A Win for Obama, Moderate Catholics

President's Notre Dame speech was radical and conservative: Dionne
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted May 18, 2009 7:52 AM CDT
President Barack Obama is hooded as he receives an Honorary Doctorate Degree in Laws during commencement ceremonies at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind., campus Sunday, May 17, 2009.    (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
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(Newser) – Abortion opponents protested and pro-life students skipped, but Barack Obama's Notre Dame commencement address was at once "the most radical and the most conservative speech of his presidency," writes Washington Post columnist EJ Dionne. The president refused to indulge the protesters' desire to "reignite the culture wars," opting for humility and compromise—but he showed a comfort with the language of faith equal to George Bush.

"The ultimate irony of faith is that it necessarily admits doubt," Obama said, leading us away from self-righteous certainty and toward inclusion. That was a subtle riposte to the demonstrators and hecklers, according to Dionne, and will cheer moderate Catholics as much as abortion rights activists. "Obama's opponents on the Catholic right placed a large bet on his Notre Dame visit," the columnist writes. "And they lost."