The Case Against Barack Obama

Deal W. Hudson
June 26, 2008

For the past six months, I have commented regularly on Barack Obama’s outreach to Catholic voters. Looking over what I have written, I realized that taken together these articles serve as a one-stop reference for Catholics who want to know where Obama stands on the non-negotiable Catholic issues.

Before I get to the problems with the senator’s candidacy, let me say that Obama strikes me as a likable man with a great deal of personal charisma. I’m making a case against his political positions, and not against him personally. That’s an important distinction to keep in mind.

With that said, there’s no way to nuance this: Barack Obama’s record puts him on the extreme wing of the abortion movement, and has already been labeled by one critic as the “infanticide candidate.” Despite this, polls show Obama gaining traction with Catholic voters, and Catholics, in general, are trending toward the Democratic Party.

Barack Obama’s stances on life and marriage issues are simply antithetical to Catholic social teaching. From the beginning of his candidacy, this has been Obama’s greatest vulnerability in attracting Catholic voters (“Why Barack Obama Will Not Win the Catholic Vote,” 1/7/08). In the primary fight against Hillary Clinton, for example, Catholic resistance to Obama’s candidacy was obvious from the election numbers (“Obama’s Catholic Problem,” 2/27/08).

Only with the departure of Senator Clinton from the campaign has Obama picked up steam with Catholic voters. Clinton will surely use her clout with Catholics to help the Democratic nominee, which will help break down the resistance of blue-collar white Catholics to an Obama candidacy.

Obama’s breakthrough moment with Catholics came with the surprising endorsement of Prof. Doug Kmiec, a well-known pro-life Catholic jurist who served under Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush (“Preacher Man: Barack Obama and the Gospel of Liberalism,” 2/17/08). Kmiec’s reasons for supporting him echo those of Obama Catholics in general – the positions of the GOP on the war in Iraq, poverty, health care, and immigration are so objectionable that they feel justified in supporting Obama (“Doug Kmiec and the Lure of Obama,” 2/20/08).

Kmiec’s position has been picked up by various Obama-friendly organizations devoted to influencing Catholic voters (“Catholics Organize to Elect Barack Obama,” 4/2/08). Their strategy is obvious: Obama’s Catholics will do everything they can to avoid the infanticide question – along with all that it symbolizes – and will try to foster a moral equivalence between their positions on prudential matters and the non-negotiable life issues (“How Obama’s Catholics Will Dodge the Infanticide Problem,” 5/12/08).

The debate among Catholics, then, is whether this list of prudential policy issues trumps the obligation taught by the Church toward protecting unborn life and families based upon the marriage of a man and a woman.

In the past two national elections, there has been a 15 percent increase in the number of Catholics who voted for the GOP. Exit polling suggested life and family issues made the biggest difference. But in 2008, the Iraq War has destabilized the dynamics of the Catholic vote – the steady migration of Catholics out of the Democratic Party to the GOP has stopped (“Can Obama Use Iraq to Win the Catholic Vote?,” 4/8/08). Many Catholic voters are just too angry at Bush and the GOP over Iraq.

Oddly, when Obama’s list of high-profile Catholic supporters was announced, Kmiec’s name was not on it. That may have been due to the fact that nearly all of the 25 governors, senators, and congressmen on the list had a 100 percent pro-abortion voting record from NARAL (“Who Are Obama’s Catholic Supporters?,” 4/15/08). It’s very likely Kmiec was asked to serve on the advisory council, but may have demurred when he saw the list of solidly pro-abortion Catholics. Former White House speechwriter Bill McGurn called them “NARAL Catholics” in a recent Wall Street Journal opinion piece.

Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, made national news when he called for the disbanding of Obama’s Catholic committee because its membership was so overwhelmingly pro-abortion. One of its members, Gov. Kathleen Sebelius (D-KS), had just been warned by her bishop, Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, to refrain from taking communion.

Interestingly enough, not long after Donohue’s appeal, all references to Obama’s National Catholic Advisory Council disappeared from the campaign’s web site. Perhaps the campaign realized that branding Obama’s Catholic outreach with a Who’s Who of pro-abortion Catholics was not a good idea, especially after the warning shot fired by the bishop of Kansas City. The last thing the Obama campaign wants is a replay of 2004, when John Kerry was dogged by story after story of bishops who said they would deny communion to politicians who obstinately support abortion rights.

Several bishops have already shown their willingness to address this issue publicly in 2008. In addition to the statement of Archbishop Naumann, Boston archbishop Sean O’alley said in an interview last November that Catholic support for Democrat pro-abortion candidates “borders on scandal as far I am concerned.”

Various pro-Obama Catholic organizations are working effectively to draw attention away from their candidate’s weaknesses on fundamental issues. They are well-funded and led by people with extensive experience in the Democratic Party and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. They are not shy about selling their candidate through official channels. For example, pro-Obama e-mails are now regularly sent to the executive directors of state Catholic conferences (several have been forwarded to me).

Probably the most sustained drumbeat of Obama’s Catholic circle will be their support for building a “Culture of Life” in spite of their candidate’s position on abortion and infanticide. They will argue that reducing poverty and improving health care, among other things, will bring down the number of abortions more effectively than passing laws outlawing the procedure.

In response to this, Catholic voters should be reminded of what Archbishop Chaput said to Obama’s Catholics. On May 19 he rebuked a group called Roman Catholics for Obama who quoted him out of context to justify voting for the pro-abortion nominee. The group had seized upon the following quote: “Catholics can vote for pro-choice candidates if they vote for them despite – not because of – their pro-choice views.”

Roman Catholics for Obama deliberately left out the paragraph following where Chaput added that he could think of no “proportionate reason” to support abortion. “It’s the kind of reason we will be able to explain, with a clean heart, to the victims of abortion when we meet them face to face in the next life – which we most certainly will.”

Archbishop Chaput also pointed out that the emperor had no clothes when it came to Obama’s candidacy benefitting a culture of life. He himself was a politically active Democrat as a young man at the time when Catholic politicians began invoking the “personally opposed to abortion” mantra. Chaput writes:

For most, their personal opposition was little more than pious hand wringing and a convenient excuse – exactly as it is today. In fact, I can’t name any “pro-choice” Catholic politician who has been active, in a sustained public way, in trying to discourage abortion and to protect unborn human life – not one.

Likewise, if Obama is elected, he has pledged to sign the Freedom of Choice Act during his first week in office, making it difficult for Catholic supporters of Obama to keep a straight face when talking about a culture of life.

By Deal Hudson

Deal W. Hudson was born November 20, 1949 in Denver, CO, to Emmie and Jack Hudson, both native Texans. Dr. Hudson had an older sister Ruth, and eventually, a younger sister, Elizabeth. Emmie Hudson, Ruth Hudson and Elizabeth Hudson now live in Houston, TX; Jack Hudson passed away some years ago. The late Jack Hudson was a captain for Braniff Airlines in Denver at the time of Dr. Hudson’s birth. Later the family moved to Kansas City when his father joined the Federal Aviation Agency. From Kansas City, the Hudson family moved to Minneapolis, then to Massapequa, NY, and finally to Alexandria, VA, where they first occupied a home overlooking the Potomac River adjacent to the Mount Vernon estate. After a year, the family moved to a home on Tarpon Lane a few houses up the street from the Yacht Haven boat docks. Dr. Hudson attended Mt. Vernon Elementary School from grades 4 to 6 and has a special gratitude for the teaching of Mr. Hoppe who first told him was a ‘smart lad.’ Having moved with his family to Fort Worth, TX in 1960, Dr. Hudson attended William Monnig Junior High and Arlington Heights HS. In high school, Dr. Hudson was captain of the golf team, editor of the literary magazine (Guerdon), and performed the role of Peter in the ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’ during his senior year. Dr. Hudson graduated cum laude with a major in philosophy from the University of Texas-Austin in 1971 where his undergraduate advisor was Prof. John Silber. His teachers at the University of Texas included Prof. Louis Mackey and Prof. Larry Caroline. Dr. Hudson minored in both classics and English literature. Dr. Hudson lived in Atlanta from 1974-1989, where he attended Emory University, receiving a Phd from the Graduate Institute for the LIberal Arts. He also taught philosophy at Mercer University in Atlanta from 1980-89. In 1989 Dr. Hudson and his family left Atlanta when he was hired to teach philosophy at Fordham University in the Bronx. Dr. Hudson taught at Fordham, and also part-time at New York University, from 1989 to 1994. Dr. Hudson first came to Atlanta in after graduation from Princeton Theological Seminary (PTS) with an M.Div. While at PTS, Dr. Hudson managed the Baptist Student Union at Princeton University and became its first director. Dr. Hudson also was licensed at a minister in the Southern Baptist Convention at Madison Baptist Church in Madison, NJ. Dr. Hudson’s primary area of study at PTS was the history of Christian doctrine which he pursued with Dr. Karlfried Froelich. In 1984 Dr. Hudson was received in the Catholic Church by Msgr. Richard Lopez, with the special permission of Archbishop Thomas A. Donnellan, at the chapel of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Cancer Home in Atlanta. Dr. Hudson has been married twenty-five years to Theresa Carver Hudson and they have two children, Hannah Clare, 23, and Cyprian Joseph (Chip), 15, adopted from Romania when he was three years old. The Hudson family has lived in Fairfax, VA for more than fifteen years, after having lived five years in Bronxville, NY and a year in Atlanta, GA, where Theresa and Deal were married.

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