Thursday, August 16, 2012
The Al Smith Dinner Debacle
See here's the thing. My reaction, when I read the non-stop coverage of the predicament, is not unlike my reaction to the recent political coverage. Mainly it's a cross between "ugh" and "blah."
Don't get me wrong. If it was my choice and I had the opportunity to invite our commander in chief to dinner I wouldn't be laying out an extra place setting at the table. I think conversation would be more interesting with one of the camo wearing scary guys that shout and glare when they see our mini van about how it guzzles gas, that apparently frequent our new neighborhood (Hippies in camo? Who knew? And no, I have no plans to invite someone who shouts like a lunatic at gas stations over for dinner anytime soon, because we have enough craziness on our own without adding to the mix with a two year old and a four year old inside these four walls.).
So I wouldn't have made the same decision.
I was outraged back when Obama was given an invite and award at Notre Dame's commencement back in the day (and was sickened by the aftermath). And the picture that starts off this blog post made my blood boil. I was furious when my own alma mater gave out a scholarship honoring an abortion provider. Yet the most I could muster, even after reading impassioned rants about the upcoming dinner and the scandal it was certain to create, was a small sigh and a shake of the head.
But then I thought about it a bit more and changed my mind. I'm sure some portion of the apathy I'm feeling at the moment about the situation is disappointment that the decision isn't the one I would make (but then again, I'm not a bishop, nor am I privy to the process that went into this decision), and another part is the exhaustion I'm feeling at the moment from driving back and forth across the country and spending hours packing and unpacking and scrubbing and scouring and steaming the dirt of the floors (they actually ended up being several shade lighter after I did that!).
The other thought, however, that keeps popping into my head, is that I'm not sure how many Catholics really are going to be confused by this invitation. I mean really, is anyone who's paying attention enough to hear about this dinner in the first place really going to think that this photo op means that the cardinal is giving Obama a gold star of support for the upcoming election? I would really like to believe that most Catholics (and just people in general) aren't that dumb.
So I'm just not sure I buy that many people (at least people intelligent enough to get up on that crucial Tuesday and then remember it's voting day and get in the car and drive all the way to the polls and then punch a hole or fill in a dot) are going to be tricked into thinking that Cardinal Dolan and the President are suddenly best friends and that the Cardinal is somehow endorsing him by inviting him for dinner. But that's just me. I've been wrong before and I'll certainly be wrong again... frequently it seems, when it comes to interpreting how these sort of things are going to play out.
Which is why I'm going to trust that the good Cardinal, who has proven that he is not a coward this past year, is truly doing what he believes is best and pray that God works through him to help resolve the issues at hand.
Thomist wants me to add that he would jump at the chance of inviting our President over for dinner, if he was able to lecture (he may have said "yell at") him the entire time.