Monday, February 06, 2012

The Maltese Frog

 You gotta convince me that you know what this is all about, that you aren't just fiddling around hoping it'll all... come out right in the end!

       -- Humphrey Bogart as Sam Spade, "The Maltese Falcon"

So do you remember Douglas Kmiec? He is the former Reagan hand who is quite noisily Catholic and was leading the charge to get Catholics to support Barack Obama in 2008. For his many labors on behalf of The One, Kmiec was rewarded with an ambassadorship to Malta, a post he held until last year. It didn't always go so well for Kmiec, who was involved in a fatal traffic accident that killed a nun, and who was essentially forced out because the State Department felt he was too busy writing polemics and not spending enough time meeting with the fourth undersecretary of Sidney Greenstreet, or whatever it is they do in Malta these days.

Despite all that, Kmiec has remained loyal and has been willing to carry water for Obama, even as rumblings concerning Obamacare's potential impact on Catholic healthcare were becoming increasingly dire. As recently as November, Kmiec let fly with a defense of his benefactor in the pages of the National Catholic Register:

At present, however, both political parties are remiss in not reminding the body politic how the principle of religious liberty actually operates. This has permitted some media voices, like the Washington Post's Michael Gerson, to perceive religious hostility where there is none. There is no violation of religious liberty when HHS announces a temporary (or permanent) regulation requiring all employers -- religious or nonreligious, Catholic or not -- to provide employees with an insurance benefit for artificial contraception. Yes, it would be more congenial if the HHS administrative process adopted the Catholic view of contraception over that of other churches, but that declination was a choice the church herself since Vatican II has conceded belonged to Caesar. Had the HHS regulation gone farther and demanded a religious employer to affirmatively endorse or require the use of artificial contraception or any other choice contrary to its own teaching or face a penalty, that would violate the principle of religious liberty.

While there is no constitutional violation of religious liberty in the HHS regulation requiring that coverage allow for the informed choice of all consumers, and therefore, HHS is not duty-bound to allow a Catholic employer exemption, why HHS went out of its way to promulgate an unduly narrow religious exemption intruding upon religious employer hiring policies and their ability to be of service to Catholics and non-Catholics alike illustrates a type of blunder-headedness on the part of some Obama subordinate officers playing into the hands of single-issue Catholics and other partisans. The intrusive exemption shows more disrespect for faith than the president's own value commitments.
In other words, Kmiec was hoping that his friends would stop making him look bad.

Well, as we know, the decision came down. The mandate is in place and now Kmiec is stuck:

Kmiec, who served in the Reagan administration, noted that he urged Obama last year to grant an exemption, explaining that such a move “would be an opportunity to be more sensitive to religious freedom than the law requires.”
Asked whether he will back Obama in 2012, Kmiec replied in an email, "Until I have an opportunity to speak with the president, I am for now (unhappily) without a candidate."

It turns out that Michael Gerson was right after all. So the Maltese Frog wants to speak with the scorpion he carried across the river. Good luck with that, Mr. Kmiec. I do hope that the president does take your call.

I certainly wish you would have invented a more reasonable story. I felt distinctly like an idiot repeating it.

  -- Peter Lorre as Joel Cairo, "The Maltese Falcon"


Gino said...

this is still better than the law in CA, signed by catholic governor arnold that mandates even those who work for the church directly (diocese personel) must have birth control and abortion coverage provided by the employer (the Church).

the courts defeated the church thru every step of the appeal process, saying that mandating coverage (paying for) was not the same as endorsing those services, and the employee was free to not use them.

and i thought money was speech. i guess it depends on who's speech and who's money is involved.

W.B. Picklesworth said...

If the State is God then those pesky Catholics are just idolaters. I prefer to think of the State as something more like Molech.