Obama’s Notre Dame Speech: Reaction Roundup


Here is the complete transcript. Video is here.

Andrew Sullivan thought the speech “deeply Christian.” He noted this passage on faith, which also resonated with me:

In this world of competing claims about what is right and what is true, have confidence in the values with which you’ve been raised and educated. Be unafraid to speak your mind when those values are at stake. Hold firm to your faith and allow it to guide you on your journey. Stand as a lighthouse.

But remember too that the ultimate irony of faith is that it necessarily admits doubt. It is the belief in things not seen. It is beyond our capacity as human beings to know with certainty what God has planned for us or what He asks of us, and those of us who believe must trust that His wisdom is greater than our own.

This doubt should not push us away from our faith. But it should humble us. It should temper our passions, and cause us to be wary of self-righteousness. It should compel us to remain open, and curious, and eager to continue the moral and spiritual debate that began for so many of you within the walls of Notre Dame. And within our vast democracy, this doubt should remind us to persuade through reason, through an appeal whenever we can to universal rather than parochial principles, and most of all through an abiding example of good works, charity, kindness, and service that moves hearts and minds.

Sister Toldjah is not buying that garbage about being moved by the doubt inherent in faith to temper our passions and remain wary of self-righteousness. She chastises Notre Dame’s graduating seniors for “standing with a President” instead of “standing with the unborn,” and calls Obama’s position on abortion “extremist.”

In his speech to the Notre Dame graduates, President Obama called for “common ground” on the issue of abortion. But we all know Obama’s extremist position on the issue, as evidenced by his testy responses on the subject of late term abortions last year. So, exactly what “common ground” can be found with someone who doesn’t believe that a “non-viable” infant born alive after an attempted late term abortion should receive medical care – a position he said he took because he believed the law was a “back door” attempt by those who oppose abortion to chip away at Roe v. Wade “protections” – a reason that FactCheck essentially found to be bogus when they examined Obama’s voting record and statements on the issue closely?

At another right-wing blog — Patterico’s Pontifications — a guest poster with the initials DRJ gives a straightforward account of the speech. Although DRJ does not reveal his own views on abortion, the way he describes the speech and the parts of it that he chooses to emphasize speak volumes about his own fair-mindedness:

Although protesters were present, Barack Obama was given a courteous welcome at the Notre Dame commencement and he encouraged Americans to learn to disagree respectfully:

“Understand – I do not suggest that the debate surrounding abortion can or should go away. No matter how much we may want to fudge it – indeed, while we know that the views of most Americans on the subject are complex and even contradictory – the fact is that at some level, the views of the two camps are irreconcilable. Each side will continue to make its case to the public with passion and conviction. But surely we can do so without reducing those with differing views to caricature.

Open hearts. Open minds. Fair-minded words.”

Obama shared an anecdote about correspondence he received during the Presidential campaign from a doctor who opposed abortion. Instead of asking Obama to change his position on abortion, the doctor encouraged Obama to approach the issue in a fair-minded way. Obama said he prayed he would extend the same presumption of good faith to others that the doctor had given him.

Obama also called on Americans to “make sure that all of our health care policies are grounded in clear ethics and sound science, as well as respect for the equality of women.”

Descriptive, informative, non-judgmental. Very nice.

Barbara O’Brien appreciated that Obama made it clear he wanted to reduce the number of abortions by reducing the number of unintended pregnancies:  “So often ‘abortion reduction’ and ‘common ground’ are code words for ‘we’re going to nibble Roe v. Wade to death with stupid abortion restrictions,’ ” and continued:

I’ve said many times that what really separates people who want to criminalize abortion and those who don’t is not whether they think a fetus is a person. It’s whether they appreciate that a woman is a person. “Women are moral adults and agents; they think about abortion in complex and thoughtful ways and they should be trusted to make the decision.” Exactly. To me, terminating a healthy pregnancy is a sad thing, but reducing women to the status of brood animals is a lot sadder.

Jon Perr has the 10 things that Pres. Obama’s Notre Dame opponents “need to know about President Obama, the Notre Dame speech and Catholic voters.”

Unfogged has a short post that is worth quoting in full:

This whole Notre Dame commencement thing pushes a lot of my buttons. I’m sorry for the graduates that the day that is supposed to celebrate their accomplishments is being turned into a sideshow and pissed that most of the controversy is being whipped up by people not associated with the university. It also bothers me that Catholicism, the religion I most closely identify with, is being boiled down to one issue and politicized.

I know this isn’t new. In a way, I witnessed this shift first hand. When I entered Catholic school, many of our religion classes were about human rights and standing up for things like ending torture and the persecution of women but, by my senior year, there were announcements on the loudspeaker in the mornings asking for us to pray for the election of politicians who would preserve the sanctity of life.

I guess this doesn’t bother me as much with evangelicals because so many are proud anti-intellectuals. Modern Catholics, as I always saw them, believe in education and the exploration of ideas so shutting someone out and rejecting what they have to offer because of one belief seems like a big step back for the religion.

I’m not Catholic, but amen anyway.

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