The journalistic device of the imaginary interview with a VIP or celebrity or dead person who you’ll never be able to talk to in real life is a risky one, even for the best writers. Rhode Island Bishop Thomas Tobin tries his hand at it in the Feb. 12 edition of the diocesan newspaper, in “an interview I didn’t have, but can imagine having, with President Obama.” It’s about abortion, not surprisingly. Tobin has been outspoken–his call for a moratorium on immigration raids last year made news, and few friends in the establishment. And in 2007 the bishop compared pro-choice Rudy Giuliani to Pontius Pilate–ouch!
But I think his imaginary interview with Obama stretches the imagination a bit too far. To wit:
TOBIN: Is it safe to assume that you consider the use of tax dollars to pay for abortions overseas to be good foreign policy?
OBAMA: I believe that people overseas should have the same rights we Americans have – the right to kill their children and use abortion as a form of birth control.
TOBIN: But shouldn’t we be using foreign aid for more positive reasons – for example, to provide food, clothing, shelter and medicine to impoverished children?
OBAMA: Bishop, obviously you’re missing the point. If you control the population and eliminate the children, you don’t have to worry about giving them food, clothing, shelter and medicine now do you?
TOBIN: Mr. President, during the campaign you said that you wanted to reduce the number of abortions. And yet now you’re providing American tax dollars to encourage abortions overseas. Isn’t that a contradiction?
OBAMA: Let me be clear. During the campaign, I was talking about American babies. People in other countries have to make their own decisions about killing their children, and if that’s what they want to do, I’m willing to help them. But let’s move on . . .
TOBIN: Sir, you’ve taken a very strong stance against the use of torture, a decision that’s been widely applauded. But at the same time, some scientific studies have shown that the procedures used in abortion cause terrible pain and suffering for the unborn child. Isn’t that a form of torture too?
OBAMA: Um . . . let me get back to you on that.