Somebody that is close to Doug Kmiec, please let him know that he really, really, really, needs to take a break.
In a comment yesterday, Ramesh Ponnuru criticized Kmiec’s latest lame effort to defend Obama, and he also merely pondered whether or not there had been any confirmation of Kmiec’s denial of Communion story, a question I had pondered aloud myself once. And in an update, Ponnuru noted that Deal Hudson confirmed the story.
That was enough to get Kmiec to run whining to Kathryn Lopez.
Mr. Ponnuru’s accompanying personal libel, however, is much to be regretted. He is apparently unable to contemplate someone as open and fair-minded as Senator Obama – that is, a presumptive presidential nominee having the courage to engage the ideas of his opposition, and in so doing, to bring the clashing sides of the sensitive abortion topic together for civil and constructive conversation. Whether or not Mr. Ponnuru views my essay in the Chicago Tribune summarizing this meeting as “spin” or not subtracts nothing from the considerable praise due Senator Obama for making the effort to open this dialogue. With the help of the Holy Spirit, the moment has the potential for giving respect to unborn life in ways that transcend overturning Roe on paltry federalism grounds, and of course, the Senator’s effort is light years more important than acrimonious blog entries.
It is now evidently libel to question Kmiec’s judgment. And oh my gosh is this paragraph the silliest bit of crap you have ever read. Before continuing on with Kmiec, here is a great comment from Francis Beckwith on Carl Olson’s blog that is worth repeating here.
The truth is that Doug Kmiec does not have a conceptual grasp of what the prolife position actually is. It is not about “reducing the number of abortions,” though that is certainly a consequence that all prolifers should welcome. Rather, the prolife position is the moral and political belief that all members of the human community are intrinsically valuable and thus are entitled to protection by the state. “Reducing the number of abortions” may occur in a regime in which this belief is denied, and that is the regime that Senator Obama wants to preserve. It is a regime in which the continued existence of the unborn is always at the absolute discretion of the postnatal. Reducing the number of these discretionary acts by trying to pacify and accommodate the needs of those who want to procure abortions–physicians, mothers, and fathers–only reinforces the idea that the unborn are objects whose value depends exclusively on our wanting them.
Imagine if someone told you in 19th century America that he was not interested in giving slaves full citizenship, but merely reducing the number of slaves. But suppose another person told you that he too wanted to reduce the number of slaves by granting them the full citizenship to which they are entitled by nature. Which of the two is really “against slavery” in a full-orbed principled sense? The first wants to reduce slavery, but only while retaining a subhuman understanding of slaves as part of our juridical infrastructure. The second believes that the juridical infrastructure should reflect the truth about slaves, namely, that they are in fact human beings made in the image of their Maker.
Amen to that.
Sadly, Kmiec continues.
As for the tag line referencing my denial of the sacrament, it was added by the Chicago Tribune editors who apparently felt it good journalistic practice to give the reader this factual background. I have kept the priest’s name and religious order confidential out of charity, but I am certain Cardinal Mahony would confirm – without breaking this charitable confidence – what he called the “shameful,” partisan denial of communion based on improper pulpit criticism of my endorsement of Senator Obama.
I have no desire to have this “un-priestly” action contrary to Catholic teaching emblazed upon any “business card,” as Mr. Ponnuru sneers. It is more than enough that the humiliating and hurtful experience is etched in my memory in a manner that is – unfortunately — inescapable whenever I now approach our Lord in the Eucharist.
Oh man, can you actually hear the violins playing in the background as you read this? His being denied Communion is etched – etched I tell you – into his memory. Oh if had only said seared. But anyway, I find it somewhat disturbing that Douglas Kmiec can’t get past this incident even as he approaches the Lord. One would think that one’s mind would be a little clearer at that moment, reflecting not on personal slights but on the sacrifice made by our Lord. And if that incident is really going to linger, one might also think it is a sign that one should reflect on the reasons for the denial. But who am I to judge.
As a natural law conservative anxious to preserve that which really matters, I had always associated the National Review with a higher and more responsible voice than the assertions Mr. Ponnuru tosses off so casually toward my name with actual malice, that is, in reckless disregard of their truth or falsity.
It may be in the corporate thinking of the National Review to make sure Catholics don’t wander off the McCain reservation in the hope, however vain, that it represents more Reagan than Bush. But political rationalization or disagreement aside, it cannot be the role of a member of the writing staff of the electronic sibling of a provocatively important magazine to simply demean those who disagree with him. Is there no editor still ambling about Bill Buckley’s enterprise who possesses the decency of mind and a classically-formed character not to trivialize something which ought always be held sacred?
Doug, seriously, get over yourself. First of all, the sin of calumny extends to false accusations of calumny. In saying that Ramesh has – with malicious intent – libeled you is itself a malicious lie. Ramesh did no such thing, and your hideous overreaction shows you to be a thin-skinned, self-absorbed jerk.
But I’ll let Ramesh defend himself.
I didn’t call Kmiec a liar; I asked whether we had any independent corroboration of Kmiec’s story about being denied communion for endorsing Obama. I didn’t even say that we had no independent corroboration. I just raised the question. (Incidentally, in my initial comment on Kmiec’s story I took his side against the priest.) It is true that the implication is that Kmiec might not be telling the truth, or might have misunderstood the situation. If he feels that he is entitled to a presumption of complete accuracy and truthfulness from strangers, then, well, I’m afraid I have to disappoint him.
I can’t see how my post “libeled” him—this from a law-school dean—demeaned him, tried to keep Catholics on the McCain reservation, lacked decency, or trivialized the sacred. It seems to me that his various accusations against me are closer to libel than anything I said.