The Scandal Of Doug Kmiec

Prof. Kmiec sent me an email. You can read it here.

I have more than spoken my peace on this matter and don't intend to rehearse it here. I'll only add that Catholic teaching does permit a vote for a pro-abortion candidate under either of two conditions

  • that the candidate is the lesser of two evils --in other words, we can vote to limit harm
  • or that there is a proportionate reason to do so --meaning, that there is some massive, over-weaning danger that in this particular instance outweighs the abortion question (you're not required to vote for Stalin because he's against abortion). What outweighs the slaughter of innocents? Not much. But, for example, those Catholics truly troubled in conscience by the war might think that it is doing such harm to the country and the world that they have to vote Obama. I question their judgment on the matter --especially now the war is clearly winding down-- but they're within their rights.
What's interesting to me is that Kmiec doesn't use the latter argument (which I can just barely wrap my mind around) but the former. He's trying to say Obama is more pro-life than McCain. That's just flat-out nuts, as the links above demonstrate, I think more than adequately.

What Kmiec's argument shows, I believe, is that he's a man who has given up on politics.

We are all called to build a culture of life - but there's more to it than just hoping that the next Supreme Court justice somehow deals with Roe v. Wade. A bad economy is threatening to human life. Women facing the moral tragedy of abortion - are facing it, now, today - and they need a supportive community and tangible help, not condemnation.

As Ronald Reagan's legal counsel and as a dean and professor at Catholic University and Notre Dame, I have worked to put the law on the side of life where it belongs.

But after 35 years, a new approach is needed. Too many unborn lives are being lost as we wait for judges to get it right. Barack Obama's strengthening of support for prenatal care, health care, maternity leave, and adoption will make the difference.

I'm going to ignore for the moment the nasty dig at his fellow pro-lifers --as if they hadn't spent all these years since Roe helping women rather than condemning them. Who does he think is running all those crisis pregnancy centers and homes for unwed mothers, and Project Gabriel and Project Rachel, adoption agencies, etc, etc, etc, for the love of all that is holy? Ain't Planned Parenthood. But leave that be.

This is exactly the same argument at bottom that I see in comment boxes at Catholic blogs. "I am so sick of the Republican party promising us the moon and then giving us nothing." "What did Bush ever do for us?"

I understand their frustration. But jokes about philosopher kings aside, to win political victories, you have to persuade people, and that takes time. You work and work and work to win a little here and there, you lose some, you backtrack, you win again, you get momentum, just when you think you've won your opponent steps in with some brilliant maneuver and stops you in your tracks. It can be disheartening --the moreso the more you care about the issue.

But all of those incremental steps are really a big public debate about what's right. That's how consensus is eventually won. That's how hearts and minds are changed --over time. Sometimes more time, sometimes less.

But a free people needs to resist the temptation to tyranny. The Left (whose cultural program tends to lose at the ballot box) likes to rule by judicial fiat. The Values- Right likes to try to rule by Constitutional Amendment (which is a loser strategy, but we never question the strategy, we question the goodness of our people, which is easier). Elements on both sides want the fight to just be....over. Just do it! Just get it over with! Both sides hate politics, in other words.

And that's what I think has happened to Douglas Kmiec. He's been in the trenches for so long, he's thrown up his hands. I give him about 30 days into an Obama administration before he suffers deep regret.

P.S. Here's a partial list of "what Republicans have done for us" by the way. Really it's what pro-lifers have achieved politically in the years since Roe--and which Kmiec is prepared to see as nothing and have blown up by FOCA.