Obama at Notre Dame

Against the backdrop of outrage generated among extreme anti-choicers by the prospect of President Obama’s commencement address at (the very Catholic) Notre Dame University, a lot of people were wondering what would happen today, what the freaks would do, and how Obama would follow their act — by ignoring the issue causing all the furore, or addressing it.  How does one respond to the ongoing psychotic episodes and intimidation tactics that characterize extremist anti-choice nutbars like Randall “Fetus-in-a-Jar” Terry?

The verdict is in:  Obama hit one out of the park at Notre Dame today.  The threatened “circus” didn’t materialize, no pickled fetuses were thrust in anyone’s face, and though spittle-flecked shrieks were heard in the distance, none disrupted the proceedings.  Not only did Obama address the controversy, he did it in such a positive, upbeat and rational tone that he effectively turned it back on his opponents, who ended up looking petty and ridiculous (not to mention several parts crazy and stupid).  Pwn’d, as they say.

There can be no doubt about it — Amateur Hour is over and the grownups are back in charge.

Transcript here.

11 Responses to “Obama at Notre Dame”


  1. 2 Cornelius T.Zen Monday, May 18, 2009 at 7:59 am

    Good morrow, all!
    Somewhere, Martin Luther King, Jr. is singing out, “Free at last! Free at last! Great God Almighty, we are free at last!”
    The audacity of hope, the hope of audacity.
    Reason and passion have found each other, and it is good.
    Or so it would seem — CTZen

  2. 3 fern hill Monday, May 18, 2009 at 4:28 pm

    I dunno. I was moved by the speech. But didn’t it totally dodge the abortion issue? He said his position didn’t change because of the email from the conservative, but he didn’t state his position. He blathered about open hearts and open minds.

    I dunno. He’s beginning to remind me of the Tony Blair Third Way approach. All triangulation and Lizzy May nuance.

    There is no compromise between pro-choice and anti-choice. He got that bit right.

    The rest is bullshit.

  3. 4 JJ Monday, May 18, 2009 at 5:54 pm

    fern hill – I thought it was an intelligent way to defuse the “controversy”. Obama managed to position pro-choice as the rational, reasonable and logical side of the equation, and marginalize extremist anti-choicers.

    I agree that there’s no compromise between pro- and anti-choice, but note that in all the talk about finding common ground, Obama didn’t back off his support for abortion rights or suggest the pro-choice side compromise. He basically tossed the ball back into the anti-choice court — shorter Obama to anti-choicers: “You can do something that might actually make a difference, or you can keep following the losing formula of the Randall Terrys of the world. You decide.”

    What this speech accomplished shows graphically in the videos that start with Obama speaking about the issue like a sane and rational adult, calling for common ground, getting standing ovation after standing ovation, then cutting to the handful of anti-choice protesters outside screaming about “killing babies”. Marginalization in action.

    The one part of the speech that I thought was bullshit was the bit about making adoption a more viable alternative. Sure, if women choose to adopt out then fine, but I don’t see how adoption could be a more viable alternative than it is already, and I’m pretty sure Obama doesn’t either. It still boils down to being a voluntary incubator. But fetus fetishists love that kind of talk, so I suspect that’s why he said it. He is, after all, a politician ;)

  4. 5 JJ Monday, May 18, 2009 at 5:56 pm

    Chimera – Wow good or wow bad? Not everyone liked it.

  5. 6 JJ Monday, May 18, 2009 at 5:57 pm

    Cornelius – That was more or less my impression, too, with emphasis on “reason”.

  6. 7 Q Tuesday, May 19, 2009 at 3:15 am

    He does tend to equivocate on issues to appeal to the opposing views…naively hoping people will be flexible?
    It’s impossible to move towards common ground, reduced need for abortion, when they are against sex education and birth control as well.

  7. 8 Reality Bites Tuesday, May 19, 2009 at 4:10 am

    I would imagine there are many millions of Americans who wish abortion was illegal and would certainly make it illegal if they could, but realize they can’t.

    It’s to those people he’s trying to appeal, in order to make them able to support a pro-choice candidate without feeling guilty.

    Q, you are right when you say “they” are against sex ed and birth control as well, but Obama’s not really going after those people. He doesn’t want to work with the lunatic anti-choice fringe, he wants to isolate them. On any controversial issue there are great numbers of people who agree with one side or the other. However there’s a relatively tiny amount who actually care deeply about it. There are millions of Canadians who would ban abortion, but only 10,000 who are willing to march for it.

  8. 9 JJ Tuesday, May 19, 2009 at 4:59 am

    Q – The speech wasn’t meant to address the extremists who are against contraception and sex ed. Over 50% of Catholics are okay with contraception and sex ed, and even voted for Obama (I think he got 54% of the Catholic vote) — those are the people he’s appealing to with this speech.

    On second thought, read what RB posted above, he explains it better than I appear to be doing.

  9. 10 JJ Tuesday, May 19, 2009 at 5:05 am

    RB – Exactly, Obama’s speech talks to the moderates, not the nutjobs. He’s basically telling them they can find “pro-life” solutions without going the extremist “ban abortion” route, which a growing number of them are already starting to realize isn’t viable.

  10. 11 Chimera Tuesday, May 19, 2009 at 12:53 pm

    “Chimera – Wow good or wow bad?”

    Oh, wow good, absolutely! I don’t bother with wow bad, but I guess I didn’t make that clear.

    As for the objections I’ve read and heard that he didn’t go far enough, consider his audience and his venue! Virtual Daniel in a virtual lion’s den! And he not only walked out with his skin in one piece, he made friends with a lot of the lions!

    For one thing, he didn’t insult anyone’s intelligence or values. That alone took talent!

    And as for there being a compromise between “pro-life” and pro-choice, I gotta say that pro-choice is the compromise! It’s the middle ground that lets each pregnant woman decide her own fate — and that of her pregnancy — for herself, without the interference of some anti-choicer on one end who says she must remain pregnant because “all life is sacred from conception forward” and the anti-choicer on the other end who says she may not remain pregnant because “there are already too many mouths to feed and bodies to house and not enough resources for any more.”

    Obama did good. After his two terms as president, can we draft him for Prime Minister?


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