Political Animal


February 02, 2012 2:03 PM Obama’s Prayer

By Ed Kilgore

So President Obama spoke at this morning’s National Prayer Breakfast, and it’s not just conservative gabbers who are mocking him for allegedly claiming direct divine sanction for his policy proposals. Here’s Politico’s stupid headline: “Obama: Jesus Would Tax the Rich.”

I personally have little doubt that if Jesus of Nazareth had been in charge of determining how much various people were rendering unto Caesar, he would not have been particularly interested in the pleas of job creators that they need to engorge themselves with riches for the common good. And I’m certainly not alone. For example, the current and past teachings of the Roman Catholic Church (you know, the church that Obama is supposedly persecuting because he does not adequately accept the view that it’s all right to pocket government subsidies for health coverage while denying preventive services for contraceptives that most Catholics and non-Catholics alike utilize) emphatically embrace public policies aimed at economic fairness and social justice.

But matter of fact, Obama did not claim Jesus as co-author of his policies: He merely suggested that they are influenced by the values taught by Jesus, as he understands them. He went far out of his way to try to make that clear, saying: “Our goal should not be to declare our policies as biblical. It is God who is infallible, not us.”

This has been a central theme of virtually every major utterance by Barack Obama on the subject of religion and politics, most notably in his famous 2009 commencement address at Notre Dame: a warning against the arrogance of those who presume to speak for the Almighty in pursuit of their highly secular political agendas. It’s an idea that used to be called “the fear of God,” though it is almost entirely lacking among the noisy ranks of Christian Right leaders.

It’s hardly surprising that these folks are projecting their own usurpation of religion onto the president. Nor, sadly, is it surprising that presumably neutral observers like the headline writers at Politico don’t get it at all.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • Gummitch on February 02, 2012 2:12 PM:

    Unfortunately, it's not possible for me to post a comment at Politico without registering with them, and I have no desire to give them even that bit of satisfaction.

    Dear Politico, please give yourselves a collective snap kick to the nuts. Thank you.

  • Pal2008 on February 02, 2012 2:17 PM:


  • stormskies on February 02, 2012 2:18 PM:

    Jim Vanderhei, publisher of Politico, strkies again in his role as a corporate pimp for the Repiglican party ...

    "Dear Politico, please give yourselves a collective snap kick to the nuts. Thank you."

    and then administer a colonic to flush out the evil toxin in your souls ..........

  • stevio on February 02, 2012 2:19 PM:

    Politico is a right-winged rag. Why do you guys keep pretending differently. They are about as "fair and balanced" as Fox Noise. Minga...

  • Robert on February 02, 2012 2:26 PM:

    Well we know one thing for certain: Unlike current version of Romney, Jesus did not say, and would have never condoned, a statement of unconcern with the poor because they can get foodstamps!

    I think all the feigned outrage at Obama's statements, or more precisely the grossly false characterizations of his statements, that erupts virtually every day on the right is intended to camouflage for independents the absolutely outrageous stupidly extreme stuff being spouted daily by the Rethug Presidential wannabees to their drooling base.

  • CK MacLeod on February 02, 2012 2:27 PM:

    Goes well with Charles Pierce's regular "Stuff in Politico That Makes Me Want to Guzzle Antifreeze" feature, though today it was focused on a puff-piece on FoxNews.

    Otherwise, the contradiction between Christian morality and capitalist necessity didn't just start with this campaign season. It's just that in America the overcompensation by Christianists for the deeply un-Christian basis of their secular religion - free market utilitarianism, which converts human beings into commodities - seems to explore new horizons in schizophrenia every day.

  • max on February 02, 2012 2:30 PM:

    Why give Politico any additional attention? It's just another worthless propaganda source.

  • kevo on February 02, 2012 2:31 PM:

    Just another example of creating doubt and uncertainty among the lesser-thinkers who may translate their hatred of President Obama through such wordsmithing into a vote for the Republican candidate in November!

    You ain't fooling nobody, Politico, cept the most maleable among us! -Kevo

  • schtick on February 02, 2012 3:19 PM:

    I personally think Obama should follow the teachings of Christ and kick the money-changers out.

  • Josef K on February 02, 2012 3:35 PM:

    The Almighty is either having a good laugh at all this, or just doesn't care Its being used to further the worst instincts in us all.

    Either way, this is about as sad as it gets.

  • jjm on February 02, 2012 3:46 PM:

    No one here is mentioning C Street and The Fellowship, whose psychotic founder, Norwegian immigrant Avram Vereide, had a dream where Jesus came to him and told him that everyone had got him all wrong. That he wasn't on the side of the poor, but of the rich and powerful. Dictators were superior to democratically elected leaders. He admired Hitler, for example, Etc.)

    See Jeff Sharlett's eye-opening book. But that isn't all. The Fellowship was the original founder of the Prayer Breakfast and may still be.

    Dozens of our Senators belong to the Fellowship, have resided at its collective house on C Street (among the members were Ensign, Coburn, De Mint, Stupak and many others) which has not only sponsored dictators but has done a good job of convincing some of them in Africa, in Uganda, to sponsor 'kill the gays' legislation. This twisted world view has influenced and shaped conservative politics since Roosevelt's day (Vereide worked absolutely tirelessly against FDR and spent a lot of time with corporate heads to convince them that FDR was wrong and that he was right.)

  • scott_m on February 02, 2012 3:54 PM:

    Obama needs to read his Bible, where it clearly says...

    "Blessed are the very poor, for they get Medicaid and food stamps."

    "Blessed are the merely poor, for those lucky duckies pay no federal income tax."

  • zeitgeist on February 02, 2012 4:01 PM:

    i know one sure-fire way Obama could avoid his comments at the prayer breakfast being misconstrued and misrepresented.

    stop going to (and giving credence to) the damned prayer breakfast.

    ob captcha comment: "came goatner" -- didn't we used to have a running joke about that on Carpetbagger?

  • KenS on February 02, 2012 4:08 PM:

    I'm pretty sure Jesus thought the rich should pay more:

    He sat down opposite the treasury, and watched the crowd putting money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which are worth a penny. Then he called his disciples and said to them, "Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on." (Mark 12:41-44)

  • emjayay on February 02, 2012 4:08 PM:

    Maybe Obama should have quoted some Roman Catholic encyclicals or statements from US Bishops about peace and social justice while he was at it. Between Santorum and the current birth control benefits in health insurance you'ld think that was the only topic the Pope cared about. OK, maybe it's true for THIS Pope.

  • dp on February 02, 2012 4:37 PM:

    Politico reminds me of Gene Wilder's line from Blazing Saddles: "These are the simple folk, the common clay of the West. You know, morons."

  • Mark on February 02, 2012 4:49 PM:

    Politico has just gone down hill in an embarassing way since the President took office.

  • Texas Aggie on February 02, 2012 4:58 PM:

    "presumably neutral observers like the headline writers at Politico donít get it at all."

    Where did the idea that Politico was a neutral observer come from? After reading them, I get the same feeling that I get from watching Fox TV.

  • Alli on February 02, 2012 5:06 PM:

    2SCHTICK: That's for voters to do.

  • Daniel Kim on February 02, 2012 5:07 PM:

    Jesus wouldn't have taxed them, never having been part of the government. He would have told them to sell everything they had, and then given the proceeds to the poor, or else risk eternity in Hell.
    . . . totally voluntary, you see?

  • Homer on February 02, 2012 5:45 PM:

    This from a group of people (conservatives)who loved that the last president was born again and stated that he never second-guessed his decisions because God was guiding his every move.

  • Rudy Gonzales on February 03, 2012 12:36 AM:

    As an Independent, I watch closely the in-actions of this current 112th Congress and the leadership failures of the House to converse or compromise and limit any contributions of any favor ability towards the president. After listening to the debates, watching the peeling away of contenders and traipsing all around the net, reading newspapers and magazines, I'm still wanting a Colin Powell to enter and win the nomination. America was founded on separation of Church and state with freedoms the rest of the world envy. When people hide behind the "Conservative" mantra protesting taxes which pay for a multitude of programs they deem unnecessary, in-effective or not allowed by the constitution, then these same individuals then turn around and want to do away with those Social programs, while candidates say "I'm not concerned about the very poor", speaks loudly to their character. Romney's 13.7% effective taxes on his $21.7 million in 2010, shows the glaring inequity in taxation breaks for the super-rich. An even worse situation is the unbalanced and unequal tax code allowing Social Security taxes up to an annual wage maximum ($106,800 in 2010) for Social Security and a tax of 1.45% of all wages for Medicare. That is wage maximum and excludes all other sources of income. The average wage earner will not make more than that. There is no double taxation as is being taunted, since the Supreme Court deemed Corporate personhood, the status conferred upon corporations under the law, which allows corporations to have rights and responsibilities similar to those of a natural person. Corporations pay a tax then pass dividends onto stockholders where it should be taxed as normal income to that individual without exclusions or limitations at all.