In an interview with U.S. News and World Report , Deal Hudson, the director of Catholic outreach for George W. Bush’s 2000 and 2004 presidential campaigns, explains why he thinks Obama’s language about “common ground” is disingenuous but effective.
Dan Gilgoff: The Obama White House is expected to unveil what it is calling a “common ground” approach to abortion and other reproductive health issues in coming weeks. What are your expectations for it?
Deal Hudson: Every time the Obama team has planned some sort of initiative on his behalf, it has come off pretty well. The exception would be the Notre Dame speech, which cost him. One thing we learned through the Catholic Voter Project at Crisis [a Catholic magazine Hudson published] is that Catholics don’t like a lot of confrontational and aggressive speechmaking in politics. They like messages like “common ground” and “partial agreement” and “working together” and “nonpartisan.”
They don’t like the old evangelical, more stringent-type message. Actually, common ground has its own resonance with the official Catholic community because it comes from Cardinal [Joseph] Bernardin. So the plan is going to be one more finger in the dike of the eventual realization that the president misled the Holy Father. The policy itself is the funding of abortion, the appointment of pro-choice Catholics, and the repealing of the Mexico City policy, and that’s the narrative people need to pay attention to.
Hudson’s view echo’s that of Fr. Bernard J. Coughlin, who wrote in today’s On the Square article :
Seeking some road to harmony among the hostile parties, President Obama encouraged both sidesproabortion and antiabortionto seek and find, notwithstanding their opposing views, a common ground. This is not the first time that he has made such an appeal.
In the nineteenth century it was the right of freedom versus the right to enslave; in the twentieth century it is the right to life versus the right to kill the innocent. And much as people would hope to find common ground, there is no common ground to be found. The right to life is not granted by kings, rulers, clergymen, parliaments, or congresses. It is the Creators work, not to be fudged.