Wednesday, September 8, 2021


In the wake of the recent Supreme Court ruling, where the court found that any decision about the new Texas right to life law would require a defendant and a plaintiff, President Biden was kind enough to share a few thoughts. His statement said, in part:

“The Supreme Court’s ruling … is an unprecedented assault on a woman’s constitutional rights. …  [T]he highest court of our land will allow millions of women in Texas in need of critical reproductive care to suffer while courts sift through procedural complexities. …”

Only the most cynical and intellectually desiccated would use “reproductive care” and “abortion” as synonyms. It is not clear how many women in Texas are “in need” of abortions. It is probably not millions.

Mr. Biden persisted.

“One reason I became the first president in history to create a Gender Policy Council was to be prepared to react to such assaults on women’s rights. Hence, I am directing that council and the Office of the White House Counsel to launch a whole-of-government effort to respond to this decision … to see what steps the federal government can take to ensure that women in Texas have access to safe and legal abortions. …”

I want to think that after those somewhat imprudent and excessive remarks, the most devout Catholic president ever whipped out the rosary he carries around in his pocket like the prop that it is and knocked out a few decades, praying if not for himself, maybe for some of the women caught in difficult circumstances, or maybe even for the unborn children whose very lives hang in the balance.

As he worked his way through each Hail Mary, perhaps he thought about the young woman to whom he prayed, a young woman who had experienced her own unplanned and challenging pregnancy.

But the sad and sorry truth is that Mr. Biden views his Catholicism primarily as a political tool. Very visible Mass attendance on Sunday, making sure that the media knows he carries a rosary (no telling if he ever uses it), and liberally sprinkling his public remarks with knowing references to American Catholic social conventions.

Yet, when it comes to perhaps the central moral and religious question in which our polity is tangled – that of one’s right to life — Mr. Biden’s ability to form coherent thoughts about Catholic teaching, doctrine and practice is curiously absent.

The statement he issued is notable for what is not in it. There is no effort – absolutely none – to mention the real or potential preservation of life or address the larger question of what happens to a society that devalues such life or how best to help women and men caught in what might be their most difficult moments make the best choice. 

If the question about preserving innocent human life ever crossed Mr. Biden’s mind concerning the Texas law, he made sure no one knew about it. The statement made no mention of helping mothers and children, no mention of larger questions, no mention of any internal conflict within Mr. Biden’s soul. It gave no sense whatsoever that he valued anything other than the votes of a small segment of his political base of support.

In short, the statement, reflecting its author, was completely devoid of moral or religious sentiment or thought.

Remarkably, this same president and his team managed just a week earlier to complete avoid saying anything at all about a report by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on the 93 separate incidents of arson and destruction that have happened to Catholic churches and schools since May 2020 (including Saint Paul’s in Scranton, where the Biden family attended Mass).

Maybe all of those attacks don’t warrant a “whole of government approach” (whatever that is). But an acknowledgment of the gravity of that problem from Mr. Biden would at least have been something.

Not too many people get to say and do the right thing before the entire world twice in a span of eight days and whiff once and go horribly off the rails on the second try.

In their Divine Liturgy, Eastern Christians pray for wise counsel before the awesome judgment seat. Mr. Biden might want to look into that.

• Michael McKenna, a columnist for The Washington Times, is the president of MWR Strategies. He was most recently a deputy assistant to President Trump and deputy director of the Office of Legislative Affairs at the White House.

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