How Meeting the Pope Hurts Obama’s Income Inequality Campaign

popeEarlier this week, President Obama met with Pope Francis for the first time at the Vatican. The historical meeting garnished a lot of press, with many of the news headlines describing a kinship between the two men, specifically in the area of one of the president’s favorite campaign topics: Income inequality.

ABC’s Jonathan Karl reported that, “they have clearly formed a bond…, especially in seeing fighting poverty as a moral responsibility.”

Good Morning America host, Robin Roberts, said that the president “feels a special bond with the Pontiff.”

NBC’s Chuck Todd spoke of an “ideological comfort level between the two,” while CBS’s Major Garrett told of their “genuine connection.”

While the two men undeniably hold polar opposite positions on issues like abortion and religious freedom, it is indeed true that they have both spoken of the wide wealth discrepancy between the rich and the poor being a form of moral injustice.

The general consensus in the media seems to be that the photo op was good, politically, for President Obama. The feeling is that it helped substantiate the president’s call to action against income inequality by placing it in moral alignment with the words and hopes of the wildly popular and highly admired Pope Francis.

I would argue, however, that their meeting actually draws a deeper contrast between the two. I would argue that it further calls into question the president’s commitment to the cause, and his sincerity in believing that income inequality is actually even a problem.

Pope Francis is as popular as he is, in large part, because his devotion to the plight of the poor is unquestioned. He’s long lived well below his means, choosing a no-frills, simple lifestyle in order to be closer to the people he serves and advocates for. He chose to live in a small suite instead of the papal palace. He rejected the fancy red cape that popes typically wear. He views himself as a bishop and not a king. He named himself in honor of Saint Francis of Assisi, who who was especially concerned with the well-being of the poor.

“He brought to Christianity an idea of poverty against the luxury, pride, vanity of the civil and ecclesiastical powers of the time,” the pope once said of Saint Francis. “He changed history.”

When Pope Francis speaks about the immorality of luxuries and excess in a world with so many in poverty, people believe him because he practices what he preaches.

President Obama is much different.

Let’s set aside for a minute that under President Obama’s leadership, the wealth gap between the rich and non-rich in America has widened significantly (four times faster than under his predecessor). Let’s set aside that under Obama, the percentage of Americans working is at its lowest point in 35 years. Let’s forget that the U.S. poverty level under Obama has broken a 50-year record. Let’s not mention that 47 million Americans (20% of U.S. households) are on food stamps. And let’s certainly not bother to point out that the numbers listed above would seem to put him at direct odds with Pope Francis’ stance on income inequality.

Let’s forget about all of those things for the time being, and just look at the optics of how President Obama has chosen to spend his time in office. He’s elected to live the same lavish lifestyle as his predecessors did during significantly better economic times, burning through millions and millions of dollars on exotic family vacations, White House parties, and fancy state dinners.

Personally, I couldn’t care less about this. I’ve never criticized President Obama for such things. I think it would be petty to do so, especially considering that he’s simply doing as the administrations before him have done. As far as I’m concerned, he can body-surf, play hundreds of rounds of golf, escort his wife along a red carpet as she’s wearing a $12,000 dress, etc. I honestly don’t care.

However, it seems to me that if President Obama wishes to align himself with a man of Pope Francis’ stature, and use that relationship as a way of highlighting the immorality of luxuries and excess, he should be willing to trim at least some of those luxuries and some of that excess from his own lifestyle. Otherwise, why should anyone take him seriously? Why should anyone believe that he stands on some moral high-ground from which to speak on the topic? If it’s a slap in the face of poor people for rich people to flaunt their wealth and live like kings, what on earth has our president being doing?

By no means am I suggesting that President Obama emulate Pope Francis’ lifestyle. That would be completely unrealistic given the position he holds. But if he honestly believes, as the pope does, that income inequality is a moral issue (not purely an economic one), shouldn’t he at least be willing to work on the optics? From a Dead Sleep by John A. Daly

Of course, the other conclusion that can be drawn from how our president conducts himself is that his campaign against income inequality is purely a political tool, and that he simply doesn’t believe in it. If he truly believed in it, after all, wouldn’t he open up his eyes to his own record, recognize that liberal policies are making the problem much worse, and actually do something to fix the problem?

Does anyone think that will ever happen? Me neither. Sometimes a photo op is just a photo op.

Author Bio:

John Daly couldn't have cared less about world events and politics until the horrific 9/11 terrorist attacks changed his perspective. Since then, he's been deeply engaged in the news of the day with a particular interest in how that news is presented. Realizing the importance of the media in a free, democratic society, John has long felt compelled to identify media injustices when he sees them. With a B.S. in Business Administration, and a 16 year background in software and web development, John has found that his real passion is for writing. His first novel, entitled "From a Dead Sleep", is now on sale! He lives in Northern Colorado with his wife and two children. Like John on Facebook. Follow John on Twitter.
Author website: http://www.johndalybooks.com/
  • Tim Ned

    I am searching the foreign policies of President Obama that would justify this special kinship the liberal media portrays him to have with this pope. I don’t believe there is one. Ronald Reagan’s relationship with Pope John Paul is legendary pertaining to the Soviet Union. As was Reagan’s kinship with Margret Thatcher. This is a President that has failed to form that type of kinship with any foreign leader because he has no foreign policy for other leaders to rise up and support. GW2 had Tony Blair and even Jimmy Carter had Anwar El Sadat. These presidents had similar visions with their counterparts.

    Writing this I am thinking about the embarrassing open mic discussion with Dmitry Medvedev. What similarities in foreign policy did this president believe he had in common with Medvedev and Putin?

  • Ron F

    “If he truly believe in it, after all, wouldn’t he open his eyes to his own record,
    recognize that liberal policies are making the problem worse, and actually do
    something to fix the problem?” No. I may disagree with his policies and think he is wrong but I have no reason to believe that he does not think that his policies help. He probably thinks I am wrong. He may think that things would be worse without his policies. He did inherit an economy that was losing something like 800,000 jobs a month. Even George Bush and the Federal Reserve became Keynesians in the height of the downturn.

  • Crapocalypse

    I do wonder sometimes how much all of the vacations that he and his family have taken have cost the taxpayers.
    I remember hearing that he has a net worth of 10 million dollars, and one vacation cost 11 million to the taxpayers. I think that is kinda sad.
    When one thinks about how many families he could feed by going on vacation for the past 2 terms, it makes you wonder how someone who cares so much about the poor and downtrodden could justify taking any vacations at all.

  • Darren Perkins

    To me it’s always been completely obvious that EVERYTHING our current occupant of the oval office does is politically motivated. It’s the only thing in his administration that IS transparent.

    • legal eagle

      So everything all the former occupants of the oval office were not politically motivated?

      • http://johndalybooks.com/ John Daly

        Re-read his comment, then slap yourself in the face for getting another one wrong.

  • Josh

    Agreed. They’re completely different. And not only that, they play to different audiences. Though I’m not religious and typically don’t think much of the Catholic Church, I know many Catholics and many Christians in general who understand what charity means and understand (at least on some issues, IMO) what the moral angle is when approaching this issue. Obama’s not only the polar opposite of the Big P, but his legions of followers are too. They’re the type of people who want to live high on the hog, who think they deserve it, all on someone else’s dime — preferably those greedy greedmonger greedhitlers on Wall Street.

    Maybe I’m far too cynical, but I don’t see photo ops like these making much of a difference. The folks who see through Obama continue to do so. The folks who laud his rhetoric as enlightened gospel will continue to do so.

    “Poor” to the typical Obamabot is not being able to pay the car note and purchase the new Samsung in the same week. “Morality” to these folks is outright stealing wealth. I don’t see the Pope’s crowd approaching the issue the same way.

  • sjangers

    A limousine liberal meets someone truly committed to social justice. President suggests they form a mutual admiration society. Pope Francis can admire the President while he admires himself. Reaction at eleven.

    • http://johndalybooks.com/ John Daly

      lol.

      • sjangers

        An old joke, I’m afraid. But it seemed appropriate to the situation.

      • sjangers

        Hey,John. There’s a poster called Psycho Psid that just went active in the comment section of Bernie’s latest column. Contentious, a bit offensive, no profile. I’m wondering if it might not be your friend IHF. He’s slinging something in a thread with Seattle Sam and George Williams.

        I’m sorry to be contacting you here. Apparently I’m not smart enough to figure out any other way to get in touch with you.

        • http://johndalybooks.com/ John Daly

          Yep. It was him. Thanks.

          • sjangers

            Hi, John. Would you be willing to contact me via e-mail so I can ask a question or two? My address is sjangers at comcast dot net. If you could help, I’ll appreciate it. Thanks.

        • legal eagle

          Anyone else you have a need to rat out today?

          • sjangers

            This isn’t one of those union “stitches for snitches” kind of “warnings”, is it? : ) I just try to keep the forum collegial.

          • legal eagle

            I think you’ve watched too many movies…LOL

          • sjangers

            Old habits die hard. I spent a number of years working with troubled youth. Many of them lived by the code.

  • Brian Fr Langley

    I find it fascinating that so many liberals (with Bible beliefs) point to the Bible and Jesus, as just cause for instituting large State run social programs, (with money confiscated from the wealthy). Jesus was in fact Jewish. He taught and believed in God’s Biblical commandments. Thus many of his parables included the Biblical idea of individual private property rights. (you know, like two of the ten commandments, “thou shall not steal, and thou shall not covet what is your neighbors). His call to feed to the hungry, clothe the naked and visit the prisoner, was a call to personal selflessness, (you know, your conscience), NOT a call to coerce others to do it for you. (just because they are richer). The unhappy truth seems to be, the more Government we have, the less selfless we are. Where we used to emulate selfless leaders, now we merely admire them. In my opinion, that ancient command (taught by both the Torah, and Jesus) to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and all your mind, and your neighbor as your self”, and it’s explicit call to personal selflessness, remains the only viable solution to achieving that so called, “Just society”, we all seem to be pining for.

    • David W. Hunter

      Well put.

    • legal eagle

      While you were writing this were you listening to the old Kinky Friedman song ” They Don’t Make Jews Like Jesus Anymore”? LOL

      • Brian Fr Langley

        Actually his name was pronounced Yeshua. As in, I AM (self existant one) saves. (rescues to safety)

        • legal eagle

          In the Hebrew language Yeshua or Yoshua translates into the English name Joshua not Jesus…..Am I mistaken?

          • Brian Fr Langley

            No, you’re quite correct, his name is not actually Jesus. That name is called a “transliteration”. While not totally sure, scholars (ancient and modern) believed it arose out of the four main languages used in 1st century Judea, Hebrew, Latin, Greek, and Aramaic. Since the Hebrew alphabet had no consonants, and “Y” and “H” can have their sounds reversed, the Latin Church (Rome) used Jesus. But his given name (the one his mother called him) was almost certainly pronounced Yeshua.

          • legal eagle

            Thanks for the insight….

          • Brian Fr Langley

            PS: Nor was his family name “Christ”. (it was likely Ben-Joseph) That is Yeshua Ben-Joseph. “Christ” was a title. It was the greek derivation of Machiach or Moshiach. The literal translations is Yeshua the Meshiach.

          • legal eagle

            As I know little about the subject, thanks for the information…..Where did the “immaculate conception” theory come from?

          • Brian Fr Langley

            The prophet Isaiah prophesied Moshiach would be born from a “Virgin”. The Biblical Gospels teach that Mary conceived after being “overshadowed” by the Most High. Then her betrothed “Joseph” was told by the Most High, (in a dream) his betrothed though pregnant, had remained faithful, so he should not “put her out”, but marry her and adopt the boy as his son. (and name him Yeshua) Both Mary and Joseph traced their lineage to David. That Yeshua (Jesus) had a heriditary claim to the throne of David, was born out by Pontius Pilate (the Roman Governor who executed him) for the crime posted above his head on the tree of execution. (and for which a Roman death penalty was appropiate, as they didn’t tolerate Royal claimants to the Judean throne) “Yeshua,King of the Jews”.

          • legal eagle

            In Jewish teachings I have never heard Jesus referred to as a King but I have read that some Jews considered him a “messiah”..

          • Brian Fr Langley

            What Jew would consider him “Messiah” and not King? From the Torah. “The sceptre shall not depart Judah, nor the rulers staff from between his feet, until Shiloh come. And unto him shall the obediance of the peoples be”.
            Or from the prophet Isaiah. “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the Government shall be on his shoulder, and his name shall be called, wonderful, counsellor, Almighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his Government and of peace there shall be no end, UPON THE THRONE OF DAVID AND UPON HIS KINGDOM, to establish it, and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from henceforth even forever”.
            As I said, the crime for which Pontius Pilate (the Roman) executed him for, (and the crime posted above his head as he hung dying) was for his hereditary Davidian lineage. The sign the Roman hung over his head says it all. “Yeshua, King of the Jews”.
            What Jew would consider him Messiah, and not King?

          • legal eagle

            Jews do not consider Jesus to be anything but a religious symbol for non believers…This is what I was taught in Hebrew school and is still taught today to children of the Jewish faith…Jews do not acknowledge that there has ever been a Messiah and they don’t recognize the existence of a “son of god”.

          • Brian Fr Langley

            I wasn’t suggesting anything different? You said , but had never heard (I assumed from the Jews you previously mentioned) him referenced as a King. That was all I was answering.

          • legal eagle

            Gotcha……..thanks

          • Brian Fr Langley

            Anytime, hope some of the info was of interest?

          • legal eagle

            Always interesting to learn something new….

          • Ron F

            I thought the immaculate conception was a Catholic doctrine that Mary was born without original sin, not the virgin birth, but I could be wrong.

          • Brian Fr Langley

            No you’re not wrong. Roman Catholic’s do have a different doctrine as regards Mary, (whom they claim was also born without sin, and which doctrine is called “immaculate conception”) but I presumed (because he is Jewish) his question had to do with the more widely known (and discussed) idea of the virgin birth of Jesus.

  • Jeff Webb

    I’m with you on the optics.

    It’s annoying enough that liberals project their corrupt crony backscratching onto the right, but it’s beneath contempt when they demonize all things conservative while indulging in those things to the fullest.

    What’s really sad is most people either don’t notice or don’t care that a guy living in the height of luxury practically for free constantly chastises people who pay for their own luxury.

    • http://johndalybooks.com/ John Daly

      Well said.

    • legal eagle

      If Obama does it it’s BAD……new day, same old song.

      • Jeff Webb

        >>new day, same old song<<

        Evidenced by your typical non-response. What, still can't defend your spoiled little president, sweetheart?

        • legal eagle

          What’s the charge? Being a politician?

          • Jeff Webb

            Once again, either read the comments or quit acting as if you didn’t, please.

          • legal eagle

            Aye Aye mi Capitan….LOL

    • legal eagle

      Spoken like a true man of the people…..Attack Obama 24/7…

      • http://johndalybooks.com/ John Daly

        Spoken like a true DNC drone… Protect Obama 24/7 …