U.S. Ambassador and former law professor, Douglas Kmiec, has stepped down after a State Department report criticized him for spending too much time writing and speaking about his religious beliefs. Kmiec (who I know and personally like) is a conservative who supported Obama in the election and was rewarded with the position. The report stated that Kmiec spent too much time writing and speaking about abortion and too little in being an ambassador. Kmiec’s appointment occurred at a time when Obama was turning away from growing criticism by liberals — a trend that has only increased with time. Kmiec was a law professor at Pepperdine University and legal counsel to President Reagan and George H.W. Bush.
Kmiec said that he would step down Aug. 15 and has insisted that “I doubt very much whether one could ever spend too much time on this subject.”
We previously saw how Obama has continued the practice of appointing big donors to ambassadorial positions with disastrous results. Kmiec’s appointment raised some eyebrows at the time and was viewed by liberals as evidence that Obama was much more interested in appealing to conservatives than liberals in his policies and appointments.
Kmiec noted that Obama was the one to embrace faith-based politics — a point that we have discussed. I have been critical of Obama’s continued use of faith for political advantage and his expansion of faith-based programs under Bush — as well as his support of international blasphemy laws.
Kmiec responded by describing the criticism of his religious views was “especially odd” because his friendship with Obama began out of a common view that “too much of politics had been used to divide us, sometimes by excluding people of faith.”
Kmiec, 59, stated: “I must say that I am troubled and saddened that a handful of individuals within my department in Washington seem to manifest a hostility to expressions of faith and efforts to promote better interfaith understanding. Our constitution proudly protects the free exercise of religion — even for ambassadors.”
Doug and I have long had civil disagreements over policies and issues, including the Mukasey nomination and supporting George W. Bush on many of this anti-terror initiatives. Of course, Obama has now supported most of those same initiatives so I can understand why on the issue of faith-based policies (as well as other areas) Kmiec thought he was advancing the wishes of Obama. Obama knew of Kmiec’s views when he nominated him. For example, Kmiec supported amending the Constitution to block same-sex marriage in a widely read column.. In that column, he wrote:
Gay and lesbian individuals are within the humanity acknowledged to be created equal and worthy of respect in the Declaration of Independence, but that responsible reaffirmation of equality of citizenship does not deprive the community of making a necessary and reasoned distinction for its own survival.
Beyond correcting the court’s disregard of the separation of powers, insisting upon preserving the link between marriage and procreation: 1) promotes the orderly continuation of the species; 2) avoids the uncertainties of single-gender effects on children (most parents readily recognize the distinctive contributions of male and female in child rearing); and 3) takes respectful account of the difficulties of accommodating religious freedom that arise subsequent to the legal acceptance of same-sex marriage. Oddly, and incompletely, the California Supreme Court managed to ignore these important issues in its 170-plus page opinion.
Kmiec’s pro-life stand has not changed the opinion of many Catholics who still refer to him as an “apologist” for Obama.
I have always found Doug to be a civil and thoughtful person despite our obvious disagreements on many issues. This row over abortion, however, shows the inherent dangers of Obama’s continued flirting with faith-based politics to garner support. Obama clearly wants to take credit for faith-based policies but then strikes out at people who are advancing those policies. For people like Kmiec, that may seem like a shallow play for political advantage without a principled commitment to the cause. For those of us who desire a strict separation of church and state, Obama has been a huge disappointment (as he has on civil liberties). Like many on this blog, I oppose faith-based policies and I do not want ambassadors blurring the line on such issues. However, Kmiec is suggesting that it was Obama who blurred the line and sent conflicting messages to conservatives in his Administration. I have little disagreement with the thrust of the State Department’s view on such advocacy. My disagreement is with Obama’s responsibility in blurring the line and encouraging greater incorporation of religious based policies and programs.
Source: Catholic News