I'm sure it's been observed elsewhere that Mary Ann Glendon's decision against trying to rebut the pro-abortion position of President Obama and the anti-anti-abortion position of personally-opposed Catholics while giving a five-minute acceptance speech looks deucedly wise in retrospect.
Not that the President's commencement address was unanswerable; far from it. But it was well written, and (I suppose) well delivered, and it struck a note that sounded sweet to the ear.
Had Professor Glendon somehow failed to answer it -- either by sticking to her own speech as written and leaving his sophistries unchallenged, or by offering an impromptu answer that wasn't both complete and powerful, as spoken and as compared with his speech afterward in transcript -- then she herself would have been dragooned into the service of excusing the enormity of his policies.
She would have been praised, of course, to make the praise of the President that much greater. It would have been said, "See? Even the smartest pro-life Catholics cannot overcome the wisdom, the moderation, the reasonableness of our President."
In short, the rest of us would be exactly where we are today, and she would be diminished.
Now, had she somehow not failed to answer President Obama, then the media and the anti-anti-abortion Catholics would have set upon her without pity. She would have been condemned for small-mindedness and bitterness at a moment that, literally, called for "open hearts" and "fair-minded words." (And actually, even apart from what the President said, an acceptance speech at a commencement really isn't a suitable occasion to debate the commencement speaker; this point was made by Professor Glendon when she declined the Laetare Medal.)
In short, the rest of us would be exactly where we are today, and she would have been given a lot of misdirected grief.