Monday, May 18, 2009

Hey! How'd Obama get cake?

Dirty Faces, Bloody Feet, and a Mouthful of Cake

So, as all of you know, Obama went to Notre Dame, got an honorary degree, and gave the commencement address, the entirety of which caused a medium-level ruckus and led to thirty-odd arrests.

The whole event was actually pretty cool. It brought a lot of issues to the table and finally convinced me to start commenting on current affairs.

Dirty Faces

These belong to the Holy Cross fathers/Notre Dame board of directors that orchestrated this event. I understand academic debate and openness but if the university calls itself Catholic out of one side of its mouth—a religion in which abortion is titled an 'intrinsic evil'—and invites a pro-choice speaker to give the most important speech of the year out of the other; something is clearly amiss.

The Catholic Church does not 'prefer' that abortions not take place. They see it as the taking of innocent human lives. Whether or not you agree, I think the inconsistency should be evident.

Bloody Feet

These belong to all those who found it appropriate to disruptively protest the President's appearance. Not included in this group are those students who attended the commencement wearing 'baby feet' pins or white flowers in silent protest.

The bloody feet belong to the thirty-odd people who were thrown in jail or those who interrupted Obama's speech with shouts such as "Stop killing our children." And they are bloody because they shot themselves.

It absolutely blows my mind that people think demonstrations such as those seen over the weekend will have an impact on public opinion, the university, or Mr. Obama himself. Apparently, the blood foots forgot to check the nation's pulse before they swung into action, or anytime during the last thirty years.

Ok, quiz time: What do Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama have in common?
Easy: The ability to speak to and inspire a majority of the nation. (I know, Mr. Reagan is dead, but the cases are really hard to match otherwise.)

Misters Reagan and Obama command the attention of the nation because they can connect to her people. They feel the country's pulse, meet her where she is, and attempt to move her in the direction laid down by their personal ideologies.

The Blood Foots fail. I don't care if they stand up for unborn babies. They sound radical, insensitive, and completely out of touch with their intended audience. In order to communicate with the modern world, it is first necessary to understand where the world is coming from.

Mouthful of Cake

Ha ha, Mr. Obama got that.

Let's continue where that last rant left off.

The President told a little story in his commencement address. It dealt with a meeting between all the members of the Civil Rights Commission tasked with coming up with a common approach to civil rights legislation. They couldn't meet in the segregated South so Fr. Ted, a former president of Notre Dame, had them up to Notre Dame's "retreat" in Wisconsin. Once there, they discovered a common love of fishing. They fished awhile, broke the ice, got to talking, and hammered out the points.

At face value, the anecdote may ring slightly trite but the message is of vital importance. It is impossible to dialogue without the presence of common ground. Neither I nor the President asked anyone to compromise their beliefs. He himself declared that "at some level, the views of the two camps are irreconcilable". And what he did ask is that we stop "demonizing" one another and attempt to engage in dialogue.

And damn it, I don't care if you think the President was insincere. His words are still of immense value. The story he told about his decision to change the phrasing of his stance on abortion after a doctor wrote to tell him it was inflammatory is a sign of great hope for me.

Yesterday and today, millions of Americans are reading about President Obama's speech. The score should be obvious: Obama 1: Pro-Life America 0. The problem is inconsistency. As an impartial observer, I would look at yesterday's events, see one side confidently delivering its message while the other side snarled angrily, and I would say "how can those crazy people be right..." The pro-life cause will only move forward when the goodness of its message matches the goodness of its delivery.

Perhaps the first step is to admit that the President gave a great speech yesterday.

He took the cake.

The Blue Anchor: Vol I;1

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