Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska, a strong pro-life advocate, weighed in on the issue with me by e-mail:
“My favorite grandpa, Clem James Sheeran, was Catholic. Irish to the core, his favorite place (other than church) was Notre Dame. I can’t imagine what he would think as the university recognizes someone who contradicts the core values of the Catholic faith by promoting an anti-life agenda. As we learned today, our nation is more pro-life than ever before; it is a very important time to strengthen the message that every baby is created for good purpose and has the potential to make this world a better place.”
While Palin understands this battle is about a fundamental value, Obama supporters trivialize it by suggesting it is about opening a dialogue with people of opposing views. Despite their belittling, this outrage is well deserved. By bestowing the degree on President Pro-Choice, a message is conveyed that he is a role model, someone deserving of recognition in the eyes of the university. Jenkins even said he is an inspiring leader.
Steele also gave thumbs down to the honorary degree this morning on Meet the Press. I’m tickled at what a mess this has turned into for The One: He doesn’t want his position on abortion coming under a media microscope and eroding his advantage among Catholics, but of course he couldn’t turn down the invite lest it look like he was snubbing the Church. The best outcome for him probably would have been Notre Dame pulling the plug weeks ago before the protests picked up steam and the press started paying attention. On the other hand, given the heat he’s taking from the left on counterterror policy, among other issues, reminding progressives he’s a fellow traveler by pissing off pro-lifers isn’t the worst thing he could be doing right now. And considering how high his approval rating is among Catholics, the backlash to this would have to blow up quite a bit further before it does him any real damage.
The speech is set for this afternoon; he will indeed touch on abortion, doubtless in the context of “dialogue” and “understanding,” so we’re bound to have some sort of video tonight. From what I can tell, the only prominent Catholic who doesn’t have an opinion on this one way or the other is, er, the Pope, displaying the sort of squishiness he’s known for when it comes to balancing Church dogma with good relations with liberal Catholic politicians and their constituents. Way to take a stand. I’m going to poll you guys on this, not because there’s much doubt where you’ll come out but because it’s useful to remember there are two distinct issues here: One is simply inviting Obama to speak, the other is awarding him an honorary degree. According to the conference of U.S. bishops, those who defy the Church’s fundamental moral beliefs “should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.” Where does this shake out?