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The Pope Picks Our Ambassadors Now?

I glossed over yesterday’s news that the Vatican blocked Caroline Kennedy’s appointment as U.S. ambassador for a variety of reasons.  Regular commenter Tlaloc emailed me, though, making a good point:

[T]he Vatican refuses to accept any ambassador who is not explicitly pro-life including anti-ESC research (such as Doug Kmiec).  Various voices on the right have praised them for this principled stand.  But if we accept this criteria doesn’t it set a bad precedent?  What happens when China demands our next ambassador be an avowed Maoist?  Or Saudi Arabia demand someone who openly accepts sharia law (up to an including the whole acid in the face for uppity girls)?

Us Ambassadors are supposed to represent us, not their host country. Obviously we should make sure that our ambassadors do not inflame their hosts by their mere presence but that’s a world away from them being required to openly affirm allegiance to the host’s ideals.  Or to put it another way, if the Vatican has the right to demand a vocal pro-lifer be our ambassador to them can’t we demand their ambassador to us be a vocal pro-choicer?  And where does such petty brinksmanship get us except a total break down of diplomacy?

The right-leaning blogs memeorandum links on this one are universally praiseworthy.

RedState’s Moe Lane is “curious about how many times this administration plans to insult the Roman Catholic Church.”  His colleague mbecker908 dubs this “an Easter gift from the Vatican” and adds, ” Good for the Vatican. This pentecostal Baptist boy (OK, old boy) is standing with the Pope on this one.”  He agrees with Lane that “being so tone deaf as to openly and forthrightly make an effort to offend the Vatican is off the charts.”

Dan Riehl observes, “Obama just got done going out of his way to inform Islam he had no intention of insulting or threatening it as a religion. So why the continued insults to Catholicism? It’s as if he doesn’t care about it as a religion at all.” Even Michael van der Galien, a staunch moderate, agrees that, “Instead of giving the Church the impression its opinions do not matter, the Obama administration is wise to treat it as it treats enemies of the United States: with respect and understanding.”

Dan and Michael have the right take on this.  If we’re going to have an ambassador to the Vatican (and I’m sympathetic to Michael Stickings‘ view that we probably shouldn’t) then it behooves us to respect their sensibilities when selecting our representatives to them. It’s just good diplomacy.

Now, Tlaloc is right that our ambassador is supposed to represent us, not the country to which he’s sent.  Ron Chusid makes that point as well.

The Vatican might not like it, but support for both abortion and embryonic stem cell research is the position of the Obama administration and both are legal in this country. What if the Vatican were to also demand an ambassador who believes in creationism instead of evolution?

What of other areas where countries disagree with the views of appointed ambassadors? Do Muslim nations object to non-Muslim ambassadors from the west?  Should we go along if one were to insist that we only appoint an ambassador who opposes the existence of Israel?

During the cold war it would have been ludicrous for Communist nations to reject western ambassadors who did not support Communism. Imagine if the Chinese had refused overtures from Richard Nixon to begin diplomatic relations because Nixon and his potential ambassadors were not Maoists.

The difference, of course, is that, despite the legal fiction to the contrary, the Vatican isn’t really a country; it’s a church with a big yard.  States, even those that are theocracies (Iran) or close to it (Saudi Arabia), have traditionally operated on the principle of sovereign equality.  They either have diplomatic relations with a given state or not, on a take it or leave it basis.  Not so much with churches.

Now, again, that may be a reason to not send an ambassador.  For most of our history, we didn’t.  Ronald Reagan was the first to have a formal ambassador.  But if we’re going to have diplomatic relations with a church, it only makes sense not to go out of our way to offend it.

The problem with Kmiec and Kennedy, as I understand it, is not so much that they’re pro-abortion but rather that they’re pro-abortion Roman Catholics.  Sending them as our ambassador to the Holy See is the equivalent of sending a Soviet defector as ambassador to Moscow during the Cold War or sending an Orthodox Jew as ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He earned a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. rodney dill says:

    Sounds like the Vatican is breaking off diplomatic relations with the U.S.

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  2. odograph says:

    A real tabloid title, there. I’m sure there is an ancient tradition of not sending ambassadors which offend the recipient. That is, unless you want conflict.

    This is quite different from say, as the the title implies, the Pope picking US ambassadors for other destinations.

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  3. Dave Schuler says:

    James, your analogy of naming a Soviet defector ambassador is the correct one. Naming someone who supports sharia as ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia isn’t; rather naming someone who converted from Islam to Christianity would be the proper analogy. That places the receiving country into a very difficult position which isn’t the purpose of exchanging ambassadors.

    There’s a balance between representing the United States and being actively offensive to the country to which an ambassador is delegated. It might be helpful to read the Church’s teaching on abortion. It is not possible to support abortion actively and be an adherent Catholic.

    It is acceptable for Catholics to acknowledge that the law of the land tolerates abortion and even to support candidates who themselves favor keeping abortion legal (at least under specific conditions). It isn’t acceptable to support it actively themselves. I’m not making this up; that’s the teaching.

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  4. LiberalButAntiObama says:

    Well, sorry folks.

    This is just plainly stupid.

    Is there at least one in Obama’s camp who is NOT PRO-CHOICE/PRO-ABORTION? Is just there?

    Maybe Obama should rethink about the absence of Pro-life people in his camp.

    This President is too leftist and divisive after all.

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  5. […] The explanation, of course, is that Saudi Arabia is a real nation whereas Vatican City is, it’s history notwithstanding, nothing more than a Church with a big yard to borrow a phrase from James Joyner. […]

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  6. Floyd says:

    Tlaloc’s point has no merit since at least 150,000,000 Americans are pro-life.
    Being pro-life is not contrary to American values and can not be legitimately compared to the support of disfigurement.
    Just because we have the first Pro-infanticide president does not marginalize those who would protect innocent human life.
    Ambassadorships by their very nature are diplomatic and should accommodate the sensibilities of the host nation insofar as such accommodation doesn’t actually violate our principles. For instance We don’t serve bacon to the Saudi’s or even take pork into their country. While bacon is very well accepted in the U.S., it does not harm our values to forgo it for diplomatic reasons.
    It is after all Ambassador not Amb-ass-ODOR!(grinz)

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  7. legion says:

    Oy. To try and salvage this from becoming an execrable descent into abortion debate, I’ll re-post James’ quote of Chusid:

    During the cold war it would have been ludicrous for Communist nations to reject western ambassadors who did not support Communism.

    Yes, it would have. But it would have been those countries’ rights to reject them. Just as if we’d named someone Ambassador who had no criminal record in the US, but had violated some obscure, but beloved, law in the host country. And bear in mind, it’s not against the law for someone living in Vatican City to be pro-choice; this is a stylistic choice by the Vatican, not a violation of protocol.

    We have to send someone who represents us. They have to be able to legally & morally accept them into a sensitive position. In finding the right person for a delicate posting, it can take some work and compromise by both sides.

    That’s why it’s called diplomacy, jackholes.

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  8. An Interested Party says:

    Hmm…I wonder if the Vatican would reject a potential ambassador who was pro-death penalty or pro-war…after all, the Church is against those things at least as much as it is against abortion…

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  9. Steve Plunk says:

    I thought the Bush Administration was supposedly the one insensitive to other cultures? You know, the “why do they hate us” crowd always said it was because we didn’t do enough to show respect for what others believed or endured. So when Obama wants a Catholic ambassador to the Vatican who rejects the church’s teachings that’s not insensitive? Now let’s top that off with an appointment of a Kennedy as some sort of political payoff. Maybe the Vatican would like someone more serious and having gravitas.

    Is it just me or is everyone tired of ambassadorships being nothing but spoils of the political wars?

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  10. ocreader says:

    Of course the Vatican rejects ambassadors who have publically supported abortion a proceedure which the Church considers tantamount to murder. The real question is why does the administration/ state department continue to submit nominees who all share this automatic disqualifcation?

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  11. SKI says:

    You may want to hold off the conclusions here. After the last round of “Vatican rejects US Ambassador” stories last week, the Vatican denied it had done so.

    Initial news reports in both American and Italian media outlets initially indicated The Vatican had rejected as many as three potential ambassadors for pro-abortion President Barack Obama because of their supportive abortion views. Now, a spokesman says the Holy See has not rejected any potential diplomats.

    Trusting the Italian papers is even riskier than trusting the British tabloids…

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  12. Ottovbvs says:

    To start with the “news” from a British tabloid is highly speculative but even if it’s true what’s new? Administrations routinely run suggested ambassadorial appointments past the foreign offices of the countries to which they are to appointed. Any comment on this largely falls into the continuing efforts to turn molehills into mountains think ipods, bows and Presidential dogs. In the process we make conservatism look small and silly.

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  13. Pat Hickey says:

    The Obama Administration will shower Pope City with similar candidates -that is what Progressives do.

    I agree with you James – it is most likely not a great idea to have an Embassy at the Vatican.

    http://hickeysite.blogspot.com/2009/04/vatican-did-not-pick-us-ambassador-it.html

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  14. Bithead says:

    It is only when this situation is viewed in light of other diplomacy situations that the import of it becomes clear; Barack Obama is seemingly bent on bending over forward (Quite literally, at least once) for the Muslim world, while apparently seeking to annoy the Catholic Church. Too much in the mold of Religion and Guns, I suppose.

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  15. just me says:

    Hmm…I wonder if the Vatican would reject a potential ambassador who was pro-death penalty or pro-war…after all, the Church is against those things at least as much as it is against abortion…

    I am not a Catholic, but from what I have read from those who are and know the teachings the church’s stance on abortion is different in how the church views it than the death penalty-and last time I checked the church’s stance on war was just war theory-not pacifism.

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  16. Jamie says:

    Is it not protocol to adhere to the culture of other countries when choosing an ambassador/ the Japanese would be insulted by anyone less than an elder statesmen, for example.

    If the US is trying to be diplomatic, it defeats the purpose to appoint an alienating ambassador.

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  17. Jamie says:

    Oops. some punctuation typos there. Sorry.

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  18. SKI says:

    I am not a Catholic, but from what I have read from those who are and know the teachings the church’s stance on abortion is different in how the church views it than the death penalty

    Not according to the Pope.

    Many conservative Catholics in this country assert there is a difference based on their own view of morality but the Church itself doesn’t recognize one (see, e.g., this, uh, “discussion“)

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  19. John Burgess says:

    Before an ambassador is sent to a county (any country sending or receiving), the name of the potential ambassador is floated by the receiving (i.e., host) country. They always get to vet the nominee, usually before the name is made public. This is a process known as agrément.

    Host countries have the right to accept or reject a nominee for any reason whatsoever, whether or not it makes sense to the sending country. While an ambassador is generally deemed the personal representative of the head of the sending state, the receiving head of state (or his delegates) has preferences, too.

    I suspect that the Vatican does not have a blanket prohibition on ‘pro-choice’ nominees, but rather a prohibition on high-profile ‘pro-choice’ nominees. After all, nearly the whole of Europe is ‘pro-choice’ and European ambassadors certain have positions in the Vatican diplomatic corps.

    The US does have somewhat of a history of ‘in-your-face’ ambassadors. For nearly 20 years, the US insisted on sending African Americans as ambassadors to apartheit South Africa. That was clearly to make a political point. I don’t think the Obama administration actually intends to make a pro-abortion point with the Vatican, however. Rather, it’s mostly just giving a political plumb to supporters.

    Certain US Embassies are seen as the reward for political backing. Often they go to people with strong ethnic ties to the particular country, though not always. Typical plumbs include London (Joseph P Kennedy, for example), Dublin (Jean Kennedy Smith) Paris (Pamala Harriman), Berlin, Rome, Tokyo, and Beijing. London, in fact, has had a single career ambassador in the entire duration of US-UK relations.

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  20. steve says:

    It is a church, so dont send one.

    Steve

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  21. An Interested Party says:

    …the church’s stance on abortion is different in how the church views it than the death penalty…

    Really? Both activities involve the destruction of life…hmm…looks like liberal Catholics aren’t the only ones eating at the cafeteria…

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  22. Paul Barnes says:

    Contrary to those who have argued that the US should not have an ambassador to the Vatican that there are very good reasons to have one.

    First, Vatican City is a micro-state, much like Lichtenstein. Furthermore, Vatican City is distinct from the Holy See, even going so far as issuing/requiring different passports.

    Second, it is in the best interests to have good diplomatic relations with the Vatican. This is not to argue that there should be some form of appeasement to Catholic beliefs or sensibilities. Rather, my argument is that fostering this relationship is in the best interests of the US. For example, Reagan used his relationship with the Vatican to undermine communism in Eastern Europe, particularly in Poland, thereby furthering American interests.

    The Pope, and by extension the Vatican, has tremendous influence on international opinion and upon millions of Catholics worldwide. I do not see why the US would be opposed to using this global network of information and influence to affect events to a more favorable outcome for her interests.

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  23. Paul Barnes says:

    An Interested Party,

    The difference: abortion is an intrinsic evil. There is never a justification for its use. The death penalty and just war can be justified under particular circumstances and reasons. What has happened, particularly with the last two Popes, has been an argument that the death penalty has largely bypassed its usefulness as a punishment and society does not need to employ it.

    Regarding just war, both Popes have been strongly critical of the Iraqi wars, judging them in failing to meet the criteria. While I want to avoid their specific arguments, I would like to point out one of the common explanations they give: modern warfare disproportionately affects civilians (women and children) because of the power and scope of the weaponry used.

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  24. Bithead says:

    @John Burgess

    I suspect that the Vatican does not have a blanket prohibition on ‘pro-choice’ nominees, but rather a prohibition on high-profile ‘pro-choice’ nominees. After all, nearly the whole of Europe is ‘pro-choice’ and European ambassadors certain have positions in the Vatican diplomatic corps.

    A reasonable suspicion, but while I don’t overtly question the accuracy of it, I wonder how accurate it is, in fact. No way to tell at this angle, I guess. I wonder, though if as you say, this wasn’t a case of being too high a profile about it. Then, too, America itself has a higher profile on the world stage than any of the other places having ambassadorships in Rome, if you take my meaning.

    The US does have somewhat of a history of ‘in-your-face’ ambassadors. For nearly 20 years, the US insisted on sending African Americans as ambassadors to apartheit South Africa. That was clearly to make a political point. I don’t think the Obama administration actually intends to make a pro-abortion point with the Vatican, however. Rather, it’s mostly just giving a political plumb to supporters.

    Well, it certainly is a plumb to supporters, and particularly to Teddy “Bridge to Nowhere” Kennedy and his clan’s supporters. Still, I have to wonder if this isn’t a two-fer. Anyone who comes up with a comment like “clinging to guns and religion’ is clearly irked at society, and views religion as a problem, not the answer. On that basis, it’s not unreasonable to aver he made the nomination to also send a message to the Vatican.

    Thing is, they got that message, and (chuckle) sent him one in return.

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  25. Tlaloc says:

    The problem with Kmiec and Kennedy, as I understand it, is not so much that they’re pro-abortion but rather that they’re pro-abortion Roman Catholics.

    That’s an interesting take and one that’s easy to test by simply nominating someone who is not explicitly pro-life but also isn’t Catholic.

    The problem is not being explicitly pro-choice as Kmiec is not a pro-choicer at all. The problem is being insufficiently, in the eyes of the pope, pro-life. Hence why I used the term “openly affirm allegiance to the host’s ideals.”

    I do find it funny that so many of the right, who adopt a “my way or the highway” diplomatic stand with every other theocratic regime believe we should kowtow to the pope.

    I suspect we should let the policy of sending an ambassador to the Vatican lapse. The church has ample means to get our government messages and the Vatican itself (i.e. as a pseudo-state) serves no geopolitical interests.

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  26. Tlaloc says:

    I suspect that the Vatican does not have a blanket prohibition on ‘pro-choice’ nominees, but rather a prohibition on high-profile ‘pro-choice’ nominees.

    Again, Doug Kmiec is a pro-lifer. He explicitly said he disagreed with Obama about life issues when he endorsed Obama. He simply isn’t enough of a pro-lifer to suit the pope. I think that’s a problem and it suggests an unwillingness on the part of the church to meet us even a quarter way.

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  27. D Richard says:

    For the unitiated, uninformed, and downright ignorant, it is up to the host country to approve of any diplomat or ambassador. That’s the way it works, always has, always will. This is NOT a liberal/conservative consideration.

    Take a look at the UN. The diplomats and ambassadors enjoy, and abuse, diplomatic immunity. If the United States decided to throw them out, which we have the sovereign right to do, then what? They go home, and/or establish a new base of operations elsewhere.

    It is most assuredly the decision of the host country to maintain influence on who represents other countries on their home soil. The host country simply refuses to ‘recognize’ the guest country, and the embassy property returns to its rightful owner, and is no longer considered sovereign territory of the guest country.

    Don’t any of you fools study history?

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  28. John Burgess says:

    As I said earlier, the decision to accept or reject an ambassador is left purely to the receiving state. Any reason–or no reason–suffices to stop a would-be nominee.

    I think it useful to US interests, particularly in Africa and Latin America, to have an ambassador to the Vatican. It is not, perhaps, critical, but useful allies are always nice to have about.

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  29. rpkinmd says:

    We get to select, they do not have to recognize. That simple. I am not Catholic but good on the Vatican.

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  30. Tlaloc says:

    For the unitiated, uninformed, and downright ignorant, it is up to the host country to approve of any diplomat or ambassador. That’s the way it works, always has, always will. This is NOT a liberal/conservative consideration.

    You miss the point. The argument is not whether the Vatican has the right to do this, indeed they do. The question s whether or not it violates the very nature of diplomatic relations and is ultimately self defeating.

    Yes they can insist on only accepting an ambassador who is pure blood Italian roman catholic direct descendant of pope innocent if they like but where does it get them?

    We can demand they send us a wiccan, but all that does is make it very hard for them to send us anyone.

    There are always things you have the right to do that nevertheless remain counterproductive.

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  31. Tlaloc says:

    For the unitiated, uninformed, and downright ignorant, it is up to the host country to approve of any diplomat or ambassador. That’s the way it works, always has, always will. This is NOT a liberal/conservative consideration.

    You miss the point. The argument is not whether the Vatican has the right to do this, indeed they do. The question is whether or not it violates the very nature of diplomatic relations and is ultimately self defeating.

    Yes they can insist on only accepting an ambassador who is pure blood Italian roman catholic direct descendant of pope innocent if they like but where does it get them?

    We can demand they send us a wiccan, but all that does is make it very hard for them to send us anyone.

    There are always things you have the right to do that nevertheless remain counterproductive.

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  32. Bithead says:

    I do find it funny that so many of the right, who adopt a “my way or the highway” diplomatic stand with every other theocratic regime believe we should kowtow to the pope.

    And the obvious answer would seem to be that the Pope has more support than Obama, among these. or perhaps more correctly the Pope’s policy on abortion has more support among them then does Obama’s.

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  33. The Pope is (for the time being) part of the right’s tribe. Hence anything he does is by definition correct and worthy of praise. Obama is of the other tribe. Hence anything he does is by definition wrong and worthy of condemnation.

    Everything beyond that is rationalization and isn’t necessarily sensible or even consistent.

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  34. An Interested Party says:

    re: Paul Barnes | April 12, 2009 | 01:38 pm

    But, once again, all three activities involve the destruction of life, so it makes perfect sense why the Church would be opposed to all three actions…so if a good Catholic is one who is opposed to abortion, he/she should also be opposed to the death penalty and war…if the Vatican is to be consistent, they would also reject a potential ambassador who was in favor of the two latter activities…

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  35. Our Paul says:

    I, for one, celebrate the fact that James Joiner has gotten over his recent blue funk over the state of conservatism, where he stated: “The right hasn’t surrendered the culture wars; we lost.” If that be the case, the Catholic jehadist have not gotten the message.

    Around of applause to our host, for he correctly points out the right tilt of memorandum and that the suggested links were universally praiseworthy of the alleged Vatican refusal to accept Carolyn Kennedy as Ambassador to Holy See. Mea Culpa to the academicians in the crowd for using that dreadful Wiki as a source, but the magic blue over Holy See may help clarify some of the issues. (See, for example, Paul Barnes ( April 12, 2009 | 01:31 pm )

    As our host pointed out in his blue funk column:

    We’ve lost the youth and future generations are decidedly unlikely to ever become meaningfully “conservative,” short of an apocalyptic scenario.

    True, as sad or joyful as that might be… But, not only that, the educated class drifted to Obama, and horrors, exit poles showed that a majority of Catholics had shifted back to the Democratic Party. A critical situation, as even the smart sheep were drifting away from the Shepard.

    The problem is that basic tenants of the Catholic Church are being obfuscated. It is the responsibility of each individual Catholic to chose between two potential evils; his or her salvation rests in the wise exercise of such a choice. By extension, in civic matters, the Catholics choice certainly has to take in the reality of what candidates are offering for his family’s well being, as well of the well being of the nation. It is the old thing of render unto Caesar…

    In the good old days, before virulent apposition to abortion became the raisons d’être for being a devout Catholic, we used to have venial sins, and mortal sins, and depending on intent, severity, damage to others, one could slide from one, into the other. For example, the sin of calumny, know among the non faithful as character assassination, and among politicos as “the smear”, certainly gains in gravity when repeated, when it known to be untrue, and is being presented for overt gain. Now we have an existential grave sin, abortion, that supersedes all others. Thus, in the link kindly provided by SKI (April 12, 2009 | 12:19 pm) a frothing at the mouth Pat Buchanon presents arguments about Notre Dame’s invitation of President Obama that are patently false, as assuredly he must know.

    Tlaloc has presented cogent arguments that Doug Kmiec is a pro life Catholic, not mentioned is that he is also a staunch conservative, a constitutional lawyer, and the Dean of Pepperdine Law School. His endorsement of Obama for President was based on what he viewed as best for the country. That he was savaged by the hard right, and fundamentalist Catholics, cannot be disputed.

    I have said it before, but I will say it again. The hard right is playing a shell game, look at this scandal, and do not keep your eyes on the issues. The issue is whether the Obama administration is able to decrease the inordinately high abortion rate in the US, which is his stated goal. That can only be achieved by changing our support mechanisms for pregnant mothers (married and single), education, and (gasp) health care.

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  36. James Joyner says:

    he correctly points out the right tilt of memorandum and that the suggested links were universally praiseworthy

    No, the paragraph was a summary of the right-leaning sites aggregated as of writing by memeorandum.

    Stickings and Chusid were also included, as was van der Galien.

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  37. Paul Barnes says:

    An Interested Party,

    Catholic thought distinguishes between the three acts. Abortion is murder (the deliberate taking of an innocent life). The death penalty is the taking, by legitimate authority, of a guilty life. War is much more multifaceted, where the innocent suffer along with soldiers (or non-innocent).

    There is no inconsistency is separating the three different acts because they are different. I cannot help you if you cannot see the difference.

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  38. Bithead says:

    I think it useful to US interests, particularly in Africa and Latin America, to have an ambassador to the Vatican. It is not, perhaps, critical, but useful allies are always nice to have about.

    Heh. Yeah, particularly when one is trying to claim the moral high ground.

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  39. Highlander says:

    Everybody knows we have an excess of a billion or so people on the planet(They eat too much, they make to much carbon, they are just generally unattractive). One way or the other they must be eliminated by abortion, starvation, some form of poisoning, or arranged warfare.

    Enlightened progressives like Ms Kennedy, and Mr Kemic are not able to publically admit this(That would not be good PR), but in reality they understand and support the need for this “Final Solution”. Their pro abortion stance is an obvious clue.

    Understandably, this potential genocide toward a substantial number of the poorest of his world wide flock gives the “Wily Old Pope” a reason to have some doubt about his public acceptance of
    a neo genocidal figure such as Ms Kennedy.

    The Pope is the ultimate example of those intolerant Christian bigots. As soon as we can rid the world of his type. We progrssives can finally bring rational secular justice to the world. But the unfortunate fact is that will take another 10 to 20 years, while we bring a newly indoctrinated generation on line.

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  40. Paul Barnes says:

    Doug Kmiec considers himself pro-life and anti-abortion. Where he has received considerable flak is his strong support of Obama’s presidency after supporting Mitt Romney.

    Now, whether one who worked so hard for Obama could or should be categorized as being in the “pro-life” camp is debatable, but Kmiec certainly believes that one can.

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  41. Tlaloc says:

    Now, whether one who worked so hard for Obama could or should be categorized as being in the “pro-life” camp is debatable, but Kmiec certainly believes that one can.

    In other words it isn’t enough to believe in the pro-life cause or consider yourself pro-life, you have to meet our criteria.

    Hence again why I used the phrase “openly affirm allegiance to the host’s ideals.”

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  42. […] Diplomacy and Diplomacy: It is only when this situation is viewed in light of other diplomacy situations that the import of it becomes clear; Barack Obama […]

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  43. I think it useful to US interests, particularly in Africa and Latin America, to have an ambassador to the Vatican. It is not, perhaps, critical, but useful allies are always nice to have about.

    Heh. Yeah, particularly when one is trying to claim the moral high ground.

    Allies are rarely useful for claiming the moral high ground. One ends up being forced to defend policies one has no control over; morals inevitably end up being sacrificed in the name of expediency.

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