All week long the media has been trumpeting a controversy that barely deserves mentioning. When President Obama gives the commencement speech tomorrow at Notre Dame, he will be following five previous presidents to do so. In addition, he will be the eighth president to be awarded an honorary degree.
The controversy stems from the fact that Obama’s pro-choice position is in conflict with the University’s Catholic principles. However, neither the Catholic protesters nor the media ever threw similar tantrums when George W. Bush delivered the commencement speech in 2001, after receiving his honorary degree.
Every good Catholic knows that the church is strictly opposed to capital punishment. Since Bush set records for carrying out death sentences when he was governor of Texas, you would think that the same guardians of virtue that are protesting Obama, who has never personally signed an abortion certificate, would have been out in force for a man who presided over 152 executions. But there was nary a peep. There were no bishops signing petitions opposing Bush’s appearance. There were no protests on campus. There were no students refusing to participate in graduation ceremonies. And there were no cameras from national news networks circling like buzzards.
If these Catholic Crusaders are truly interested in demonstrating their piety without prejudice, they should immediately call for Notre Dame to revoke Bush’s honorary degree. If the press is honestly endeavoring to be objective, they should pose this question to the protesters.
I can’t fault the pro-life movement’s efforts to advance their beliefs through protest and civil disobedience. That is their right and it is an honorable exercise of protections guaranteed under the First Amendment. But I can shine a light on their inconsistencies. And I can fault the media for the inflated sense of importance they bestow on such a tiny assemblage of adversaries. Polls show overwhelming support for the President’s visit to Notre Dame. That support is constant when looking at the general public, Catholic voters, and Notre Dame students.
So why does the press pump up this event as if there were a groundswell of opposition? And why was there no similar action on the part of the press when Bush attended the Notre Dame graduation?
One word: Hypocrisy. In politics? In media? In religion? I’m shocked, shocked, I tell you.
Update: Ronald Reagan also received an honorary degree and spoke at commencement in 1981. This despite the fact that he was divorced, he traded arms for hostages, he waged an illegal war in Central America funded by selling arms to terrorists in Iran, he advocated capital punishment as governor of California, and he wasn’t even Catholic.