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Obama at Notre Dame

From Obama’s speech:

The question, then — the question then is how do we work through these conflicts?  Is it possible for us to join hands in common effort?  As citizens of a vibrant and varied democracy, how do we engage in vigorous debate?  How does each of us remain firm in our principles, and fight for what we consider right, without, as Father John said, demonetizing those with just as strongly held convictions on the other side?

And of course, nowhere do these questions come up more powerfully than on the issue of abortion.

As I considered the controversy surrounding my visit here, I was reminded of an encounter I had during my Senate campaign, one that I describe in a book I wrote called “The Audacity of Hope.”  A few days after I won the Democratic nomination, I received an e-mail from a doctor who told me that while he voted for me in the Illinois primary, he had a serious concern that might prevent him from voting for me in the general election.  He described himself as a Christian who was strongly pro-life — but that was not what was preventing him potentially from voting for me.

What bothered the doctor was an entry that my campaign staff had posted on my website — an entry that said I would fight “right-wing ideologues who want to take away a woman’s right to choose.”  The doctor said he had assumed I was a reasonable person, he supported my policy initiatives to help the poor and to lift up our educational system, but that if I truly believed that every pro-life individual was simply an ideologue who wanted to inflict suffering on women, then I was not very reasonable.  He wrote, “I do not ask at this point that you oppose abortion, only that you speak about this issue in fair-minded words.”  Fair-minded words.

After I read the doctor’s letter, I wrote back to him and I thanked him.  And I didn’t change my underlying position, but I did tell my staff to change the words on my website.  And I said a prayer that night that I might extend the same presumption of good faith to others that the doctor had extended to me.  Because when we do that — when we open up our hearts and our minds to those who may not think precisely like we do or believe precisely what we believe — that’s when we discover at least the possibility of common ground.

That’s when we begin to say, “Maybe we won’t agree on abortion, but we can still agree that this heart-wrenching decision for any woman is not made casually, it has both moral and spiritual dimensions.”

So let us work together to reduce the number of women seeking abortions, let’s reduce unintended pregnancies.  (Applause.)  Let’s make adoption more available.  (Applause.)  Let’s provide care and support for women who do carry their children to term.  (Applause.)  Let’s honor the conscience of those who disagree with abortion, and draft a sensible conscience clause, and make sure that all of our health care policies are grounded not only in sound science, but also in clear ethics, as well as respect for the equality of women.”  Those are things we can do.  (Applause.)

Now, understand — understand, Class of 2009, I do not suggest that the debate surrounding abortion can or should go away.  Because no matter how much we may want to fudge it — indeed, while we know that the views of most Americans on the subject are complex and even contradictory — the fact is that at some level, the views of the two camps are irreconcilable.  Each side will continue to make its case to the public with passion and conviction.  But surely we can do so without reducing those with differing views to caricature. (more…)

By |2009-05-18T20:57:11-04:00May 18th, 2009|Domestic Issues|Comments Off on Obama at Notre Dame

What's going on – News RoundUp

Friday afternoon News RoundUp

  • Tomorrow on the Errington Thompson Show (9 am EST – streaming here), one of my special guests will be my friend, blogging guru at Campaign for America’s Future, Bill Scher. I’ll also speak with the editor from the popular news website, Buzz Flash, Mark Karlin.
  • On Wednesday morning, newspapers from across the country had big banner headlines announcing that Barack Obama had won the election. Stunningly, the paper in Terrell, Texas led with their local election. Nowhere on their front page even today was there an acknowledgement of the presidential election. For this there is no excuse. Information on how to contact the editor can be found by clicking here.
  • Dan Froomkin, from the Washington Post, wrote a very nice article before the election asking a simple question. Did we really expect President Bush and Vice President Cheney to go quietly? President Bush enacted a whole host of federal regulations which free up private industry, power plants, mines and farms. For polluters, this is a dream come true!
  • Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman seems to be in a bit of hot water with Senator Harry Reid and the Democratic Party. Senator Lieberman campaigned hard for John McCain. He accused Barack Obama of being soft on terrorism and not understanding the problem. Remember that Lieberman was a Democrat before he changed his status to Independent when he lost the Democratic nomination in Connecticut back in 2006. He continued to caucus with the Democrats but now there is an intense discussion over stripping Senator Lieberman of his chairmanship of the Senate committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. Senator Lieberman has not held the Bush administration accountable for any wrongdoing. He has not investigated anything. His counterpart in the House, Henry Waxman has been investigating many aspects of the Bush administration. These last two years, Lieberman has been anything but an Independent. He has supported the Bush administration and John McCain on almost every major issue over the last several years. I’m not sure how allowing him to keep his chairmanship helps our country to move forward. In my opinion, what we need is someone to thoughtfully investigate some of the egregious violations of our Constitution which the Bush Administration inflicted on the American people. On the other hand, I don’t think we need to investigate every single aspect of George W. Bush’s White House. We do need to be thoughtful. I’m not sure that Senator Lieberman is the right person to head this job.
  • A friend of mine sent me an e-mail the other day. It was one of those “everything is great in the land of the free” emails. Though it was attributed to David Letterman, it was clearly written by some right wing think tank. The underlying point of this email was to tell Americans stop whining and be happy!  My response to this suggestion is to point out that most of the major things in our country are not going right. An excellent example is today’s job numbers. In October, for example, our economy lost 240,000 jobs. Since January,our economy has lost a little over 1.2 million jobs. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has dissected the numbers and it is not a pretty picture. To whomever wrote that email: Bite Me.
  • Kathleen Parker of the WaPo has a great personal story of what Barack Obama’s election meant to her.  Her story is one of the thousands/millions of American stories about race in our country.  Although race surrounds a lot of what we do and who we are, there have been signs for a number of years that things are changing.  Tuesday was a very emotional night for millions of Americans – Black, White or Brown.  It was more than Obama’s great words.  It is the simple fact of him and his beautiful family standing on that stage.  He was the president elect.  It is still an amazingly powerful image.
By |2008-11-07T16:03:49-04:00November 7th, 2008|Domestic Issues, Economy, Senate|Comments Off on What's going on – News RoundUp

Media Playing Up Party Division

Was Senator Hillary Clinton on the short list? Who cares? Look, Clinton lost. She lost. The race was hers to lose and she lost it for whatever reason. The one way for Senator Barack Obama to become the wimp that Maureen Dowd from the New York Times has been trying to paint him as for the last 18 months is to cave in and select Clinton.

I just don’t understand why (some) folks can’t see that Clinton as a Vice President would be a bad thing. If Obama ever wanted to actually run the White House, he wouldn’t be able to with her by his side. Everyone would be looking to the former president for advice. Obama would say X then everyone would run to Bill and ask if he believed X was right or would he do Y. Obama would automatically become a sub-president with Bill Clinton in the White House. This is a no-brainer.

Now, the important question: What percentage of Clinton supporters will vote for Senator John McCain or stay home? Ten percent? Five percent? I don’t think that we know this number, so only time will tell. Again, I would stress that the CNN poll showing that 27 percent of Clinton supporters will vote for McCain is garbage. Voters are terrible predictors of their own future behavior.

By |2008-08-24T17:27:30-04:00August 24th, 2008|Election 2008|Comments Off on Media Playing Up Party Division
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