Bp. Tobin’s “interview” with Pres. Obama

From His Excellency Most Rev. Thomas J. Tobin, Bishop of Providence, RI, in the 12 Feb 2009 Rhode Island Catholic.

My emphases.

My Interview with President Obama

Posted Feb 12, 2009

(The following is an interview I didn’t have, but can imagine having, with President Obama.)

BISHOP TOBIN: First of all, Mr. President, congratulations on your election and inauguration. They were certainly historic events that inspired a renewed sense of unity and hope for many Americans.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Thank you, Bishop Tobin. Yes, the goal of my campaign and election was to bring people together, to heal the divisions of the recent past and to inspire new hope for all the citizens of our great country.

TOBIN: I think we’d all agree that your goals of unity and hope are very worthwhile. But for that very reason, many of us were surprised, and even disappointed, that you signed an executive order overturning the so-called “Mexico City Policy” within the first few days of your administration. As you know, your action directs that American tax dollars be used to fund abortions overseas. Why did you have to act so quickly on such a controversial policy?

OBAMA: Well, I believe it was important for me to fulfill the campaign promises I made to Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers. After all, they’re among my biggest supporters and I don’t want to disappoint them.

TOBIN: But the use of tax dollars to pay for abortions is very controversial. It’s a divisive policy. It violates the conscience of millions of Americans who respect life and oppose abortion. Isn’t that completely contrary to your goal of fostering unity in the nation?

OBAMA: Bishop Tobin, let’s be clear. I said in my inauguration speech that with all the problems our nation is facing we have to overcome narrow ideological positions and move beyond childish behaviors.

TOBIN: But, Mr. President, providing tax money to support abortion – isn’t that in itself an ideological position?

OBAMA: No, not in my view.

TOBIN: But do you consider the heartfelt convictions of pro-lifers to be “childish behaviors?”

OBAMA: Well, not exactly, but let’s move on . . .

TOBIN: Is it safe to assume that you consider the use of tax dollars to pay for abortions overseas to be good foreign policy?

OBAMA: I believe that people overseas should have the same rights we Americans have – the right to kill their children and use abortion as a form of birth control.

TOBIN: But shouldn’t we be using foreign aid for more positive reasons – for example, to provide food, clothing, shelter and medicine to impoverished children?

OBAMA: Bishop, obviously you’re missing the point. If you control the population and eliminate the children, you don’t have to worry about giving them food, clothing, shelter and medicine now do you?

TOBIN: Mr. President, during the campaign you said that you wanted to reduce the number of abortions. And yet now you’re providing American tax dollars to encourage abortions overseas. Isn’t that a contradiction?

OBAMA Let me be clear. During the campaign, I was talking about American babies. People in other countries have to make their own decisions about killing their children, and if that’s what they want to do, I’m willing to help them. But let’s move on . . .

TOBIN: Sir, you’ve taken a very strong stance against the use of torture, a decision that’s been widely applauded. But at the same time, some scientific studies have shown that the procedures used in abortion cause terrible pain and suffering for the unborn child. Isn’t that a form of torture too?

OBAMA: Um . . . let me get back to you on that.

TOBIN: Mr. President, there’s a very good chance that during your term in office you’ll have the opportunity to appoint new justices to the Supreme Court. When that opportunity comes, will you use the support of abortion as a litmus test for their appointment?

OBAMA: I don’t believe in litmus tests for court appointments. But you can rest assured that no one who respects the right to life for unborn children will get anywhere near the Supreme Court.

TOBIN: Mr. President, don’t you see the contradiction in what you just said?

OBAMA: No I don’t, but please . . . can’t we just move on?

TOBIN: Alright, then let’s get to the heart of the question. Mr. President, when does life begin?

OBAMA: That question, Bishop, is way above my pay grade.

TOBIN: Mr. President, you have a consistent record of supporting abortion, and you’ve been called the most pro-abortion president ever. In light of your radical pro-abortion stance, can you and your administration give any hope at all to pro-life Americans?

OBAMA: To quote my favorite campaign slogan, “Yes we can.”

TOBIN: Can you be more specific?

OBAMA: No I can’t. But, Bishop Tobin I see that the clock is ticking away and our time is up. Unfortunately we’ll have to wrap-up our interview.

TOBIN: Thank you for your time Mr. President, and happy Presidents Day.

OBAMA: Thank-you, Bishop Tobin. And please extend my appreciation to all my friends in Rhode Island who voted for me.

Catch his follow up piece: Jesus Wasn’t Always Nice.

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  1. Jacob says:

    I am guessing from the fact His Excellency didn’t have Mr. Obama stammering over every answer that His Excellency allowed TotUS to attend the interview with Mr. Obama? ;)

  2. Cathguy says:

    Well written piece of satire… and to the point.

    This president is a disaster for all pro-life Catholics.

  3. cthemfly25 says:

    What a great device for communicating the many levels of Obama’s political war against life–covering the tax support for abortion, Supreme Court appointments and Obama’s ideology. However, I was much surprised by the absence of the teleprompter :).

  4. Anne Gomes says:

    President Obama is starting me of King Herod. Herod looked like a disaster to the Jews at the time, but God used even Herod for His purposes. We need to pray, be faithful, not get discouraged and praise God for Faithful Bishops. Then, I think we need to live out our own apostolates. Isn’t that what Bishop Tobin said? AnneG in NC

  5. stgemma0411 says:

    I found his follow up piece to be spot on. I could have summed it up in one sentence, I believe. Namely, “If Jesus was so warm and fuzzy to everyone….why was he crucified?”

  6. Kimberly says:

    I loved it!

  7. Jacque B says:

    God bless Bishop Tobin for speaking up for the Real Jesus. I’m afraid we all have a tendacy to recreate who our Lord is, to make ourselves more comfotable in our own sin.

    I have to remind myself constanly that Truth is Truth and nothing else. We must all pray for the Church and it’s Bishops.

  8. Virgil says:

    What an confused piece of drivel. I’m not sure what the point is of making up a bunch of words and putting them in another man’s mouth. I am sure that Obama’s keen rhetorical talents could produce an eminently more entertaining “interview” with a bishop.

    If Tobin were really wanting to do the Church and Country a service, he would have used Obama’s actual words. Trouble is, that as a pretty solid family man, with a pretty solid Chirstian background (albeit milquetoast UCC), Obama has never actually said anything like what Tobin is pretending.

  9. Ann says:

    Actions speak louder than words. President Obama’s actions are contrary to Catholic teaching and promote the use of tax payer money to support activities that are contrary to Catholic teaching.

    My husband is not pro life, but he is very much against tax money being spent on abortion. He likes to say that if someone wishes to kill their children, they should have to do it on their own dime.

  10. Trad Tom says:

    Virgil obviously misses the point of satire. Bishop Tobin’s writing is excellent, both in his satirical “conversation” and in his follow-up piece explaining how Jesus wasn’t always “nice.” Would that more bishops would speak up in similar ways.

  11. Virgil says:

    True, Jesus wasn’t always nice. And Tobin’s follow-up piece is bit bit fairer to the President. I regret that I had not read it prior to my post.

    My main point is that it is drivel when the media (lefty, righty, and mainstream alike) distract from the real debates by setting up straw men. I compare the President and the Pope: two of the most powerful, intelligent, morally sincere, and misunderstood men around.

    For the Pope, if you only read the lefty press, you would assume he’s some cranky creep trying to roll back history. It’s like last week’s “all condoms all the time” coverage of a single off-the-cuff comment on the plane to Africa.

    For the President, if you only read the right wing echo chamber, you would swear that he’s a baby killer, a terrorist, or something else sinister.

    In fact, Benedict has very nuanced and appealing arguments about a lot of things, including condoms. You just seldom hear the National Catholic Reporter talk about it.

    In fact, Obama has a conscience that leads him to reject abortion as wrong, but does not feel it correct to criminalize it. You just never hear ++Burke acknowledge that.

    We should all pray every day for these two men, Pope and President, because much is expected of them. Both men have a gift in words for the beautiful and the true. I want to hear more of them both.

  12. APM says:


    After reading your post I can only sit and stare at your words in utter confusion. I trust that you are a very sincere and honest person, but your analysis of President Obama is perplexing. You even go so far as to compare him with the Pope?!?

    You credit our president with both intelligence and moral sincerity. A person with both could not look at a practice such as abortion and say both “I really think that this is the killing of a human being,” and, “I don’t want to interfere with that.” In fact, it is worse than that, since he is not just sitting on the sideline saying that he won’t get involved, but he is actively loosening the few restrictions that do exist, and using our tax dollars to fund a practice that you claim he fully believes is the killing of a human being. He is either incredibly illogical, or morally vapid.

    The same goes for his stance on cloning. He deceives with his false moral high road against “reproductive cloning”, while providing the federal dollars to promote the factory production of human beings for slaughter and the harvesting of their parts. [Here I would invite you to do your own research, and see that his statement about “reproductive cloning” means only that he is against allowing any of the manufactured embryos to live, and not that he is actually against the manufacture of the embryos themselves].

    In short, this president is pushing an agenda which is anti-life in the extreme, and I am confused by the desire to paint him as a “solid family man with a pretty solid christian background”, and to call to task a Bishop who is actually standing up against that agenda.

  13. Virgil says:

    Thanks, APM, for the comments. Please don’t be confused by my post. My basic point is simple…

    Let the men (Obama and Benedict) speak for themselves.

    I disagree with Obama on the criminalization of abortion, and on public funding of the criminals. But I will not call him names, and I will not put words in his mouth. He must explain himself, and mayt also explain the opinions of the many (majority?) of the American people who agree with him. Silencing him or others does not help us to understand.

    I happen to agree with Benedict on almost everything, maybe even everything. It frustrates me when the media put words in his mouth which, frankly, I don’t agree with. Within the last week, I have read news reports claiming that the Pope is behind holocaust denial, homophobia, and the formation of the PDL as a new political party in Italy. None of these is true.

    Let Obama and Benedict speak for themselves.

    Don’t silence either voice.

  14. BobP says:

    Let’s at least look at the bright side.

    At least Obama wants to end the deduction of charitable contributions. That means you can’t deduct for donating to pro-death organizations like Family Planning.

  15. Mario Mirarchi says:

    The follow-up piece should be required reading for Ambassador Melady.

  16. Greg Smisek says:

    I don’t share Virgil’s high opinion of Mr. Obama, but at the same time I think it is beneath the dignity of a Successor of the Apostles to use this particular rhetorical device, namely, a fictional dialogue, in which the U.S. President is treated as a straw man or satirical whipping boy.

    While the dialogue does represent the substance of the matter, Mr. Obama would never have said many of those things, such as admitting that the right to abortion is “the right to kill their children.” And since the dialogue rings hollow, it leaves the reader wondering what is fictional and what is real. I’m happy to see a bishop forcefully address all these matters, but it seems to me that there are plenty of factual quotations and deeds that he could have addressed directly, instead of inventing a fictional scenario.

    I think His Excellency’s follow-up column was excellent.

  17. Sharon says:

    it is beneath the dignity of a Successor of the Apostles to use this particular rhetorical device, namely, a fictional dialogue, in which the U.S. President is treated as a straw man or satirical whipping boy.

    Greg, I agree with you.

    I disagree with Obama on the criminalization of abortion, and on public funding of the criminals. But I will not call him names, and I will not put words in his mouth. He must explain himself, and mayt also explain the opinions of the many (majority?) of the American people who agree with him.

    Virgil I agree.

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