The Corner

Tone-Deafness at Notre Dame

I recommend George Weigel’s fascinating report on the latest in a series of scandals since Fr. John Jenkins became president of Notre Dame (The Vagina Monologues, Obama’s commencement honors, the death of a student filming the football team in high winds, the suicide of a Saint Mary’s student after she accused a football player of sexual assault, etc.). George’s essay is a wonderful piece of writing and analysis.

The latest scandal revolves around a now-resigned trustee, Roxanne Martino (who had given many donations to EMILY’s List and another virulently pro-abortion group), and the absolute tone-deafness of the school’s administrators and board — led by former Qwest chairman Richard Notebaert — to the outrage and concern expressed by many alumni.

Is being tone-deaf on abortion a job requirement for a leadership role in South Bend? Seems so. In this case, for example, Chairman Notebaert defended Mrs. Martino’s donations with statements of Weineresque credibility. Of course, it doesn’t help when the school’s own P.R. person, Dennis Brown, when asked about the embarrassment, declared to the Chicago Tribune that the selection process would not change going forward. That’s public relations?

It may be that there’s a reason this crew is tone-deaf on abortion: The school has long had a cozy relationship with pro-choice Democratic pols. In 2004 Notebaert donated $500 to the campaign of Colorado congresswoman Diana DeGette, co-chairman of the House Pro-Choice Caucus. He did that while serving on ND’s board (he was elected its chairman in 2007, and has served on the board since 1997). In fairness, Notebaert’s contributions go mostly to Republicans. But an opensecrets.org search of Notebaert’s political donations over the years shows a fair number to pro-abortion Democrats, including Bob Kerrey, Bill Bradley, Ken Salazar, Mark Udall, John Dingell, Evan Bayh, Bobby Rush, and others. I wonder how many other Golden Dome board members have the same kind of record (I began checking and, yes, others do). It’s a good bet they rationalize sending campaign dollars to pro-abortion politicians because it benefits their business (“I had to, she represents the district where my company is located”). But whatever the excuse, like Ms. Martino, Mr. Notebaert and others on the ND board have shown they aren’t shy about writing checks to help organizations or elect people that are unabashed in their opposition to Catholic teaching on this most fundamental issue of human rights and dignity.

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