…some of the arguments over the Notre Dame controversy are raising a
point in defense of the president that raises a different question.
I’ve seen it and heard it in several commentaries that defend Notre Dame’s invitation to President Obama. Here it is in RealClearPolitics. Let’s isolate it from that commencement address issue for a moment and consider it on its merits:
The office of the president has meaning and importance
that transcend the views of its current occupant. Though elected by a
part of America, the president becomes a symbol of its whole. The
respect we accord him does not imply agreement or endorsement. It
reflects our appreciation for constitutional processes. So a
presidential visit is always an honor. The televised arrival of Air
Force One, the motorcade, the playing of “Hail to the Chief,” the
audience standing as the president enters — all these express a proper
respect for democratic legitimacy.
If you cannot honor the man, then honor the office. If you cannot
honor the office, then one more democratic bond has been severed.
Question is, where was this argument…and this honor…when President
Bush was in the office? Is this respect for the office of the
presidency relative to who may be holding it at the moment?