Guest Editorial: Doug Kmiec, 'A Prayer From Barack Obama'
That “we can live with one another in a way that reconciles the beliefs of each with the good of all.”
Obama said he denounced it, which was good enough for everybody but Sen. Hillary Clinton, who demanded that Obama also reject it. Obama, with bemused annoyance, complied, but I thought, uh-oh, here we go, will Republicans dissatisfied with their default nominee be the next potential votes denounced and rejected?
Russert didn’t ask, and Obama said he welcomed support from a wide range of people including Republicans and independents. What a relief!
In an essay for Slate magazine (“Reaganites for Obama?” Feb. 13), I suggested that two groups I know well — Reaganites and Catholics — might be happier with Barack Obama than Sen. John McCain.
The essay stirred up a ruckus among my former Reagan administration colleagues (who thought I was abusing some substance, like a few other Malibuites who succumbed to their “last temptations” in recent years) and in church communities across the country (which just said they would pray for me).
My reasons for writing so provocatively were a combination of skepticism toward McCain (full disclosure: I was a legal adviser to Mitt Romney, so skepticism came naturally) and a fascination with Obama. Unless you gave up TV for the duration of the writers’ strike or something shorter, such as Lent, the Ronald Reagan comparison is obvious. Obama’s eloquence and inspiration is inescapable.
The Catholic doubts about McCain are more subtle, but my point — which actually has implications for many faiths — is that signing on to the McCain campaign by default slights a large body of religious teaching in opposition to Iraq and strongly in favor of immigrants, the environment, and the family wage.
So with the innocence of someone who teaches Sunday school in a laid-back beach community, I suggested that believers had a moral obligation to inquire further.
The suggestion gathered some support, but also abundant amounts of personal vilification insinuating that I had sold my soul for a prospective Supreme Court appointment in an Obama administration (which has the entire People for the American Way in stitches) or damning me for eternity.
Ordinarily this would not prompt me to write more, but now that the epithets have temporarily subsided (Muqtada al-Sadr’s cease-fire or perhaps the surge is working), herewith a few additional thoughts in mitigation (or aggravation as the case may be).
Well before Obama entered the national consciousness by means of presidential primary, he addressed what he called “the mutual suspicion that sometimes exists between religious America and secular America.”
In a speech entitled “Call to Renewal,” given in Washington in the summer of 2006 (at a poverty conference of the same name), Obama noted that during his Senate campaign, he was challenged on his abortion views. Obama gave the standard liberal response: It is impermissible to impose his religious views upon another. He was running for “U.S. senator of Illinois and not the minister of Illinois,” he quipped.
Had Obama left it at that, he could easily be written off by conservatives as just another secular, anti-religious, and, likely, big-government liberal.
But the insufficiency of that answer nagged at him. He realized — and this epiphany explains his successful campaign, I believe — that the greatest division in America today is “not between men and women, or those who reside in so-called red states and those who reside in blue, but between those who attend church regularly and those who don’t.” He also recognized that some conservative leaders “exploit this gap” by reminding evangelical Christians how much Democrats disrespect their values and dislike their church.
Truth hurts, but, of course, pointing fingers at Pat Robertson or Karl Rove would still not have merited positive conservative or Catholic notice — if Obama hadn’t kept talking. He didn’t just criticize those on the right who used religion as a wedge issue; he directed a healthy amount of criticism at his own party.
Democrats, he said, avoid engaging the substance of religious values by falsely claiming the Constitution bars the subject. Even worse, some far-left liberals paint religious Americans as “fanatical,” rather than as people of faith. Now that got my attention.
Here was a Democrat who got it. Indeed, why say “Democrat”? Here was a public figure who actually understood that, for millions of Americans, faith “speaks to a hunger that’s deeper than... any particular issue or cause” — his words, lest Hillary and the copyright police get on my case.
Obama reflected on how neither of his parents were actively religious, and yet he found himself ...
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