The Al Smith dinner is on live stream C-Span

Sen. Obama is speaking, right now, live at the Al Smith Dinner:


Obama is really pretty funny!  Good writers!

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. I watched them both, and both were hilarious. I like how they both played on the Messiah complex of Obama. Obama’s funniest two lines I think were in his personal biography segment, where he said, contrary to popular belief he wasn’t actually born in a manger, and that his middle name came from someone who clearly never expected him to run for president. Good stuff from both the senators.

  2. TJM says:

    I thought it was weird having “abortion King” Obama sitting next to the Cardinal. Tom [The Al Smith Dinner isn’t really about that sort of observation.]

  3. Aren't you says:

    I thought I saw a Catholic Bishop sitting next to Obama. First, was it a Catholic Bishop? Second, is this a problem? Does it give the appearence of indifference toward Obama’s support for abortion, or at least overlooking that support? Will this cause scandal to Catholics with delicate consciences? It doesn’t sit right with me. Is it just me? I mean, this guy represents everything the Church is against, and giving him the respect of sharing a meal seems, perhaps, imprudent. At what point should the Bishops say that they wont be seen palling around with guys who support the holocaust? At what point, like now, should the lay faithful not question the Bishops? I’m not trying to be overly critical, it just doesn’t sit right with me. My very own Bishop Vann issued that smack down statement on abortion! With all respect Father, the idea that Obama is funny makes me want to vomit my dinner all over my computer screen. Good night. I’m going to sleep imagining he must have surely been a bloody Anglican dressed up like one of our Shepherds.

    [You now get to chose a shorter “nom de plume”. This just made more work for me.]

  4. Mitch says:

    commenter with long quote for name,

    thats the illustrious Archbishop Egan of NYC! It is a tradition to host the two presidential cannidates to the Al Smith Dinner (Al Smith by the way was the Dem Canidate in 1928, he was the first Catholic Pres. Nominee). They do this to raise money for charity. IMO there is nothing wrong with working with people you disagree with to help the disadvanteged, it is not a political event.

  5. Aren't you says:


    “Someone I disagree with” is not sufficient to characterize Barack Obama. He stands against everything the Church stands for. Someone I disagree with would be someone like you Mitch. I would love to sit down and have dinner with you! Obama, no. He supports the holocaust going on in our midst more than any presidential candidate in history. The only way I would sit down with him is if I thought it would do some good, like maybe to convince him how wrong he is. The Church doesn’t need Obama or some dinner to raise money and if we think we do we don’t understand the power of the Gospel. Its high time the Church break down these old traditions if they are harming our ability to preach the Gospel. To hell with the Al Smith dinner if the Cardinal has to sit next to Obama a few weeks before the election with impressionable Catholics looking on. Thanks for ruining my sleeping hope that Egan was an Anglican. God bless Cardinal Egan and all the Bishops, and God bless them for their leadership in opposing Obama. I just think it might be undermined by being too civil with him. Why do we have to be civil with holocaust supporters, they are not civil. Civility is overrated. Maybe we need some just down right rude sometimes.


    Poster with a long quote for a name, its from Our Lady of Guadalupe by the way.

  6. Larry says:

    Oh well if they are going to let Obama in they might as well let in the Pharisee! Good grief and chill out or does the Good LORD have to come down and slap you silly? “But Fr., but Fr. he’s eating with a sinner!” I am certain you have some rocks left over from the last stoning. Pray—so far as I can tell that is our duty—not judgement. Of course you can’t vote for a person who promotes abortion; but, you sure can pray for him, and show him Christ’s love.

  7. Larry says:

    Dear “Aren’t you…” it may be from our Lady but your attitude is not. Being self rightous only gets you a warmer place in Purgatory and hopefully that’s all.

  8. M.D. says:

    Agreed! Who knows what Cardinal Egan might have said to Obama behind the scenes.

  9. I found McCain quite entertaining, and generally was received by the audience. Obama, on the other hand, had a few witty comments, but lost his audience when a great deal of his humor failed. I really don’t see what people say is so eloquent in his manner. De gustibus… I suppose.

  10. Kradcliffe says:

    I laughed pretty hard at Obama… particularly “I wasn’t really born in a manger…. I was born on the planet Krypton.”

    I am going to have to watch McCain, now… the Youtube video I tried was running really slow so I will have to find another one. I hear he was very funny.

  11. Pharisee says:

    “Woe to you, you are like unseen graves over which people unknowling walk!”

    Truly chilling, and point well taken. I think there can also be a kind of pharisetical attitude in juding those who one perceives to be pharisees.

    Tell me Larry. If you were a Bishop in Nazi Germany and your flock was struggling to oppose the regime would you sit down next to Hitler at a nice civil little charity dinner to raise some money for the disadvantaged? This isnt to do with being judgemental or self righteous, it has to do with souls and saving lives and preventing scandal. I said I would sit with Obama if I thought it would do some good like to convince him he is wrong. I dont think Jesus was sitting with the Pharisees to raise money, but rather to rebuke them, warn them of impending doom, and call them to repentance, same for Matthew, same for the prostitute woman. But I try not to think of myself like I am Jesus. Larry, try not to just react out of emotion and actually think about this. Whether you agree or not I think you can at least recognize that I have a legitimate point. Its very easy to write people off as Pharisees, not so easy to actually address arguments.

  12. Jordanes says:

    Here’s the link to Diogenes’ take on this:

  13. Lynne says:

    Find Senator McCain’s speech on youtube. His was actually much funnier…

  14. Ohio Annie says:

    Maybe the Al Smith Dinner has outlived its usefulness, being appropriate for another time? We seem to be in a brave new world. Maybe another dinner format could be substituted so that there wouldn’t be an appearance of impropriety? I couldn’t watch the videos unfortunately, my connection won’t allow it without going into a conniption. I am sure they were both funny. We often think of politicians as being a grave lot.

    No conniptions here,

  15. TJM says:

    Annie, I tend to agree with you. When the Al Smith Dinner was inaugarated there was not a dime’s worth of difference between either
    major political party on abortion. Abortion was unacceptable and illegal. Now times have changed and we have a party, The Democratic Party
    to be precise, that has an intrinsic evil in its platform, abortion on demand. When a Cardinal of the Roman Church sits on the same
    dias with a candidate from that Party there is a perception, however false it may be, that abortion must not be that big of a deal,
    after all, the Cardinal is sitting there laughing and joking with that party’s candidate. I think it extremely naive to think that His
    Eminence in a private conversation with that candidate can persuade him otherwise. Political careers have been built on support for the
    destruction of the unborn. I shudder to think what will happen if the Democratic Party holds all three branches of government. We’ll probably
    go back to the days when the government funded abortions. Tom

  16. Jack says:

    In ’96, Bill Clinton was not invited to the Al Smith dinner. And neither John Kerry nor George Bush were invited in ’04.

  17. Pharisee says:

    Larry, By the way. Jesus was VERY rude to the Pharisees and the Scholars of the law. But, but “Jesus, you are insulting us too by saying these things!” And that’s when he really took out the big guns! Woe also to you, scholars of the law! Of course, Im not Jesus… but the Bishop sort of is. Maybe Egan did lay the smack on Obama last night. I hope so! Maybe he will repent, all things are possible with God. But I just think it wasnt the best thing to do considering the scandal such a dinner might cause with all of its civility and appearence of common purpose. If the civility was cut out and the Bishop met with Obama to rebuke him and call him to repentance as Christ did so often I would say great!

  18. Romulus says:

    Maybe the Archdiocese should use the dinner proceeds to buy a potter’s field.

  19. Aric says:

    The usual explanation is that John Kerry was not invited in 2004, because as a pro-abort Roman Catholic it would be a scandal to have him there. President Bush did not attend, because John Kerry was not invited.

    As Sen. Obama is not a Catholic, a different set of rules govern.

    In any event, this is clearly a prudential question about whether it is or is not appropriate. It is not my party, and therefore not my decision to make. I see little value in wringing hands over whether H.E. decided wisely.

  20. Larry says:

    Dear Pharisee,

    In the first place this dinner has been going on for some 63 years and the Good Lord knows many saints and sinners have set at the head table. As a matter of fact I suppose a bishop of the Church might well have sat a table with Hitler before he came to power. I doubt that it would have done any good because clearly Hitler had ideas which went far beyond anything he had talked about up to that time. I do not however think of Sen. Obama as Hitler. While his stance on abortion is completely wrong and needs to be changed it is only by dialog and the grace of Almighty God is going to do that. I don’t think that anyone would or should conclude that Cardinal Egan is endorsing Sen. Obama or his views on abortion. Obama was there because he is the Democratic Nominee for President, not because the Archdiocese is going pro-abortion. As a amtter of fact the room was full of Pro-choice politicians and a few who are not. The guests were invited to speak not on abortion but in humor. They were awarded no honors or prizes. While you or I might feel uneasy or even disgusted at such an affair Bishops are required to step in harms way because even Obama’s or Clinton’s or Giuliani’s soul might be touched and saved. There are many things in American political life which do not fit comfortably in spiritual life but that is where we are and if we are to save souls we have to get beyond our area of comfort. If we were contemplatives we might have the luxury of not having to rub elbows with those we dislike; but, remember we are all sinners.

  21. Barack H. Obama should never have been invited to this affair. See: and see what Bp. Serratelli, ordinary of the diocese, had to say, in a slightly veiled way, about Obama. It must be very difficult to be undergoing an abortion to know that this pro abortion senator is being feted by a “Prince of the Church”. It must also be hurtful to be in solitary confinement for seven years as an innocent arab picked up at a market in Peshawar to see Bush with the Pope.

  22. Dear Fr. Z (Father, bless!):

    I entirely agree with you that Senator Barack Hussain Obama was funny at the Al Smith Dinner. I also agree with those of your commenters who have said that Senator McCain was much funnier.

    But I disagree with those who thought that Obama should not have been at the dinner. Yes, the Great O supports abortion “rights”. This, however, falls into the category of comments described by the late Douglas Adams as “True but Unhelpful.”

    I look upon the dinner as the opportunity to see that McCain could think well on his feet and needed neither prepared notes nor a Teleprompter to make his speech, or his points. And the equal opportunity to see revealed that Mr. O. was both text-bound and rather humourless.

    In short, it was a forum which enabled McCain to do what he could not accomplish in three debates: to reveal the real man behind the curtains (reference to The Wizard of Oz.

    Or as my Uncle Joe from Oklahoma said: “I don’t care in the least whether Obama is black. I’m not voting for him because he is green.

  23. avecrux says:

    MC Cain was even funnier – yes – and his comic timing is pretty impressive!
    I have never seen Hillary Clinton laugh that hard in my life – in fact, I’m not sure if I have seen her laugh at all before.
    (Granted, I haven’t spent a whole lot of time looking.)
    What about when Mc Cain said being Messiah was above his pay grade? That was hilarious.

  24. Joe says:

    Scandal does not consist in doing something wrong. I don’t think anyone thinks, as a result of viewing pictures of this dinner, that the Cardinal is no longer pro-life. But many people watching this sort of event might think ‘oh, I guess it doesn’t really matter. See in the end we can all sit down together and have a good meal and a laugh, whether it’s Obama, or Hitler, or Larry Flynt, or Hannibal Lector.’ Are St Paul’s words about friendship with this world only to be taken seriously on Sunday mornings?
    When I read about events like this I just get very embarrassed for our Bishops, that they still think the world takes them seriously. Apparently there was a time when the Archbishop shared a roughly similar world-view with the invitees, and so the dinner served a purpose without confusing matters. It seems that time is past.

  25. Pharisee says:


    Thanks Joe. Only thing is that causing scandal can be wrong. For example, if a priest goes to a strip club to give last rights that is obviously justifiable scandal even though people might think “well, if the Priest is doing it I will to” because he had a very good reason for going to the Club, to potentially save a soul through the administration of the Sacrament before someone died. He should try to explain this as much as possible to people effected by the scandal. Other scandal can be wrong, like if the Priest went to the strip club for other reasons if you get my drift. I’m not comparing what Egan did to that but I do believe that he caused scandal by chumming it up with Obama because people’s week consciences were no doubt effected. I’m not sure anyone who didn’t think this was a problem ever really addressed this actual argument about scandal.


    PS I agree, we should stop chumming it up with people who clearly are opposed to the Church, ugh. Lets separate them from the Church or the appearence that we are in common cause with them, and pray for their souls so that they will be converted.

  26. dcs says:

    I look upon the dinner as the opportunity to see that McCain could think well on his feet and needed neither prepared notes nor a Teleprompter to make his speech, or his points.

    In the video I saw he was constantly looking down at the podium.

    Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

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