How appropriate it was that President Obama delivered his farewell address from Chicago, the crime capital of America ... for it is indeed his crime against a humble group of nuns that will be forever etched in many people's memory.
I was unable to watch President Obama's Farewell Address last Tuesday night delivered appropriately in the crime capital of the country, Chicago, Illinois. That didn't break my heart because I found myself indifferent to the spectacle for a number of reasons.
I do think it is fitting that presidents give farewell messages. But given the venue and setting President Obama had chosen, it was fairly easy to surmise that this would be a final political rally/national lecture, which admittedly I had little desire to endure. Though I think this president has great stage presence, I have felt for quite some time that he has been oversold as an orator and worse still, he has given almost the exact same speech for nearly eight years. So for my own sake, and for the sake of my Obama-loving friends who didn't want to hear my snark as they wept their final goodbyes, I skipped the speech.
Obviously I've offered many criticisms of the Obama administration the last eight years that I have no desire to rehash. Future generations will have a better grasp on how to regard the success or failure of his time in office, and so I won't bore you with my guesses as to what they will conclude. I will simply recount the one lasting legacy of Barack Obama that will always be emblazoned in my memory. When I think of him, I will think of this. When I reflect on his promised era of hope and change, I will be drawn to this image.
Despite your personal feelings on his coolness, his character, his charisma, or his competence, Barack Obama will forever be the president who worked diligently to put the gun of government to the heads of the Little Sisters of the Poor, demanding that they either pay to destroy children in the womb or be crushed.
You can't candy-coat that. You can't hide it. You can't pretend it wasn't what it was. For 177 years, the Little Sisters of the Poor has been a large Roman Catholic religious ministry that takes vows of chastity, poverty, obedience, and hospitality. Serving the Kingdom of God on earth in over 30 countries, they have one stated mission: to care for impoverished people as they near the end of their lives. As Ashley McGuire describes, “The only fight they go looking for is to make the last days of some very downtrodden people brighter and happier, to send as many people into the next life surrounded by love, not garbage.”
Barack Obama knew that, personally. And regardless, he instructed his administration to rewrite executive regulations nine separate times to ensure these nuns be forced to either violate their conscience by helping distribute abortifacients, or be fined $70 million a year and out of existence. Their beliefs, their ministry, their cause, and even the incredible work that they do was secondary to President Barack Obama's devotion to funding and expanding the destruction of infants with tax dollars.
The President's own lawyers admitted in court that there were compromises available that would have met their objectives while sparing the Sisters' consciences. But President Obama refused. Using the coercive power of the state to compel nuns to pay for abortion drugs became an issue of pride for this small man.
His obsession was so out of touch that the Supreme Court, divided as it is, issued a unanimous ruling telling Obama that he must find another way. When Ruth Bader Ginsburg joins hands with Clarence Thomas to rebuke your fixation with forcing nuns to violate their consciences, you have reached the pinnacle of ideological extremism.
After 22 years of torture in a Cuban prison for his refusal to sign a government document supporting Fidel Castro, Armando Valladares was honored by Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel. In his speech, he said of the Little Sisters of the Poor, “They know what my body knows after 22 years of cruel torture: that if they sign the form…they will be violating their conscience and would commit spiritual suicide. If they did this they would forfeit the true and only wealth they have in abandoning the castle of their conscience.”
That President Obama failed to ever respect that eternal truth is both pitiful and shameful. And it's why I'm beyond elated to bid him a permanent farewell.
Peter Heck (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a speaker, author and teacher who hosts a weekly radio broadcast on WIBC (93.1 FM) in Indianapolis, Indiana. This column originally appeared on his website.
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