The debate among Catholics, then, is whether this list of prudential policy issues trumps the obligation taught by the Church toward protecting unborn life and families based upon the marriage of a man and a woman.
In the past two national elections, there has been a 15 percent increase in the number of Catholics who voted for the GOP. Exit polling suggested life and family issues made the biggest difference. But in 2008, the Iraq War has destabilized the dynamics of the Catholic vote -- the steady migration of Catholics out of the Democratic Party to the GOP has stopped. Many Catholic voters are just too angry at Bush and the GOP over Iraq.
Oddly, when Obama’s list of high-profile Catholic supporters was announced, Kmiec's name was not on it. That may have been due to the fact that nearly all of the 25 governors, senators, and congressmen on the list had a 100 percent pro-abortion voting record from NARAL. It's very likely Kmiec was asked to serve on the advisory council, but may have demurred when he saw the list of solidly pro-abortion Catholics. Former White House speechwriter Bill McGurn called them "NARAL Catholics" in a recent Wall Street Journal opinion piece.
Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, made national news when he called for the disbanding of Obama's Catholic committee because its membership was so overwhelmingly pro-abortion. One of its members, Gov. Kathleen Sebelius (D-KS), had just been warned by her bishop, Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, to refrain from taking communion.
Interestingly enough, not long after Donohue's appeal, all references to Obama's National Catholic Advisory Council disappeared from the campaign's web site. Perhaps the campaign realized that branding Obama's Catholic outreach with a Who's Who of pro-abortion Catholics was not a good idea, especially after the warning shot fired by the bishop of Kansas City. The last thing the Obama campaign wants is a replay of 2004, when John Kerry was dogged by story after story of bishops who said they would deny communion to politicians who obstinately support abortion rights.
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Several bishops have already shown their willingness to address this issue publicly in 2008. In addition to the statement of Archbishop Naumann, Boston archbishop Sean O'alley said in an interview last November that Catholic support for Democrat pro-abortion candidates "borders on scandal as far I am concerned."
Various pro-Obama Catholic organizations are working effectively to draw attention away from their candidate's weaknesses on fundamental issues. They are well-funded and led by people with extensive experience in the Democratic Party and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. They are not shy about selling their candidate through official channels. For example, pro-Obama e-mails are now regularly sent to the executive directors of state Catholic conferences (several have been forwarded to me).
Probably the most sustained drumbeat of Obama's Catholic circle will be their support for building a "Culture of Life" in spite of their candidate's position on abortion and infanticide. They will argue that reducing poverty and improving health care, among other things, will bring down the number of abortions more effectively than passing laws outlawing the procedure.