Lifesite Commentary: Saruman at Notre Dame

Towards the middle of his May 17th commencement address at Notre Dame, President Barack Obama asked the following questions: Is it possible for us to join hands in common effort? As citizens of a vibrant and varied democracy, how do we engage in vigorous debate? How does each of us remain firm in our principles, and fight for what we consider right, without demonizing those with just as strongly held convictions on the other side? Essential and vital questions, these, and the concise and straightforward manner with which he proposed them reveals Obama’s rhetorical brilliance. But Obama did more than propose thought-provoking questions to his Catholic audience; he provided definite answers to these, at least for those in the audience not entirely spellbound. Obama’s answers, along with the philosophical and theological principles they presuppose, were deftly hidden behind his rhetorically honed, magical words; and when they are exposed to the light, they reveal a different incantation than the one that appeared upon the exquisitely polished linguistic surface.