Obama’s Faith Inclusiveness Versus Dubya’s “Deity”

June 9, 2009

There are a lot of ways that President Obama is an improvement over his predecessor, but one pretty obvious measure is how he uses references to faith in his speeches (may be a bit of a silly preoccupation for Eamon Javers at Drudgico here, but a point is a point, as they say)…

As president, Barack Obama has mentioned Jesus Christ in a number of high-profile public speeches — something his predecessor George W. Bush rarely did in such settings, even though Bush’s Christian faith was at the core of his political identity.

(As I and others have pointed out, Dubya actions in no way reflected someone who “talked the talk” when it comes to religion. However, this is an old fight, and he’s out of public life at long last, so I won’t rehash it for the moment.)

Javers continues…

In his speech Thursday in Cairo, Obama told the crowd that he is a Christian and mentioned the Islamic story of Isra, in which Moses, Jesus and Mohammed joined in prayer.

At the University of Notre Dame on May 17, Obama talked about the good works he’d seen done by Christian community groups in Chicago. “I found myself drawn — not just to work with the church but to be in the church,” Obama said. “It was through this service that I was brought to Christ.”

And a month before that, Obama mentioned Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount at Georgetown University to make the case for his economic policies. Obama retold the story of two men, one who built his house on a pile of sand and the other who built his on a rock: “We cannot rebuild this economy on the same pile of sand,” Obama said. “We must build our house upon a rock.”

Regardless of what you think of Obama and his governance so far, you have to admit that such references are the type you would expect from someone accomplished in the literary world and who has the ability to influence opinion as Obama does; those who ridicule him claim that he is beholden to the teleprompter and almost grudgingly acknowledge his spoken gifts, but I don’t think a lot of people realize that Obama is a terrific writer also (I’m currently reading, “The Audacity Of Hope,” by the way).

Now let’s compare that with Commander Codpiece, who, in his religious references, said that God told him He wanted Dubya to be president here, that God told him to invade Iraq here, and, in an anecdote at least as bizarre as the first two, told former French president Jacques Chirac here that the Biblical creatures Gog and Magog (from the Book of Revelation, noting an Old Testament prophecy) were at work in the Middle East and must be defeated.

(Cue the “X Files” theme music here, boys and girls…)

As long as I’m talking about our current president, though, I should note also that I, like more than a few other people, would like to see him move a bit more on repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” as noted here, but part of the reason for the foot-dragging, as Time reporter Mark Thompson tells us, is as follows…

…the trouble is that the law was passed by Congress and, if Obama decided to go around the legislature, he would face political blowback. The current law allows gays to serve, so long as they keep their sexual orientation secret. The legislation means that a majority of the 535 members of Congress is going to have to vote to undo the ban — and that will have its political fallout. Obama is plainly taking his cue from the 1993 fiasco, which hurt Clinton’s relationship with conservative members of Congress, both Democratic and Republican, and with many in uniform.

Rightly or wrongly, I think that’s a pretty thorough analysis. And though it’s cold comfort I realize, ask yourself if repealing DADT would even be on the agenda for a (shudder) President McCain and Vice President Just Plan Folks Sarah Palin, Dontcha Know?

Also, in matters more secular than what I noted earlier, I should point out that Obama is also distinctly different from his predecessor in that he has thus far been more deferential to Congress in recognition of our constitutional separation of powers (well, usually anyway, but sometimes…).

Update: Would it be too trite to say that Gaffney “doesn’t have a prayer” here?

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