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Why I’m Endorsing Obama

October 14, 2008
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I’ve written but not published a variation of this post a number of times.  Having contemplated offering elaborate reasons, I am resigned to offering just one: he is better than the other candidate, Senator McCain.  Such will not be a sufficient enough of an explanation for a lot of people.  The question has come down to which candidate will leave our country a better place four years hence.  Many people, including some bishops, do not think that is an appropriate question.  They think this election should be about an issue that was not mentioned in prime time at the GOP convention, was only within the past week included in a stump speech by a VP candidate, has not been entertained in three debates to date, and was mentioned in passing at the Democratic Convention by their nominee noting his desire to reduce it but keep it legal.  For it being the most important issue facing this country, nobody bothered informing either campaign, the media, or the public at large.  Yet at this site and others, this issue is the only one people seem to believe needs to be confronted.  As Faithful Citizenship and others have noted, as Catholics we aren’t called upon to be one issue voters, just to have our priorities in check. 

Those priorities seem to share nothing in common with what the rest of the country considers to be priorities.  But we should be light in darkness or so people will claim to justify an aloofness to other issues facing society.  We are in the midst of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.  There are those that would tell me I’m not ethically serious to give significant if not predominant consideration to how this issue will be addressed.  Since 1990, our military has sent troops to Iraq, Somalia, Yugoslavia, Haiti, Afghanistan, and other places.  During the present election, candidates have threatened troop engagements against Iran, Pakistan, and Russia (on behalf of Georgia).  Both candidates have indicated an unwillingness to address Israel’s aggression in the Middle East.  At various points, both candidates have been down right enthusiastic about putative Israeli actions, and both candidates were supportive of Israeli’s destruction of Lebanon, something the Vatican condemned.  Yet again, this issue is not considered sufficient to warrant primary consideration.  Over the past 8 years, we have seen inequality in this country move from already high levels to those approaching Mexico and China.  We have seen health care become increasingly unaffordable with employers significantly reducing coverage if not getting rid of it altogether.  We have seen HRAs implemented that are bankrupting the medical system.  Yet these issues we are told do not rise to the level of the most important issue.

I’m tired.  I’m sick and tired of the demagoguery.  I’m sick and tired of seeing vacuous platitudes elevated to the level of serious policy.  I’m tired of being asked to give serious consideration to positions put out by both campaigns whose sole purpose is to occupy bumper stickers and fund raising letters.  I’m tired of being told how important McCain is to the anti-abortion movement when he wasn’t on any anti-abortion advocate’s short list even for this year’s Republican primary.  I’m tired of seeing an ad from the Obama campaign saying how McCain will work to end abortion even in the case of rape and incest – if only – and how Obama will protect its legalization.  It just goes to show that just because Obama is the better candidate doesn’t mean he can’t hold utterly repugnant and indefensible views.  So yes, I’m voting for Obama.  Give me a candidate with a serious agenda for ending abortion that has a chance of winning, and I will give him consideration.  I’m not playing pretend anymore.

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60 Comments
  1. October 14, 2008 10:31 pm

    As far as the “economic crisis” is concerned, I’m sure my family and I will do all right. I prefer to believe that maximizing the number of people who God chooses to create trumps my greedy self interest. Other opinions differ, even among those who call themselves Catholic.

  2. M.Z. Forrest permalink
    October 14, 2008 10:33 pm

    Can you walk and chew gum at the time or does your sanctimony prevent that?

  3. TeutonicTim permalink
    October 14, 2008 10:46 pm

    Summary:

    blah, blah

    blah, blah

    I’m going to vote for Obama even though I’m sick of the whole process, lack of substance, too much rhetoric, etc.

    What a cop out.

  4. October 14, 2008 10:58 pm

    Well, this is surely the weakest endorsement for a candidate I’ve ever read.

    For those who don’t think the GOP is committed enough to the pro-life movement need to realize that G. W. Bush was the most pro-life (excepting war) president we’ve ever had, from appointing pro-life judges (incl. Supreme Court justices) to stemming embryonic stem cell research. The GOP doesn’t need to harp on abortion at its convention because McCain had repeatedly (in virtually every town hall meeting) stated his commitment to the pro-life movement, and then he picks as pro-life a running mate as possible.

    Since America can no longer (thanks, in part, to lack of money) engage in foreign policy disasters and war, a GOP presidency under McCain should be the obvious choice for Catholics and evangelicals.

  5. Hy Sodium permalink
    October 14, 2008 11:04 pm

    Think it over again, MZ. I voted for Obama. Mailed my absentee ballot yesterday and was turned into a pillar of salt before I got home from the post office.

  6. Paul in FL permalink
    October 14, 2008 11:06 pm

    Propaganda works effectively.

    We have seen it in Germany in the first half of the 20th century.

    And previously in Arabia in the early 7th century.

    And now in America, in the 21th century.

    Congratulations, you have been brainwashed!

  7. October 14, 2008 11:18 pm

    MZ, I feel your pain and anger, too. It enrages me that the majority of good, conscientious Catholics will simply vote McCain/Palin because it is the “pro life” choice without giving purposeful and weighty consideration to the many other issues that face us as a nation and a world.

    I wonder if you can address for me, though, your dismissal of the US bishops, who “think this election should be about an issue that was not mentioned in prime time at the GOP convention, was only within the past week included in a stump speech by a VP candidate, has not been entertained in three debates to date, and was mentioned in passing at the Democratic Convention by their nominee noting his desire to reduce it but keep it legal.”

    If the Bishops think this, despite its absence from the media and public stage, shouldn’t that carry great weight with us as we make our election decisions? After all, they are charged to shepherd us. Are we as Catholics sheep or cats? (Note: elevating abortion to the preeminent issue facing us as voters does NOT necessarily equal a vote for McCain/Palin. I think I’ve made my 3rd party leanings pretty well known, but I want to reiterate that I am not a Republican just because I am unequivocally pro-life.)

  8. joseph permalink
    October 14, 2008 11:22 pm

    Let’s see if MZ’s most unintellectual excuse provided yet for voting for Obama on Vox Nova holds water.

    If McCain/Palin start hammering Obama on abortion in the next few weeks and McCain clarifies his position against ESCR, will MZ vote for McCain instead? I think not.

    Even if the Pope paid a personal visit to MZ to tell him that it is morally impermissible to vote for Obama, he would still do it. How do I know this? Because the bishops in the US have already stated this.

    In other words, don’t waste your time reading this post.

  9. M.Z. Forrest permalink
    October 14, 2008 11:40 pm

    If the Bishops think this, despite its absence from the media and public stage, shouldn’t that carry great weight with us as we make our election decisions?

    Yes. It is an area I have struggled. Usually I can articulate the various bishops arguments in a way that I could be reasonably persuaded or reasonably persuade someone. I can’t do it here without disrespecting what seems to be the clear intent of the bishops’ argument, particularly the Dallas bishops.

  10. October 15, 2008 12:19 am

    (i) – Abortion rates decline under Democratic presidents.
    (ii) – It’s my belief that the GOP finds abortion to be quite useful as a wedge issue. They’d rather wield it to rouse the base rather than actually overturn RvW and forfeit such a cudgel.
    (iii) – Being pro life entails much more than opposing abortion. Unjust wars, capital punishment, policies inimical to the lower classes, torture. GWB was an absolute monster on all of those counts save for abortion … Conservative Catholics conveniently ignore those issues.

  11. October 15, 2008 12:23 am

    As far as the “economic crisis” is concerned, I’m sure my family and I will do all right.

    “Me and mine will be all right. Screw the rest of you.” Nice.

    Because the bishops in the US have already stated this.

    Actually, no, a handful of partisan bishops have stated it. But THE BISHOPS with one voice have given us Faithful Citizenship.

    M.Z., contrary to the dismissive comments here, I think this is a strong post with some powerful statements, particularly:

    – Both candidates have indicated an unwillingness to address Israel’s aggression in the Middle East. At various points, both candidates have been down right enthusiastic about putative Israeli actions, and both candidates were supportive of Israeli’s destruction of Lebanon, something the Vatican condemned. Yet again, this issue is not considered sufficient to warrant primary consideration.

    — I’m tired of being told how important McCain is to the anti-abortion movement when he wasn’t on any anti-abortion advocate’s short list even for this year’s Republican primary.

    — Give me a candidate with a serious agenda for ending abortion that has a chance of winning, and I will give him consideration.

  12. radicalcatholicmom permalink
    October 15, 2008 1:14 am

    Interesting reactions. I remember the days when I was able to cast the ballot for whomever was against abortion and wash my hands of any other life and death issue.

    I REALLY appreciate your post, here, MZ. It expresses my views exactly, especially the part that both parties believe in war and are not exactly fair minded when it comes to the Middle East situation.

    Kevin:
    “For those who don’t think the GOP is committed enough to the pro-life movement need to realize that G. W. Bush was the most pro-life (excepting war) president we’ve ever had, from appointing pro-life judges (incl. Supreme Court justices) to stemming embryonic stem cell research. The GOP doesn’t need to harp on abortion at its convention because McCain had repeatedly (in virtually every town hall meeting) stated his commitment to the pro-life movement, and then he picks as pro-life a running mate as possible.”

    Yeah, and for some pro-lifers, like myself, we want to see more than this. We want to see the impact on the overall abortion rate. Thus far, I cannot tell that any of the above has had any serious impact where it most matters: how many kids have been saved? The abortion rate has fallen since 1981 regardless of who is in office. And yet, how we can pat ourselves on the back while 1 million babies die every single year during the most pro-life years in our country’s history is deeply disturbing to me. This is not acceptable to me and I am willing to start looking outside the conventional pro-life box to begin to save lives for real. Not just on paper.

  13. digbydolben permalink
    October 15, 2008 2:05 am

    DP, MZ, Michael and “radicalcatholicmom,” I’m with you: you have made the better choice.

  14. Macphisto permalink
    October 15, 2008 2:10 am

    I for one actually do agree that this post is useful in so far as it expresses in honest and clear language and the dilemna that strikes Catholics during this election.

    Still, I cannot help but mention a couple of observations. The question of whether or not the country will be better off in 4 years is based on what exactly? All pro-lifers do, or at least should, agree that addressing poverty reduces the number of abortions. But, poverty was certainly not a ghost pre-1973, Women had less influence, less status in our society, fewer options prior to 1973 and yet the abortion rate was practically nill (at least compared to the 1.2 million that it is today). Why? It was illegal.

    The notion that we can, as Catholics, abandon the effort to make abortion illegal in the hopes that Barak Obama, who I take to be a genuine lover of humanity, will be able to relieve the suffering of the poor in the most devastating financial crisis since the Depression is, to my mind, a stupendous gamble bordering on the ridiculous. The Executive Branch simply does not have enough power to save our economy to the degree that it will guarantee a more just society for the poor.

    However, McCain does offer a significant option. That option is NOT the illegalization of abortion. The executive branch is not the legislature. But the president does choose Justices that can overturn a horribly disfunctional law. Overturning RvW will allow States to vote about abortion. This will bring about a TRUE national conversation about what abortion is. Say what you will about abortion polls and attitudes, the fact is that the vast majority of Americans are against late term abortions and against infanticide, which is what Obama voted for three times.

    If RvW is overturned under McCain because of his picks, abortion won’t disappear in the U.S., but they will be significantly limited, which absolutely results in far fewer abortions than currently take place…which saves lives.

    As for the war and the death penalty Cardinal Ratzinger was clear that we can disagree with just war. However, we may not disagree on abortion. See this document fromthe CDF:

    http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?id=6041&CFID=14664782&CFTOKEN=79187679

    Life issues like abortion and euthanasia hold a special place in the moral teaching of the Church. As such, and as Faithful Citizenship clearly states, I can withold my support for a candidate on one issue, namely because he/she advocates an intrinsically evil act.

    War and the death penalty are not intrinsically evil acts. Abortion is. I cannot vote for Obama when there are alternatives that are less odius (even if they have no hope of winning).

  15. Kevin permalink
    October 15, 2008 2:57 am

    radicalcatholicmom,

    Where are abortion rates at their highest…by far at their highest? Inner-city black neighborhoods. Why? Poverty, yes, but the numbers are far higher than the abortion rates found in equally poor “white trash” neighborhoods and trailer parks. Why? Because abortion has been systemically promoted and funded by black leaders like Barack Obama. They have blood on their hands, just as much (I’d say more so) than Bush and his war. If you don’t think pro-life leaders and politicians have an influence on abortion rates, then you are woefully mistaken. I urge you, in the love and peace of Christ, to reconsider any support for Obama. It would be better to not vote, or vote third party, than to vote for Obama. We cannot support such blatant evil.

  16. digbydolben permalink
    October 15, 2008 5:02 am

    Macphisto:

    The torture of prisoners IS an “intrinsically evil act.”

  17. Julian permalink
    October 15, 2008 6:52 am

    “I’m tired of being told how important McCain is to the anti-abortion movement when he wasn’t on any anti-abortion advocate’s short list even for this year’s Republican primary.”

    First of all, that’s simply not true. Gerard V. Bradley, for example, endorsed McCain in an article entitled “Pro-Life, Pro-McCain” in National Review (available online). I, too, supported his candidacy from day one.

    But even if it were true, it would be irrelevant. The Republican Party has plenty of pro-life options. If you are being told “how important McCain is to the anti-abortion movement”, it is only by comparison to Obama; the fairer statement would be how important a pro-life candidate is to the pro-life movement.

    BTW, to the extent McCain was disliked, it was for other reasons — such as campaign finance reform — not his pro-life record.

  18. Julian permalink
    October 15, 2008 7:06 am

    “Yeah, and for some pro-lifers, like myself, we want to see more than this. We want to see the impact on the overall abortion rate.”

    I would like to see a decrease in the abortion rate as well. But you’re treating abortion as a “dying problem” — as if too many unborn babies are dying. And they are; the numbers are quite staggering. But lots of people are dying, and we should care about all of them.

    Those who take the issue seriously should realize that abortion is primarily a “killing problem.” We allow people to kill others. That is horrendous before the first abortion even occurs.

    By all means, let’s reduce the number of innocent deaths. There are plenty of ways to do that. But what distinguishes abortion from, say, cancer is that the unborn are legally denied the right to life.

  19. M.Z. Forrest permalink
    October 15, 2008 7:53 am

    The article from Mr. Bradley that Julian references: http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=NDAyYjVkNmU3MGIzODQ4ZGU2Y2M1OGUzYWQwM2VhMDk=

  20. October 15, 2008 8:05 am

    An Interesting endorsement, one that offers no positive reason for voting for your candidate. Why write an endorsement at all? We are supposed to take the argument on your authority? That Obama is supposed to be better than McCain with respect to the various policy issues you mention?

    I also find this ironic:

    “I’m sick and tired of seeing vacuous platitudes elevated to the level of serious policy”

  21. S.B. permalink
    October 15, 2008 8:08 am

    Yes, it’s an exceedingly odd endorsement. Every time you mention any of Obama’s actual positions, you say that he’s either the same (Israel) or worse (abortion) than McCain. Do you have any reasons to think that Obama is “better”?

  22. October 15, 2008 8:22 am

    As for the war and the death penalty Cardinal Ratzinger was clear that we can disagree with just war. However, we may not disagree on abortion.

    Absolutely.

    But you cannot fault Catholics who do AGREE with the Church’s concrete teaching on war and the death penalty. Those of us who AGREE with the Church take those issues absolutely seriously because, for us (and for the Church), the constitute unjust killing of human beings. There is no way that we see those issues as “less important” than abortion, because in the mind of the Church all unjust killing is intrinsically evil. (Note what I am saying: war is not intrinsically evil, but unjust war, unjust killing IS intrinsically evil.)

    Feel free to disagree with the Church’s teaching on the particular wars we are in. The evidence is overwhelmingly clear, but the Church has not bound your inadequately formed conscience. But do NOT fault those who AGREE with the Church on these issues and who, in light of the SERIOUSNESS of these issues, choose to vote for Barack Obama.

  23. Peanut Butter permalink
    October 15, 2008 8:32 am

    It’s one thing to say that McCain stinks at the pro-life issue so I’m going to vote for the more intelligent Obama. It’s another thing to realize that Obama promises to work for the Freedom of Choice Act. He promises to federalize the issue. He promises to take away state choice in the matter. He promises to repeal state curbs on abortion. He promises to put more tax money into abortion. Obama has a lot of promise. This one (FOCA) castrates the message of hope he would like us to believe in. He’s willing to sell out our future. Not just keep things status quo, but actually sell out our future, starting with our children. Shame on him. PB

  24. David Nickol permalink
    October 15, 2008 8:46 am

    As such, and as Faithful Citizenship clearly states, I can withold my support for a candidate on one issue, namely because he/she advocates an intrinsically evil act.

    Lying is intrinsically evil, as are artificial birth control, adultery, sex outside of marriage, and masturbation.

    Some people have become infatuated with the designation intrinsic evil, as if it meant horrific or ultimate evil. It does not.

    If your wife says, “Honey, does this dress make me look fat?” (and if it really does), telling her no is a “jocose lie,” and is intrinsically evil. Telling the boss’s wife that her Lime Jello Marshmallow Cottage Cheese Surprise is delicious is intrinsically evil.

    This is not to minimize the seriousness of abortion in Catholic thought. It is just to point out the distortion of the designation intrinsically evil.

    Intrinsically evil actions are never morally permissible. If you could tell a lie that would somehow prevent all the abortions in the United States from now on, it would be impermissible, since the end does not justify the means. How many pro-life Catholics are so committed to Catholic teaching that they would not tell a lie to end abortions? In fact, how many Catholics would not tell a “white lie” to please their spouse or prevent an argument? How opposed to intrinsic evil are you?

    Also note that although abortion is clearly an intrinsic evil in Catholic thought, remote material cooperation with intrinsic evil is not an intrinsic evil, otherwise it would never be permissible, even with a proportionate reason, and it has been clearly stated that it is.

  25. Peanut Butter permalink
    October 15, 2008 8:53 am

    Nickol – are you for real? Lying about your wife’s appearance and abortion both intrinsic evils. You’re not really that pious are you?

  26. M.Z. Forrest permalink
    October 15, 2008 9:07 am

    That Obama is more inteligent and has a better temperment than McCain seems beyond dispute. Regardless, if one thinks McCain is better on domestic issues and foreign policy, at least in toto, I wouldn’t think that McCain’s position on abortion is a stumbling block. There are a number of people that find Obama’s positions on nearly every issue except abortion better than McCain’s positions. They and I have have been asked to maintain a fantasy, namely that ending abortion is the most important issue of this campaign and that no other issues rise to the level of importance to actually be decisive. We have been asked to disregard our own interests and the other interests of our fellow countrymen and the world for that matter in the hope that abortion will be significantly affected or even ended because of the election of McCain, a hope not grounded in reality.

  27. October 15, 2008 9:21 am

    Kevin wrote: “G. W. Bush was the most pro-life (excepting war) president we’ve ever had…”

    Is this the same guy who holds the gubernatorial record for most executions in the history of US during his time as gov of TX? Most Pro-life anything? Hogwash.

  28. fus01 permalink
    October 15, 2008 9:21 am

    DP – Can we give the b.s. ‘abortion rates decline under Democratic President’s’ line a rest? It’s nonsense – abortion rates have actually fallen even further under W; basically abortion rates have been falling since 1980, as Clinton came later in that period, it looked prior to the last few years of W’s term like Clinton magically reduced abortion by supporting it.

    In any case, the Freedom of Choice Act that Obama has promised to sign into law has lead to increased abortions when passed at the state level.

    http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/viewarticle.php?selectedarticle=2008.10.14_George_Robert_Obama's%20Abortion%20Extremism_.xml

  29. fus01 permalink
    October 15, 2008 9:24 am

    The prior link didn’t work, here’s a different link to the article by Princeton professor Robert George http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/.

  30. fus01 permalink
    October 15, 2008 9:30 am

    “The abortion rate has fallen since 1981 regardless of who is in office. And yet, how we can pat ourselves on the back while 1 million babies die every single year during the most pro-life years in our country’s history is deeply disturbing to me. This is not acceptable to me and I am willing to start looking outside the conventional pro-life box to begin to save lives for real. Not just on paper.”\

    I agree with you RCM. It would be great to save lives for real….but in this election, I think just trying to save the additional lives that Obama’s policies would take would be a good start. I encourage you to read Professor George’s article above; I would love to hear your thoughts on it, because it makes a pretty strong case that abortion rates will rise under Obama, not to mention increased stem-cell research. Those are real lives, and it seems to me that Obama’s policies are certain to take more of them.

  31. M.Z. Forrest permalink
    October 15, 2008 9:42 am

    The major premise of George’s argument is that FOCA is implemented. It is certainly a defensible premise. I happen to reject it. He also uses a NARAL talking point about the impact of the Hyde Amendment. Advocacy groups must have an agenda if they are going to solicit donations and this is NARAL’s. While the impact would not be negligible, I would doubt a doubling of abortion would occur. Regardless, in the grand scheme, abortion under the auspices of health services in foreign countries involves more than the U.S. President, and they have their own obligations not to allow these practices. In selecting a U.S. President, there are other interests that are more central to the role of President that need to be given consideration.

  32. Peanut Butter permalink
    October 15, 2008 9:49 am

    MZ – Obama promises to make abortion more available! He promises to repeal state limits. He will actually work to make destruction of life in the womb more possible. He stated that he “will not yield” to others’ efforts to “limit choice”. He’s hardcore on abortion.

    McCain has no consistent life ethic. And he’s the more ignorant candidate. But, I cannot envision a stronger America, a better America, a hopeful America that snufs out the life of its daughters and sons from their mother’s bellies. How can someone promise hope and change and a better tomorrow and make abortion the symbolic if not literal first priority of executive power? Unbelievable! Nothing else he says has much to stand on if he’s willing to put our children under his feet and injure countless mothers. Abortion is not benign. It harms women. It rots relationships. It defuncts parents. It denigrates our dignity. It diminishes men. It creates a lie of intimacy. It harms us at a fundamental level – personally and societally. It kills our children.

    On top of it, Obama lies to Catholics about his intent and his sincerity – to make you feel better about voting for him. Under his own logic, his mother should have had more opportunity to banish him from her womb during her distressed pregnancy. Why does he have this double standard?

    McCain may very well not do much to work to change the status quo on abortion. Obama will – and it won’t be good for the hope of America. It’s not change I’m willing to believe in. Don’t vote for him.

  33. Julian permalink
    October 15, 2008 10:03 am

    “The major premise of George’s argument is that FOCA is implemented. It is certainly a defensible premise. I happen to reject it.”

    I just cannot understand how you can reject it. I assume that you are acting in subjective good faith, but this seems an objectively unreasonable conclusion. In fact, it smacks of willful blindness.

  34. M.Z. Forrest permalink
    October 15, 2008 10:05 am

    I don’t take Obama’s primary posturing seriously like I don’t take McCain’s posturing seriously now. Obama made a electoral consideration that he needed to be to the left of Hillary Clinton on abortion in order to be competitive with the women’s vote that accounts for over 55% of voters in the Democratic primary. He cynically used the issue again in milder form to neuter support for Palin by women. You don’t need to convince me that Obama professes support for abortion. If anything even approaching FOCA were rammed through the House and Senate and signed by Obama, the democrats would lose both houses in the next election. I will wager that Obama’s political instincts aren’t deaf. If I’m wrong, I’ll address it then.

  35. M.Z. Forrest permalink
    October 15, 2008 10:06 am

    I wrote my reply before Julian posted there.

  36. Terry permalink
    October 15, 2008 10:08 am

    I reject all of MZ’s assumptions.

    I don’t think Obama is more intelligent than McCain. I see no evidence. He is a more fluid speaker when he has a prepared text. He strings together platitudes more easily when he doesn’t. That is no mark of intelligence.

    BTW, he’s never released his school transcripts…but that’s neither here nor there.

    Anyway, I believe Obama’s proposed tax policies would ultimately hurt the poor and middle class. I believe McCain’s health care policy takes serious, productive steps towards reforming the system in a way that would benefit all Americans, more so than Obama’s.

    I don’t see Obama any better than McCain on war issues. He has stated he wants to involve even more people in the military, even – by requiring women to register for the Selective Service. He has not renounced military intervention in countries that do not present a direct threat to the US.

    And there is that whole abortion thing. Obama’s stated policies and priorities will increase the number of abortions and make it more difficult for pro-lifers to help women and children and will put in concrete the legal dehumanization of the unborn.

    Plus, on the level of character, Obama and Biden both lie – all the time. Biden more, but Obama just as much. He’s lied about his Ayers connection. You don’t have to get hysterical about “Obama’s a socialist” to wonder about his initial claim that Ayers was just a guy whose kids went to school with his kids, when the association is much longer and deeper and, of course, Ayers kids are much older than Obama’s and never went to school at the same time.

    I really can’t see Obama as the paradigm of the fulfilment of Catholic Social Teaching on earth.

  37. David Nickol permalink
    October 15, 2008 10:17 am

    Nickol – are you for real? Lying about your wife’s appearance and abortion both intrinsic evils. You’re not really that pious are you?

    Peanut,

    I do not have to be for real or pious to be correct. Do a little research. Saying something is an intrinsic evil does not tell you how seriously evil it is. Intrinsic evil is a technical term in moral theology. As is pointed out in this paragraph from First Things, intrinsic is not an intensifier.

    One has the uncomfortable sense that Donohue sees the adjective intrinsically here as merely an intensifier, like unspeakably, and wants to take pains to make clear that the Church does not put “same-sex marriage” in the same list of horribles as torture and genocide. But intrinsically means simply intrinsically. An intrinsically evil act is one that is objectively wrong in and of itself, and which therefore can never be justified by circumstances or consequences.

    http://www.firstthings.com/blog/2008/02/26/462/

    Saying something is intrinsically evil does not tell you anything about the magnitude of the evil. A lie told to flatter or please someone is still a lie, and lies are intrinsically evil. Also, a lie told in a campaign commercial or during a presidential debate is an intrinsic evil. How truthful has the candidate of your choice been? If he has lied during the campaign, he has committed an intrinsic evil in an attempt to get elected. If we must never tolerate intrinsic evil, it’s doubtful if we can ever vote at all.

  38. fus01 permalink
    October 15, 2008 10:19 am

    I don’t think George’s major premise is that FOCA will be implemented, but you haven’t offered any evidence that it’s wrong. Essentially, your position is that Obama will do what he says he will on some issues (where you want him to), but not others (where you don’t want him to). Is it just me, or could this argument be made to justify a vote for any candidate?

  39. fus01 permalink
    October 15, 2008 10:24 am

    Personally, I can not imagine a Catholic voting for Obama after reading that article. I think he’ll win either way, but it is astonishing to me that ‘other issues’ – which Obama will not have any funds left to address with plummeting tax revenues and a large bill from the bail out – outweigh the fact that he is the most pro-abortion/pro-stem-cell-research extremist we have had on a national ticket based on his record.

  40. M.Z. Forrest permalink
    October 15, 2008 10:25 am

    It could be used to justify any choice. That doesn’t mean you or I have to accept someone’s prudential calculus.

  41. Peanut Butter permalink
    October 15, 2008 10:26 am

    MZ – why do you conjecture that Obama will not really put FOCA through? He has every reason to do so. Just like Julian says. Congress will be in the hands of Democrats who largely, with a few but courageous exceptions have thrown their own life ethic under the bus. Besides, he accepts donations from Planned Parenthood. He is very much beholden to them. And, if his voting record is any indication of how he will act as president with respect to abortion… I have every reason to believe he is absolutely serious about making abortion more accessible, more feasable, less restricted, etc… Obama just doesn’t make sense as a man who’s serious about social justice.

    You’re absolutely right. Obama is making electoral calculations all the time. His communication is very much influenced by it. He is calculating, meticulous, smooth, smart, eloquent. It doesn’t make him honest, though. I don’t know that I’m all that tempted to believe he’s a lamb in a wolf skin. Quite the reverse. I worry that many of us are duped.

  42. M.Z. Forrest permalink
    October 15, 2008 10:30 am

    I realize “Obama is lying about abortion” isn’t the strongest argument in the world. In part I’m basing this calculation off of our experience with Bill Clinton. In part I’m basing it off Obama being relatively quiet about the issue in this campaign (as opposed to the primary.)

  43. Peanut Butter permalink
    October 15, 2008 10:30 am

    Nickol – I think you understand the semantics. So do I.

  44. October 15, 2008 10:40 am

    For those who think FOCA could never become a law consider that it is NOT being rammed through House and Senate. Both houses are very open to it.

    The house already has more than 71 cosponsors (70 Democrats, one Republican) and growing. (To view an always-current list of co-sponsors, arranged by state, click here for the current list: http://www.capwiz.com/nrlc/issues/bills/?bill=9653451&cs_party=all&cs_status=C&cs_state=ALL

    The senate version introduced by Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Ca.), has more than 13 Democratic cosponsors and that number is growing, including presidential candidate Barack Obama (IL) plus Sen. Hillary Clinton (NY), and independent Joseph Lieberman (Ct.). To view an always-current list of co-sponsors, arranged by state, click http://www.capwiz.com/nrlc/issues/bills/?bill=9668701&cs_party=all&cs_status=C&cs_state=ALL.

    Planned Parenthood is actively campaigning for the bill. See: http://www.plannedparenthood.org/issues-action/courts-judiciary/support-foca-14393.htm.

  45. Peanut Butter permalink
    October 15, 2008 10:45 am

    Nathan – thank you! FOCA is very much for real. It’s not just a ploy to get out the Left vote.

  46. M.Z. Forrest permalink
    October 15, 2008 10:52 am

    Not to get buried in details:

    FOCA was first proposed in the late 1980s, when abortion proponents feared that the U.S. Supreme Court was poised to overturn Roe v. Wade. Since then, pro-abortion politicians have routinely pledged support for FOCA and promised, if elected, to push for the enactment of this dangerous legislation to the delight of its supporters.

    For example, when Bill Clinton took office in January 1993, Planned Parenthood (and others) gleefully predicted that FOCA would be the law of the land within six months. However, the legislation languished after Republicans took control of Congress in November 1994.

    Since the early 1990’s, pro-abortion members of Congress have, from time-to-time, reintroduced FOCA. In 2004, Senator Barbara Boxer introduced the legislation, publicly arguing that popular laws requiring that women be fully informed about the risks and alternatives abortion, mandating a teenager involve her parent or guardian in her abortion decision, and limiting public funding and the use of public facilities for abortions should be invalidated.

    http://www.aul.org/FOCA

    The actual text of the bill should give away the seriousness of the effort. It is written like a press release. It is intended to be fodder for fundraising letters.

  47. David Nickol permalink
    October 15, 2008 11:10 am

    Nickol – I think you understand the semantics. So do I.

    Peanut,

    Actually, I don’t know what your point is. My point is that intrinsically evil acts can be “mortal sins” (abortion) or “venial sins” (a false compliment). Abortion is an intrinsically evil act. However, voting for a pro-choice candidate in spite of his or her stand on abortion, not because of it, is not an intrinsically evil act. People who are calling abortion “intrinsically evil” because they think it means something like “unspeakably evil” either don’t understand the meaning of intrinsically evil or are trying to delude people into believing that intrinsic evils are worse than other evils.

    Those who are making abortion the primary issue in the election because it is an intrinsic evil are mistaken. It is really an unnecessary concept in the whole argument. That does not mean the argument against abortion, or the argument about voting, is incorrect. What it does mean is that people are mistaken who think the law must be used to criminalize any act that is intrinsically evil.

    Or to put it another way, a lot of people are throwing around the concept of intrinsic evil who don’t know what they are talking about.

  48. October 15, 2008 11:17 am

    First, sorry I had old numbers about FOCA support. In doing a recount, there are now 107 members of House and 20 members of the Senate co-sponsoring FOCA. Yes, FOCA has been attempted in the past. However, there is more support for it from members of Congress than ever more. The current legislation was introduced April 19, 2007. Given our country’s political climate at this time in history, it would be imprudent for Catholics to assume the FOCA is too radical to ever be passed.

    In fact, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Pro-Life Secretariat has urged clear, vigilant, and persistent advocacy against the “Freedom of Choice Act” (or FOCA). The Pro-Life Secretariat has expressed grave concern to state Catholic conferences that FOCA would, if enacted and signed into law, sweep away hundreds of pro-life laws and policies at the state and federal levels! Check out the USCCB-approved alert released September 24, 2008: http://www.nchla.org/acti ondisplay.asp?ID=263

    For a careful legal analysis of FOCA by the USCCB’s Office of General Counsel, see: http://www.nchla.org/datasource/idocuments/pl-foca.pdf

  49. October 15, 2008 11:22 am

    Sorry, the link broke. Here it is again – http://www.nchla.org/actiondisplay.asp?ID=263

  50. October 15, 2008 11:30 am

    I must say, it does seem a little odd to accuse one’s opponents (and the bishops) or perpetuating a fantasy when one’s rationale is that Obama will default on his campaign promises you don’t like, fulfill the ones you do like, and this will somehow make everything better.

    However, I will say, that if I could muster any belief in the idea that Obama’s economic and health care policies would help rather than harming the common good — I might find your argument somewhat more convincing.

  51. Peanut Butter permalink
    October 15, 2008 12:14 pm

    Nickol – So who you gonna vote for? Obama? Because abortion is no more an intrinsic evil than what happened on Wall Street? I get the definitions! Do you not believe that some things are worse than others? That’s what the discussion’s about! Forget about splitting intrinsic hairs. There are good people who just won’t vote for Obama precisely because he’s willing to sacrifice children in the womb for political support. Does life have no primacy? It’s not a dictionary issue. It’s an issue of life and death that affects hundreds of thousands of mothers and their babies now, and in the future. Obama’s presidency will have a dramatic impact on that! It’s not fair to minimize the gravity of voting for Obama by saying that lying is just as intrinsically evil as abortion. You know what our bishops mean. You know what our Popes have meant and mean.

    “The end result of this is tragic: not only is the fact of the destruction of so many human lives still to be born or in their final stage so extremely grave and disturbing, but no less grave and disturbing is the fact that conscience itself, darkened as it were by such widespread conditioning, is finding it inreasingly difficult to distinguish between good and evil in what concerns the basic value of human life.”

    — Pope John Paul II, The gospel of life = Evangelium vitae. 1995, New York: Random House. ix, 228 p. pp. 8-9

  52. October 15, 2008 12:29 pm

    Darwin,

    That is the hallmark of the empty suit that is Obama. People pour in their hopes and dreams, expecting him to fulfill their particular ideological choices. Obama makes it easy by being a chameleon, changing his position with each group he addresses.

    If you want to see what this man would do, don’t listen to his words, look at his actions. His meager votes (when he wasn’t a coward and voted “present”) and his prior associations, such as his 20 year membership in the First Church of G*ddamn America. Check out his supporters like the founder of the Nation of Islam and the Weatherman, Ayers.

    He has accused John McCain of being a coward and not being willing to say his criticisms to Obama’s face. McCain’s first response should have been to challenge him to a special debate, with an impartial moderator who only would only enforce the rules. The candidates could each ask the other 5 questions of *their* choosing, with 30 seconds to respond after the answer.

    I’d like to see Obama have to put hos money where his mouth is.

  53. October 15, 2008 2:14 pm

    MZ,

    I appreciate that you outlined your view as you did. You address some very critical flaws in both campaigns, and… I feel justify your vote.

    I also appreciate the discussion that has ensued…

    Here are a few links to articles that I have personally found… intriguing…

    http://www.mycatholicvoice.com/media/view/Mo9wm9

    http://www.mycatholicvoice.com/media/view/voj14b

    http://www.mycatholicvoice.com/media/view/nwveO6

    There’s also some interesting discussion taking place at:

    http://www.mycatholicvoice.com/group/Voice+Your+Vote

    I too am feeling drawn to Obama… I personally feel he will bring a “greater good” all around, but I’m still waffling a bit… I’m interested to see tonight’s debate.

    Thanks for your post… I appreciate your insight…

  54. David Nickol permalink
    October 15, 2008 2:45 pm

    Do you not believe that some things are worse than others? That’s what the discussion’s about! Forget about splitting intrinsic hairs. . . . It’s not a dictionary issue.

    Peanut,

    The primary argument regarding this election is that voting for a pro-choice candidate is “remote material cooperation with intrinsic evil,” is permissible only (a) if you vote for that candidate in spite of, rather than because of, his position on abortion, and (b) if you have a “proportionate reason.”

    It is a very technical argument of the kind most people have never had to deal with before (unless they have studied moral theology), and you are arguing that we shouldn’t be precise about what the words mean?

  55. Peanut Butter permalink
    October 15, 2008 4:04 pm

    Nickol – I do appreciate our interchange. We should be precise about what words mean. You are right about that. There has been a great deal of imprecision in the language regarding Obama and abortion and Catholics.

    The heart of the matter remains the same, though: abortion destroys children in the womb and it hurts their mothers and those who perform them, not to mention fathers, relationships, intimacy, and societal and familial bonds. Are you willing to vote in a president who has made this literally and symbolically his first priority in office for the sake of a number of other issues that are also important to us as Catholics? I’m not. It’s not worth it in my view. It’s not either or for me. I want both. I demand both. Abortion is such a fundamental insult to human dignity that I am unconvinced of Obama’s assurances of protecting the worker, honeslty regulating the free market, etc… If we promise to make the destruction of children more of an option for mothers experiencing difficult pregnancies, how can we sincerely pull capital punishment off the table? How can we support the immigrant who taxes society’s resources? How can I look at Iran and see brothers and sisters I should have a dialogue with? Why should I care about what the market does to those who will lose their homes? I’m certainly glad we can debate the issue. Peace.

  56. Jeremy permalink
    October 15, 2008 4:12 pm

    I’m sure the bishops will be pleased that you are paying so much attention to the ‘technicalities’ of their statements.

  57. joseph permalink
    October 15, 2008 10:50 pm

    As far as the “economic crisis” is concerned, I’m sure my family and I will do all right.

    “Me and mine will be all right. Screw the rest of you.” Nice.

    While MI types this on his laptop over broadband drinking his latte and sitting in his comfy chair. Apparently, a man can no longer have concern for his wife and children without being considered heartless by the supporter of the most radically pro-child murder candidate in history.

  58. Nathan permalink
    October 16, 2008 1:45 pm

    Another bishop (Bishop Finn) just release this statement voting our Catholic conscience very similiar to the statements release by the bishops of Dallas and Fort Worth this past weekend.

    “Some groups calling themselves ‘Catholic’ have suggested that generous programs for the poor will reduce abortions more than the repeal of Roe v. Wade. But a candidate who pledges that he or she will seek to immediately ratify the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA), signals to voters that the reduction of abortions is not a goal. They are asking voters to suspend the effort to constitutionally protect human life, and – at the same time – to discard all the good progress we have made to actually reduce the number of abortions in the last thirty-five years. Such a candidate is asking Catholics to ‘give up’ on abortion. They want us to deny our conscience and ignore their callous disregard for the most vulnerable human life.

    When a candidate regards the unborn child as unworthy of the defense of law, then he or she asks us as Catholic to join them in ignoring the lessons of history by which African Americans in this country were once regarded as non-persons; or the Jews of Europe were once marked for genocide or racial purification. Had we known, would we have supported the “choice” to enslave or destroy these brothers and sisters of ours? Can a candidate expect us as Catholics to ignore the classification of the unborn as non-persons? Will he or she expect us to look aside while these babies are quietly exterminated at a rate of 4000 per day? This is precisely what they are asking us to do.”

  59. Franklin Jennings permalink
    October 17, 2008 3:46 pm

    Right down the memory hole.

    Let’s see how busy we can keep MinTruth.

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