In the week or so preceding the 67th annual Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation fundraiser dinner, I got messages from the American Life League, ChurchMilitant.tv and a couple of other organizations fussing over the invitation Cdl. Timothy Dolan extended to Pres. Barack Obama to speak at this event. Very little was said regarding the invitation Gov. Mitt Romney also received, though his pro-life street cred is almost non-existent.
That Cdl. Dolan would invite both candidates to the dinner is nothing odd; at least every other presidential election cycle the two leading candidates speak, beginning with Sen. John F. Kennedy and Vice-President Richard M. Nixon in 1960. Candidate pairs since then include Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter (1976), Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan (1980), George H. Bush and Michael Dukakis (1988), veep candidates Al Gore and Jack Kemp (1996), George W. Bush and Al Gore (2000), and Obama and John McCain (2008).
Moreover, the night is hardly devoted to full-fisted politicking or the conferral of honorary doctorates. The Foundation awards grants to several charities and institutions around the Archdiocese, and the Dinner brings out a lot of the 1%, who pay unconscionable sums of money for overdone chicken and underdone steak, to be entertained by people who don't often get a chance to show their lighter side. Because while the chicken and steak may be cooked, the candidates get roasted ... first by Al Smith IV (who, I notice, is making sounds that make me concerned for his health), then by each other, then finally by the Archbishop. I'm sure His Eminence was particularly looking forward to zinging Obama in a venue where the President couldn't fire back.
Look, guys ... just lighten up, would you? The invitation to trade quips and barbs with Gov. Romney in front of a couple hundred insanely rich people for charity is hardly on a par with the invitation to Notre Dame; you really have to work hard to make an endorsement of either candidate out of the event. (Though Romney, satirizing the MSM, stated that the headline would probably read "OBAMA EMBRACED BY CATHOLICS; ROMNEY DINES WITH RICH PEOPLE".) Watch the clip, have a laugh, and for Pete's sake get a grip!