The disgrace of the Al Smith dinner

Several readers, cheered by its wittiness, have sent the video of Romney’s speech at the Alfred E. Smith dinner last night. I agree he had good and funny lines. But I’m not cheered by it. When we have a president as dishonest, radical, and anti-American as Obama, to get together with him and make the traditional hale-fellow-well-met mutual jokes at each other’s expense creates the illusion that we are still living in an America where politicians of different parties had disagreements but shared fundamental principles and loyalties—an America that no longer exists. In reality, the Obama administration and the elite of today’s Democratic Party are a vile clique of lying leftists out to weaken and tyrannize America and empower and liberate our enemies. Romney, by joking amiably with Obama, helps sustain the false belief, so helpful to the left, that Obama and his party are part of a recognizable, historical America, and thus helps legitimize them. As I said recently, where would the Democrats be, without the Republicans?

However, Romney’s participation in this event is forgivable—after all, he was invited, and it’s a tradition, so what else could he do but show up and give the usual humorous speech? Far, far worse is Cardinal Timothy Dolan’s invitation to Obama. As has been reported in detail, Obama deliberately and consciously lied to Dolan when he promised him in a face-to-face meeting in 2011 that he would respect Catholic beliefs and not force Catholic institutions to fund acts they disapproved—a pledge he broke when, in early 2012, he called Dolan and brutally told him that he was going ahead with the contraceptive mandate and the Church had no choice but to obey it. Yet now Dolan invites Obama to the Al Smith Dinner and yuks it up with him:


Could anything be more undignified, more dishonorable, more contemptible than Dolan’s cheerful socializing with Obama after what Obama did to him? It’s not as though he was required by some tradition to invite the president. Twice before the New York Archdiocese has declined to invite the Democratic nominee to the Al Smith dinner because of his anti-Catholic stands—Clinton in 1996 and Kerry in 2004. On those occasions, the Republican nominee was also not asked, as was appropriate. That’s what Dolan should have done this year, given Obama’s gangster-like behavior toward the Church and toward him personally. But as the Church, like the rest of society, continues its self-celebrating slide into decomposition, the standards of the past—even the minimum self-respect that the Church was able to muster just eight years ago by declining to invite Kerry—continue to vanish. That image of Dolan happily waving his Cardinal’s hat is an image of a U.S. Catholic Church, and of an America, that is dead at the top.

- end of initial entry -

LA writes:

The last sentence of the entry as originally posted was:

That image of Dolan happily waving his Cardinal’s hat is an image of an American Catholic Church, and of an America, that is dead and rotting at the top.

What I meant was that both the Church in the U.S. and America are dead at the top and rotting at the top. But two readers pointed out that the phrase could reasonably be read as meaning “dead [overall] and rotting [at the top].” I did not want to say that the American Church per se is dead (America to my mind is a different matter*). So I changed the phrase to “dead at the top,” removing the ambiguity.

By the way, “dead and rotting at the top” came to me from a line of Yeats:

Is every modern nation like the tower,
Half dead at the top?


* I have frequently said that America at least in a historical sense is dead. For example, I recently wrote that “the America of which George Washington is the father is gone, and is not coming back.”

Posted by Lawrence Auster at October 19, 2012 03:34 PM | Send

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