Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Personal Aside: Douglas Kmiec’s Decision to Switch to Obama is Stunning. “All Things Betrayest Thee Who Betrayest Me.”


The decision of conservative, pro-life constitutional scholar and authenticist Catholic Doug Kmiec, a close friend of mine, to switch from having co-headed the Romney presidential campaign’s Committee on the Courts and Constitution to announce his support of Barack Obama for president is…well, how to I say it…as if Ed Meese were to quit the Heritage Foundation to accept appointment to the Herbert Marcuse Chair at Berkeley to co-teach “The Dialectics of Liberation” with Angela Davis. No other analogy will fit since I have dealt with Doug over the years and have depended on his solid, workmanlike analysis of the law as background for some of my own writing.

He is the Caruso Family Chair and Professor of Constitutional Law at Pepperdine University’s School of Law. He served in an extremely sensitive post, director of the Office of Legal Counsel with the rank of assistant U.S. attorney general for Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush, a post previously held by Chief Justice William Rehnquist and Justice Antonin Scalia in the Nixon and Ford administrations. His legal credentials are impeccable. An honors graduate at Northwestern University, Kmiec, 57, received his law degree from the University of Southern California wher he served on its Law Review and won the Legion Lex commencement prize for legal writing. He was a White House Fellow, a Distinguished Fulbright Scholar on the Constitution and Visiting Distinguished Scholar at the national constitution center. With leaves for government service, he served on the law faculty of the University of Notre Dame where he directed the Thomas White Center on Law and Government and founded the “Journal of Law, Ethics & Public Policy.”

From Notre Dame he was named Dean of Catholic University of America law school where he wrote the book “The Attorney General’s Lawyer” and three books on the American constitution, a two-volume legal treatise and hundreds of published articles and essays. He and I rotated writing Op Eds for “The Chicago Tribune” until I was terminated for writing an article that speculated how Catholic Richard M. Daley could square the tenets of his faith with his advocacy of abortion and gay rights—but happily Doug kept right on contributing until he moved to an even higher plane. As Dean of Catholic U’s law school he appeared frequently from Washington on “The Jim Lehrer NewsHour” on PBS, “Meet the Press” and national public radio, analyzing constitutional, cultural and political developments.

Following his CUA deanship, Kmiec assumed a really juicy assignment, the chairmanship of the chair in constitutional law at Pepperdine University School of Law. His brilliance shone even more brightly there and he assumed, along with Mary Ann Glendon of Harvard Law School, the role of top advisers on constitutional law questions to Mitt Romney’s presidential

campaign (until Glendon was named ambassador to the Vatican by President Bush).

How in hell a dedicated pro-lifer and astute constitutional theorist moves from that position…key adviser to Mitt Romney…to announced advocate for the election of Barack Obama in a matter of weeks confounds, puzzles, baffles, bewilders, dazes and stuns me—and I mean to ask him deferentially…because my respect for him remains pinnacle-high…how he manages it. In his statement endorsing Obama he says he believes Obama “wants to return the United States to that company of nations committed to human rights.” Well, if so, Obama has certainly hidden it. He personally killed, as Judiciary chair of the Illinois state senate, a bill that would make it illegal to allow babies born live as result of botched abortions to languish and die. The very same bill that Obama opposed and stabbed to death in its crib passed the U. S. Senate almost overwhelmingly with the support of Democrats Hillary Clinton, Ted Kennedy, Joe Biden, Pat Leahy, Diane Feinstein and Barbara Boxer—meaning that Obama stands in stark contrast to them in his disrespect for BORN human life. Of course Obama has been consistent as an opponent of legislation banning partial birth abortion as well as every single pro-life measure submitted to him for vote.

Actually, I’m beginning to wonder if Doug might not have had a stroke that has not been detected. He states in his brief for Obama that he still believes that life begins at conception and adds “Sen. Obama and I may disagree on aspects of these important fundaments…” ASPECTS OF THESE FUNDAMENTALS? Such as allowing life that has been produced from a botched abortion to be cared for? What in the name of God is Doug thinking?

Another part of his brief has to do with his opposition to the war in Iraq i.e. “our president has involved our nation in a military engagement without sufficient justification or a clear objective.” Very well, I accept that reason—but if so, how long has he harbored it since until a few weeks ago he was a key adviser to Mitt Romney who was no different from John McCain in his professed wish to win that war and not withdraw. Was Doug dishonest then? Did he arrive suddenly at this new conclusion only in the last weeks? If so, what in the name of God took him so long? Is this the measure of reflective thought, that he could support a Republican candidate who pressed for victory and then, with the demise of his candidacy, join the campaign of one who is diametrically opposite?

As a mystified but still friend of Doug’s, I cannot help but speculate if a fear of unfulfilled ambition may have something to do with it. He was mentioned prominently in the past as a candidate for federal appeals court judge and even for the Supreme Court—but the White House passed him up because it was thought confirmation by the Senate for someone so prominent a defender of unborn life…far more prominent than John Roberts or Sam Alito…with a huge paper trail would make his confirmation impossible by the Senate. When I last saw him as I was preparing to introduce him at a dinner meeting of Legatus, I mentioned with dismay the news reports. He brushed them away. There is no doubt that if Obama wins and Doug occupies a major role in securing that election by legal stewardship and mollifying of social conservatives, he would be in a good position to be nominated for a very high judicial post.

…Except that in his own words, possibly unintentionally, Doug Kmiec indicates the odds for confirmation might be against him even here. “No doubt some of my friends will see this as a matter of party or intellectual treachery.” Let’s be clear about one thing. The departure of Doug Kmiec is not just another decision of a Republican centrist or malleable legislative draftsman, to go with a party that could serve his interests better. Because Doug is the very highest legal talent and intellectual theoretician the social conservatives have yet found, his defection will be seen by them as akin to that of Benedict Arnold. Arnold, probably one of the greatest American generals of the Revolution…wounded at Saratoga for his country…felt bitterly that he was under-appreciated: and indeed he was. He left his post after plotting to turn the invaluable base of West Point over to the enemy. Washington sent Lafayette and his army to capture him. Lafayette said: And what shall we do with this very high general and ex-friend of yours if we indeed capture him?

Washington’s answer evidenced the bitterness of betrayal. “Shoot him.” We social conservatives stop far short of that—but his conservative friends, his Republican friends, the friends in his church who worked on pro-life measures in which the church believes—moral questions that transcend partisan or political hue—feel grievously betrayed.

As it happened, Lafayette did not capture Arnold. The traitor slipped out of New York harbor on a British warship bound for England. We do not know how he managed to live with himself but we know that he left orders on his British deathbed to have his body laid out in his old American army general’s regalia. That was the closest he came to being re-accepted by America.

If perchance Doug Kmiec has harbored any thought of being nominated for a high judicial post in an Obama administration…a post that requires Senate confirmation…he had better not count on receiving any votes but from the hardest core pro-abortion Democratic members, as his defection’s sting will last beyond the two term limit…meaning that for Doug Kmiec’s interest an eternity.

Once when we talked long ago it was of poetry and what we were reading. I urge Doug to re-read “The Hound of Heaven” by Francis Thompson whose masterpiece portrays one fleeing the advancing chase of him by God, pursuing him back to righteousness after the coward who chose expediency. The pounding of the chase rings in the runner’s ears.

I fled Him down the nights and down the days

I fled Him down the arches of the years

I fled Him down the labyrinthine ways

Of my own mind; and in the mist of tears

I hid from Him and under running laughter.

Up vistaed hopes I sped;

And shot, precipitated.

But with unhurrying chase

And unperturbed pace

Deliberate speed, majestic instancy

They beat—and a Voice beat

More instant than the Feet—

“All things betray thee, who betrayest Me.”


  1. Elizabeth AlexanderMarch 25, 2008 at 7:36 AM

    Is it possible that your friend (whom you have stripped bare for all to see) sees other issues than abortion? Could it be that he agrees that the question of how the races live together has to be addressed? And could it be also, that he is as sick as some of the rest of us are of having a simple person in the White House who would never, ever be there if his father's friends had not put him there?

    This unending senseless war is killing our country. It is time to get it over with. McCain? The thought is terrifying.

  2. The Church see shades of gray on many issues: War, Economics, How races accomodate living together, nepotism. Prudent people disagree on such issues all the time.

    The Church is pretty clear on killing babies in the name of political pandering for more donations. Prudent people cannot disagree on aggressively promoting abortion

    With his record in Illinois, Obama should be disqualified from any pro-life endorsement ever.

  3. Tom I suggest that you look at your own warm up to neo-conservatism which radiates from your posts. A hard question must be asked. Where are all their articles and books which articulate why it is important to save the life of the fetus?

    We were all told by starry eyed so called conservative pundits like yourself that George Bush was going to be more conservative than his father. But Bush swung to the left time and again. Then you told us that McCain's dive into liberalism was to spite Bush. But Tom, what about his stance on the judges where he sided with the liberals? Is it OK to spite Bush and also slam the social conservative agenda? McCain also pondered becoming a Democrat. Just what kind of an individual are you supporting here?

    Sure the neo-conservatives want McCain but their agenda is far different than the social conservative agenda. Are you really excoriating Kmiec because he does not fall in line with your neo-conservative views? I think you have some real soul searching to do, Tom. Party harmony does not cut it this time, just as it did not cut it when you, Tom, voted for a Democrat, Glenn Poshard for Governor over George Ryan. In many ways, George Ryan shares the same flaws as does McCain and Bush. It is not the base that is divisive, it is these flawed candidates that call themselves Republicans who have demonstrated a history of being divisive.

  4. Elizabeth & Carl-

    Would you prefer that your parents lived in this liberal age? Considering you a "fetus" to be discarded on a whim?

    For better or worse they stuck with the traditional mores of the times, and gave you the productive lives you now enjoy.

    Why deny this to others?

  5. In addition to the two most likely explanaations of 1) Kmiec is ticked off at being dissed by the current administration and 2) he's gone off his nut, there is a third, albeit remote possibility: maybe he knows something we don't. Maybe, just maybe, Obama IS listening to the pro-life side and is signaling that he will move more in that direction once he gets elected... but of course he dare not say so now, with Hillary still hot on his trail. I wouldn't bet the farm on this possibility and I'm not going to change my vote because of it... but heck, it could happen. Pro-life, conservative candidates move left after they get elected; who's to say pro-abort liberals can't move right?

  6. After all, isn't Kmiec's former boss/campaign client, Mitt Romney, living proof that pro-choicers can change too?

  7. When you look at it Frank, that is what McCain was up to on the judge situation when he sided with the democrats. If he lets spite warp his views in this situation then when will it reappear? Will it happen like a PMS attack in the middle of a war? The last person we need in the White House is a vindictive temper prone hot head. If you want to study another hot head hero, study Patton. Patton had to be contained to keep sanity in the situation. At the the end of WWII he wanted to start a war with Russia. Years later the Soviet Union fell apart without a war.

  8. Here's another thought that has occurred to me lately. What good does it do to elect pro-life candidates who turn out to be corrupt or incompetent, or both? Such as George Ryan and, to some extent, Bush 43? All it does is eventually discredit that person and everything they stand for, including the right to life, and make it that much harder to advance the cause in the future. Look what electing George Ryan did to the Republican Party in Illinois!
    The one vote I have ever cast in my life that I wish I could take back is my vote for George Ryan in 1998. If Poshard (a pro-life Democrat) had been elected governor BOTH parties would be much better off today... for without George Ryan there would have been no Blago.
    Also I believe that a very, very high priority for the pro-life movement from here on out should be supporting pro-life Democrats, so that in the future pro-lifers have more choice (pardon the pun). I realize that Obama is definitely NOT a pro-life Democrat and I definitely will not vote for him, but maybe some argument could be made for pro-lifers staying involved in Democratic politics.

  9. "Could it be that he agrees that the question of how the races live together has to be addressed?"

    That will never happen with Obama elected president. Race relations will only get worse as Obama lectures whitey and encourages black rage.

  10. How long will the Catholic Church tolerate this wicked demonic satanic priest?

    This insolent priest, this devil's child, this filthy father Pfleger who defiles the robes he wears, the wicked serpent who haunts St. Sabina. He had the raw low temerity to have Rev. Wright defile a Catholic Church. The cheers of the sheep like parishioners for Wright is enough to make any clear thinking Catholic throw up. This appearance infuriates me to say the least.

    Click on the URL below to view the infamous Wright at St. Sabina's.