Let me be clear, I am not a consequentialist. But the invitation to President Obama may help defeat him in November.
I am on record that I disagree with the prudential decision of Cardinal Dolan to invite President Obama to the Al Smith Dinner. I think it is wrong to honor a man, and an invitation to speak is an honor, to honor a man who uses his position to promote abortion at every turn and to destroy the freedom to practice our religion. The President opposes the Church and her teaching in almost every conceivable way and so to invite him to speak is in my view an error in judgement.
I, as have many others, have suggested that the President has accepted the invitation because he believes it has political upside for him toward the end of mitigating against the impression that he is out to get the Church. He is, but he doesn’t want some voters to think that and the invitation and likely photo op might be helpful to his cause.
All that said, the invitation may be more unhelpful to the President than helpful.
Do not get me wrong, I am not saying it is ok to do something wrong so that good may come of it. But what is done is done and His Eminence has extended the invitation. I simply hope that good can come from it. And it may.
Much has been made (by me) of the power of the photo op and that is not to be discounted. But let’s look at the other side of the political coin.
What would have been the political reaction if Cardinal Dolan had refused to invite the President?
The President’s entire campaign has been about distraction because he has a record that no incumbent would want to run on. The President purposely forced contraception into the national discussion as an attempt to create a wedge issue.
His campaign has bounced from manufactured issue to manufactured issue in a relentless effort to distract from his abysmal record. We have been forced to endure talk of dogs of car roofs, Bain Capital, tax returns, felony charges, killing women with cancer, and more tax returns. Anything to distract.
And then some unknown congressman makes an asinine remark in a Missouri Senate race and hands the President a few week gift of distraction.
Throughout all this period Romney has made steady progress in the polls and in many national polls actually has a lead over the virulently anti-life and anti-Catholic President.
As it is, the Democrat National Convention is reported to be shaping up as an anti-Catholic and abortion love-fest. They want to make this election about contraception, rape, and abortion.
Now, if Cardinal Dolan had decided to refuse an invitation to the President for the Al Smith Dinner, the Obama campaign and their wiling surrogates in the media would have had the ultimate distraction issue for a month or more. Further, it would have played right into their hands allowing Obama to falsely and laughably frame the election as The Catholic Church and the Republicans as trying to take away their contraception, right to abortion, and to make raped women have babies.
By inviting the President, the Cardinal has muted and undermined this narrative.
It is arguable, that the political upside for the President of the potential photo-op at the dinner pales in comparison to the political hay the President could have made from not being invited. Politically, the invitation might be the lesser of two evils. The invitation might help defeat the President come November.
I still disagree with the decision of the Cardinal, the political downside might have been worse.