Saturday, October 18, 2008

Is Kmiec a Pro-Life Dark Knight?

McCain made an excellent point during the Hofstra Debate comparing himself on the Breyer & Ginsberg Senate confirmations to Obama on Roberts & Alito. McCain clearly has not voted ideologically pro-life. Obama on the other hand has been nothing but ideological on judicial appointments. He lied on national TV with his cheap talk about "No Litmus Test" when everything else he's said and done on the matter testifies to the contrary. Make no mistake, Obama will only nominate Roe v. Wade absolutists to the bench in lockstep with NARAL, with one possible exception.

I've been wondering whether this is precisely how Kmiec may be trying to play the Trojan horse. Perhaps this is where Kmiec's seemingly disingenuous apologetics for Obama can serve not only his ambitions for judicial enthronement but for the pro-life agenda. The more ire Kmiec can draw from Christian pro-lifers, the more insulated he becomes from pro-choice suspicions that he is just a recruit for Carhart and the Catholic Five; and the more Obama can appear to be the bipartisan aisle-crosser by appointing Kmiec, that is, if Obama takes his own bipartisan rhetoric seriously.

The probability of success with this Dark Knight strategy is slim if not null when you consider the number of worry-free pro-choice jurists who have been waiting over eight years for judicial advancement. Then there's the problem for Kmiec of a Democratic supermajority in the Senate, which considerably devalues his strategy. The more conservative the Senate, the greater Kmiec's value to an Obama presidency. That doesn't look likely. On the other side, Dark Knight strategy has tremendous downside risk. Kmiec risks further confusion of the Catholic community on the Number One ethical issue on the Church's bulletin board. He risks ennobling Obama for being a principal architect in a Machiavellian mindgame with the electorate.

But now that an Obama presidency seems to be a foregone conclusion, Kmiec's position may be the pro-life movement's best hope. Obama clearly has no affection for those who have not coddled and played defense for him. His remarkable ability to emote temperance and generosity is a testament to his discipline. But he has been clearly frustrated by how the pro-life movement has not leaped en masse into his beneficent arms. He clearly believes he has bent over backwards to move the ball forward for the pro-life movement. He probably wonders why pro-lifers can't see it his way and chalks it up to GOP propaganda enslavement machines. He clearly does not understand how his substantive abortion activism could be seen as anything but moderate.

In other words, there's no way he's going to appoint even moderates like Roberts or Alito. Only Kmiecs have a slim shot, and only because they truly have taken fire from their original tribe for Obama. The more he can make a spectacle of himself as the sacrificial lamb who has been slain in martyrdom for the One by those mean, Pharisaical Communion-denying Bishops, the greater shall be his reward. There really is no rhyme or reason to the ridiculous arguments made by Kmiec otherwise.

But that's the problem with the Dark Knight -- there may be no public reward or vindication. Or maybe there will be. Maybe game theory is all there is to morality in this life.