We've heard about Barack Obama's hope from his bestselling book "The Audacity of Hope." Now we are getting a glimpse of his audacity.
As the Christian Broadcasting Network's David Brody first reported on Friday, Obama has decided to go after two constituencies that have mostly voted Republican in recent years - Roman Catholics and Protestant Evangelicals - and take up an issue that the GOP and conservative Christians have owned in recent election cycles - pro-life.
The Obama campaign has formed the "National Catholic Advisory Council," co-chaired by Democratic Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania and former Democratic Congressman Tim Roemer of Indiana, both Roman Catholics. Casey's late father, Gov. Bob Casey, always claimed he was barred from speaking to the 1992 Democratic National Convention because of his strong pro-life views. Obama has said he wants to change his party's antipathy toward pro-lifers, though not its pro-choice position.
This is a crafty political move on Obama's part. It could not only strike at the heart of the Republican base, but it will reveal how seriously politicians are when they claim to favor legal protection for the unborn, but act as if they are pro-choicers. Obama has said that while he strongly favors "a woman's right to choose," he is open to hearing other opinions. That's nice, but hearing and acting are two different things. And why are two pro-life Catholics giving moral cover to Obama who, when he had the chance, did not even join with several of his Democratic Senate colleagues in voting to ban the horrid practice of partial-birth abortion, in which the brains of a fully developed baby are extracted as the child emerges from the womb?
Obama compounded his insult to Catholics, ahead of next week's primary in heavily Catholic Pennsylvania, when he said small-town Americans are "bitter and cling to guns and religion as symptoms of frustration." That remark brought a quick rebuke from Hillary Clinton and John McCain. "Pennsylvania doesn't need a president who looks down on them," said Sen. Clinton. "They need a president who stands up for them, who fights for them, who works hard for your futures, your jobs, your families." McCain spokesman Steve Schmidt said Obama's initial remarks, made at a fund-raiser in San Francisco, "shows an elitism and condescension towards hardworking Americans that is nothing short of breathtaking."
Obama also wants to repeal the military's carefully crafted compromise "don't ask, don't tell" policy, which allows homosexuals to serve in the military, as long as they don't reveal their sexual orientation. And Obama favors same-sex "unions." Though he might call them something other than marriage, he would allow all of the benefits government conveys on heterosexual married couples to be given to same-sex partners. This, too, runs afoul of Catholic Church doctrine.
Leaders of the Catholic Church, perhaps beginning with Pope Benedict XVI during his visit to America this week, ought to condemn this kind of cynical politics and content-less religion and remind Catholics that just because a Catholic politician endorses another politician, it does not mean the Catholic Church is giving its blessing to the endorsers or the endorsee.