kmiec phenomenon. It doesn't feel genuine. It feels calculated, and political. For one thing, they protest to much: they protest that anyone who criticizes Obama's position on life issues must in fact be a republican and be criticizing Obama essentially for political gain.

    I wish they could prove to me that they weren't supporting Obama for identical reasons (i.e., political). And I have some sort of sneaking suspicion that this whole push to get Catholics on the Obama bandwagon ... well, I think all this attention is going to evaporate the day after the election.

    Because it's our votes they really want.

    More reading (to be updated):

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