Thursday, May 22, 2008

Father Greeley on Obama


Image of Obama the pol misses the point

May 21, 2008 -- Chicago Sun-Times
http://www.suntimes.com/news/greeley/960984,CST-EDT-greel21.article"

BY FR. ANDREW GREELEY


Rev. Wright said it: Barack Obama says what he says because he's a politician.

I am not a politician. I work for God. Many Americans, perhaps, would accept that contrast.
From the point of view of the Catholic social theory to which I subscribe, the contrast is not valid. Both of them -- the politician and the cleric -- work for God, though in different ways.

The cleric presides over the community meal and preaches the good news. He must strain to keep a balance between comforting the frightened and frightening the comfortable. His most serious temptation may be the inclination to frighten everyone, to stand for the wrath of God, and pay little attention to God's love. Challenge is easier than comfort.

While the cleric must exhort his people to generosity and forgiveness and hold up the example of the saints as an ideal to strive toward, the politician must create compromises and coalitions. His goal is to persuade people to settle for the lowest common denominator of what his coalition can live with. The cleric urges the maximum, the politician settles for the minimum. The former holds up the ideals, the latter works to preserve the common good. Both are essential for the good of society.

The paradigmatic narrative for the politician is the story of the brave young idealist who eventually sells out for votes. For the cleric, it might be the fervent prophet who accepts the limitations of the human condition. Both are stories of failure, of loss of nerve, of disillusion. Both paradigms oversimplify the complexities of human behavior. Both the cleric and the politician must go beyond the constraints of disillusion and failure.

The paradigm of the idealist who becomes a crafty politician is being applied freely these days to Obama by both the New York Times and by Time magazine. The senator, it is said, became ambitious and damped down his liberalism. He learned to compromise in the harsh internecine world of Chicago politics.

Both the New York Times and Time articles were carefully researched and well written, but they miss a couple of points. Obama learned in his community work, among the Catholic parishes on the Southeast Side when the mills were closing, that one must expand the borders of one's activity to include as many people as possible.

His insistence on drawing people together -- the basic theme of his campaign -- is the heart of his style of politics. You try to draw to the bandwagon everyone you can possibly attract to it. That's what Machine politics means to many idealistic people -- compromising to get the votes.
Moreover, Obama's voting record surely suggests he is on the liberal side of the political spectrum, but you can't govern with just liberals on your side. And, more dangerously, you must sympathize with both Jews and Palestinians.

Will Obama be able to put together such coalitions, should he be elected?

Will there be movement toward change on peace, health care, energy, immigration, college education, income redistribution in favor of the poor and the middle class against the great wealth of the super-rich corporations and their CEOs? A consensus on peace will be a much easier task than one on immigration, where the level of hatred is still strong in our society.
I do not think that even Michael the Archangel and all his crowd could accomplish these changes.
If Barack Obama should become President Obama, he won't achieve compromises on all issues. The best one can expect is moderate success and painful failures. Such is the lot of the politician in God's service -- and the cleric, too.

31 comments:

Kyle R. Cupp said...

I’m not a supporter of Obama’s candidacy. Nothing personal; as a rule I‘m very suspicious of anyone seeking the awful power of the presidency. Still, that a Catholic supports Obama (or any of the other candidate) doesn’t scandalize me or leave me questioning his or her faith or, say, pro-life credentials. I’ve seen how Catholic defenders of Obama, you included, have been treated in the blogosphere, and some of that treatment has been quite disgusting.

I understand the alarm Obama sounds in the ears of many Catholics, among others: he’s not pro-abortion, contrary a prevailing narrative, but he is ardently pro-abortion-rights. It’s likely that as president Obama will strengthen the legality of abortion. On the other hand, however, an Obama presidency might turn out to be good for the pro-life cause.

Obama’s core theme has been caricatured as a “can’t we all get along” message. I think it’s deeper than that; moreover, I think the pro-life movement would do well to listen to that message. It concerns them and their cause. To listen to some pro-lifers, you’d think Obama and pro-choice advocates were motivated by bloodlust for killing babies. Much of the rhetoric used by pro-lifers to define the opposition demonizes and alienates, when in fact a staple of their very cause—legal protections for the unborn—requires that the majority of Americans be persuaded to embrace an anti-abortion position. So long as there is a pro-choice movement in America, any and all political victories by the pro-life movement will be fleeting. Pro-lifers have no choice but to engage pro-choicers in honest, open, and hospitable discussion. Hospitable language and open ears are absolute prerequisites for ending abortion. We may even discover that we have something to learn from those we are inclined to label enemies.

Betty said...

Dear Lord, that is one of the most intelligent comments I've every seen posted on the internet. I am in awe!

max said...

Catholics for Obama? Kinda like Jews for Hitler. BTW, how's your spiritual advisor Fr. Pfleger doin?

Anonymous said...

I am a Catholic and I AM NOT for Obama. He is pro-abortion which is against our religion. End of story.

Rustler45 said...

KYLE R. CRUPT SAID: Still, that a Catholic supports Obama (or any of the other candidate) doesn’t scandalize me or leave me questioning his or her faith or, say, pro-life credentials.

RUSTLER SAYS: Kyle, check your brains. I think they're in backwards.

KYLE R. CRUPT SAID: I’ve seen how Catholic defenders of Obama, you included, have been treated in the blogosphere...

RUSTLER SAYS: They're treatment is going to be a lot rougher than that in the afterlife. Are we supposed to be nice to them?

KYLE R. CRUPT SAID: On the other hand, however, an Obama presidency might turn out to be good for the pro-life cause.

RUSTLER REPLIES: Your brains aren't in backwards. They are even in. Your whole paragraph is looney.

He's a supporter of partial birth abortion. How much worse can you be?

KYLE R. CRUPT SAID: To listen to some pro-lifers, you’d think Obama and pro-choice advocates were motivated by bloodlust for killing babies.

RUSTLER ASKS: You mean like this?

http://lubiankaprison.phpbb-host.com/sutra1930.php#1930

Scroll down in there. You'll get the picture.

KYLE R. CRUPT SAID: Much of the rhetoric used by pro-lifers to define the opposition demonizes and alienates....

RUSTLER REPLIES: Oh horror of horrors!!!! We wouldn't want to demonize a baby butcher now would we?

KYLE R. CRUPT SAID: "So long as there is a pro-choice movement in America, any and all political victories by the pro-life movement will be fleeting."

RUSTLER AGREES FOR A CHANGE: You are indeed correct Kyle. Pro-abortion is indeed an evil, but pro-choice is worse. Pro-abortion only kills 44 million babys. Pro-choice says it is okay to do it. It claims a right where there is none. It ignores the rights of the child and calls a doctor's murder of the innocent a choice.

AND BATTY said...
Dear Lord, that is one of the most intelligent comments I've every seen posted on the internet. I am in awe!

You're batty alright.

Kyle R. Cupp said...

Rustler -

My comment may have been written by the light of the moon, but it is nonetheless logical and true. Your assertions, peppered with ad hominem fallacies, have not shown it to be otherwise.

You say that you agree with my proposition that as long as there is a pro-choice movement in America, any and all political victories by the pro-life movement will be fleeting. Tell me, how do think we will cease to have a pro-choice movement? I see only on way: persuasion.

Language that demonizes and alienates does not persuade; rather, it contributes to the continuation of abortion.

SeanDaly said...

I doubt Obama has bloodlust. Dr. Tiller... well thats another story.

Alienating? You lost focus on who exactly is the victim of this.

Kyle R. Cupp said...

“Alienating? You lost focus on who exactly is the victim of this.”

Not at all. It is for the sake of the unborn, among others, that I advocate an end to alienating language.

SeanDaly said...

So are you saying when it comes to views on abortion across the board. From legalization for all abortions to legalization for late-term to govt health care paying for abortions...

that Obama > McCain?

or even

Obama > Bush?

Kyle R. Cupp said...

Seandaly,

No, I haven't said anything about whether or not Obama would be better than McCain or Bush. Was your question posed to someone else? It followed my response to your earlier point, so I thought you might be asking me.

Rustler45 said...

OH please don't anlienate anyone. They might get a trauma!

In response to someone who begged him (Saint Pius X) to "go soft" on the Modernists, He retorted:

"Kindness is for fools! They want them to be treated with oil, soap, and caresses but they ought to be beaten with fists! In a duel you don't count or measure the blows, you strike as you can! War is not made with charity, it is a struggle a duel. If Our Lord were not terrible he would not have given an example in this too. See how he treated the Philistines, the sowers of error, the wolves in sheep's clothing, the traitors in the temple. He scourged them with whips!"

Kyle R. Cupp said...

Irrelevant quote, Rustler. Can you answer my question?

SeanDaly said...

kyle i just wanted to know for the record what your opinion was. well?

Kyle R. Cupp said...

Seandaly,

It’s clear that a President Obama would not only maintain the legality of abortion, he would also seek to strengthen its legal standing through measures such as the Freedom of Choice Act. McCain is more of an unknown. His support for ESCR indicates a philosophical inconstancy regarding unborn life.

Whether abortions would decrease (or increase) more under an Obama presidency or a McCain presidency I do not know. There are too many variables and uncertainties for me to speculate with much accuracy. Pro-life Obama supporters like Douglas Kmiec have argued that Obama would be better on the abortion issue. I remain unconvinced, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility.

As for our current president, his devotion to the pro-life cause has been mediocre at best. I don’t think it’s much of an issue for him. He and his administration have delivered far more speeches aimed at persuading the public of the necessity of war than they have aimed at persuading the public to protect the unborn. Moreover, federal funding of Planned Parenthood increased every year from 2001-2006 when Bush and the Republicans controlled the White House and Congress, so color me skeptical.

SeanDaly said...

wowowowow.. how bout nominating 2 supreme court justices who are pro-life?!?!

how bout his ban of partial birth abortion and late term abortion bill?!?!?! (That your boy Obama voted against)

how about Bush refusing to give aid to african charity hospitals that would use the money for abortions???

how about bush being strongly against embryonic stem cell research and vetoing the bill to fund it (that your boy obama voted for).

kyle..if u hate bush as a pres fine. but give him props for our pro-life cause. dont be ignorant. you're better then that dude.

(i'm assuming you are on the pro-life side and not the pro-choice side... is this a safe assumption?)

Kyle R. Cupp said...

SeanDaly,

My position within the pro-life camp is fair assumption; that I hate President Bush as a president or that Obama is my man are neither fair assumptions nor valid conclusions from what I have said. Criticism does not in itself imply hated of what is criticized. And as I said in my first comment, I do not support Senator Obama’s candidacy.

For the record, I didn’t say that Bush has done nothing to further the pro-life cause; I said he is mediocre in this matter, and I stand by that statement. As you list, Bush has done things to help the unborn, and I give him credit where it is due. However, he has not made defending the unborn a priority of his presidency. Compare your list to everything Bush has done in regard to the War on Terror. The latter is clearly larger than the former. He could have and should have done much more, especially if he believes that abortion is tantamount to millions of innocent human beings being legally killed every year.

What could he have done? He could have gone before the public every week to make a case that the unborn deserve legal protection. He made the case for going to war again and again and again in an effort to shape public opinion. Why not do so for the unborn? Bush also could have done much more to address explicitly the root cause of abortion and conditions that perpetuate it. He could have pushed for the establishment of more and more crisis pregnancy centers that give pregnant women prenatal and post-birth care, and he could have pushed for extensive funding of these. Instead, he along with the Republican-controlled Congress increased the federal funding of the country’s largest abortion provider.

Rustler45 said...

Kyle R. Cupp said...
Irrelevant quote, Rustler. Can you answer my question?

I don't know what question you're referring to. Try me.

As to the quote. If it was irrelevant I would not have posted it.

Rustler45 said...

Kyle R. Cupp said... As for our current president, his devotion to the pro-life cause has been mediocre at best.

I see your point, but he was successful in appointment of pro-life judges to the Supreme Court. Obama will not do such a thing. You can bet on it.

Even if Obama was pro-life, he has far too many other issues to make him a suitable candidate. He is an unpatriotic racist, a bigot, pro-homosexual Marxist etc. Do I need to go on?

Rustler45 said...

Kyle R. Cupp said... I do not support Senator Obama’s candidacy.

Then, let's be clear about this. It is extremely difficult to read your posts and figure out what side you're on.

You're right Kyle, Bush could have done a lot of things, but as a pro-life Catholic, this is not the blog to express your doubts about Bush.

Besides Obama now has the nomination and Hillary is pushing to be his vice-president. Won't that just be wonderful!!!

She will have him bumped off within six months and she'll then be at the helm.

Aren't you people comprehending that the two of them are Marxists? Do you not grasp the ramifications of that?

So KYLE be up front and clear and don't be beating around the bush with a lot of high sounding verbiage that is difficult to decifer.

Thanks.

Kyle R. Cupp said...

Rustler,

My question: You say that you agree with my proposition that as long as there is a pro-choice movement in America, any and all political victories by the pro-life movement will be fleeting. Tell me, how do think we will cease to have a pro-choice movement?

My thesis: I see only on way: persuasion. Language that demonizes and alienates does not persuade; rather, it contributes to the continuation of abortion.

Kyle R. Cupp said...

"Then, let's be clear about this. It is extremely difficult to read your posts and figure out what side you're on."

So what? Why is what side I'm on an issue for you?

I'm not here in support of a candidate or a political party, if that is what you mean by "side."

shiloh said...

Kyle R. Cupp said...

"Then, let's be clear about this. It is extremely difficult to read your posts and figure out what side you're on."

So what? Why is what side I'm on an issue for you?

I'm not here in support of a candidate or a political party, if that is what you mean by "side."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Kyle, re: rustler45 it's all about what party & what candidate one supports.

If Katherine was a republican supporting McBush, he would not be spend his time here trolling around. Some people have nothing better to do than be disagreeable & nauseating. It's their calling in life. Quite sad!

take care

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