Obama and Notre Dame

OBAMA AND NOTRE DAME…. During Wednesday night’s White House press conference, CNN’s Ed Henry told the president, “In a couple of weeks, you’re going to be giving the commencement at Notre Dame, and as you know, this has caused a lot of controversy among Catholics who are opposed to your position on abortion.”

There were a few problems with this premise, most notably the fact that there’s ample evidence that Catholics don’t consider President Obama’s appearance controversial, and tend to agree with him on abortion rights, too.

More than half of the Catholics surveyed by the Pew Research Center who have heard of the dispute — 54 percent — say they support the school’s choice of a commencement speaker. Just 38 percent of those who have heard about it oppose the idea. Among those who hadn’t heard of the controversy, the divide is even greater – 45 percent say fine, 18 percent no.

“These findings are consistent with Catholics’ overall views of Obama: A majority voted for him in the 2008 presidential election and express approval of his performance in office thus far,” Pew reports. “The new findings are also consistent with Catholics’ views on abortion and embryonic stem cell research, with pluralities in the poll expressing support for each.” […]

“The absence of a general backlash on the part of Catholics to Notre Dame’s invitation to Obama may not come as a surprise, given that most Catholics voted for Obama in the 2008 election and give him positive marks for his performance in office thus far,” Pew notes. […]

“Catholics’ overall approval of Obama is consistent with the fact that many Catholics themselves do not share the Catholic Church’s opposition to abortion and embryonic stem cell research,” Pew reports.

Let’s also not forget that while Catholics in general approve of the president and support him appearing at Notre Dame, the university’s student body are even more enthusiastic about Obama: “73 percent of Notre Dame students, including 97 percent of its seniors, support the invitation.”

So, if Catholics on campus welcome Obama, and Catholics in general support Obama, by what measurement has the scheduled commencement address “caused a lot of controversy among Catholics”?

There are some noisy conservative activists that know how to capture media attention, but in this case, they’re not in the mainstream. It seems Ed Henry bought into the hype.