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« Saint Maria Goretti | Main | Charity in Truth »

Monday, July 06, 2009


David Charkowsky

Good work isolating this rhetorical formula!

Dan Deeny

Very interesting. Good analysis of our president's rhetorical methods. But our president is not the biggest problem we have. We Catholics made him our president!


This is the problem with democracy. The people get the president they want. Modern western society does not want rigorous moral reasoning. They want sentamentalism. That is what Obama gives them. He is capable of better. But why should he attempt it? The public loves the idea of wrestling with moral issues and then simply following the latest poll.


His technique is quite tiring and formulaic. "There are those who say X (X being some caricature of what his opponents really are arguing), but we say Y (the enlightened middle ground). I think it's his sad way of trying to ape JFK who used the "those who" construction frequently but in a much more compelling way.


Very good analysis of his speaking style. The implication that he stands above the fray and looks on all with cool objectivity is probably one of the attractions for the unwary.


I always feel agitated when I hear Obama speak, knowing it is all claptrap. You pinned down the specifics.

Steven Harper

We Catholics can't say now as JFK did at America University, "The United States, as the world knows, will never start a war." In fact, some Catholics ignored our popes and were as gung ho (and unapologetic) as any of the Bible-thumping Evangelicals to support W. Bush's war. We Catholics should be parsing and applauding -not speeches - but concrete actions of President Obama (like JFK) who in Moscow has taken the first, if modest step, to ultimately eliminate nuclear weapons. We should raise our voices in support of peace as he stands up to the Nuclear Posture Review of Pentagon generals and the American nuclear weapons establishment who want to build a new generation of warheads. In Sept. 1963, JFK reiterated key themes of "diversity" and "human rights" at the Mormon Tabernacle in SLC. Again, some Catholics can't rise to JFK's (albeit weak) level of "tolerance," but have joined the (self-styled Religious) Right in bashing gays, pushing the hate button at every opportunity - not the kind of "solidarity" with "lost sheep" we hear of in "Charity In Truth." And as abhorrent as abortion is, President Obama is not a Catholic. We can work with him to actually reduce abortions - as he is on record to do - or we can line up at the entrance to Notre Dame with bloody dolls and shout loudly for Fox News. I deplore the loss of sacramentality by professional Catholic yakkers who abuse their faith and reason to politicize the Truth. And yes, I do see Barack Obama as someone who has the intelligence and humility to listen to our Holy Father, learn from him, and actually do something to reduce structural, institutional sin in our world. Eliminate original sin from our nature? Of course not. But if we are to have dia-logos in our time, and initiate the cultural and systemic changes our world needs, I support a communio-organizer like Barack Obama, the closest, in spirit, to Robert Kennedy in forty years.


Steven, one quick comment. Obama is NOT on record as saying he wants to reduce the number of abortions. He parsed his words very carefully; he said, rather, that he wants to reduce the number of women seeking abortions. The reason is obvious, he doesn't want to fall into the trap of admitting that abortion is wrong. Once you do that, you lose your footing in the argument very quickly, i.e., why is it wrong? Because it's the killing of an innocent human being? Oh, we have laws prohibiting that...

Steven Harper

Your "quick comment" is very telling, Jack. I gave you plenty to respond to, but like many one-note Catholics, you go straight to the abortion button. I don't know if you're one of those who call themselves "pro-life," but are actually only "anti-abortion." However, my newspaper reports that Rev. Federico Lombardi said that Pope Benedict told him that Obama pledged to seek to reduce abortions. That's what I heard at Notre Dame in May, too. There are other non-Catholics in our pluralistic society (especially people of color) that are opposed to abortion because they are part of a larger non-violence discourse (opposed to war, favor abolition of the death penalty, favor economic immigration, work to change a legal system that disproportionately punishes the poor, etc., the whole litany of authentically pro-life issues - most of which President Obama supports. In fact, he supports more of these authentically pro-life issues than any recent president or presidential candidate. Quite frankly, parsing rhetorical styles or losing one's footing in an argument doesn't matter to me. I was only on the Ignatius Press website to order my copy of Caritas In Veritate, my road map to peace. There's too much real work to be done alongside our catholic, non-Catholic president.

A Mauldin

Mr Obama is a Saul Alinsky styled Marxist whose mentors, Frank Davis and Bill Ayers fall into the Maoist camp. And Mr Harper is correct in assessing Mr Obama's philosophical kinship to RFK. Both are political opportunists. Keeping abortions 'safe & legal', redistributing wealth in order to 'help those less fortunate' are great sound bites but they are, in the end, rhetoric to foster Marxism's ultimate goal: to destroy family and faith and to make the populace dependent on the state for salvation, bypassing any need for God. Look closely at Marx' planks: abolition of private property, the definition of which is broadened to include the family because family = patriarchy which is merely a man owning his wife and children. Abortion furthers this destruction of "property" by telling men that women may have recreational sex with whomever they choose, and should she become pregnant, either abort the byproduct or know that the state will raise it as its own. Mr Obama will 'pledge to reduce abortions' with birth control provisions and 'safe sex' programs, which will further cement the idea that sex is merely a recreational activity, not a life giving act to be saved for the marriage vows.

As for non-violent issues, I don't know too many anti-abortion advocates who would not seriously consider trading the death penalty for abortion bans, but that's a straw man argument anyway. The death penalty involves specific crimes with specific conditions and usually involve automatic appeals with lengthy legal procedures. An aborted child is merely a 'non-person' with no rights; an inconvenience to be tossed. There are no automatic appeals for the baby and Mr Obama favors letting it die should it survive a 'botched abortion'.

Any political agenda that champions the destruction of the family and sets the state up as savior is neither pro-life nor non-violent. Mr Harper, you need to read beyond the left's talking points and stop drinking their kool-aid.

I've been a public high school teacher for 25 years and I've seen first hand what the last 40 years of liberal posturing has done. I was an activist for Eugene McCarthy and got caught up in the Kennedy 'charm' in 1968. Gratefully, it didn't take me 40 years to figure out that the Kennedy family is about as morally bankrupt as they come.

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