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Friday, October 12, 2012

The President with Ambassador Kmiec at the White House

Friday, September 21, 2012

Highly Positive Inspector General Review of Douglas Kmiec as Chief of Mission, Malta

Kmiec’s signed evaluation as Chief of Mission, which he has shared with me, records:

Ambassador Kmiec established new and important strategic priorities shortly after his arrival including enhanced regional security Cooperation, the promotion of environmentally sensitive commercial investment, and the resettlement of the irregular migrant populations

Ambassador Kmiec's unconventional modus operandi has enabled him to achieve important successes

Ambassador Kmiec of great significance persuaded Malta to aid the Afghan effort with civilian training, helped to keep the Malta within the European Union consensus on Iranian sanctions, and reached out to Muslim populations in creative ways

Ambassador Kmiec is known and highly regarded by the Maltese President, Prime Minister, Foreign Minister, members of parliament and other officials and the Maltese public

Ambassador Kmiec kept a varied representative schedule

Ambassador Kmiec has successfully concluded the ratification of a new double taxation treaty; the security review and renewal of the Visa waiver program; a customs agreement to act as the Second Line of defense with new equipment and training to detect enriched substance at the customs screening house; an agreement for enhanced training for boarding inspection at the airport

Ambassador Kmiec is highly respected throughout the embassy staff’

Ambassador Kmiec is regarded as forthright, sincere, honest and with his heart in the right place

Ambassador Kmiec is understood as really wanting to improve he bilateral with Malta and to have the in-depth knowledge of the issues

Ambassador Kmiec’s profound sense of justice and environmental sensitivity has shaped his actions as Ambassador.

Oh yes, and don’t forget about his bringing a badly delayed embassy project to successful conclusion and rescuing his fellow diplomats on a rented catamaran from the Libyan conflict.

How can this superior record of diplomatic effort and achievement are distilled into neglect of duty and a forced resignation.  It can’t except to the far right, tea partiers still fuming that Kmiec helped Obama secure the 2008 Catholic vote in four pivotal states.  Kmiec’s 2008 book, Can a Catholic Support Him? laid out the arguments that Catholics clearly could, and they did, much to the chagrin of the Republicans. 

Kmiec thinks Obama an honest broker in the Arab-Israeli dispute and someone who has a nuanced understanding and appreciation for religious freedom. Kmiec took issue with the narrowness of the HHS religious exemption the President thought okay. Kmiec saw it as inadequate to handle the conscience needs of his former, long-time employer, the University of Notre Dame.  However, Kmiec has been admiring of the president's efforts to pursue a social justice agenda which has long been publicly neglected by the church's pursuit of its singular pro-life agenda, which Kmiec himself has never abandoned, though like the late Cardinal Bernardin sees catholic teaching as a seamless garment with capital punishment and a skewed economic system as offensive as abortion.

Kmiec's new 2012 book, lift up your hearts (available on Amazon – nationally and internationally)  is a manifesto in support of a theology of kindness, which Kmiec treasures since it was embodied in his spiritual counselor, a beloved 94 year old priest who tragically died in an auto wreck when Kmiec himself was critically injured. It is fair to say Kmiec  finds kindness lacking in today's political discourse. Indeed, the continued false claim that he was forced to resign because he was neglecting his duties or that he knew little of the foreign diplomats at his posting is nothing short of extraordinary insult.

The President admired the courage of Chris Stevens; he should send Doug kmiec to take up Stevens’ work for it is as important for America and Libya not to allow the thugs to defeat the rule of law as it is to not allow the disgruntled right wing to purloin a good man’s reputation.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Remarks of President Abela Praising the Work of Ambassador Kmiec


Honourable Prime Minister,

Honourable Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries,

President Emeritus Dr Ugo Mifsud Bonnici,


Members of Parliament,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Thank you Mr Mills for your kind words. May I request you, in my name and on behalf of the Government and People of Malta, to reiterate my congratulations on the occasion of Independence Day to His Excellency President Barak Obama.

I am delighted to be here with you this evening to commemorate Independence Day and to assist at the dedication of the imposing, new embassy building at Ta’ Qali.

American Independence Day is significant not only for Americans but also for all freedom-loving people. I say this because, as is well-known, the preamble to the Declaration of Independence spells out in a clear manner one of the most famous expositions of principles that continue to inspire us all and particularly those Peoples who may not be enjoying political freedoms and human rights but earnestly aspire to them: I quote:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organising its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness”.


These words ring as fresh, true and relevant today as they did when the declaration was adopted by the Congress in 1776. Indeed, just a few months ago we could not have imagined how many Peoples would suddenly, and almost in unison, make an appeal to their rulers that they expected their human rights and freedoms to be respected and that they wanted to see the necessary changes to make this happen.

It is interesting to recall with regard to the right of self-determination of all Nations that, as early as 1853, Abraham Lincoln, in a letter to Macedonio Melloni, questioned the legitimacy of colonialism including specifically that with regard to Malta and other British possessions. Lincoln wrote: “True liberty will never exist before the recognition to all peoples of their legitimate independence”.

My reference to Abraham Lincoln reminds me of last year’s Fourth of July reception at the Upper Barrakka Gardens when my friend Ambassador Douglas Kmiec read from that great American President’s speeches with Aaron Copland’s wonderful music in the background. I wish to salute Ambassador Kmiec and to thank him for the sterling work he carried out with such grace and dignity to see Maltese-American relations strengthen even further.

Freedom, democracy and human rights are values which must be treasured and defended whenever necessary. The turmoil in North Africa and the Middle East continues to be a source of great concern to the international community. We recognise the right of Peoples to choose their own governments according to free and democratic principles based on the rule of law. On numerous occasions, Malta has joined the International Community in condemning the violent repression of the democratic protests and expressions of dissent wherever they occur. Malta has been among the first countries to call for an immediate ceasefire and a complete cessation of all violence in Libya and has expressed its resolve to implement the relevant UN resolutions. It has also played its role in the evacuation of expatriates fleeing the fighting.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Diplomatic relations between Malta and the United States of America were established on 21 September 1964, the day of Malta's Independence. Today we are witnessing the inauguration of new American embassy premises. I consider this large, modern building in which the American Government has made considerable financial investment as an expression of the permanent commitment of the United States to continue strengthening further its cooperation with Malta at the political, economic and cultural levels. Malta values highly its friendly relations with the United States which are built on solid foundations of shared values and principles.

I would like to express Malta’s gratitude to the United States for its continued assistance in the resettlement of refugees. The total of resettled persons with international protection leaving Malta for the United States of America since 2007 has now reached the figure of seven hundred and eleven (711). Malta attaches great importance to this resettlement programme as it helps to alleviate the ever-growing burden of immigration on the Maltese islands. This US assistance, on a particularly sensitive issue for Malta, confirms the strong bond of friendship between our two countries.

I am particularly pleased to note that the Convention for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with respect to Taxes on Income between Malta and the United States entered into force on the first day of January of this year. One hopes that this instrument will provide an incentive for more economic exchanges and investment between our two countries. It is worth recalling that another bilateral treaty dealing with Certain Aspects of Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters entered into force on 1 February last year.

Malta looks forward to continue working with the United States in all matters of mutual interest in the coming months and to intensify further the traditional strong ties of cooperation and friendship for the benefit of our two Peoples.

Ladies and gentlemen,

May I now invite you to raise your glasses and drink to peace, understanding, freedom and prosperity among all Nations and to the excellent relations between Malta and the United States.

Citation Summarizing the Work of U.S. Ambassador Kmiec in Malta

The Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Tommaso Caputo, dean of the diplomatic corps citation for Ambassador Douglas Kmiec

During his roughly two years of diplomatic service in the Republic of Malta, Ambassador Kmiec brought to successful completion a $125 million new embassy compound, secured the ratification of the double taxation agreement, entered into a comprehensive agreement allowing for the better inspection of cargo at the Freeport reducing the risk of the transfer of weapons-grade uranium; established a framework for the better detection of human trafficking; and obtained state-of-the art screening equipment and training to upgrade airport security.

Ambassador Kmiec hosted a large number of foreign dignitaries at his residence, including on several occasions the President and Prime Minister of the Republic of Malta. The Ambassador has also welcomed a number of American dignitaries, including the United States Secretary of the Navy; as well as such operational leaders of the U.S. Navy as Vice Admiral Harris the Commander of the Navy's Sixth Fleet; the director of the European Bureau in the State Department; members and senior staff of Congress; and American film and television stars (such as Martin Sheen, who brought the first film premier to Malta in over three decades as part of an inspired and highly successful fundraiser for the John XXIII Peace Lab). Among other frequent guests sponsored by Ambassador Kmiec were prominent scholars of law, politics, and religion; numerous Fulbright fellows; and leading American businessmen.

Ambassador Kmiec was also instrumental in the development of a workable, strategic plan for his embassy. The Ambassador focused the attention of his embassy for the first time since Malta joined the EU on developing a U.S. foreign policy specifically for the Mediterranean. The strategic plan that emerged identified the potential for widespread instability in the region a year in advance of the uprisings.

When the dangers in Libya rose to unsafe levels, and regular means of transport had been foreclosed, Ambassador Kmiec innovatively engaged a ferry service to rescue several hundred evacuees, including virtually all of the U.S. embassy personnel in Embassy-Tripoli, as well as citizens of a wide range of third countries: such as Malta, Canada, and Australia. The rescue, humanitarian and coordination roles of Ambassador Kmiec’s embassy became so pivotal that when a budget impasse in Washington threatened a government shut-down, the embassy in Malta was one of the few embassies not shuttered since it had been designated by Secretary Clinton as “essential” and necessary to stay at 100% functionality.

Ambassador Kmiec successfully advocated with representatives of the European Union for a clearer, more defensible human rights posture to be balanced against responsibly defined security needs. Relatedly, the Ambassador greatly assisted his country in monitoring the effective implementation of embargoes and other sanctions aimed at promoting dialogue rather than prolonged conflict in Iran and Libya.

Perhaps Ambassador Kmiec’s most compelling intervention in an international meeting occurred in early 2010 when he was asked by Senator Mitchell to represent the United States at the UN-Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean Arab-Israeli conference. When the Israeli delegation walked out after the first morning, the meeting was momentarily in turmoil. Overcoming resistance within his own State Department, Ambassador Kmiec calmed matters at the margins the first day and in a keynote address on the second indicated that under President Obama, the US would be neither lawyer for Israel nor agent of Palestine, but an honest broker working toward a two state, comprehensive solution.

Giving notable humanitarian example, while working with the UNHCR and the Jesuit Relief Services, Ambassador Kmiec expanded the opportunity for migrant families from Eritrea, Ethiopia, the Sudan, and Somalia to resettle in the U.S. With over 700 successful placements to date, virtually all of whom the Ambassador met with personally over a light dinner at his residence in order to encourage, to inspire, and to “insist” that these “new American arrivals” cheer on his favorite base-ball franchise, the Chicago Cubs. A prolific and popular writer, one of Ambassador Kmiec’s proudest moments was co-authoring an essay against racial and migrant discrimination with the President of the Republic for the Sunday Times.

The Ambassador has also devoted his considerable legal acumen to working with the Chief Justice and the Attorney General as well as the members of the bar to address perennial problems of delay in the prosecution of criminal cases in Malta. As part of this effort, Ambassador Kmiec arranged for a member of the appellate court of Malta to visit with the Supreme Court of the United States and to receive counsel from the federal administrative office of the US courts. Most recently, Ambassador Kmiec similarly arranged for Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain of the United States Court of Appeals to spend several days in Malta in order to deliver separate lectures to the bench, bar and students of jurisprudence. Efforts to apply a version of the speedy trial act and to allow for bail by the use of electronic monitoring are now under active study by the legislative office of the Ministry of Home Affairs.

The Ambassador has been a strong advocate of equal and expanded opportunities for women and regularly addressed meetings and conventions on US business practice and equal opportunity. On a number of occasions, the theatrical venues of Malta have had plays and other cultural activities ably supported by the Ambassador facilitating cultural exchange.

The Ambassador has been generous with his time giving lectures and presentations at virtually all of Malta’s colleges, the minor seminary and many of the schools and departments within the university as well as the Mediterranean Diplomatic Academy. In this regard, Ambassador Kmiec secured the intervention of former U.S. Secretary of State James Baker and the personal participation of former Presidential Chief of Staff John Sununu for the 20th anniversary conference on the end of the Cold War.

The Ambassador authored numerous essays related to among other things: international women's day; internet freedom of speech; the remembrance of the Holocaust and the life of Anne Frank; the first priority of the diplomatic partnership between the European Union and the United States; necessary qualities for judicial appointment; Malta as a comparative example in America’s quest to expand health care; understanding the realities of climate change; meeting the needs of natural disaster in Haiti and elsewhere; and a respectful and constructively positive exploration of neutrality in the Maltese Constitution

Finally, Ambassador Kmiec will long be remembered as a man of faith. Gentle in demeanor; thoughtful in remark; open to competing idea; Ambassador Kmiec is willing to be challenged on every supposition without any defensiveness and manifesting abundant good humor. There is little doubt that Ambassador Kmiec won the hearts of the Maltese. Greeted with the same “uncommon kindness” accorded Saint Paul, Ambassador Kmiec’s presence at daily Mass, his interest and attendance at Festas, as well as his authentic reflections of his own personal faith touched every one of us. Because he had so quickly and deeply established diplomatic friendship, we felt his own profound loss of friendship from the awful car accident which claimed two close friends and nearly took his life as well. How wonderful it was to see Ambassador Kmiec return to his post with dedication and even minimizing the disruption to Embassy work by undergoing a second, major reconstructive surgery in Malta over Christmas. The Ambassador was the object of much prayerful support in his host country. The Ambassador was assiduous in letting the Maltese know that their prayers were warmly received and were of much positive effect in his life. Every Saturday, the Ambassador could be found volunteering in social services of all kind, from the Little Sisters in Hamrun to the Holy Family Home in Naxxar to food distribution to the needy at the Millennium Chapel.

As it happened, it would not be accident, but bureaucratic politics, that would take Ambassador Kmiec from us earlier than he or we would have liked. Yet, even when a published report from an inspector regrettably created a false impression of the Ambassador’s commitments, questioning in particular the usefulness of his faith commitments and inter-faith diplomacy, Ambassador Kmiec remained calm, demonstrating the lack of foundation and prudence for the later-added criticism that had been added out of regular process in Washington.

It was genuine diplomacy, informed by Christian charity that gave Ambassador Kmiec the courage to resign a position for which he was uniquely suited and so obviously enjoyed. When it became a choice between faith and freedom on the one hand or power and position on the other, Ambassador Kmiec did not hesitate to be, like Thomas More, his nation’s good servant, but God’s first. At the same time, his voice remained filled with love of country and respect for the President who appointed him. When the intensity of praise for the Ambassador led a few to harshly criticize his nation’s thinking, the Ambassador had quick corrective response: “America is my home,” he said, “and I love her not because she is always right – far from it; but because she is ever hopeful. As Churchill once noted, ‘Americans always try to do the right thing after they’ve tried everything else.’” “In any event,” the Ambassador reminded us, a few people presently misusing authority to stifle the expression of faith does not erase the foundational understanding of America that, as the U.S. Supreme Court once said, ‘Americans are a religious people, whose institutions presuppose the existence of a Supreme Being.”

In diplomatic intelligence, enduring faith, and unbreakable friendship, Malta will long remember Douglas Kmiec, its Ambaxxatur Amerikan.


Citation read and presented in the presence of the Diplomatic Corps in May 2011, and recalled in honor of His Excllency Ambassdor Kmiec upon the dedication of the New Embassy Compound in Ta’Qali, Malta, the 15th day of July 2011.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Are Inspectors General Usurping Presidential Power?

Mr. President, Don't let the Bureaucracy say "No We Can't"

Inspector Quietly “Closes” -- Abandons -- its "rebuke" of inter-faith diplomacy

Last week, an obsequious email popped into the inbox at the U.S. Embassy in the Republic of Malta.  The email informed the Embassy that the “rebuke” of Ambassador Kmiec's efforts to advance inter-faith diplomacy or make reference to faith was “closed,” nothing further needed. Now, don’t misunderstand, this did not mean the inspectors got religion, but it did mean that a one paragraph response to their concerns which the Ambassador had submitted well before the OIG allowed the matter to be splashed as a rebuke in the newspapers of Malta “constituted compliance with the[ir] intent . . .” And even if it didn’t, “the subject ambassador” has “departed.” (And "departed" seems the key word, as pushing Ambassador Kmiec out, whether for his fidelity to President Obama's inter-faith objectives, including the Ambassador's evenhanded presentations of Arab-Israeli issues before U.N. sponsored proceedings, or for other reasons of Machiavellian political intrigue seems to have been the whole point.).

Since governments seldom announce that investigations are over in the same newspaper headline font as they proclaim “rebukes,” it was good to see that a White House friend of Ambassador Kmiec's, Mr. Joshua DuBois, the President’s special assistant for faith-based and neighborhood partnership,  has gotten the last word  (at least in presdiential speech-writing) -- and, no surprise, it comes down in favor of the importance of inter-faith diplomacy as articulated by the  President and the Ambassador.

DuBois, a good natured, brilliant strategist, no doubt helped President Obama craft his remarks recently on opportunities in the Middle East and North Africa. Thanks to Josh, more than  Ambassador Kmiec's resignation on principle rebuts the OIG’s (Office of Inspectors General) claim that inter-faith diplomacy is not a core mission responsibility. Why democracy itself is built on faith-based respect. Said the President (clearly wiith DuBois's encouragement:

“. . . .Tolerance is particularly important when it comes to religion. In Tahrir Square, we heard Egyptians from all walks of life chant, “Muslims, Christians, we are one.” America will work to see that this spirit prevails – that all faiths are respected, and that bridges are built among them. In a region that was the birthplace of three world religions, intolerance can lead only to suffering and stagnation. And for this season of change to succeed, Coptic Christians must have the right to worship freely in Cairo, just as Shia must never have their mosques destroyed in Bahrain.”

Who then prompted the OIG to single out for disfavor our inter-faith efforts and my personal expressions of faith? Instructed to love even our enemy, we are better off not knowing. The American nation remains “a religious people whose institutions presuppose the existence of a Supreme Being.” Given how quickly it dropped the matter, the OIG obviously had little real concern. The OIG insinuation that Ambassador Kmiec's inter-faith assignments were “outside activities” was false. Its trumpeted “rebuke” of these activities was now “closed.” It never deserved to be opened.

Of course, any OIG concern could have been easily disabused and dismissed by reference to Josh DuBois' unambiguously clear remarks at Ambassador Kmiec's oath-taking which can be viewed on You Tube, The OIG's damaging exercise of policy making authority beyond the important, but importantly more circumscribed, authority to inquire into fraud, waste and abuse which is accorded to it by Congress, needs to be checked. When the OIG substitutes its unelected judgment for that of the President, it compounds the misuse of authority not granted, for it reveals the extent to which the “Laws are not (then) faithfully executed,” as Article II of the U.S. Constitution requires.

President Obama should not be second-guessed by the OIG.  Nor should the excellent work of career and military officers in an embassy of genuine distinction be clouded or obscured by the peculiar politics of secularism, the unhelpful, internal suspiscion of presidential appointees, or whatever other dislike someone capable of throwing sand in the gears of progressive policies may have harbored.  During his tenure, Ambassador Kmiec was a well-spoiken delegate of views expressed by the President and Secretary Clinton on an array of subjects: from being an "honest broker" in the Middle East to climate change to the need to address human trafficking to internet freedom of speech to maximizing gender opportunity and equality.

Indeed, a careful reading of the OIG report, itself, indicates that the work of the U.S. embassy over the last several years during Ambassador Kmiec's service has been abundant and ranked highly.  Within Malta, everyone fom the Prime Minister to back benchers to the man or woman on the street or fellow worshipers at morning Mass has had high praise for the efforts of the United States during this period.. Moreover, faith did not displace the other secular needs of the embassy from being dealt with: completing a new embassy compound that had fallen two years behind and was only 30% complete upon my arrival. Today, the new compound is completely finished. And there is a whole lot more to show for my nearly two years – a ratified double taxation treaty; enhanced airport security; the installation of expensive, state of the art radiation detection in the free port; the expansion of resettlement opportunities for African migrants as well as English and cultural classes to prepare them for their new lives; greater military to military training in anti-piracy, counternarcotics; an important initiative to squeeze delay out of the criminal bench; Fulbright’s and other exchange programs; the effective prosecution of human trafficking; and oh yes, the rescue under Ambassador Kmiec's direction of the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli and several hundred foreign nationals. Combined with the many day to day demarches and cable reporting, no one in the embassy was looking at the ceiling or only engaging with the Government or each other “at social gatherings.”

Should the President or the Secretary have intervened.  The Los Angeles Times thought so.  We now know there was no genuine investigation or audit, only manipulated misuse of public authority to impede the work the President. This much is plain: any fear that involving the President in the decision making might be seen as improper interference was a concern without basis.

But denying the relevance of prayer or pushing aside inter-faith diplomatic study is a big harm. In addition, at this sensitive time vis a vis Libya and north Africa, America’s lack of a confirmed officer troubles Malta’s Foreign Minister. This is no ill reflection upon the Ambassador's superbly able deputy whose distinguished career includes service in Baghdad and London. (Indeed, unlike the bureaucrats in Washington who want to pick fights between presidential appointees like Kmiec and career foreign service officers, no such animosity ever entered the Ambassador's mind, as he publicly and privately urged the Department to name his career deputy as his successor). No, the Foreign Minister is right to see an acting arrangement as less than ideal because a confirmed officer normally reflects a personal presidential choice and when that choice is made “with a special presidential logic,” as Joshua thoughtfully once described the linkage President Obama had in mind between my Catholic faith and that of the Maltese,” the loss of it looms even larger.

It mischaracterizes the President’s inter-faith efforts to call the work of Ambassador Kmiec on this topic an “outside activity.” Doing so likewise diminishes presidential authority. It is now bilaterally perplexing. It  no doubt was personally hurtful to the Ambassador. That said, the Ambassador chose his faith over his politics, nevertheless continuing to believe in the good intentions of his President.  As the Ambassador observed in farewell, "since the President's views coincide with the timeless values and beliefs associated with the transcendent origin of human right which the United States shares with the Republic of Malta, our President’s good intentions shall have my complete allegiance and dedication during my time of service and beyond."

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Theology of Kindness

Remembering Monsignor John and Sister Mary

Welcome 2011, even as the somber imprint of 2010 shall be forever with me. In late spring, dad died. In early summer, my late mother's only sister passed. Late summer claimed Guido deMarco, the revered former president of Malta and UN General Assembly, who had taken a special interest in his country's new American Ambassador. Christmas would call my Malibu neighbor, Bill(y) Miller, whose natural joviality brightened more than a few soggy coastal days along La Costa Beach. But it was a roughly 4-second slide off a canyon road that would leave the deepest scar.

There has not been a day, an hour, even a minute since I have not grieved for the loss of Monsignor John V. Sheridan and Sister Mary Campbell. Last week, waiting for a CT scan and ECG in a Maltese hospital before undergoing the follow-up major surgery to that John and I endured side-by-side in the UCLA trauma unit, I happened to encounter for the first time blog commentary thoughtfully invited by the community spirit of The Malibu Times. These expressions of love readily tapped into my own memories of these clerical Irish twins, including our last joyful moments together (and they were joyful, since somehow God sheltered all of us from the apprehension of fear almost literally to the final moment). Sister Mary went immediately by angelic acclimation to God, whilst John and I held string rosaries given us just minutes earlier at a Mass and lunch for the anniversary of the Sisters of Saint Louis. The highway patrol and Calabasas rescuers were commendably quick with a transporting helicopter, but not even these local heroes could outpace Mary's early check-in to fashion John's heavenly study.

Some say age determined survival. Maybe. But it is just as plausible that God saw two unblemished souls of extraordinary kindness, and their younger charge, with work yet to do.

The fact of suffering and death, observed C.S. Lewis and others, is undoubtedly the single greatest challenge to faith, since its distribution and occurrence seems so entirely random, and therefore unfair. This was not John's way. Forty years ago, when almost exactly my age, John wrote: “Death [to a person of faith] is not the eyes' last episode following a long or short illness, old age, dotage, [or] auto accident . . . It is release from the bonds of mortality . . . [of] sin, sickness, pain.”

The monsignor's words were not gratuitously extolling death, but rather urging us not to fear it, and, in that intrepid confidence of faith, to seek the fullness of life. That is the way John walked ever confidently among the beautiful hills above Malibu. With Mary following closely, John can be felt there today, inviting us to his path of unconditional kindness, and calling our names even as he self-deprecatingly proclaims not to remember them.

And if you look to a very far horizon, you will find me, wounded physically, but redoubled in faith with a pounding heart proclaiming, “Death, where is your sting.” And through that persistent tear that lingers in my eye, I will spot His sheleighlee lifted high, so that I, and the vast numbers whom he loved, and who love him still, might follow.

Douglas W. Kmiec is a professor of law (on leave for foreign service)

Ambassador Kmiec on the Holocaust and Anne Frank

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Douglas Kmiec wins the friendship of Malta for Faith, Family and Country

Sunday, 20th September 2009 Anthony Manduca

Douglas Kmiec has all the characteristics one would expect of an American ambassador (to malta - a small island off the coast of Sicily with a 99% devout Catholic population -P9) appointed by Barack Obama: intelligent, academic, articulate, soft-spoken and a strong believer in consensus, dialogue and engagement.

The Pepperdine University professor of constitutional law is also a devout pro-life Catholic who worked in the Office of Legal Counsel for President Ronald Reagan and until recently considered himself to be a Republican.
Why then did he endorse Barack Obama, who is in favour of keeping abortion legal, for President, when he wrote a book in 2008, entitled Can a Catholic Support Him?

"Barack Obama was someone who caught my attention in 2006 when he gave a speech at a conference called the sojourner's conference. It demonstrated to me someone of great discernment, someone who understood that one of the things that had gone wrong in our country was political figures unthinkingly using people's faith as a basis to divide them from one another. Obama says we should understand the significance of faith to every person," he says.

Even if we believe that our faith understanding is true, Obama had said, we can't simply expect it to be automatically enacted into law because we believe it.

"I thought he was by virtue of those remarks someone who had both a deep faith himself and was capable of understanding the difference among people and having empathy for that difference," Prof. Kmiec says.
After that speech, Prof. Kmiec was invited to a meeting in Chicago of faith leaders, where many people were opposed to Mr Obama on several matters "including myself on the question of how the life issue should be handled".
He says Obama opened this meeting in a remarkable way, saying: "Alright, give me as good as you've got. Give me your best arguments. I know there is disagreement but I want to see whether there is source for common ground."

By the end of the meeting, Prof. Kmiec says, everyone realised that this was a man of humility, great intelligence and capable of listening.
"These were qualities I believed were much need in America in the Oval Office. I believe I saw some of those same qualities in Ronald Reagan in a different time, with a different emphasis," he says.

Even though there were areas of disagreement, Mr Obama pointed out the responsibility of government to provide a family wage, to care for the environment and to provide healthcare for the uninsured.
"When I thought about all these things, I thought 'this is my catechism come to life' because we are called to each of these things in the social teachings of the Church."

It is for that reason, Prof. Kmiec says, that he was convinced he had found a person of intelligence who had articulated a set of views and policies he could easily support.

Prof. Kmiec's views on abortion have certainly not changed since he was appointed an ambassador by the Obama administration.
"I believe life begins at conception, in the womb, and is to be protected there as it is to be protected at every moment throughout the progression of life," he emphasises.

He was disappointed when the US Supreme Court legalised abortion in 1973 and for some 30 plus years, as an advocate in the judicial system, including when he worked for Mr Reagan in the White House, he wrote briefs and made arguments seeking to reverse the law on that question.
"Of course it hasn't happened; year after year, millions die in those awful procedures."

He recalls how he told Mr Obama during the campaign: "How can you allow someone to terminate another person's life? What moral authority do you have for that?"
Mr Obama replied: "Well, professor, not everyone sees life beginning in the same way. The Methodists see it differently, the Jewish faith in part sees it differently." And he went through the list, Presbyterians and so forth.
"If I am elected President," he told Prof. Kmiec, "I am President of all these people."
Prof. Kmiec says Mr Obama told him that he views abortion as "a moral tragedy" and that there were two ways of addressing it. There is the law in which people who involved themselves in this procedure would be subject to a penalty. The Supreme Court has put that off limits.
The other way is to do something about it and look at what causes people to have an abortion.
Mr Obama asked Prof. Kmiec: "What would cause a mother to contemplate taking the life of a child? It has to be something awful. It has to be a woman without shelter, without insurance, without the next meal on the table."
Prof. Kmiec admits that this approach to abortion is not the ideal solution, saying that poverty or not being married is no excuse to take the life of a child. However, he believes one should be realistic about the problem and if the abortion rate could be reduced - and some studies point out that tackling poverty could lead to fewer abortions - "this seems to me a good interim step".
"I prayed on this," he explains, pointing out that Pope John Paul II had said that Catholics must be clear on their stand on abortion but also that people in political life could sometimes do less than they would like to do as long as there were moves towards the protection of life.
"Mr Obama has taken some steps towards this, perhaps not as fast as some would like," he says.
Prof. Kmiec denies American media reports, however, which claimed the Vatican had rejected his nomination as the next US Ambassador to the Holy See.
"These reports were a surprise to both the President and me. During the campaign I was doing faith-related issues for Mr Obama and along the way a reporter by the name of John Allen said he thought I would make a good Ambassador to the Holy See. Once it got out to the blogosphere it sort of took on a life of its own. I know the President really did not have that in mind, nor of course did I support the President with any expectation for that posting or any posting for that matter."
He defends the fact that, in last year's presidential campaign, he first supported Mitt Romney, the Republican former governor of Massachusetts, before switching to Mr Obama.
"Mr Romney is a Mormon and Mormons are known for their commitment to the family. I admired that above all as well as his background as a financial wizard. We could see the dark clouds on the horizon as far as the financial situation was concerned and, as Governor, Mr Romney had worked through some difficult corporate questions," he says.
Prof. Kmiec believes Mr Romney was rejected largely because of his faith, which was a great disappointment to him. He says both Mr Romney and Mr Obama had sincere commitments to family and faith, even though there are substantial differences between the two on aspects of social policy.
He adds, however: "As governor of Massachusetts, Mr Romney was the first in our country to make health insurance mandatory in the state. That's not a very Republican thing to do."
He emphasises that his relationship with the Catholic Church in the US is solid, even though some Catholics were displeased when he endorsed Mr Obama for the presidency.
"I think I am a good and faithful servant of the Church. I worship daily, whenever I can. I am an imperfect human person but I know that I am saved by the grace of Jesus in the sacraments that he has left behind," he says.
Prof. Kmiec points out the US often appoints Catholics as ambassadors to Malta, saying it respects the Catholic tradition of Malta.
"It is a sign of respect by our President and Senate to seek out someone who would have an appreciation for the Catholic faith. In my case it was both my Catholic faith - which I teasingly tell the President he should be converted to - and the fact that I did spend most of the time during the campaign helping him address faith-based organisations and audiences."
He says Mr Obama believes many of the world's conflicts have been allowed to be worsened by a failure to understand each other's faith traditions and that his speech in Cairo a few months ago emphasised the importance of different faiths reaching out to each other.
"The President said to me he thought Malta was the ideal place for part of this discussion to go on. He said I won't have any trouble getting people to come to Malta, which is a particularly good place to have quiet diplomacy."
The ambassador laughs when he says the President is right about not having a problem getting people over to Malta.

"When I told people about my assignment they told me: 'We'll be visiting you'. Suddenly, my number of friends has grown considerably."

Prof. Kmiec therefore sees part of his assignment in Malta to bring people together and explore if bonds of trust can be formed among people of different faith traditions.
"If a hot spot erupts we might be able to call upon these faith-based organisations to help diffuse a situation."

He says his primary priority in Malta is to maintain the relations between the two countries, which he describes as "quite good and quite strong".
The ambassador says he has been pressing the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to ratify the double taxation agreement between the US and Malta and has been assured that this will be done this autumn. American firms, he says, will be able to take advantage of this agreement and use Malta as a gateway to the EU.

"We want to attract new economic opportunities here and we especially want to have responsible economic activity where there is concern for the environment. Energy security is an issue for both the US and Malta and it's something we can explore together. I have already had some discussions with US companies that produce wind turbines," he says.
Prof. Kmiec describes the work the Maltese armed forces do in the Mediterranean as "noble" and a "service to the world".
"Such a service not only keeps us safe from the illicit transportation of people or drugs or weapons - but is also a great humanitarian service, paying attention to people who would otherwise be ignored."
He adds: "Malta reaches out to these people fleeing their country, which shows not only a commitment to international law but it recognises what these people are really about."
He describe illegal migrants as people escaping from oppression and poverty and praised Malta, with its dense population and small area, for rescuing them at sea and bringing them in and, whenever possible, resettling them.
He says he was very proud of America's help in resettling some refugees who ended up in Malta and "I am definitely going to carry on supporting this policy". He says he will also look at new ways of strengthening the maritime training of Malta's armed forces by the US Coast Guard.
Some observers say President Obama's foreign policy has certainly changed the image and global perception of America for the better, but eight months into this presidency little has been achieved in certain hot spots such as the Middle East, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan. When did he think we would see some real progress in these areas?
"I think we are actually seeing how difficult these problems are and how deep the conflicts run. It wouldn't be realistic of the President to say 'You've elected me and the world is now at peace'," Prof. Kmiec says.
He says that Mr Obama is about conducting a foreign policy that is principled and lives up to international standards.
"The President is humble enough to know there are aspects of foreign policy that may be better understood by others."
He reiterates that the US cannot accept a nuclear-armed Iran but is open to diplomacy, something refused by previous US administrations, and that the President has repeatedly stated that a two state solution is the only option for the Middle East.
Mr Obama, he says, is being equally honest with both sides in the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. "The Palestinians must make an effort to have terror attacks against Israel stopped and the Israelis must stop the expansion of settlements."
He emphasises that Mr Obama has called for increased troop levels in Afghanistan and admits that this has raised some concerns in the US.
"Are we being honest with ourselves and can we achieve our goal? This is being carefully examined in Washington and I think it's more than what we have had in the past. The President wants to make the best judgment but the debate on this situation is yet to be concluded."
Prof. Kmiec believes Mr Obama is "absolutely right" in trying to reform healthcare in America.
"Let's go back to my Catholic faith which says that life in every instance - unborn, born, up to the natural moment of death, should be respected."
He says when you have a system in which families are spending enormous sums on healthcare, yet the country is ranked 37th in healthcare delivery, one has to question the quality of healthcare that is being provided.
Furthermore, he says, millions of people have no access to healthcare at all, which not only places their life in jeopardy, but removes their value as good parents, and good co-workers.
He says he is reasonably confident that, notwithstanding the opposition from certain sectors of American society to this reform, an agreement will be reached by Christmas.
What does the ambassador think of some of the ferocious criticism Mr Obama has been subject to from right wing conservatives - an important pillar within the Republican Party? Is this just politics as usual?
"I always think debates are better when they focus on substance rather than personality. So to the extent that the American debate has degenerated into a form of name calling or shouting, it doesn't advance democracy. However, I believe the vast majority of Americans do conduct themselves quite well," he says.
He added: "At the moment, the Republican Party, which I was a part of when I worked for Mr Reagan, is a bit lost in the wilderness. They haven't been able to find a national leader or decide how to react to Mr Obama."
Prof. Kmiec says there's a certain frustration level that has sunk in the Republican Party.
"They are worried that they won't regain their footing. I have news for them. Politics in America always shifts its emphasis, and they will return from the wilderness."
Prof. Kmiec says Mr Obama's economic stimulus package prevented the collapse of the banking and securities industry and the huge amount of money pumped into the economy was justified. But, he adds, there will be downsides: "One of those downsides may be the inflationary effects of the spending."
He says that what should be learned from the financial crisis is that the rules of the economy cannot be suspended mid-air, and ultimately there will be a price to pay.
"The lesson I know America has learned is that the price is paid indiscriminately, not just by the bad actors but also by people who were playing exactly by the rules," he says, adding that Mr Obama recently called on Wall Street to support an ambitious overall of the financial system.


Thursday, July 15, 2010

The 4th of July in Malta with Ambassador Kmiec

Mrs. Catherine Gonzi; Prime
Minister Lawrence Gonzi: Mrs.
Margaret Abela; President George
H. Abela and Ambassador clink glasses following the
Ambassador's toast of Malta, her President
and the Maltese people, delivered in

Embassy Valletta rolled out the red carpet for close to 1000 on July 4, 2010. Ambassador Kmiec and President Abela broke new ground for a national day event with both choosing to explore the first principles and common ground of the United States and the Republic of Malta. The Ambassador highlighted the self-evident truths of the Declaration, quoting Lincoln and Obama. President Abela examined the prayerful Innu Malti, also finding the prayer for unity and peace was premised upon and intrinsically valued person. Here is only a portion of the fesitivities held in the jewel of the Republic, the Barrakka Gardens; the U.S. under Ambassador Kmiec was the first foreign nation ever permitted to celebrate its national day in the Gardens. Out of respect for the valued public nature of the Gardens they remained open even during the invitation only event.

Watch the introduction on video:

Papal Nuncio Tomaso Caputo

Ambassador Kmiec & Pope Benedict XVI

 Ambassador Kmiec kisses the ring of Peter in the formal Catholic tradition in extending a greeting from President Obama and the Embassy of the United States in the Republic of Malta, a land described by the U.S. Ambassador for the Holy Father as one of "faith and family."

(Left) The Pontiff thrills thousands in St. George Square

(Below) Arriving for the open air Mass in the Grainaries square behind the Florianna office of the U.S. Embassy; the church in the background is St. Publius

The Holy Father in Malta (click to listen to podcast)
U.S. Ambassador Douglas Kmiec recounts the joy
and rejuvenation of Benedict XVI's April 2010 visit to the Republic of Malta.

With President Abela

Lessons from a papal visit to Malta
Apr. 19, 2010
By Douglas Kmiec

Douglas Kmiec, the U.S. ambassador to Malta

With great anticipation and happiness, Malta awaited the visit of the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI. Like all truly special moments in life, the weekend visit seemed to rush by in an instant.
The pope came to formally celebrate the 1,950th anniversary of St. Paul’s arrival on the island. Of course, the media largely only wanted to talk scandal. The people of Malta didn’t let them. Read the full National Catholic Reporter story (click here).

Remembering Walter Kmiec (1922-2010)

Oil portrait of the pater familias, circa 1974

  • Walter Kmiec, the fourth of the six children of Jan and Mariana Kmiec was born in Chicago on July 30, 1922 and baptised into the Roman Catholic faith;
  • Along with older siblings: Antoinette, John, Stephan and younger sisters Bernice and Wanda lived a comfortable, but not excessive, life; attended Chicago public schools together with religious instruction at St. Hedwig on Chicsgo's North side
  • Civilian Conservationist, 1940-42, Wisconsin and Nevada
  • B17 Flying Fortress Distinguished Flying Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, for 35 air battle campaigns, 1942-45, in general allied air defense of western Europe, including Normandy;
  • Husband of Beatrice Evelyn Neumann (60 years);
  • BSEE, Chicago Technical College, 1954
  • Father of Warren Walter Kmiec (b. 1947), Medical Administrator, University of Wisconsin (Madison);
  • Father of Douglas William Kmiec (b. 1951), U.S. Ambassador; Caruso Family Chair in Constitutional Law, Pepperdine University (on leave), Malibu, California; "Faith & Values" Campaign, Obama for President '08; former Head, Office of Legal Counsel to President Ronald Reagan; author and syndicated writer; 40th Anniversary Distinguished Fulbright Scholar, 1987, (Hong Kong & Kuala Lumpur); White House Fellow, 1982-83
  • Father-in-Law of Carolyn Keenan Kmiec, Weisman Art Museum (on leave); First Lady to the U.S. Ambassador
  • Grandfather of Keenan Douglas Kmiec (b.1979), Lawyer, Los Angeles, fmr. law clerk to Chief Justice John Roberts and Judges Samuel A. Alito, Jr. (3d Cir.) and David H. Sentelle (DC Cir)
  • Grandfather of Katherine Neumann Kmiec (b. 1981), Deputy Counsel, The County of Imperial, California; Mother of Great Grandson Robert Jackson Turner
  • Grandfather of Kiley Conley Kmiec (b. 1984), Director of Worldwide Music Marketing, EA Sports, Playa del Rey, California
  • Grandfather of Kolleen McCafferty Kmiec (b. 1988), Architectural Intern, AP Project, Valletta, European Union, Malta
  • Grandfather of Kloe Dillberg Kmiec (b. 1988), Manager, Specialty Leasing, Caruso Affiliates, The Grove, Los Angeles
  • Grandfather of Zachary Kmiec, Baltimore, Maryland
  • Grandfather of Amos Kmiec, Hawaii
  • Electrical Engineer, Chicago, 1954-79
  • Regular Democratic Organization (Party Captain; 1960 John F. Kennedy for President, Illinois; Six Mayoral Victories)
  • Retired, Tarpon Springs, Florida, 1979
  • Died May 20, 2010 at home in Tarpon Springs.

Oil portrait of Walter Kmiec, circa 1974

Walter Kmiec, 23, engineering student
In flight, B17, age 20

My Father’s Dreams

from "America" June 21, 2010

My father dreamed—even
when he was not asleep.
Scarcely a world problem
went unresolved in my father’s dreams,
and there was scarcely a powerful
political figure or captain of industry
whom my father did not readily let in
on his dreams through ample, handwritten

These dreams, as my father
dreamed them, created jobs, reduced
global warming, delivered health care
to the poor and the elderly and made
substantial headway on a cure for cancer—
all before lunch. Sadly, it turns
out the cancer cure still needs work.
But until that illness ravaged his physical
strength, my father communicated
his dreams freely, expecting neither
credit nor recognition. In fact, few of
his dreams were even acknowledged.
Neither Bill Clinton nor the Bushes
nor George Steinbrenner ever referred
to my father’s counsel.

My father
greatly admired the philanthropic and
disaster relief work of Bill Clinton as
an ex-president. But married to Mom
for 60 years, he was troubled and saddened
by President Clinton’s “fooling
around,” as Dad put it. Nevertheless,
as far as the world knew, President
Clinton decided to give greater honor
to his marital vows all on his own
without Dad’s note to him urging
fidelity and circumspection. Was it
Walter Mitty braggadocio for Dad to
take personal satisfaction in watching
the president “straighten out his act”?

Maybe to some, but Dad’s advice was
seldom just a repetition of the prevailing
headline. From the beginning, Dad
menting in a personal essay about continuing
military commitments, I will
let you draw your own inferences
about what Dad had to say. These thought the president deserved a private
conversation with his pastor, not
public impeachment.
Dad reached this
conclusion long
before much of the
nation—and later
the special prosecutor
himself—had second thoughts
about what many now see as a mistaken
use of prosecutorial authority.

Dad wrote the Bushes a lot.
Because ambassadors must avoid comwere
one-way conversations.
Putting to one side whether Dad
should get footnote
credit for much of
recent world history,
I found his life to
be an invaluable lesson
in political participation.
Especially salutary was his
firm belief that in our democracy it is
up to the regular guy—not just David
Brooks or Mark Shields or even Glenn
Beck or Bill O’Reilly—to demonstratean appreciation for freedom of speech.

Dad did not dream only politically,
either. With the skin-flinty corporate
owners of the Cubs keeping Chicago
out of World Series since well before
his birth, my father seldom hesitated
to let George Steinbrenner know how
his checkbook was “ruining the game”
of baseball. Steinbrenner didn’t take
the hint—if one can call a letter in all
caps, pressed hard on school notebook
paper a hint.

Most famous personages would
ignore my father’s dreams. Sometimes
the lack of response would perturb him.
After Mom passed away five years ago,
Dad felt even more intensely the loneliness
and separation shared by millions
of the elderly who had followed the sun,
far from their children and grandchildren,
in Buffalo, Philly, Detroit, St.
Louis and other rustbelt cities. Life for
young families today is two-income
busy, and any time left to share dreams
with seniors is but a truncated add-on
to Disneyworld or Busch Gardens or
Christmas visits sandwiched into the
lines of holiday travel.

Dad did discover, however, a way to
open the minds of others to his
dreams. By sending $5 or $10 to a
growing list of charities, he shared
widely not only his dreams, but his
poetry, songs and inspirational
prayers. In return, gratitude, for the
money at least, would flow in abundance
to his numbered mailbox at the
trailer park where he lived. Bulk mail
would overtax the “mail lady,” for
whom my father made dutiful expressions
of empathy. Mother Nature
appeared to follow Dad’s lead, matching
his philanthropy for disaster victims
with an increased frequency of
earthquakes, tsunamis and airport closing

Often my father cleaned out his
closets—removing baseball caps, shirts
and years of accumulated Father’s Day
stuff he was too nice to say didn’t fit.
Driving into his neighborhood, one
would encounter many poor childrenand their parents wearing his Ralph Lauren shirts with their tattered jeans,
not to mention a disproportionate
number of Notre Dame and Cubs’
fans, to judge by the caps.

My father was a lifelong Democrat,
the workingman’s party, and he
thought highly of President Obama’s
experience as a community organizer.
“Tell the president,” Dad would insist
(as if Barack and I ate breakfast together
every morning), “that he needs to
direct every dime he can to jobs.”

My father understood intimately
the dignity of work and the indignity
of foreclosure. Vivid in his memory
was the sight of his own mother pleading
with the sheriff, during a notorious
Chicago thunderstorm, not to toss the
family’s furniture and the six Kmiec
children into the street. That was after
the crash of 1929. In a brief autobiography
inspired by Tom Brokaw’s book,
The Greatest Generation, my father
described how his “mother was crying
so hard,” he couldn’t “differentiate her
tears from the driving rain and her
sobs from the relentless thunder.”

Until the financial collapse of
September 2008, many smugly
assumed that nothing like the Great
Depression could happen again. We
know better now, though the present
economic pain has been more unevenly
felt than it was in the 1930s, when
10 million were put out of work.
In a similar way, this generation’s
experience with military matters is
more ambivalent in light of the attacks
on Sept. 11 and the tragically executed
Iraq war. An all-volunteer force immunizes
many from the costs of war and
thatmay plague us with an insufficient
strategic assessment. By contrast, my
father’s generation faced military service
as an “enlist or be drafted” proposition.
After he enlisted in the U.S.
Army Air Forces, the B-17 Flying
Fortress bomber made real Dad’s
heroic dreams as he played his part in
the unambiguous good of stopping the
Holocaust. The military also gave him
three squares at a time when he was
just plain hungry.

It is less clear that fighting the shadowy,
highly mobile, not easily understood
Al Qaeda conveys a comparably
noble feeling. It should, so long as it
shares with my father’s military service
the need for vigilance against the common
enemies of all good dreams—ethnic
or racial hatred, poverty and the
pernicious misuse of religion to slaughterthe innocent in the name of God.

The name Kmiec is of Polish origin,
and the small farming village from
which my father’s father emigrated is
not far from Oswiecim (Auschwitz).
My father knew what a genuine war
crime looked like, whether perpetrated
near his ancestral home or in New
York, Washington and Pennsylvania
by 19 men in possession of commandeered
jets and lacking respect for the
sanctity of human life.

My father died a few weeks ago in
home hospice care in Florida. To both
his sons at his side the Father’s Day
lesson is inescapable: As we check our
voice mails, BlackBerries and inboxes,
let us not be too busy to notice all
those who, like my father, freely give of
their dreams. By the Cross and
Resurrection, Christ offers us a vision
of unconditional love. The dreams of
men are frequently their Christ-like
offers of love. We can’t lose in taking
them up. Why? Listen to my father’s
voice, now fallen silent but forever
clearly heard by the family and friends
who took the time to share his dreams:
“because we have faith, courage and

With those qualities, Dad, we are
confident your dreams of eternity are
being fulfilled.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Hadley Arkes v. Douglas Kmiec -- "America's Central Idea"

In this debate between Hadley Arkes and Douglas Kmiec, America's central idea is considered in relation to Abraham Lincoln, Abortion and Slavery. Following the formal "Cicero Podium Debate" at Villanova, Drs. Arkes and Kmiec engage in a lively colloquoy between themselves and the audience. Dr. Arkes is a distinguished professor of jurisprudence at Amherst. Dr. Kmiec is presently U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Malta, on leave from Pepperdine University in California.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Professor Kmiec to be sworn in on September 2 as United States Ambassador to Malta

On September 2, 2009 in the historic treaty room of the Department of State in Washington DC, Douglas W. Kmiec will be sworn in as the United States Ambassador to the Republic of Malta. Administering the oath will be Associate Justice Samuel A. Alito, who himself will be introduced by Mr. Carter G. Phillips, the managing partner of Sidley Austin. Also participating in the ceremony will be actor Martin Sheen, who wrote a thoughtful introduction to Professor Kmiec's book Can a Catholic Support Him? The Very Rev. David M. O'Connell, CM, president of the Catholic University of America will give the invocation. Because of the space limitations of the historic treaty room, attendance is by invitation only.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Re-Endorsing Obama

Re-Endorsing Obama
Posted Easter Sunday, March 23, 2008 9:18 AM By Doug Kmiec

Re-Posted Easter Sunday, April 12, 2009 5:25 AM

Today I reaffirm my endorsement of Barack Obama as president of the United States. I have found him to be a person of integrity, intelligence, and genuine good will. There is a good distance yet to travel, but he has already moved the nation and the world beyond its religious and racial divides . . .

On Easter, we remember something far more important than anyone’s political endorsement: namely, that “God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

And while John 3:16 is conveyed uniquely in Christ, let us remember that when our actions and assessments of each other are grounded in the love those words express, the fact that we have learned to think as Christian, Jew, Muslim, Native American, Hindu, Buddhist, or Bahai does not mean we cannot love as one.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

2008 Presidential Debate -- Professors Kmiec and Kaufman for Obama and McCain

Kaufman (McCain) – Kmiec (Obama)
Presidential Debate

Presidential politics come to Pepperdine
Wednesday, October 15, 2008 1:09 PM PDT

Douglas Kmiec from the School of Law and Robert Kaufman from the School of Public Policy debate the presidential election at a full-house event at the school's Smothers Theatre.

By Nora Fleming / Special to The Malibu Times

The war in Iraq and the current financial crisis were the main topics of the eagerly anticipated debate on the presidential election Monday night between Pepperdine University professors Douglas Kmiec and Robert Kaufman.The standing-room only crowd at Pepperdine's Smothers Theatre remained mostly silent at the opening portion of the debate between the two intellectuals. But the attendees became increasingly enthusiastic for favored responses from both debators by the end of the night, particularly toward the Republican sentiment voiced by Kaufman for the need to continue with a military presence in Iraq.

The debate, which was co-sponsored by The Malibu Times, had an interesting angle with the participation of Kmiec, a conservative law professor who has worked in both the Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations, but is actively campaigning for Barack Obama. His support for Obama made national news earlier this year when a Roman Catholic priest denied him communion. Kaufman, a professor at the School of Public Policy, has been an outspoken advocate for the foreign policy of George W. Bush., writing about it in a book last year titled "In Defense of the Bush Doctrine."Kmiec, who focused many of his responses on Obama's potential to improve the national government's compassion both at home and abroad, called the war in Iraq inhumane, built upon false pretenses made by the Bush administration. Kmiec said these "artificial fears" would only be continued by McCain, who had no timeline or plan for removing troops and who valued winning a war over ethics and the international reputation of the United States."This a time of domestic hardship and international embarrassment, yet remarkably tremendous hope," said Kmiec, who credited this "hope" to Obama."Barack Obama supplies something else," Kmiec continued. "Hope not just to end the war in Iraq, but the war in America, a war of culture, religion and race referred to as a culture war. Obama will unify us rather than divide us and show that we are not red states, we are not blue states, we are the United States.

Kaufman said the war in Iraq is necessary and a result of a foreign policy pursued by former presidents. He said a quick withdrawal would not "make the world safe for democracy," but result in the possibility of another dictator who abuses human rights as badly as Saddam Hussein did. He said McCain's plan for "staying on course" would mean definite and necessary victory in Iraq."We are in easy distance of victory because of the surge," Kaufman said. "Iraq is on track for peace and a democratic government. Iraq is the central theater in the fight against Al- Qaeda."

Kaufman and Kmiec asked one another questions about the current financial state of the country and debated which party caused the problem and who had the better solution to fix it.Kaufman, who blamed the financial crisis on mortgage- backed security companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, said the "Democratic negligence was the prime cause of the crisis," and that McCain's strategy based on free market principles had proven the test of the time. He compared Obama's tactics to what he considered to be the failures that prolonged the Great Depression.

Kmiec said "Reaganesque tax cuts" planned by McCain would do nothing to alleviate the current financial situation. He said the problem had been escalating for years due to poor accounting practices on behalf of major corporations like Enron."The sky is the limit in filling the pockets of those who know no limit to their own greed," Kmiec said.

Moderator James Wilburn, dean of the School of Public Policy, asked Kmiec how his Roman Catholic religious beliefs could coincide with Obama's pro-choice platform. Kmiec has attempted to answer this question in his book released last month, "Can a Catholic Support Him? Asking the Big Question About Barack Obama."Kmiec said pro-life supporters will not necessarily be getting what they want if McCain is elected, which is overturning the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision. Kmiec said even if the decision was in fact overturned, the issue would return to the states, and in the case of many, such as California, abortion would remain legal.Kmiec said that although Obama supports the mother as the one person able to make the choice, he will also attempt to deal with the root of why so many people are getting abortions, by increasing support services, including health care for the uninsured. This would encourage women, Kmiec said, to take their pregnancy to term and give their children up for adoption.

Vice Presidential candidates were not discussed at length, although Kmiec asked how Sarah Palin is qualified to have a national office. Kaufman said Obama's credentials were more limited than Palin's.

The evening closed with a standing rendition of "God Bless America" from the audience.