Obama at Notre Dame

obama-notre-dameWhat do I think about Barack Obama speaking at Notre Dame’s commencement? I think it is awesome!

While I wasn’t fortunate enough to attend Notre Dame, I did grow up around the campus… spending more than my fair share of time trespassing and dreaming that I could go there. As the largest employer in my hometown you don’t need to be an alumni or staff at the school to get the feel for Notre Dame. So take my opinions with a grain of salt. I grew up pretty close to campus and spent a lot of my time squatting in the library in high school.

With that said, here are 5 things that come to mind about our President speaking at Notre Dame on Sunday.

1. There is racial tension on campus. Indiana, as a whole, still has a long way to go in relations between whites and blacks. Notre Dame has experienced significant issues along racial lines as recently as 5 years ago when Ty Willingham was fired as head football coach. For as long as I can remember there has been this weird thing that while the football team and basketball team (the pride of the campus) has been predominantly black… the majority of students are white. Walk around the campus and you’ll see people from dozens of ethnic backgrounds. Pakistani’s, Israeli’s, Russians, Indians, on and on. I love that the University continues to be proactive in addressing the tensions.

2. Notre Dame isn’t the most Catholic place on earth. While Notre Dame is largely seen as the bastion of American Roman Catholicism, it is also a modern university. Like any modern university there is an acceptance of divergent points of view. Just like Harvard doesn’t have every policy dictated by its religious background, Notre Dame doesn’t have every move governed by the Vatican. You don’t have to be Catholic to attend the University, nor do you have to be Catholic to teach at Notre Dame. More than most Presidents, Barack Obama is qualified as an academic… who knows, once this gig as President is over he may be teaching in the law school!

3. Notre Dame has given honorary degrees to the last eight sitting Presidents. The South Bend Tribune does a great job documenting who has received degrees (much more than Presidents) and just looking at the list, you’ll see that this fervor has more to do with the media being bored than it really being a true issue for Notre Dame. Hank Aaron, Neil Armstrong, William F. Buckley Jr., J. Edgar Hoover, Erma Bombeck, Stephen Hawking, Coretta Scott King, Harper Lee, Condoleezza Rice, Bill Cosby, Lech Walesa and Elie Wiesel.

4. It is an honor to have a sitting President speak at your commencement. Whether you are a Republican or Democrat or even from another country… it’s an honor to have your commencement address delivered by the President of the United States. I’m totally jealous. I have no idea who the guy was who spoke at my graduation. Nor do I remember a single thing he said.

5. This is really about dragging the President into the abortion debate. Let’s call it what it is, right? Notre Dame has a long history of inviting the President to speak at commencement. Certainly looking at that list above you don’t see a list of people who agree with every point of Roman Catholicism. This is a transparent attempt by the media to bring the old lithmus test thing into the Supreme Court nomination process. Watch how CNN and FoxNews do it. They feature a story about Obama at Notre Dame and then segway into the Supreme Court discussion without tying the two. We’re not that stupid!






5 responses to “Obama at Notre Dame”

  1. Todd Tolson Avatar

    fantastic post, Adam! I’m a conservative, but have been extremely frustrated at the needless negativity by those who tend to land on my side of the fence.

    Do I agree with President Obama’s stance on abortion (My Dad accidentally coined a new phrase the other day, and called it O-bortion – LOL)? No! Of course not! Was the protests that ended with almost 40 people being arrested effective, worth-it, or necessary? In my opinion…No.

    I appreciate the fact that a guy can go to an event and protest and hold up a sign that says “ND has spiritually sold-out”. But unfortunately for that guy…he doesn’t get taken seriously. I think it’s just a waste of time.

    Anyways, Adam, another great post! Thanks!


  2. adam mclane Avatar

    @todd- as much has I understand Obama’s view on abortion, I think I agree with him.

    I’m pro-life. I would never recommend anyone get an abortion. But I don’t see how Obama is approaching it as simple option A vs option B. I really think people who protested him try to boil this complex issue down to just two options… you’re either for it or against it.

    From what I gather… this is something that people often boil down to option A or option B. I really think there is a need for an option C.

    Option C is making real efforts to limit the amount of abortion via public education, making real efforts to reward women for going with an adoption vs. aborting the child, and making it much easier to adopt.

    I’d MUCH RATHER see Christians invest serious time in issues of helping women as opposed to just saying “abortion should not be an option.” That approach hasn’t moved an inch in 40 years of fighting. It’s time for a new option… that’s why I really like Obama’s stance… allow it to stay legal, but work hard on making it unnecessary.

  3. Todd Tolson Avatar

    If getting an abortion is option A, and not getting an abortion is option B, and educating/rewarding women who were planning on option A, but then decide for option B is option C…why can’t option B and C be the same thing?

  4. adam mclane Avatar

    Ha! I didn’t explain myself very well. (typical!)

    Option A is Pro-life
    Option B is Pro-choice
    Option C seems to protect the right to abortions while making a serious effort to reduce the number of women seeking them through sex education and more positive alternatives like adoption becoming more readily available.

    IMO- The forms of option A & B haven’t worked to significantly do anything but divide people for the last 40 years.

    From what I can gather, Obama seeks to create that “Option C” dialog so people can get past the “I’m for it, I’m against it” mentality and talk about practical solutions for decreasing the frequency of abortions in our country.

    The “problem” is that Option A people tend to see the issue as simple when it really isn’t. Further, the tendency to try to make it a religious issue really muds the waters of discussion. While it is a religious issue for some Americans, it isn’t for others. We live in a pluralistic society… there have to be creative ways to address this than just Option A or Option B.

    Does that clear it up any more? Or did I make it worse???

  5. Joshua Cook Avatar

    I find myself in the “Option C” camp. I think many of us see the need for unity, compromise, listening and pragmatism in this discussion,

    I don’t think the legal status of abortion is going to change anytime soon (we had 8 years of a evangelical President with no change), so why not jump on board with leaders who (pro-choice or pro-life) who want to reduce the abortion rate? Wouldn’t that fulfill Jesus’ call to be peacemakers?

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