As the Presidential Race Narrows, Obama Invokes God at the DNC

In Charlotte last night, President Barack Obama gave a characteristically well-delivered speech that energized the party faithful and fired up his base. The man is a terrific speaker. If Mitt Romney manages to replace him in the Oval Office, he won’t because of a triumph of oratorical skills. Romney may, however, do so because of a triumph of substance and record—both of which Obama’s convention speech noticeably lacked. The president’s oration was high on style but low on content and specifics. Here’s my blow-by-blow analysis:

Obama began with what was not only his theme for the speech but for the campaign going forward. His one time hope is now countered by realism; that is, the reality that Obama’s promises of 2008, particularly on the economic front, have not been realized. And yet, Obama has reasons for those failures—they were not his doing. His “hope,” he said, had been tempered by “the face of difficulty,” by “the face of uncertainty.” It turned out, explained Obama, that “the odds are great … the road is long.” His promises had been “tested—by the cost of war; by one of the worst economic crises in history; and by political gridlock that’s left us wondering whether it’s still possible to tackle the challenges of our time.”

Here, in essence, was a more sophisticated, high-road spin on the tired Obama mantra that “it’s Bush’s fault”—but with a new wrinkle tossed in: it’s also the Republican Congress’s fault.

Of course, to anyone who has paid attention over the last four years, and who has a modicum more objectivity than the acolytes on the Charlotte floor jumping up and down with “Forward” placards, it’s clear that Congressional gridlock was hardly Barack Obama’s obstacle these past four years. To the contrary, from 2009-10 Obama enjoyed a huge liberal-Democrat majority in Congress, one that gave him everything he wanted. That included a stunning $800-billion “stimulus” that not only failed to stimulate but singlehandedly blew the single largest hole into the deficit in American history.

Alas, this speech made no reference to the stimulus, nor to the HHS mandate that forced taxpayer funding of contraception and abortion drugs.

Mindful and faithful Catholics surely noticed those sins of omission. They might have also noted President Obama’s lack of references to religious liberty and religious freedom and, most certainly, the unborn. To the contrary, all of those themes would need to await Cardinal Dolan’s beautiful and bold benediction, evoking the “gift of life,” the “gift of liberty,” those “waiting to be born,” those “persecuted for their religious convictions,” the “laws of Nature and Nature’s God,” and the need for a “profound respect for religious liberty.” Dolan’s courageous prayer sounded like an elegant synthesis of Evangelium Vitae and the Declaration of Independence—and no doubt had the Democratic faithful reeling and asking: “Who the [expletive] allowed this guy to speak?”

Indeed, I listened closely, and I’m fairly certain I heard some boos drowning out the “amens” at the end of Dolan’s prayer. And why would that surprise us? Gee, these Democrats were divided over whether to even mention God in their platform.

If Dolan’s benediction struck some Democrats as the biggest disappointment of the closing hour of their convention, the biggest applause line of the evening came in response to Obama’s statement blasting “Washington politicians who want to decide who you can marry or control healthcare choices that women should make for themselves.” That line brought the faithful to their feet. FoxNews caught a 60-something woman so emphatic that you could read her lips: “That’s right!” she shouted as she shook her fists. “That’s right!”

That statement from Obama was also, of course, a nod to gay marriage. Obama’s gay references electrified the delegates. The second largest applause line in the president’s speech was his celebration of those “selfless soldiers [who] won’t be kicked out of the military because of who they are or who they love.” That, too, brought down the house. And there was still a third (direct) reference to “gays.”

In all, homosexuals got three more mentions than the unborn—standard fare for a Barack Obama speech.

Mentioned more than gays, however, were several inter-related demons in the president’s speech, all routine antagonists in any Obama speech or event orchestrated by his master strategist David Axelrod—namely, the nefarious “wealthy,” those greedy “corporations,” “oil companies,” and “Wall Street.” Like any Obama-Axelrod speech, the class-warfare cannons were fired often. Rearing their ugly heads were the “wealthiest households” that are “sticking it to the middle class.” There were those evildoers who make “the most” but “pay less.” There were those bad Republicans who always want to cut taxes. (As a Republican, this was an Obama dig that I happily accept.) There were those who want “bigger tax cuts and fewer regulations,” who turn things “over to Wall Street,” who thrive on “tax breaks for corporations,” and who place us all “at the mercy of insurance companies.”

But, alas, Barack Obama appealed to better angels in this speech—and not just those angels supposedly pervading the federal government. Indeed, in what was no doubt a response to the intense criticism over the exclusion of God by the Democrats, Obama last night delivered one of his most religious speeches. He first noted that Americans are endowed “by our Creator with certain inalienable rights”—though he wasn’t about to go where Cardinal Dolan went. He next mentioned the importance of “churches and charities.”

Better yet, in a line likely inserted by David Axelrod, a Lincoln aficionado, Obama quoted one of my all-time favorite faith-based presidential remarks: “I’m far more mindful of my own failings, knowing exactly what Lincoln meant when he said, ‘I have been driven to my knees many times by the overwhelming conviction that I had no place else to go.’”

As a Reagan biographer, I know that Lincoln line well. It was a favorite of Ronald Reagan.

Obama wasn’t finished with the invocations of faith. He at long last linked his words of hope to the words of Scripture: “They remind me, in the words of Scripture, that ours is a ‘future filled with hope.’”

Obama then closed with a soaring, moving crescendo: “Providence is with us … we are surely blessed to be citizens of the greatest nation on Earth. God bless you! And may God bless these United States!”

Ah, yes. God … once excluded, now included—back with great force at the close of the Democratic convention. At this mention of God, the party faithful, dizzied into a rapturous joy, didn’t shout “no.”

But will that be enough for Obama and the Democrats? For now, only God knows. The rest of us will learn this November.

Paul Kengor

By

Paul Kengor is Professor of Political Science at Grove City College, executive director of The Center for Vision & Values, and author of many books including The Communist: Frank Marshall Davis, The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mentor and Takedown: From Communists to Progressives, How the Left Has Sabotaged Family and Marriage (2015). His new book, A Pope and a President explores the extraordinary relationship between Ronald Reagan, Pope John Paul II, and their joint effort to defeat Soviet communism.

  • Matt

    I know it’s an election year, but all this schilling for the Republican Party and the uncharitable digs at “the sins of omission”, apparently only noted by “mindful and faithful Catholics” (what is everyone else? — chopped liver?) place politics ahead of religion. When Obama said, “I refuse to ask middle class families to give up their deductions for owning a home or raising their kids just to pay for another millionaire’s tax cut. I refuse to ask students to pay more for college; or kick children out of Head Start programs, or eliminate health insurance for millions of Americans who are poor, elderly, or disabled – all so those with the most can pay less,” he made very good moral sense. Much of his speech was in line with Catholic teachings on social justice and environmentalism.

    • Augustus

      You are being a schill for the Democratic Party if you think that Obama’s description of his opponents is accurate and fair. There is nothing dignified about dependency on the state. There is nothing Catholic about favoring taxpayer-funded programs that have proven not to help the most needy. Catholic social teaching does not favor state welfare over private charity. Nor does Catholic teaching approve of candidates who support intrinsically evil practices like abortion. Your idealism about helping the needy through government handouts and bureaucratic control is misplaced. Have you ever asked yourself if the programs that federal bureaucrats and career politicians like Obama acutally work? Look closely at the dismal job numbers announced today and tell me that we shouldn’t consider an alternative way to help people in need.

      • Matt

        Augustus, the Social Darwinism –based primarily on private charity — practiced during the time of Charles Dickens did very little to alleviate the suffering of the masses. We don’t need a “welfare state”. We DO need a system that provides health care for all and excellent education. We are no longer the nation of upward mobility. We have been overtaken in that department by European nations such as Germany. The only way to address poverty is through a concerted social approach organized by government. It is wrong that billionaires are paying a smaller percentage of their income in taxes than people who are working two jobs and still can’t afford health care. The lack of preventative care in this country leads to unnecessary deaths. One cannot honestly call oneself “pro-life” and allow this situation to continue. Of the two parties, it is quite clear that it is the Democrats who will do the most for “the least, the last, and the lost”.

        Then there is the issue of global warming. The RCC is very clear that this problem is a threat to society and is causing unstable and dangerous weather patterns.

        On the subject of abortion, neither party has a view that concurs with that of the Catholic church. The Republicans pay lip service to the idea of being the “pro-life” party. They pander to single-issue voters, but how can one take them seriously when they would deny prenatal care to the unborn and post-natal care to mothers and their babies? Romneycare went further than Obamacare in terms of funding abortions. Romney claims to have switched sides, but I for one don’t find him believable. In any case, any law criminalizing abortion could never be enforced. We don’t have clear numbers on abortions at present because women are turning to chemical rather than mechanical abortions. A couple of pills, and the pregnancy is terminated. The abortions cannot be tracked, never mind prevented. We need a more effective approach that involves reducing abortion, and Obama’s policies are much more likely to do this, partly be preventing unwanted pregnancies in the first place, and partly be caring for mother and baby when the mother decides to go ahead with the birth.

        • Objectivetruth

          A republican White House would put in conservative, pro life supreme court justices that would have a better chance of overturning Roe v. Wade. The Democratic party’s platform this week was solidly pro abortion. His administration through Hilarly Clinton is actually pushing a very pro abortion agenda through the UN to push abortion around the world, trying to (ironically) turning it in to a bizarre world “human rights” issue.

          • Matt

            Objectivetruth, Republicans may talk a good line on the abortion issue, but their polices have failed. There’s a very factual and well-argued article explaining this at:
            http://www.patheos.com/blogs/faithfuldemocrats/2012/09/if-you-are-truly-pro-life-youd-vote-democrat/

            • John200

              Dear Matt,

              There is a heap of dross in that article. Perhaps you can
              cite the parts that you consider to be “factual and
              well-argued.” While waiting for these parts, in Mr. Eric Sapp’s Patheos
              article I found a pagan-inspired paragraph for you to reread: “If we want to actually
              reduce abortions, we need to prevent unwanted pregnancy. That means…” (2-3
              sentences of boilerplate liberalism). “That is how we prevent women from ending
              up in a situation where they need an abortion…” Three points:

              1. First, the incidence of such situations is on the order
              of one in a million. It is no basis whatsoever for public policy decisions.

              2. Second, “Preventing unwanted pregnancy” assumes that the
              question of whether the child should live depends on whether his mother wants him.
              Answer: Whether the mother wants him or not makes no difference in whether he
              should live.

              But you join Mr. Eric Sapp in the pagan’s conclusion: If he
              is unwanted, mommy should kill him. All of Mr. Sapp’s verbal gymnastics are
              wasted once this simple point fits into your mind.

              This seems to be inspired by the philosophy of the Marquis
              de Sade and the religion of Moloch. There is little that is identifiable as Catholic.

              3. Just so you know, fraternal correction is not ad hominem. You
              could look it up.

              We can teach you something of how to form arguments right
              here and now. Maybe you will mature into a better college student than you are
              in high school.

              • Matt

                John200, if you could stop mixing up your commas and semi-colons and producing run-on sentences (as you do above somewhere), you might have a little more credibility as a Grammar Nazi. (Why am I stooping to this?)

                • John200

                  Thank you for your reply. I made three points in my last comment, and numbered them for your convenience. They were: the claimed need for an abortion so rare that it is no basis for policy; whether the mother wants the child does not determine whether he should
                  live (a Catholic principle); and fraternal correction is not ad hominem (another Catholic tenet).

                  So you respond by citing what I “do above somewhere” that is not really done anywhere. I regret correcting you again, but you are not stooping. You are looking up at normal English grammar.

                  Nor are you stooping to get some facts and Catholic principles to go with your new grammar. You did not even bother, nor do you undertake logic and rhetoric. Your teachers have a job to do.

                  The commas and colons are not mixed. Do you know that this –> ; <– is a semicolon?

                  Best to you and yours.

                  • Matt

                    John2000: Just to start with, you are guilty of misplacing a comma, using a preposition incorrectly, and writing a run-on sentence, but this is getting petty. In terms of logic, you’ve used ad hominem and are now inventing straw men. It is possible for a woman both to regret being pregnant AND to believe that abortion is wrong. ‘Happens all the time. We can and should have policies that help avoid unwanted pregnancies in the first place, while giving women the choice (yes, the choice) NOT to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. There are other first-world countries that have policies that are both compassionate and effective in terms of reducing abortion. There are few European nations with abortion rates as high as those we have here in the US. Perhaps they have something to teach us.

                    • John200

                      Matt,

                      You are pleased to offer yet another non-response. The reader can make his own conclusions. You are experiencing misfortunes because you cannot let go of nor successfully hold on to your false thinking.

                      I am under orders to correct twice; I complied. Seeing no progress, I am to let you go your way. Let the reader take his own decisions and make his own conclusions.

                      Best to you and yours.

                  • Matt

                    Continuing the pettiness … “The commas and colons are not mixed. Do you know that this –> ; <– is a semicolon?" I did not say the commas and colons were mixed. I said that you were mixing up commas and SEMI-colons. You wrote, "Go get some facts, and then some principles, you will need more than you have." That second comma should be a semi-colon (although a period would work equally well).

            • Mark

              Democrats talk a good line on poverty, but their policies have failed.

  • Objectivetruth

    Sorry Matt, but you’re wrong. Much of his speech was in line with Catholic teaching? No, it was not. Obama steps all over the Catechism, and cherry picks scripture when it is to his political advantage. This is the most pro abortion president ever, and is proactive in pushing abortion.. That fact right there puts him in direct conflict with the Catholic Church. Every other moral issue is secondary to the slaughter of 1.3 million babies in the womb every year in the US. And in four years what has he done for the middle class? Have you read the Affordable Care Act? Do you realize your tax dollars are going to fund abortion? Do you realize that by voting for such a pro abortion president you are cooperating in evil and therefore in a state of sin? Unemployment in the African American community has gone from 9 percent at the start of his administration to 15 percent. How about forcing the Church to pay for contraception, another intrinsic evil? How about his support for gay marriage, another direct affront to Catholic Church teaching? I can go on…….but Obama is light years from true Catholic teaching.

  • Pingback: As the Presidential Race Narrows, Obama Invokes God at the DNC | Catholic Canada()

  • Laurie

    Deception is so obvious here for the sake of believers votes that a person would have to be really blind not to see it. What is incredible is that many people are fooled by the lies. I find this tactic of using God’s name for profit more despicable than just admitting you do not recognize God. It is so abhorrent, that I can’t even listen to anything of what the Democrats have to day. One thing that is sure though, is that God knows how the people are being manipulated for the sake of anti-God rule.

    • Matt

      My own opinion is that the corporate elites carefully identified a group of people who could be fooled by lies and a fact-free “reality” and settled on those who believe the earth is 6,000 years old as a group that would be relatively easy to manipulate. These elites aren’t going to get enough votes without another reliable voting block, so they have cobbled themselves together with people for whom they only have contempt. They get the votes of this will-intentioned group by making false claims and promises about abortion, although it is their callous policies that are more likely to drive abortion rates upwards.

      • John200

        Matt,

        If you are 14 or younger, then I understand where you are. If you are
        over 25, you are far behind grade level. If you are high school or
        college age, then there is hope. Your current opinion is betrayed by the lefty bigotry toward those who corporate elites have “fooled” because they “believe the earth is 6,000 years old” and are “easy to manipulate.” Go get some facts, and then some principles, you will need more than you have. If you are a well-catechized Catholic, then you know where to find facts and principles. Then, and only then, start to form an opinion.

        So these elites “have cobbled themselves together with people for whom they only have contempt.” Get some grammar while you are at it.

        The rest of your note is even worse, but let that pass. Go get some facts, Catholic principles, and some grammar. Then we will start you on logic and rhetoric, to complete your education in the old trivium.

        • Matt

          Ad hominems galore, John2000, but none of the facts, Catholic principles, or grammar you pretend to revere.

          • John200

            OK, so you’re under 14. Too bad.

            • Matt

              Ad hominem. Not responsive.

              • Wilson

                Thank you, Matt, for deigning to try to enlighten me and kindred, but I will avail myself of recognized professors and not sophomores; but do keep trying.

  • Ford Oxaal

    It was surreal listening to Cardinal Dolan’s benediction — the same one he said at the end of the Republican convention, where it fit in much better. He prayed for respect for natural law, freedom of religion, respect for God Almighty, and here are the Democrats, attacking natural law in the name of the one you ‘love’ (have sex with), destroying freedom of conscience and religious liberty in the name of ‘healthcare’, and mocking God himself, the very Author and Giver of Life, in the name of ‘freedom of choice for women’. What word can describe this? Disingenuous? Duplicitous? Weird? The entire Democratic fold bowing their heads for what must’ve seemed an eternity. And for the Democrats to have earlier forced the syntax, G-o-d, back in their platform, over the boos on the floor, at the behest of calculating, well-oiled political machinery, is so odd and alien-like. It’s like the curtain came back a bit, and inside are strange progressive martians trying to fool people into voting for them. “We will give you food, shelter, clothing, the education needed to be a good serf, plus free sex, sex, sex! (But we get whatever pesky kids happen to make it to daylight in pre-K so we can train them to be ‘p-o-l-i-t-c-a-l-l-y c-o-r-r-e-c-t’. Don’t worry moms, you’ll get over it, move on dot org, go out and work in the jungle.)” And then, as an afterthought, “And oh yeah, we believe in Mom, Apple Pie, and God! Plus our leaders, the Obamas, are a traditional family unit that discusses each school day with their girls over dinner — and the girls in their family wear dresses and the men wear thin ties. That’s right, they dress like the Cleaver family on Leave it To Beaver! Wink, wink, nod, nod. There, I fool you, I fool you.”

  • Brother Justin

    Dear Matt,
    Obviously your not aware of the Bill of Rights and God giving man
    the freedom to choose. ” Freedom ” of free will to choose between
    right and wrong.
    For those who call themselves conservatives they might consider the following:
    ” You can not legislate morality ” and ” People who live in glass houses should
    not throw stones. ”
    Let us fight our battles on our knees.
    God Bless America. !

    • Objectivetruth

      Matt, all of our nation’s laws are based on the natural moral law. Take murder of an innocent person, for example. everyone knows that this is wrong morally and the murderer should be punished by legislative laws. By your logic, a murderer should have the ” freedom” to kill someone, or the freedom to choose right or wrong………but without any repercussions from society??? There should be no legislated laws against murder because we are (as you say) “legislating morality?”

  • Don’t be fooled. This guy is an opportunistic atheist.

  • Kit Sober

    Thanks for the Catholic view. and for providing substance and sense to words from a man who is to me but a fear (false expectations appearing real).

  • The guy is a Communist, they have no place for God.

  • jacobhalo

    Matt, is his vote against botched abortions in line with Catholic teachings? He voted 3 times not to ban it. He would allow a baby to die who was supposed to be aborted. Why don’t you find another denomination with which you agree with its teachings. The pope said it is better to have a smaller church with those who believe in the teachings, rather than have a bunch of cafeteria catholics.

    • Matt

      Jacobhalo, but then ten times as many children die through inadequate health care than die through late-term abortions, so which party holds the moral high ground on the “pro-life” issue? And when it comes to cafeteria Catholicism, remember that the Ryan budget plan opposed Catholic teachings on social justice. Catholic teachings on global warming make the Democrats look conservative. You might want to consider what the pope thought about the invasion of Iraq? Or what he thinks about the death penalty? Or health care for all? We’re all “cafeteria Catholics” to some degree. We just favor different cafeterias. When it comes to actually reducing abortion, Democratic policies are more effective. Abortion rates rose under Reagan, but saw precipitous declines under Clinton. Rather than addressing the root causes of abortion, Republican politicians talk a good line but seem content to kick that can down the road to the potential/possible (maybe?) appointment of pro-life judges (which wouldn’t make as much difference to abortion rates as providing better health care for all and getting women out of poverty). Well-meaning people have been chasing that can to no avail for decades. It’s time to examine more effective policies.

  • Mark

    Obamanomics: 173K New Food Stamp Recipients Vs. 96K New Jobs

    It’s obvious that the Dems care more about the poor — that’s why they create so many of them.

  • Maccabeus

    Obama: “Providence is with us … we are surely blessed to be citizens of the greatest nation on Earth.” That was probably the most delusional statement that came out of his mouth all night. How he can think that God would be with a party that removed Him from their platform, shouted “No” to re-include Him, and booed and hissed when it was is beyond me. Their full support of sins that offend God greviously – abortion, homosexual “marriage” – not to mention Obama’s efforts to force the Catholic Church and other religious bodies to pay for contraceptives, aborifacients and sterilizations in violation of their moral teachings and the moral law of Christ, he can forget about “Providence” being with them. God cannot bless a party platform that violates His laws and wanted to oust Him.

MENU