The Dilemma of the PLCOS

It occurred to me recently that the typical Pro-Life Catholic Obama Supporter finds himself in a bit of a pickle… on the one hand, he obviously hopes (and prays?) that Senator Obama wins the presidential election; on the other hand, in order for his repeated assurances that there’s just no way that Obama’s abortion extremism will ever come to pass, he must similarly hope (and pray?) that the Illinois Senator’s party does not do as well as it appears it will, because if the Democrats do succeed in making substantial gains in the House and especially the Senate, then that abortion extremism has a very good chance of in fact becoming law.

So… go Obama, go GOP???

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Chris Burgwald

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  1. Paul, why can’t we take them at their word, instead of employing a hermeneutic of suspicion? Whatever the faulty reasoning employed by, for example, Doug Kmiec, he *does* have a track record that establishes his pro-life bona fides. The idea that one might support a particular candidate *despite* their stance on issue X — not because of it — is well-established, practically, philosophically and theologically; I, for instance, will vote for McCain *despite* his views on research on frozen embryonic human beings… I see no reason to deny that the same is possible for a PLCOS. I want to be clear: I think their reasoning is faulty & muddied; but that doesn’t mean that I presume that they are not of good faith.

    I just don’t see what value or purpose there is in impugning the motives or intentions of PLCOSs… better to focus on the error of their thinking that accuse them of being in bad faith.

  2. Best not to fall into that trap in the first place. Pro-Obama Catholics are more twisted than a boxload of Philadelphia pretzels. Sometimes they almost make sense, as in Douglas Benedict Arnold Kmiec. Sometimes they just babble, as in Joe Biden, Proud ‘Pope John XXII Catholic-‘ as one can determine one’s Catholicity by a fave Pontiff. These poor deluded souls are dropping into the same hole as our esteemed bishops since oh about 1968. Time after time our bishops issued letters and statements and stuff about solidarity with the poor and social justice and the rights of the downtrodden- all good and proper. Time after time the official Dems swatted them away. Comes Cardinal Bernadin with his ‘seamless garment.’ Same back of the hand. So now we have shepherds who got their croziers from the Twin Towers, Johannes Paulus Magnus and Benedictus Wonderfulness. With the admonition to wack a few noggins once in a while with them. Thus the wonderful gusher of recent statements about human life, abortion, citizenship, stuff like that there. Highlighted by the witness of our beloved Archbishop Chaput, The Bishop For Our Time, much like Dagger John Hughes in the mid 19th century and Blessed Fulton Sheen post WW II. The Pro-Obama Catholics will be seen ultimately as useful idiots- should their idol ascend to the throne of Washington Lincoln and Slick Willie- or doofuses if the Jet Jockey gets there. We will have a massive final for all the marbles rumble on abortion in our great nation in the next three to four years. Coinciding I believe with the increasing number of Baby Boomer women no longer able to conceive and bear children. Let us see how these useful idiots choose sides. I’ve made my choice- as has Don Mac, Chris B., Tito and Company.

  3. Just read an article by E. J. Dionne entitled, “A Catholic Shift to Obama?” It says a Pew Research Center survey showed Obama leading John McCain among Catholics by a margin of 55 percent to 35 percent. This concerns me a lot.

  4. Unfortunately, Cathy, I’m not surprised… concerned (like you) and disappointed, but not surprised. Most Catholics have traditionally gone Democrat, and they also traditionally go with the flow.

    A lot of work remains in evangelizing and catechizing our own.

  5. I don’t know that it is necessarily the case that pro-life Catholics for Obama would be routing for the GOP to take control of Congress to stymie any abortion bill. I think the PLCOS would be for a Democratic majority so that Obama’s administration can start work its miracles. I think also it has to come down to fundamental assumptions.

    From the arguments I’ve read, the two things that make Obama attractive to Catholics is his economic policies (read social justice), and the War in Iraq. If the assumption is that abortions occur predominantly because of financial concerns, then fixing the economy–or at least offering huge entitlements–should fix the abortion problem. If we feel justified in “slaughtering innocents in Iraq”, we give scandal and teach that we can kill anyone in our way, and so shutting down the slaughterhouse would send the message that it isn’t okay to slaughter the innocents. Thus Obama, despite being hugely pro-choice, would actually lead to a decrease in abortions.

    Of course, if your fundamental assumption is that people predominantly have abortions because they can’t stand the inconvenience of a kid (while enjoying all the pleasures of sex), then the whole argument above falls apart.

    I wonder which assumption is correct?

  6. Ryan, I agree that it’s extremely unlikely that a PLCOS would be rooting for the GOP, but how else can they maintain their position that a President Obama wouldn’t be able to achieve his agenda with regard to ESCR (clone & kill) and abortion? If a PLCOS both supports Obama *and* a stronger Dem majority in both houses (as presumably s/he would), the almost certain consequence is the federal funding of abortion and destructive ESCR.

    I agree with you on the question of assumptions.

  7. The justification comes from, I think, the notion that if the motivation isn’t there, it doesn’t matter what is on the books. (Included might also be a misguided feeling that some abortions are okay, such as when it is either abort the baby or lose both the baby and the mother.) For example, here at UW, there’s still a law that says if we ride our horses onto campus and tether them in Prexy’s Pasture, the UW President has to feed and water them. Strangely, you don’t actually see any horses tethered in the pasture (though we have now filled it with all kinds of bizarre artwork). The law is on the books, but there’s no motivation to take advantage of it.

    The PLCOS feel that if the motivation to have abortions is not there, it doesn’t matter if abortion is legal or not–no one will have one. Just as how when alcohol is legal, no one ever binge drinks, and when controlled substances are legal the fascination with them dies out and no ever uses them.

  8. Regarding Kmiec specifically, I think a strong argument could be made that he is now arguing in bad faith. See, for example, his recent article in the LA Times:

    “…when these differences are great and persistent, as they unfortunately have been on abortion, the common political ideal may consist only of that space. This does not, of course, leave the right to life undecided or unprotected. Nor for that matter does the reservation of space for individual determination usurp for Caesar the things that are God’s, or vice versa. Rather, it allows this sensitive moral decision to depend on religious freedom and the voice of God as articulated in each individual’s voluntary embrace of one of many faiths.”

    Notice in this article, 1) Kmiec mischaracterizes the debate about abortion as an issue of ‘religious freedom’, 2) he advocates the ‘personally opposed’ position. As he of all people is certainly aware that Catholics are against abortion as a human rights issue rather than a ‘religious’ issue, it’s hard to maintain that he is arguing in good faith. I think earlier this year Kmiec made a number of arguments that could be held in good faith, but it seems to me that his recent statements are following the well-worn ‘personally opposed’ path of many Democrats before him.

    Perhaps this is unfair, but it strikes me as rather opportunistic for him to try and cash in on the Catholic brand by writing an book-length apologia for Obama. The only reason that the book is important is because he’s using the Catholic label, and he, in fact, misrepresents some of Obama’s past positions in the book (always in ways that are more flattering to Obama).

  9. Notice in this article, 1) Kmiec mischaracterizes the debate about abortion as an issue of ‘religious freedom’, 2) he advocates the ‘personally opposed’ position.

    If I didn’t know any better, I’d suspect Kmiec of taking his talking points directly from Gerald Campbell of Vox Nova.

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