While President Obama sat next to him
During presidential election years, New York’s cardinal archbishop invites both candidates to trade jokes at the Al Smith Dinner, a charity event named for a former Democratic governor of New York who was the first Catholic candidate for president.
Given the Obama administration’s order that Catholic employers pay for things that violate their church’s teaching, many wondered whether Cardinal Dolan would invite the president. But he did—and he sat behind the podium with Obama and Romney on either side of him.
Most of the press accounts of this dinner quote some funny jokes by Romney and Obama: Romney said he and his wife, Ann, feel comfortable at white-tie dinners because that’s how they dress around the house, Obama made fun of his lackluster performance in the first debate.
But the media left out something more important: A couple of Romney’s jests actually were sharp criticisms of Obama’s attack on the Catholic Church. And Cardinal Dolan, in his closing comments, emphasized the importance of protecting the unborn, religious freedom, and the rights of conscience. In the face of the Obama mandate, he said that a church is not defined only by what happens within its walls on Sundays. Powerful words spoken to the world’s most powerful man.
Among Romney’s jokes, this wasn’t his funniest, but it was maybe the most important thing he said:
“The president has found a way to take the sting out of the Obamacare mandates for the Church. From now on they’re going to be in Latin.”
Romney also said, “in the spirit of Sesame Street, tonight is brought to you by the letter O and the number $16 trillion.” And he predicted that the media would skew the coverage, saying tomorrow’s headlines about the dinner would read: “Obama Embraced by Catholics, Romney Dines With Rich People.”
The governor’s 10 minutes at the podium were genuinely funny. Watch it here.