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Friday, March 27, 2009



That hope has been dashed and Wesolek wonders where the Catholic supporters of Mr. Obama are

Yeah, I'm curious, what is Peggy Noonan up to these days?

Carl E. Olson

It's wonderful to have hope, but as Wesolek and many others are finding out, it's difficult to place hope in Obama when it comes to life issues. Dare I say it?: he's a hope killer. Many Evangelicals are learning the same thing, as this piece reports:

David P. Gushee wrote:

I knew from the beginning that if Obama took typical Democratic positions on abortion-related issues, this centrist evangelical friendliness toward him and his administration would be tested. I knew that during the campaign he had hewed closely to the standard Democratic pro-choice line. But his party’s platform also promised a commitment to abortion-reduction efforts, and he has echoed that language. Some of us continue to dream that he will roll out a major abortion-reduction initiative. All too familiar. Such an initiative has not been offered. But what has occurred are a series of disappointingly typical Democratic abortion-related moves…

Yes, "dream" is probably the right word. Actually, "nightmare" is much better. But I am mystified why anyone is surprised about this? Did they not take seriously the consistent actions of Sen. Obama on such issues?


Regarding the issue of conscience rights, this legislation has actually been in force for longer under the Obama administration than it was under the Bush administration that enacted it.

I think this is a good picture to use for illustrating the position of people like me: pro-life people who voted for Obama anyway. Not because we're happy about everything that he has done and will do, not because we agree with him even on these very basic issues of human dignity... but because, in all seriousness, what else are we supposed to do?

Bush's enactment of conscience rights at the eleventh hour of a two-term presidency holds about as much dignity in my mind as a presidential pardon to some white collar criminal does. I've got no illusions about the ugliness of Obama's pro-choice position, but I'm also not holding my breath for the Republicans. I decided to go with Obama because his head was on straight more generally, even given some gross injustices that he stands behind.

While abortion should take precedence over most any other conceivable ethical issue in the current political situation, I do not think that this gives us an obvious answer of who to vote for. The people who are really fooling themselves with imagined honeymoons are those who think that any major ticket choice would have been adequate this past November. We are much deeper in the wilderness than that, folks, and it's silly to act as if this was a choice between Obama on one hand and the sanctity of life on the other.

All that said, I think that Wesolek offers a very good picture of the situation. I only wonder at why anyone, Obama supporter or no, would ever be duped into honeymoon mode given the mess that this past year has been. In Wesolek's defense, I think he taps into this sentiment not because he was really all that guilty of it, but because it describes well what a lot of people have been feeling.


Agreed. The surprise almost seems, well, just silly. Obama has been vigorous in his pro-abort activities. The man has been very very liberal on all fronts his entire career. And hope to the contrary must be media contrived, since he has not really been misleading any more than we expect of a politician.

Kevin C.

Evan - I think you are too harsh on Bush. If you go back and review his executive orders, bills signed, etc, he wasn't passive with pro-life issues (only doing what others ask of him); he actively and enthusiastically pushed through nearly as much as is possible for the president to do while Roe is still in force.

Also, it seems nonsensical to say " I decided to go with Obama because his head was on straight more generally, even given some gross injustices that he stands behind." How can you claim that his head is on more straight, generally, when he energetically pushes to make abortion as accessible as possible? While on the other hand you had, certainly, a less-than-perfect candidate (McCain) who at least claimed to be pro-life? You really can't say that "generally" he has his head on straighter when he is further off base on the most fundamental issue of all, can you?

Dr John James

'While abortion takes precedence over most other conceivable ethical issues in the current political situation, I do not think this gives us an obvious answer of who to vote for."
MOST other? Try, ALL other! To have voted for Obama, knowing his stated position and voting record on these issues, is indefensible. The appointments to his administration is a who's who of the 'Culture of Death' advocacy group, including Emily's List and Planned Parenthood and a coterie of what Archbishop Burke called "Catholics betraying their faith". Entirely predictable. As John Corapi says, God has placed obvious limits on our intelligence, but absolutely none on our stupidity. Sadly, many will pay with their lives for this stupidity.


Kevin, the point isn't so much to be too harsh on Bush as it is to put Obama's action regarding conscience rights in the proper perspective. I haven't tried to say that Bush didn't do anything that he actually did, and of course he did a lot. I would welcome a president as strongly pro-life as Bush was, though I would argue that his failed policy abroad and economic policy at home will do over the course of the next generation more damage in terms of human life than any of his pro-life policies have made up for. How many millions died during Bush's presidency? (I realize that it's not fair to blame these deaths on Bush, and that's not what I'm doing. But with 1.3 million dying each year even under a commendably pro-life leader, the answer is simply not a binary selection process every fourth November.)

John, that abortion is the most fundamental moral issue by sheer body count does not mean that it is the most fundamental factor in deciding one's electoral commitments, for the plain reason that anything Obama could do as president short of ordering the abortions of however many million babies does not constitute the same reality as the actual fact of the abortions perpetrated under his administration.

The stupidity that costs us these deaths is not any government official that lifts temporal restrictions on evil behavior. What costs us these deaths is poor moral training and rebellion... seemingly hopeless financial situations and depression... the breakdown of family supports and misogyny that leaves mothers on their own. It's cowardly to blame abortions on Obama and those who voted for him as if this answers the question at all.

I live with the person I voted for and I realize that he will fail in many ways. But I don't for a minute think that those whom our Lord sets into and takes out of temporal power are a reason to assume either His favor or a scapegoat upon whom we can place undue blame.

There are clear distinctions between an aborting mother/doctor, a legislator who deems abortion licit, and a person who votes for such a legislator for any number of reasons. The distinctions are not absolute with regard to blame and the voter can certainly be caught up in the legislator's guilt if similarly pro-choice intentions precipitated the vote. But we were not voting yes or no for the life of a single unborn child this past November. We simply weren't. Argue by way of rhetorical flair that it amounted to that if doing so will further the pro-life cause (I don't think it will), but do be careful not to be untruthful about the moral state of others when you do so.

Dr John James

"..anything Obama could do as president..does not constitute the same reality as the actual fact of abortions perpetrated under his administration."
"What costs us these deaths is poor moral training.."

I confess to reading this several times to ensure I understood what was said.I decided that Evan is arguing that regardless the legislative initiatives Obama and his administration take, such legislation will have little if any bearing on abortion, its incidence and prevalence, and its causes.I would suggest that does not accord with the mind of the Church, nor with the central strategies of pro-life movements around the world, foremost amongst which is the American pro-life movement.
Moreover, to have voted for this when the alternative was clearly pro-life, is morally indefensible.
That the aetiology of abortion, and all other assaults on the most vulnerable, is multi-factorial, is not disputed. But good legislation saves lives and bad legislation the converse.
As well, laws have a profound pedagogical role in the formation or deformation of conscience.
Finally, legislators who pass laws, as Obama has done, strike a terrible blow against genuine democracy. This is a point John Paul 'the great' made in EV. For at the heart of democracy is the proposition that the rule of law protects all citizens, especially the weak and vulnerable. If the helpless may have their most fundamental human right, the right to be protected from lethal violence, taken from them, then we have the 'powerful' attacking the 'weak'. We have tyranny!


"I decided that Evan is arguing that regardless the legislative initiatives Obama and his administration take, such legislation will have little if any bearing on abortion, its incidence and prevalence, and its causes."

Thank goodness the decision to decide such things isn't yours! Obama's initiatives will certainly have a good deal of bearing on abortions in the U.S. I said that they simply "[do] not constitute the same reality as the actual fact of abortions perpetrated..." His and his administration's faults can surely fall somewhere in the wide gulf between "constituting the same reality" as the actual acts of abortion and having "little if any bearing on abortion."

While I am trying to say that the aetiology of abortion is multifaceted, don't mistake me for saying that this is a reason to vote for Obama. Bad legislation does indeed kill people, and I think that Obama is completely guilty of such bad legislation. His causal distance from the actual killing does not make him less at fault with regard to his legislation. But what is also multifaceted is the electoral decision that we make. We were not voting for legislative initiatives this past November, as you seem to imply when you talk about voting for "this" rather than "him" (you also seem to imply there was only one other alternative, when there wasn't). We were voting for an official, and our vote is only morally indefensible with regard to abortion if we voted for a pro-choice politician with the intention of casting that vote in support of his pro-choice intentions and without good alternative reasons for doing so. The USCCB has gone over this.

On the damage that Obama has done as you outline in your last paragraph, you don't have to convince me. I agree with you.

Dr John James

"..our vote is only morally indefensible with regard to abortion if we voted for a pro choice politician with the intention of casting that vote in support of his pro-choice intentions..'

So I could vote for a candidate who stated that he wanted to reopen Auschwitz or something equivalent, or reinstitute slavery,or strike down all protection for newborns, provided I'm voting for his very good policy on Climate Change?
Give me a break, Evan!!


Give me a break, Evan!!

At least show me the decency of quoting me in full, John. What I said sounds much different when you chop off, "and without good alternative reasons for doing so."

I've got precious little patience for disingenuous online arguments. Don't expect a reasonable exchange of thoughts if all you're going to do is leave out important parts of someone's argument and set up a strawman.

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