Fri Oct 19, 2012 - 9:31 pm EST
Al Smith dinner musings: who was funnier and have pro-life leaders been way too negative?
Well, the Al Smith dinner has come and gone. The event received predictably massive media coverage. It was broadcast live on the C-Span Cable network and varying portions were broadcast on most other television networks, stations and major news websites and it was written up in many newspapers. The videos seemed to have sometimes been strategically edited to make one candidate (mostly Obama) look better than the other.
The totally predictable photos of an uproariously laughing Cardinal Dolan in the center of the two laughing presidential candidates were printed and broadcast far and wide. The Associated Press news service syndicated photo was perhaps the most notable example of the photo-op that many social and otherwise conservative or just plain patriotic Americans feared the most.
After watching the full speeches of both President Obama and Mitt Romney, it’s my opinion Romney trounced Obama in getting the bigger laughs and using humor to considerable political advantage. I didn’t expect that. Both candidates had admittedly really funny lines. Still, it seemed to me that the speeches were in some ways a replay of the first Romney/Obama debate. Obama was not nearly as funny nor as lively as Romney. Maybe I’m biased.
It appeared Romney had a better understanding than some of the great danger to America from a second Obama term. He may have understood that it was appropriate to exploit the opportunity, regardless of the otherwise acceptable polite traditions of the Al Smith dinner, to ridicule Obama to the maximum advantage of the American people. Humor can at times have a greater impact than straight debate.
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There is still the question of the appropriateness (a matter of prudential judgment) of inviting Obama, especially at a time so close to the election.
Cardinal Dolan’s reference to both Obama and Romney as men of honor and faith was very disconcerting. He stated at the dinner: “I’m privileged to be in the company of two honorable men, both called to the noble vocation of public service, whose love for God and country is surpassed only by their love for their own wives and children…” “two honorable men who love God and country?” Was there someone else in the room he was referring to? Those descriptions clearly do not in any way accurately apply to the “abortion president.”
That inappropriate praise reminds us of the New York cardinal’s similar praise for the Catholicism of the two vice-presidential candidates. Dolan stated, “We’ve got two men who - and you can disagree with one of them or both of them - say they take their faith seriously, who don’t try to hide it”. Joe Biden cannot possible be taking his faith seriously. Why this embarrassing, if not dangerous deference to anti-Catholic despots?
The ecstatic comments from our dear friend, Michael Sean Winters, of the usually dissident, “social justice” religion National Catholic Reporter are revealing. The enthusiasm of Winters and NCR colleague Tom Gallagher over the dinner outcome seems to confirm concerns of many Catholics and other Christians about the invitation to the “abortion president”. If many years dissident Winters thought the evening was “a great moment for the Cardinal-Archbishop of New York and for the Catholic Church and for the country”, then we should be asking more questions about the evening.
Judy Brown’s column presents an interesting, previously unknown tidbit of information about Cardinal Dolan’s judgments regarding appropriate dinner guests. Her experience is not uncommon.
Many outspoken, but usually still respectful Catholic pro-life, pro-family leaders have at one time or another been thrown out of bishops’ offices or harshly admonished in public or private for simply revealing disturbing information and encouraging needed action. The whistle-blower is all too often quickly labelled the real problem - an “all or nothing” “troublemaker” for putting the Church leader in such an uncomfortable situation. Prominent individuals, such as Obama, who distribute financial largess, are seen as much preferable opportunities for “charity” and “dialogue” that well informed pro-life, pro-family leaders themselves are frequently denied.
Mind you, I am not saying that Cardinal Dolan is not pro-life. He most certainly is and some notably positive changes are happening under his watch at the head of the USCCB. And a lot of the statements in this blog post are just my opinions.
Still, I wonder sometimes if we pro-lifers are insane for believing what the Popes and many bishops and leaders of various Christian denominations and other religions and cultures repeatedly emphasize - that every abortion is an unjust killing of an utterly innocent, totally human life. There are growing numbers of damaged post abortive women who are giving moving witness to that same belief from the real experiences in their lives.
Perhaps we are too negative and overdoing it and unnecessarily enduring ridicule from most of the elites as the man/God endured 2,000 years ago. I mean, He ended up getting nailed to a cross for his foolishness of continuing to make too many people in high places very uncomfortable. Not smart tactics many would think today. He was especially way too critical of religious leaders. Think of all the good He could have done for mankind had he not been such a troublemaker.
Most leaders have not been acting as though there really is an ongoing and expanding slaughter of innocents. And this attitude (with some notable exceptions) has been sustained for 40 years. We obviously haven’t been getting it right all these years. Why are we always so serious about abortion, euthanasia, the spread of the gay culture and all that, if most of our wise and learned leaders clearly aren’t terribly concerned about these issues? They have repeatedly shown that there are other, more important priorities.
Maybe we really should publicly joke and hysterically laugh and dine with those who promote, fund and use every power available to them to violently kill even more than the 50 million innocent lives ended in America alone since 1972. And then there is the massive collateral damage of the slaughter - a collapsing respect for human life, advancing euthanasia and assisted suicide, same-sex marriage, other aspects of moral collapse and much, much more.
Perhaps we should finally admit that, you know, there are other issues that we should be giving just as much of our time to - poverty, unemployment, unjust social structures, global warming, bottled water, mining in developing countries and so on. These aren’t nearly as disturbing and “complex” issues. With that change, maybe there will finally be more “dialogue” and the elites will welcome the opportunity to sit next to us at the head table of any dinner. We can finally start having a grand time.
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