Remember Doug Kmiec? He wasn’t very well accepted in Malta. He was nearly sycophantic in his support of Pres. Obama during the campaign and after, probably because he wanted to be the ambassador to the Holy See instead of just to Malta.
He was the one who said Catholics could set the problem of a candidate’s aggressive support of abortion aside and vote for him anyway.
Kmiec Catholics, and others who embrace the corrosive Kmiec Compromise hold that if the candidate’s stand on other social justice issues are acceptable, then his stand on those issues outweighs his unacceptable stand on abortion. It’s a slight of hand, really: the unacceptable position becomes acceptable.
Malta Today has something with my emphases and comments.
The curious ambassador
US ambassador and legal scholar Douglas Kmiec is curious about Malta’s constitutional neutrality. But has he overstepped his remit as an ambassador in a sovereign nation in seeking a clear interpretation? [Curious indeed!]
If you happen to be in church and a very polite, middle-aged American guy starts chatting with you, it very well could be the US ambassador trying to get some insights into the Maltese way of life.
I interview Douglas Kmiec against a background of folk music, which he describes as “a veritable depositary of America’s historical memory” in the tranquillity of his Attard residence, seeking to unravel the intentions of the representative of the world’s remaining superpower.
As a devout Catholic, his first knowledge of Malta was the reference to the hospitality of the Maltese towards St Paul, immortalised in the Acts of the Apostles. His appointment as ambassador came as a result of his role in Barack Obama’s campaign, as the President’s “liaison to the Catholic community” – in the midst of the campaign Kmiec even wrote a book, entitled ‘Can A Catholic Support Him?’, explaining his support, as a Catholic, for Senator Obama in spite of his pro-choice stance on abortion. [Who called him the "liaison"? Did Kmiec call himself that for the reporter?]
Reminiscing on his discussions at the White House prior to his appointment, he recalls the President telling him how he would “enjoy a country with 365 churches”. [Why? I understand that the President doesn't go to church very often on Sundays much less at other times.] Now he has committed himself to visit as many of these churches as he possibly can. “I am making an effort to get to mass in the mornings if the schedule permits… churches are a place to experience the people, culture and the different cities which make Malta.”
But churches have not been the only thing on Kmiec’s mind in the few months since his arrival to Malta. Kmiec, whose legal background includes serving in the US Attorney General’s office, is particularly proficient in constitutional matters, and has lately been seeking a clear definition of Malta’s neutrality.
I bluntly ask the ambassador whether he is going out of his remit by provoking a discussion on Malta’s constitutional neutrality. “I do not think so. Sincerely, I wanted to get the best understanding of neutrality.”
As my ear catches a hook off a Bruce Springsteen song in the background (Kmiec actually shuffled through his iPod to find something that I liked…) I present Kmiec with the hypothetical scenario of the Maltese ambassador in the US, disputing on controversial parts of the US constitutional right to bear arms. Would this not offend Americans, known for their quasi-religious devotion to their Constitution?
Kmiec makes it clear that his intention was not to interfere in Maltese constitutional matters. “Neutrality surely touches on the work of an ambassador in so far as it has an effect on diplomatic and external relations. But it is obviously not up to the American ambassador (or any ambassador, Amercian or otherwise), to tell you what your Constitution means or should mean.”
What prompted him to ask for a clear definition of Malta’s neutrality during the Mediterranean Academy of Diplomatic Studies conference was the “very expansive meaning” given to neutrality by some people. “Some people gave it a very expansive meaning and that troubled me a bit.Some interpretations of neutrality would have excluded the military training that has been going on for years very successfully between the United States and the Armed Forces of Malta, training that assists the search and rescue efforts which is so vital in saving migrant families from the sea as well as efforts to stop trafficking of human beings and drugs.”
Kmiec caused a stir in political circles by suggesting that Malta’s neutrality could be abused by terrorists when he warned that “we must not allow an interpretation of the scope of a constitutional neutrality provision to be taken advantage of by those who might wish to use a Maltese port to unleash a future terror plot, whether in London, Madrid, on a flight bound for Detroit, or for that matter, may the good Lord forbid, Valletta”.
Kmiec is now convinced that this is not the case. “I am pleased that the discussion has illustrated that this is not the case.”
Once again, he blames expansive definitions of neutrality for giving such an impression. He claims that such a definition of neutrality could have even excluded training aimed at strengthening Malta’s ability to stop terrorists from bringing lethal material into the island. “That was my concern. That was the connection. I didn’t think that neutrality meant that, but I wanted somebody to confirm my understanding… I think that the last thing that any country would want would be to have their door left open to people who would unleash this type of tragic harm.”
You can read the rest there if you are really interested in what he has to say.