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Amid Protests, Obama Calls for 'Open Hearts, Open Minds' at Notre Dame


President Obama delivers his commencement address at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind. (Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press)

By Michael D. Shear
SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- President Obama called for "open hearts, open minds, fair-minded words" as he accepted an honorary degree from the University of Notre Dame amid angry protests over his support for abortion rights.

For nearly two years on the campaign trail, and since becoming president, Obama has sought to skirt the emotional intensity and anger that accompany the debate over abortion, preferring instead to focus on issues of war and the economy.

That became impossible Sunday, as his mere presence at one of America's best-known Catholic universities capped a firestorm about whether an institution dedicated to the cause of fighting abortion should honor a president who is committed to a woman's right to choose.

For the second time in a week, questions about how and whether to honor America's first African American president threatened to overwhelm Obama's commencement address amid a swirl of finger-pointing and recriminations by others that spread far beyond the school boundaries.

But as he did in Arizona last Wednesday, Obama appeared energized by the controversy, confronting the issue with relish in his speech to graduates and offering a plea for courteous dialogue while acknowledging that divisions about abortion in the country are all-but irreconcilable.

"Is it possible for us to join hands in common effort?" he says in prepared remarks. "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
demonizing those with just as strongly held convictions on the other side?"

Hundreds of anti-abortion protesters gathered outside the gates of the university as Obama spoke, waving signs and chanting protests. Police arrested several people. Back in Washington, Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele said it was "inappropriate" for Notre Dame to give Obama an honorary degree.

Billboards on the nearby Indiana Tollway read, "Notre Dame: Obama is pro abortion choice. How dare you honor him." On Fox News Sunday, Father Frank Pavone, director of Priests for Life, said Obama's position on abortion "contradicts what it means to be president."

Inside the Joyce Center basketball arena, a handful of the graduates attached yellow crosses and two baby feet to the top of their mortarboards in a silent protest of the president's receipt of the honorary degree. Others amid the crowd of 12,000 affixed Obama's red, white and blue campaign symbol to theirs in support of the president.

Obama was introduced to a loud, sustained standing ovation, but early in his address two hecklers interrupted his remarks. One screamed "Abortion is murder!" "Baby Killer!" and "You have blood on your hands." The crowd responded quickly to drown him out by chanting "We Are N.D." Obama paused but continued moments later.

In his speech, the president did not engage the debate over when life begins, or attempt to justify his beliefs about abortion or stem cell research, which critics of the university say should have disqualified him for an honorary degree. Instead, the president took aim at the loud and angry rhetoric which he said too often dominates the discussion.

It is the failure on both sides to use "fair-minded words," he said, which overly inflames an important debate. As an example, he described his own a campaign website, which at one point used the phrase "right-wing ideologues who want to take away a woman's right to choose."

It was not until a doctor e-mailed him about the phrase that he ordered it taken down, he said.

"I didn't change my position, but I did tell my staff to change the words on my website," he told the crowd. "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."

Obama's decision to speak directly to the abortion controversy was the second time in a week that the president had used a commencement speech to attempt to reframe a discussion about himself in a broader context.

At Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Ariz., Obama talked directly about Arizona State University's decision to deny him an honorary degree. A university spokesman's comment that he did not have "a body of work" to justify the degree became the theme of his speech.

"That's what building a body of work is all about," he told 60,000 people at the stadium. "It's about the daily labor, the many individual acts, the choices large and small that add up over time, over a lifetime, to a lasting legacy. That's what you want on your
tombstone. It's about not being satisfied with the latest achievement, the latest gold star -- because the one thing I know about a body of work is that it's never finished."

In similar fashion, Obama did not shy away from the Notre Dame controversy yesterday. He stressed the need for cooperation and good will even among those who disagree with each other about the most morally weighted issues.

"Remember, too, that the ultimate irony of faith is that it necessarily admits doubt," he said. "This doubt should not push us away from our faith. But it should humble us. It should temper our passions, and cause us to be wary of self-righteousness."

As president, Obama has sidestepped some of the most sensitive questions about life and when it begins. He loosened Bush-era rules governing stem cell research, but left it to Congress to lift the ban on federal money for research.

And he has resisted calls from abortion-rights activists to push for passage of the Freedom of Choice Act, which would make abortions legal in all cases. During his last news conference, he said it was "not my highest priority."

That did not satisfy the protesters, who gathered outside the view of the presidential motorcade when it arrived. Protesters included anti-abortion activist Terry Randall and Norma McCorvey, the woman at the center of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court case on abortion.

Obama is not the first president to be met by protesters at Notre Dame's commencement. About 400 gathered to oppose Ronald Reagan's stand on capital punishment and Central American policy in 1981 and hundreds expressed their anger about George W. Bush's support for the death penalty two decades later.

In 1992, Bishop John D'Arcy boycotted the commencement speech by George H. W. Bush because the university awarded a top medal to Democratic Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, an ardent supporter of abortion rights.

But none of the presidential speakers has become the lightening rod that Obama has. Despite having played down abortion rights issues as a candidate, his invitation here became a magnet for activists on the campus and outside of it.

Before his speech, an honorary doctor of laws degree was conferred on the president. Provost Thomas G. Burish said Obama represents "a new era of hope" and said that "through his willingness to engage with people who disagree with him ... he is inspiring this nation to heal its divisions."

By Web Politics Editor  |  May 17, 2009; 3:21 PM ET
Categories:  B_Blog , Barack Obama  
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Comments

Doesnt matter whay kind of PHONY front obama puts on, he's still an IDIOT AND A LIAR AND A BUTTHOLE..

Posted by: joedog99 | May 21, 2009 10:52 PM | Report abuse

Heehee.

It wasn't until 1966 that a MARRIED couple (let alone a single person) could legally buy a condom in Connecticut - and it took a Supreme Court decision to accomplish it. I was already married three years and had to buy condoms in NYC>

Mother Church opposed condoms (remember Vatican roulette?) - and then birth control pills and all other forms of birth control.

Sherri Finkbein had to travel to Sweden for abortion of a Thalidomide fetus - with one arm and no legs and who knows what else wrong with it.

I support choice - but I also support birth control education including abstinence, easier adoption and financial/medical assistance for those women who decide to go forward with their pregnancies. I would pay increased taxes to support such a program - would you?

Posted by: toritto | May 18, 2009 10:56 AM | Report abuse

As careful as the President is in talking about this issue, he is still skirting some basic issues.

If a person believes that life begins at conception, they are likely to believe that an abortion is murder, even in cases of rape or incest. Arguments about miscarriages just do not equate to the deliberate act of ending a pregnancy.

If a person believes that a mass of tissue becomes a person "sometime," they may have an easier time making a case for abortions. But, when some doctors decided that last trimester abortions should be available, they lost credibility to some of us.

I keep hoping that some of the venomous attacks over this issue can subside so we can try to understand the concerns of both sides of the issue. But, I fear that glib speeches will do little to move either end of the divisive spectrum, leaving the people in the middle to wonder why can't we all just get along.

Obama is a good speaker, but this issue is going to require more than a good speech.

Posted by: annetta3 | May 18, 2009 10:41 AM | Report abuse

this is not now, and never should have been, a political issue. it certainly should be out of the media.
this is a difficult family issue at best. at worst, it's a struggle for young girls who are not prepared.
men of all ages and persuasions need to remove themselves from the conversation unless they are the father.

Posted by: boblesch | May 18, 2009 10:13 AM | Report abuse

"through his willingness to engage with people who disagree with him ... he is inspiring this nation to heal its divisions."
Obama can't work with the Republican Party at all but he can give great speeches about how "we should all just get along"
All he is capable of is giving a speech. How dare Notre Dame give him an honorary degree

Posted by: joy1951 | May 18, 2009 10:03 AM | Report abuse

WANTED: THE VELVET-GLOVED FIST


The Kumbaya Strategy can take Barack Obama only so far without starting to look like a pretext for appeasement.

Constant conciliation risks being interpreted as vacillation and weakness, the willing surrender of principle to political expediency.

Civil libertarians and human rights activists have been dismayed and disappointed by this former constitutional law professor's refusal to demonstrate his conviction to core principles.

Especially disappointed are the many domestic victims of the extrajudicial targeting and punishment "matrix" spawned or vastly expanded under Bush-Cheney.

A grassroots citizen vigilante army continues to operate behind federally-funded community policing and related volunteer programs to stalk, harass and persecute unjustly "targeted" U.S. citizens.

The abuses of the so-called "terrorist watch list" are just the tip of the iceberg. There vigilantes, operating with the full knowledge of law enforcement, use secretly-implanted GPS beacons to stalk and terrorize their fellow citizens.

They also are believed to be equipped with silent, injury- and illness-inducing microwave radiation weapons identical to those being deployed under federal programs to law enforcement agencies nationwide.

Unfortunately, these Gestapo-like abuses continue under Team Obama. The conciliation strategy only enables tyrants who seek to impose their ideological will on America under the false flag of "keeping America safe."

Please, White House staff, read this. Your Bush holdovers already know all about it. What have they told YOU?


http://nowpublic.com/world/gestapo-usa-govt-funded-vigilante-network-terrorizes-america

OR (if link is corrupted / disabled):

http://NowPublic.com/scrivener

Posted by: scrivener50 | May 18, 2009 9:55 AM | Report abuse

It is simply science. Life begins at conception when the sperm fertilizes the egg, if it is life why kill it. Of course, Obama is not capable of understanding a complex science principle like this, which is why he is not capable of understanding that Global Warming is caused by the SUN not cow flagelation and sheep belching.
Obama wants us to find common ground by agreeing that what both sides want is to reduce the need for abortions. Does that mean that Obama is now going to cut the cost of the Federal Government by ending his condom and birth control pill give aways to our children and his policy of abortion on demand with out parental consent. Or is Obama now going to teach his children that abstenance works everytime it is tried.

Posted by: kc4WV | May 18, 2009 9:26 AM | Report abuse

jaked wrote: "LOL! 100% of born people die too, so that "logic" means God is an even MORE mass murderer."

Yes, it is stupid logic, isn't it? To propose that every conception must be a birth, or that every soulless body breathing on life support must not stop breathing, is fantastically stupid logic that God himself clearly does not support. Yet that is the argument some would make.

Hey jake: does your church baptize miscarriages?

Posted by: nodebris | May 18, 2009 12:26 AM | Report abuse

LOL! 100% of born people die too, so that "logic" means God is an even MORE mass murderer.

Posted by: JakeD | May 18, 2009 12:03 AM | Report abuse

"There is no middle ground. You either believe killing innocent babies is ok - or you don't."

God kills more babies with miscarriages than people do with abortions. What a beast he is. No middle ground. If you kill babies, you're bad, right? God is therefore bad.

Posted by: nodebris | May 17, 2009 11:43 PM | Report abuse

Tupac_Goldstien wrote: "rabid supporter of abortion on demand"

See, this is where folks like you lose the mass of Americans. When you call a clearly calm and considered man "rabid," it isn't him that you are making look bad.

Posted by: nodebris | May 17, 2009 11:35 PM | Report abuse

Who asked "Where has the Church gone?" Are you on the right thread?

Posted by: JakeD | May 17, 2009 11:33 PM | Report abuse

Someone asked in a previous post:"Where has the Church gone?" I attended parochial school for 12 years and a Jesuit college for 4. I ask myself this question all the time. I personally do not know anyone who is anti-life. Abortion is always a sad and tragic decision for any woman to make - but I will never support the government's right to become involved in the most intimate and personal decison made by an individual. Never. The church's stand on birth control and its derogatory attitude toward women in general is NOT pro-life. Pro-life means supporting life in all ways: opposing torture, war, the death penalty, extending love and respect to homosexuals, and yes, rejecting abortion on moral grounds. It also extends to supporting social justice in all its manifestations: support for social programs that help the poor, equality for all individuals, proper education of our children, forgiveness and support to people who are divorced, opposing racisim, and welcoming back into the Catholic community the hundreds of thousands of Catholics who have been alientated by the rigidness of antiquated doctrine. Like a language that does not evolve, Catholic doctrine will become more and more meaningless to, and out of touch with the lives of Catholics everywhere. As many shunned Catholics will tell you: "I did not leave my Church, my Church left me." For the first time in many, many years I see a President who exemplifies, in his actions and through his principles, the moral teachings of all Christian religions, including those of the Catholic church that shaped my life. As a Catholic who has been excoriated by the decades of the Church's myopic focus on abortion to the detriment of all other moral teachings, the invitation by Notre Dame to President Obama, and the Pope's silence regarding the "controversy," is a breath of fresh air, and the first sign of vitality, from an otherwise stale and rigid religion. This event gives me hope that maybe, just maybe, we will see the change in the Church that is long overdue.

Posted by: TSTrainor1 | May 17, 2009 8:43 PM | Report abuse

However, these ideologues should not highjack someone else's graduation...

Since when did freedom of assembly and freedom of speech play second fiddle to a graduation?

And if thats the case, why wasn't the idealogue Obama banned from the ceremony?

He can tout killing babies from the White House, Chicago or Bill Ayer's living room.

Obama ignited this crap storm. Don't blame those who have a visceral dislike for murdering babies.

I want to see Obama lecture about the death penalty for apostasy, or genital mutilation from a moslem venue.

Never happen.

Posted by: VirginiaConservative | May 17, 2009 6:28 PM | Report abuse

Exactly, tharper1. He is willing to "join hands" with all except unborn children. He is not willing to give then a chance at life.

Posted by: JakeD | May 17, 2009 6:20 PM | Report abuse

I support choice.

I will also suppoet however minimizing unwanted pregnancies, whether through birth control education, use of condoms or the pill...or abstinence - whatever works for the individual. I will also support providing assistance to those who choose to have their babies (both financial and medical) and increased emphasis on adoption. I would support a tax increase to accomplish these goals.

As for Obama, he is turning out to be the greatest President in my lifetime - back to FDR.

Bravo.

Posted by: toritto | May 17, 2009 5:43 PM | Report abuse

Obama called for "open hearts, open minds, fair-minded words."

What this really means is that you stupid peasants should ignore the fact that I'm murdering babies and help me build my Socialist state. Keep your eyes closed until we herd you into the reeducation camps.

Posted by: tharper1 | May 17, 2009 5:25 PM | Report abuse

I understand free speech, but I also believe in decency. This day was supposed to be for the graduates who worked for the past four years to earn their degrees. If some of the graduates wanted to protest the choice of Obama as commencement speaker, then I completely support their position. However, these ideologues should not highjack someone else's graduation. If they are so opposed to Obama's pro-choice stance, then they should picket the White House or the Supreme Court on their own time.

Posted by: jimestw | May 17, 2009 5:24 PM | Report abuse

In 1974 while conducting a research review for a paper on whether or not contraceptive counseling at abortion clinics reduced future unwanted pregancies, I found that abortion rates were highest in the former Soviet Union and in countries with predominantly Catholic populations. There was one similiarities betweeen these two disparate population which was access to family planning and contraceptives. These women were denied both access to information about safe and effective contraception resulting in unwanted pregnancies. Married women were unable to space their children to insure better maternal health and to make their own decisions about how many children to raise. Over the past 35 years, the battle over reproductive rights wages and our country's former policy of denying family planning monies to countries that allow abortions has not reduced the number of abortions and it has not reduced the number of women dying not only from botched abortions but from their inability to control the number of pregancies through safe and effective birth control. Let's get back to preventing unwanted pregnancies hence reducing the abortion rate. But, I fear that the real goal of many extremist in the pro-life movement is to block access to family planning information and birth control. I do not see this stand as promoting the sanctity of life.

Posted by: anne15 | May 17, 2009 5:13 PM | Report abuse

Wow I'm impressed with all the hatred expressing here for the Catholic church. Being a student of the Inquisition and thinking celibacy is suitable for a rare few on earth, I've had those feelings myself, that the church is a government with the issues of a control freak. So here's my issue with it. According to the Bible, God gave the human the choice of whether to love and honor the creator or reject and repudiate the creator. This is our burden and what makes us different from angels and animals. This burden of choice, see where I am going with this?
Then you take a slew of clerics, celibate mostly white guys, not supposed to have compulsive needs for little boys, and they want to take away my choice!!!!
It's like they are smarter than God where the freedom of choice originated.
I don't like abortion. I think it's heartbreaking and horrible and probably nurder as well. BUT YOUR CHURCH has no business in my choosing process. That's your perversity, among others, that you have institutionalized yourself as above God and better than God and smarter than God and mostly you like to deny and subjugate women.
That's a paradigm the planet can do without.

Posted by: GaiasChild | May 17, 2009 5:10 PM | Report abuse

I hope those that oppose a woman's right to choose are equally in favor of providing assistance to poor children in need.

Yet we know all too well that those who scream the loudest that women are merely incubators, charged with bringing the next generation into the world, also tend to be the ones in favor of slashing welfare and other aid to the poor.

Not true for all, obviously, but there is a critical mass of conservatives who want babies to be born - and they are to be applauded for their compassion - but as soon as these children are here, it's 'Adios, you're on your own.'

Try to deny that and keep a straight face.

Posted by: EnemyOfTheState | May 17, 2009 5:05 PM | Report abuse

THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IS IN NO POSITION TO CASTIGATE OBAMA OVER HIS STANCE ON ABORTION. THEY ROUTINELY SUPPORTED TORTURE AND HOLY INQUISTIONS THROUGHOUT ITS EXISTENCE!!! IT SUPPORTED SLAVERY IN AMERICA AND THE NAZIS PERSECUTION OF JEWS DURING WWII!!! THEY ARE A VILE, PRETENTIOUS, HYPOCRITICAL ORGANIZATION THAT EXPLOITS THE IGNORANT MASSES TO ENRICH THE WEALTH OF THE VATICAN!!!

Posted by: demtse | May 17, 2009 5:05 PM | Report abuse

Tupac_Goldstein,

ARE YOU ONE OF THOSE QW@@RS WHO SUPPORT THE CATHOLIC PEDOPHILE PRIESTS!!???

Posted by: demtse | May 17, 2009 5:00 PM | Report abuse

.
.
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Nut cases. That's all they are.
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Posted by: A-Voter | May 17, 2009 5:00 PM | Report abuse

CATHOLICISM IS THE SCROURGE OF WESTERN CIVILIZATION!!! IT HAS EXPLOITED BILLIONS OF IGNORANT MASSES IN EVERY CORNER OF THE GLOBE!!! CATHOLICISM IS AN ABSOLUTE ABOMINATION ON MANKIND!!! IT HAS ENRICHED ITSELF BY MANIPULATING THE IGNORANT MASSES OF THIRD WORLD COUNTRIES!!!

Posted by: demtse | May 17, 2009 4:58 PM | Report abuse

I commend Notre Dame University for going through with it's commitment to the commencement and Applaud Barack Obama. One of his more inspiring speeches!
I also learned about Father Ted who I should have remembered!
Notre Dame class of 2009 should be proud to be a part of this -- Open Hearts and Open Minds is what this country needs.

Posted by: paulet | May 17, 2009 4:51 PM | Report abuse

Editor:

Why did I have to Google Obama Speech text to find the transcript of his presentation? It should have been a plainly apparent link in the article.

Posted by: SAB2 | May 17, 2009 4:49 PM | Report abuse

This is precisely why it was wrong to give this idiot an honorary degree -- he gets free license to pontificate,
paint himself as tolerant and moderate when in fact he takes the most extreme possible position,
and assert unchallenged an utterly false equivalence between two sides on a question of fundamental justice.

This is not a happy day for higher ed, Catholic or otherwise.

Posted by: zjr78xva | May 17, 2009 4:46 PM | Report abuse

CATHOLICISM IS THE SCRURGE OF WESTERN CIVILIZATION!!! IT HAS EXPLOITED BILLIONS OF IGNORANT MASSES IN EVERY CORNER OF THE GLOBE!!! CATHOLICISM IS AN ABSOLUTE ABOMINATION ON MANKIND!!! IT HAS ENRICHED ITSELF BY MANIPULATING THE IGNORANT MASSES OF THIRD WORLD COUNTRIES!!!

Posted by: demtse | May 17, 2009 4:46 PM | Report abuse

"Funny that Obama is for abortion,given his parentage. If abortions were legal in the late 1950s and early 1960s, a white, mentally disturbed daughter coming home from college to all-white Kansas impregnated by a black man would have been sent to the local planned parenthood clinic ASAP."

BillPD,

You certainly don't have any compunction against libeling Obama's mother!

You're suggesting that -- were it not for fear of criminal reprisal -- she would have slaughtered the precious child in her womb.

Maybe the reason Obama is willing to trust women is that he had an exemplary mother (and an exemplary wife, as well)

Paul Bradford, Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

Posted by: PaulBradford | May 17, 2009 4:45 PM | Report abuse

Dear demtse

Please give it a rest. You add zero.

Posted by: Tupac_Goldstein | May 17, 2009 4:42 PM | Report abuse

CATHOLICISM IS THE SCRURGE OF WESTERN CIVILIZATION!!! IT HAS EXPLOITED BILLIONS OF IGNORANT MASSES IN EVERY CORNER OF THE GLOBE!!! CATHOLICISM IS AN ABSOLUTE ABOMINATION ON MANKIND!!! IT HAS ENRICHED ITSELF BY MANIPULATING THE IGNORANT MASSES OF THIRD WORLD COUNTRIES!!!

Posted by: demtse | May 17, 2009 4:39 PM | Report abuse

"I have been Catholic by choice my entire adult life, but over the past years my faith in the church has wavered. To be clear, my faith in God is unshakeable..."

HealthcareforAll,

I can help, and I won't direct you to any of the texts of scripture. Instead I urge you to read a fairy tale called 'The Three Sillies'. It's short, and you can find it here: http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/eng/efft/efft71.htm

I love this line: "I shall start out on my travels again, and when I can find three bigger sillies than you three, then I'll come back" I've always drawn comfort from that. It's more helpful to my Catholic faith than anything I ever read in the Bible or in the Catechism.

Paul Bradford, Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

Posted by: PaulBradford | May 17, 2009 4:38 PM | Report abuse

CATHOLICISM IS THE SCRURGE OF WESTERN CIVILIZATION!!! IT HAS EXPLOITED BILLIONS OF IGNORANT MASSES IN EVERY CORNER OF THE GLOBE!!! CATHOLICISM IS AN ABSOLUTE ABOMINATION ON MANKIND!!! IT HAS ENRICHED ITSELF BY MANIPULATING THE IGNORANT MASSES OF THIRD WORLD COUNTRIES!!!

Posted by: demtse | May 17, 2009 4:37 PM | Report abuse

Obama is behind Catholics voters he is not interested in Christian faith hypocritically he is just searching to divide the Catholic in US, He is not interested in Jew people, he just use them for gain de presidency he is doing to both group the same thing

Posted by: aquawintrade | May 17, 2009 4:36 PM | Report abuse

I listened to the last half of his speech. It was historic. To have the first African-American President speaking on the 50th anniversary of Brown vs. Education, and to have him honor Father Hesberg for his role in the civil rights movement, and the role of Notre Dame has to be historic.

All the pre-speech falderol seemed to me like a way for the press to fill space (over weeks!) and for otherwise unnoticed people like Alan Keys to get their faces on TV. It seemed silly, degrading to Notre Dame. And that's how it turned out. This will be one of the more memorable speeches in the Obama presidency. It will also become a part of the history of Notre Dame.

Posted by: tinyjab40 | May 17, 2009 4:36 PM | Report abuse

Just a few months ago we had a president who routinely spoke at invitation-only events, where the only people allowed to attend those who agreed with him. The contrast between George W. Bush and Barak Obama could not be more stark today, when President Obama speaks at Notre Dame -- respectful and attempting to engage, even in disagreement. This is how a president should behave.

Posted by: pythonS | May 17, 2009 4:35 PM | Report abuse

CATHOLICISM IS THE SCRURGE OF WESTERN CIVILIZATION!!! IT HAS EXPLOITED BILLIONS OF IGNORANT MASSES IN EVERY CORNER OF THE GLOBE!!! CATHOLICISM IS AN ABSOLUTE ABOMINATION ON MANKIND!!! IT HAS ENRICHED ITSELF BY MANIPULATING THE IGNORANT MASSES OF THIRD WORLD COUNTRIES!!!

Posted by: demtse | May 17, 2009 4:33 PM | Report abuse

There is no middle ground. You either believe killing innocent babies is ok - or you don't.

Obama could have delivered this message at a secular university - like UC Berkely and would have been fine.

It is an aggressive, thoughtless challenge to go to a Catholic university and preach murder.

It is a message which will have backlash. Catholics and other people of faith who think killing innocent babies is barbaric are going to have their views strengthened by this attack.

The next election is going to be a hard sell. Its one thing to pretend to be a messiah with Chris Matthews wrapped around your ankles - it will be another to answer for the things this Chicago punk has done.

Posted by: VirginiaConservative | May 17, 2009 4:32 PM | Report abuse

CATHOLICISM IS THE SCRURGE OF WESTERN CIVILIZATION!!! IT HAS EXPLOITED BILLIONS OF IGNORANT MASSES IN EVERY CORNER OF THE GLOBE!!! CATHOLICISM IS AN ABSOLUTE ABOMINATION ON MANKIND!!! IT HAS ENRICHED ITSELF BY MANIPULATING THE IGNORANT MASSES OF THIRD WORLD COUNTRIES!!!

Posted by: demtse | May 17, 2009 4:31 PM | Report abuse

Don't forget, his birth certificate is also sealed for some reason.

Posted by: BillPD | May 17, 2009 4:29 PM | Report abuse

Obama will probably have his honorary degree sealed first thing Monday morning. Too bad N-D gave it to him knowing that he has sealed all of his college documents.

Posted by: mafox1 | May 17, 2009 4:28 PM | Report abuse

CATHOLICS SHOULD BE MORE CONCERNED ABOUT THE CHILD MOLESTERS AND PEDOPHILES IN THEIR MIDST!!! I SUPPORT THE "EXTREME" ABORTION OF PEDOPHILIC PRIESTS, BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY!!!

Posted by: demtse | May 17, 2009 4:26 PM | Report abuse

Obama's mother was mentally ill. This is not a slam, read "Dreams From My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance."

Posted by: BillPD | May 17, 2009 4:25 PM | Report abuse

"Amid Protests...?" This headline is why newspapers are failing all over this country. Misleading reporting is growing very old. 4 protestors, only 4 were removed during the Presidents speech. In a crowded basketball arena holding well over 14,000 people you call 4 protestors, Amid Protests? That is fewer people than the number who talk during a movie.
I watched the entire speech online and it was a honeymoon.
The speech was well received and Obama went off his teleprompters to pay a special tribute to this graduating class for its character and professionalism.
Come on Washington Post, report facts.

Posted by: rcharlesv | May 17, 2009 4:24 PM | Report abuse

CATHOLICISM IS NO DIFFERENT FROM INTOLERANT ISLAMISTS!!!

Posted by: demtse | May 17, 2009 4:22 PM | Report abuse

"... a firestorm about whether an institution dedicated to the cause of fighting abortion should honor a president who is committed to a woman's right to choose."

Is Notre Dame dedicated to the cause of fighting abortion? I thought it was dedicated to the cause of education. That's kind of a major misassumption to drop into the beginning of a report on this topic.

Posted by: floridagirl25 | May 17, 2009 4:19 PM | Report abuse

So now people think Obamas mom was mentally disturbed.

Pot calling kettle black.

You people are pretty sick.

Read the bible, not drudge and FOX

Posted by: tallertapas311 | May 17, 2009 4:18 PM | Report abuse

"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."

I'd be thrilled if Obamas speech has the effect of making respectful and productive discourse about abortion become the norm.

For sixty seconds a day we should open our mind to the possibility that the one who disagrees with us has something useful for us to hear.

Paul Bradford, Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

Posted by: PaulBradford | May 17, 2009 4:18 PM | Report abuse

Reading the previous post, I dont think that person has ever read a word of what Jesus spoke.

Are you kidding me?

WWJD.

Jesus wasnt as ass, like you segeny.

Read that again and see if that folows the teachings of Jesus, or are you following the teachings of Ginrich, Rove, and Drudge.

Posted by: tallertapas311 | May 17, 2009 4:17 PM | Report abuse

SCREW THE CATHOLIC CHURCH!!! ITS A BUNCH OF HYPOCRITS!!!

Posted by: demtse | May 17, 2009 4:16 PM | Report abuse

Funny that Obama is for abortion,given his parentage. If abortions were legal in the late 1950s and early 1960s, a white, mentally disturbed daughter coming home from college to all-white Kansas impregnated by a black man would have been sent to the local planned parenthood clinic ASAP.

Posted by: BillPD | May 17, 2009 4:16 PM | Report abuse

Cynicism against Barack Obama may never abate fully, its source within some is simply too strong.

As President, Obama is gathering increasingly more support among the American People.

That increasing support comes not from pandering as with so many politicians but by honest and understandable speech that people understand and embrace. Even those who have little understanding about the complex and complicated challenges that face the nation, nonetheless, see in him a trustworthy human being with extraordinary capacity for compassion and intellectual excellence.

It has been a very long time, certainly not in my lifetime, since America has had as its president someone with such quality.

Cynics seem to reject accepting this view of Obama. That will ultimately rob them of experiencing these extraordinary times.

Posted by: edarden1 | May 17, 2009 4:15 PM | Report abuse

Tupac is right. This one-time Catholic has turned away from the Church as it becomes more and more politically-correct and less the "rock" upon which it was founded.
When the Vatican remains stone silent as the abortionist-in-chief is honored at an allegedly Catholic institution, we know that the Church is no longer a "rock" but quicksand, supporting nothing.
Of course, this isn't the reason that I left.
I walked away when the Catholic Church in America summarily deleted two of those pesky Commandments (remember the Commandments against "coveting" and "stealing"?) in order to accommodate the sins of coveting and stealing that the illegal alien invaders commit every day that they remain in the USA. And the Church promotes granting them all scamnesty in order to fill their diminishing pews and coffers.
I walked away and have seen nothing since to walk back in.
As for those Catholics who support our abortionist-in-chief, they are so "open-minded" per obummer, that their brains have fallen out.

Posted by: segeny | May 17, 2009 4:12 PM | Report abuse

Its amazing how abortion gets them riled up, but priests preying on the young doesnt cause a ripple. If the Catholic church was a day care they would have been out of business after their priest scandal. I grew up a Catholic but will never trust the church again. Hypocrites.....

Posted by: rharring | May 17, 2009 4:09 PM | Report abuse

Cheer, cheer for Old Notre Dame
Wake up the echoes cheering her name,
Send the volley cheer on high,
Shake down the thunder from the sky,

I am very proud this day to be associated with an instution with genuine integrity.

ND Law '72

Posted by: djah | May 17, 2009 4:09 PM | Report abuse

As a graduate of the University of Notre Dame, I am proud that President Obama was invited to speak at commencement. While I am personally opposed to abortion, I do feel that it is not my place to judge what is right for other individuals when I am not in their shoes. Our President was correct that a fair and measured debate is much more productive than name-calling and diviseness. We live in a wonderful country that allows individual opinions and the right to protest. Our President gets it...others don't appear to agree. He has attended two commencements where he was reviled and insulted, and came away with grace and dignity and demonstrated respect for others. This is truly the mark of a good man...one who is willing to accept others and their right to personal opinions regardless.

I have been Catholic by choice my entire adult life, but over the past years my faith in the church has wavered. To be clear, my faith in God is unshakeable, but all denominations were conceived and developed by humans. As a female, I am not respected in my church. My church leaders, some of the same Priests and Bishops condemning President Obama, condoned pedophilia by Priests by moving them from Parish to Parish and only took action to decry these actions when sued by those abused. I have attended many churches over the past five years searching for one that reveres God, is respectful of all, including women, men and children, provides guidance in our daily lives, and recognizes that doctrine is developed by man and is fallible. To my chagrin, I have yet to find one. So, I will keep searching while I celebrate my faith with belief in God, acts of good work, respect for others, and a sincere belief that all humans deserve respect and honor regardless of their beliefs. Pettiness accomplishes nothing. Educated discourse should be encouraged.

Posted by: HealthcareforAll | May 17, 2009 4:09 PM | Report abuse

And sammclarty, since when was Obama a doctor? Since when did he decide Roe v. Wade?

Since when did Reagan, Bush, Bush 2, abolish abortion.

Your a joke. And its a joke that you use your name as your ID.

Posted by: tallertapas311 | May 17, 2009 4:07 PM | Report abuse

Anthony Samuelson writes" "There was a tactical opportunity here and he took it."

The President was invited. He was awarded this opprotunity to speak. Lets not blame him for the invitation. Let us respect the schools decision. Since when was the Pope or Alan Keyes the dean of Notre Dame.

And yes, I believe it is digusting to have Alan Keyes and the pope in the same sentence.

Posted by: tallertapas311 | May 17, 2009 4:05 PM | Report abuse

Obama's a creep. It's ok to kill babies but not convicted murders? Notre Dame blew it on this one.

Posted by: sammclarty | May 17, 2009 4:03 PM | Report abuse

The people outside that arena did nothing to help their cause.

They did nothing to salute the 1000 of many catholic graduates inside that arena.

They did make Obama a very popular figure in that arena.

Listen to Obamas word before you attack his views.

Posted by: tallertapas311 | May 17, 2009 4:02 PM | Report abuse

How many who are against abortion have adopted children?

Posted by: rlj1 | May 17, 2009 4:02 PM | Report abuse

Barrack Obama has not opened any channel of for discussion or equal exchange. All he’s done is to find a very effective hot line to influence conservative consciousness. You have to consider the audience. Obama is a leftist speaking with charm and charisma to the right. He’s not listening to an argument or conflicting ideas. He’s speaking one-way. And so the right will look at him and say, “oh he’s so charming let’s listen to what he has to say. Even if we don’t agree with him, lets listen.”

What you don’t see is any conservative anywhere being invited to speak to a far left organization. You don’t see any conservative priest or preacher being asked to speak to the NOW, or to a meeting of Planned Parenthood. What you have is an ambassador to the right who had very charmingly created a one-way portal into conservative thought. But there is no conduit for the right to speak with a platform to the left. And Barrack Obama knows that. The left knows that. And that’s why they are so strongly opposed to the right because they fear that someone will do to them what Obama is dong at Notre Dame, planting seeds of doubt. That’s why the left so strongly demonizes the right, because they fear the effects of logical thought and charming disarmament.

He’s just disarming the enemy. There was a tactical opportunity here and he took it.

The bottom line is that there are thousands of human beings, Americans, being killed because their existence would make someone else have to behave responsibly.

The left try to cover this over with flowery statements about how the right needs to be more positive. But if the right scores a win then the left’s rhetoric shifts to outlandish alarmist statements. The pattern is plain and simple – it’s the carrot and the stick. The left lures people off their positions with soft words, and if they don’t move fast enough they attack with harsh words and intimidation. The right needs to stop being distracted and call the left out. It’s time we grew up and stopped listening to the tone and started listening to the content of the rhetoric.

Words are powerful. Actions are meaningful.

Posted by: anthonysamuelson1776 | May 17, 2009 3:57 PM | Report abuse

The guy is the president of the United States, not a spokesman for Planned Parenthood. He stands for more than just this one issue. Many issues that he does stand for are closer to Christian values than his conservative critics. His position against capital punishment for instance does not conflict with Church doctrine, but the many of those who express outrage on this issue are oppose capital punishment. The Church is against even married couples using birth control. Why didn’t they just find a politician who opposes any form of birth control, is pro-life, and also opposes capital punishment? Might as well play a recording of crickets chirping for 20 minutes.

More Catholics voted for Obama than the other guy. I am a Catholic who happened to vote for the other guy and I am actually pro-life. I don't agree with Obama on many issues, and abortion is one of them. I am just not an intolerant right wing wacko. Unlike Rush Limbaugh, I do not wish him to fail. This hoopla detracts from the graduates who are being honored here. Its about them, not abortion. Shame on the protesters.

Posted by: pavrerichard | May 17, 2009 3:56 PM | Report abuse

I know what a "lightning rod" is, but I'm not sure what a "lightening rod" might be. Are the Washington Post editors all absent, attending the abortion rallies?

Posted by: RNM1 | May 17, 2009 3:51 PM | Report abuse

As usual, President Obama conducted himself with class, and took the high road. Most of the crowd supported what he had to say.

But also as usual, a few wingnuts couldn't control themselves, felt the need to be drama queens in their futile effort to force their version of religion onto the rest of us, and got the attention of the media.

Let them rant, those tiny, scared little haters, those hypocrites who think God needs them to be the world's policemen, who think God appointed THEM to be guardians of fetuses everywhere. What arrogance.

Abortion on demand, without apology!

Posted by: losthorizon10 | May 17, 2009 3:50 PM | Report abuse

Wonderful, wonderful speech! But when the Teleprompter is turned off we still are looking at a rabid supporter of abortion on demand, and a fellow who has absolutely no problem with partial birth abortion. But at least today we learned that a majority of Catholics also support abortion. Small wonder then, that folks are turning away from religion, as it becomes ever more meaningless.

Posted by: Tupac_Goldstein | May 17, 2009 3:44 PM | Report abuse

The young and old protesters are on birth control pills while attacking the President on abortions. Men with signs are likely to be those who committed rape or inscest. Using Religion is wrong when you forget the other 9 Commandments. I remember in 11th grade a friend who's family was loyal Catholics as they even ate fish every Friday. She said she was having a baby left school in Feb. to live with relatives overseas. She came back the beginning of March. Her Family gave excuses by she had to have an abortion while others should not. She had a chance at a Medicial scholarship and yes she got it. Her parents still spoke out about abortions and felt God would understand they had reasons while others didn't matter. I also notice how this large group and even Norte Dame didn't say a word as Catholic Priest molested kids for many many years and when Mark Foley was found out not a word from the Catholics. Bush was hailed by US Catholics as he used the death sentence on some innocent people, while visiting the Pope, Bush was told off for his many many sins. Makes you wonder if this isn't about abortion or religion maybe more about a Black President of the United States and we're seeing racist use religion again.

Posted by: qqbDEyZW | May 17, 2009 3:44 PM | Report abuse

Great! Now that we've finished with this tempest in a teapot, can we move on from the juvenile insistence that everyone must agree on every issue?

The best way to end abortion is to make it safe, legal and rare. It will not be any of those things if the voices of intolerance and puritanism prevail.

Women are not incubators - sorry to introduce you to the real world.

Abortion was once illegal - remember? And do you remember how many thousands of women died at the hands of back alley abortionists? Did the law stop them then? What universe do you live in that you think it will work this time?

Posted by: EnemyOfTheState | May 17, 2009 3:40 PM | Report abuse

The written words of God once supported the protesters against abortion at Notre Dame. But the written words of constitutional law comes from the same God. He now writes that abortion is legal. God is allowed to change his mind every five thousand years.

Posted by: melvin_polatnick | May 17, 2009 3:37 PM | Report abuse

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