Obama NOT “aggressive, disruptive and apocalyptic”? Cardinal Stafford reconsidered…

Or that’s what NCR columnist John Allen tries to do in his weekly column out today. You’ll recall the outcry after the initial report of Cardinal Stafford’s remarks at CUA in Washington.
Today, Allen argues that Stafford’s remarks must be viewed in context. John has the goods, including this YouTube audio and this excerpt of the relevant passage:

“Our exploration this weekend takes place in the context of Nov. 4, 2008. On that date, a cultural earthquake hit America. Senator Barak Obama was elected President of the United States. He appears to be a relaxed, smiling man. His rhetorical skills, as I mentioned, are very highly developed. He has a way of teasing crowds, and, from all reports, even individuals one-to-one. Under all of that grace and charm, there is a tautness of will, a clenched jaw, a state of constant alertness to attack and resist any external influence that might threaten his independence. A ‘state of alertness,’ yes … that’s putting it mildly. Beneath each word he speaks, he carries on sapping operations against the enemy city. His clenched jaw was seen at his talk before the Planned Parenthood supporters July 17, 2007. There he asserted, and I’m quoting somewhat out of context but not out of his meaning: ‘We are not only going to win this election, but also we are going to transform this nation. … The first thing I’d do as president is to sign the Freedom of Choice Act. … I put Roe at the center of my lesson plan on reproductive freedom when I taught constitutional law. … I don’t want my daughters punished by a pregnancy. … On this issue, I will not yield.’ Note the way the president-elect wished to describe the killing of his unborn grandchild. His daughters must not be ‘punished,’ ‘punished,’ by pregnancy. His rhetoric is post-modernist, and marks an agenda and vision that are aggressive, disruptive and apocalyptic. Catholics weep over these words. We weep over the violence concealed behind the rhetoric of our young president-to-be. What should we do with our hot, angry tears of betrayal? First, our tears are agonistic. We must acknowledge that. For the next few years, Gethsemane will not be marginal. We will know that garden.”


Among other things, Allen argues that this shows Stafford was referring to Obama’s rhetoric, and in a particular event, not to Obama as a person. I think that’s too generous a reading by half, at least. Moreover, Stafford’s characterizations of Obama himself are striking–to me–worse than what was originally reported, portraying Obama as an almost predatory character, both dangerous and deceptive. But judge for yourself, reading it all here

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posted November 21, 2008 at 12:37 pm

Stafford should get on the same page as his RCC members. Here is some interesting news from an article I just read: Exit polls reveal that 54 percent of Catholic voters supported President-elect Barack Obama, despite entreaties from Catholic leadership to vote against Senator Obama because of his support for abortion rights. While this may come as a surprise to Catholic bishops who are meeting this week to discuss the election, it is consistent with what we know about the attitudes of Catholic voters. In a poll commissioned by Planned Parenthood last year, Catholic voters were asked to name their largest concerns around the issues of abortion and family planning. The number-one response was that there are “too many unwanted children in America whose parents can’t take care of them.” That government was not doing enough to provide education and resources to help people make responsible decisions about sexual behavior and pregnancy. With this in place teens will not become parents before they are ready. And I may add never would any age.

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posted November 21, 2008 at 2:39 pm

As a fervent Obama supporter and ever-disgusted Catholic at the single-issue mentality of so many bishops, as well as the outrageously strong influence of the EWTN and Neuhaus/neocon crowd, I must say that I agree with Allen. As usual, he cuts through the haze to provide facts and clear analysis.

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posted November 21, 2008 at 4:38 pm

So why don’t we revisit this issue in February, when we will all know what the first act of Obama will have been?

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posted November 21, 2008 at 5:04 pm

I get all your points about Obama’s pro-choice stance, and by no means do I consider myself pro-choice. I do consider myself a pro-life democrat however, which IS a viable position to hold.
I understand that at the local level there are one-issue voters who term themselves Republican for the value-based ideologies to which they hold; to be respected! Yet, at the state and national levels I observe the candidates topping the tickets of their respective races – most recently and recognizably John McCain – using that issue not as a platform for them to move their life agenda in the proper direction, but as a means of trying to corner people of faith and get elected.
I base that opinion on a few things: My assertions, though talking about McCain point to a pattern I have seen in the entire Republican party over the past 20 years or so. McCain did not arrive at his current stance on Roe v. Wade until 2007, just months if not weeks if not days before entering the race to claim what he felt should rightfully have been his in 2000, during his first run at the White House. It’s a helpful tool for a centrist in the Republican party to adopt a conservative stance on Roe v. Wade.
Similarly, his stance on embryonic stem cell research was readjusted in the nick of time for his first run at the White House.
There are plenty other issues when it comes to respecting life such as his approach to this unjust war which has killed thousands upon thousands of innocent civilians as well as in excess of 4,000 US soldiers’ lives for baseless intelligence, if you can call it that.
More? Ok. How about his approaches to reduced funding (regardless of whether one calls them ‘cuts’ or ‘reduced increases’) for social programs, his problematic approach to social security, health care for the elderly, capital punishment, the arts and plenty more.
…And I have not even began to touch on the despicable tenor of his campaign which made issues out of non-issues, did little to defend untruths about his opponent such as his religious affiliation and ethnicity (until it had been going on for a while), and even then presented “decent” as an antonym to “Arab”.
As for cries of “terrorist” and “kill him” aimed at Obama by people at McCain’s rallies: “fringe people” they shall be called, and no repudiation of the violence in those cries was ever made. Pro-life? Let’s start by defending the life of your opponent which your supporters are shouting to end!
Nor have I mentioned the fact that the number of abortions in this country increased under Regan and both Bushes, but decreased under Clinton. How can that be?
It is due to the democrat party’s acknowledgment of the critical role of education in preventing unwanted pregnancies which includes abstinence education. Interestingly, the educational wing of planned parenthood is never recognized but is also applicable here.
I grow nervous about the inherent elitism that exists when a religious body instructs its entire flock to vote one particular way, but does so in a way that preserves its tax-exempt status.
And I grow absolutely outraged at news of my Church denying the body & blood of Christ to Catholics who vote a certain way, as if the Eucharist is a weapon. Christ was put to death WITH a weapon and I highly doubt he’d prefer his flesh and blood to be used AS one today.
Christ died for all – not just Republicans. How ironic, that those accused of not protecting life are members of the party that has statistically proven to do a better job at protecting the unborn than those receiving our Lord without opposition.
The ancient Romans used to do everything they could to prevent Christians from receiving the Eucharist, yet Christians had the will to bind together and risk execution to receive the body and blood in secret. Yet, here we American Catholics are, dividing a Church with the very thing which previously bound us together. SHAMEFUL.
How did things turn out for the Romans?

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Mark from PA

posted November 21, 2008 at 5:49 pm

Do I have this right? Planned Parenthood was polling Catholic voters? I wouldn’t trust what they had to say. Planned Parenthood is an enemy of the Catholic Church and Catholics. There is little common ground between this organization and the Church. You can’t really believe in both Planned Parenthood and the Catholic faith. We are talking about 2 different value systems here.

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posted November 21, 2008 at 8:58 pm
• Fifty-four percent of women who have abortions had used a contraceptive method (usually the condom or the pill) during the month they became pregnant. Among those women, 76% of pill users and 49% of condom users report having used their method inconsistently, while 13% of pill users and 14% of condom users report correct use.[9]
• Forty-six percent of women who have abortions had not used a contraceptive method during the month they became pregnant. Of these women, 33% had perceived themselves to be at low risk for pregnancy, 32% had had concerns about contraceptive methods, 26% had had unexpected sex and 1% had been forced to have sex.[9]
The linear chart found on the page of the link I posted seems to indicate that abortion declined steadily ever since the Reagan Administration, including both Bushes.

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Jane Muller

posted November 21, 2008 at 10:23 pm

No prophet is accepted in his own country. The din from the roar of indulgent, self-centered Americans will drown out the words of the Cardinal. Soon they will suffer the fate of the self-indulgent Romans.

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posted November 23, 2008 at 11:15 pm

Right on, Phil!

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posted November 23, 2008 at 11:32 pm

But I would add that economics is not why many well-off college women procure abortions. It is all about being inconvenienced.

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Your Name

posted November 28, 2008 at 9:23 am

For years I voted a straight pro-life ticket beginning with Reagan but after the wars… the lack of justice for those sitting on death row when dna testing would prove them innocent… the poor sentenced to lives with little or no health insurance.. the greed and general lack of concern for anyone except the uber rich … the disappearing middle class due to the failure of trickle-down economics…well I realized there were other lives at stake besides the unborn.

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