The President Goes to College

One would think that landing the ultimate commencement speaker, the president of the United States, would be cause for celebration. Quite to the contrary at Notre Dame, where Barack Obama's invitation to speak has made American Catholics throw a hissy fit, revealing deep divisions in the community itself. The vocal pro-life, anti-stem cell research side has widely publicized its opposition to Obama speaking at Notre Dame's graduation ceremony. Pat Buchanan got his two cents in, expressing his horror that the president's "support for policies and programs that bring death to more than a million unborn children every year is no disqualification to being honored by a university dedicated to Our Lady." Writing in The New Yorker, Hendrik Hertzberg says that the demagoguery is more of an issue within the religious right than throughout all of America. Polls have revealed that a majority of both Catholics and non-Catholics find stem-cell research and the current laws on abortion acceptable. And Obama's philosophy, which seeks a common ground with those that disagree with him, is the best approach to keep the dialogue "relatively civil" in spite of radicals' hysteria.