Obama’s papal audience
VATICAN CITY — President Barack Obama was once the biggest superstar on the international stage. On Thursday, he headed here to benefit from the popularity of his replacement: Pope Francis.
The 50-minute meeting was a rare chance for Obama to associate himself with a world leader whose cool factor far outweighs his own, and it comes at a critical time in his presidency. The White House is still recovering from what aides call a “lost year,” and the president’s job approval ratings at home are dipping to new lows.
Obama planned to use the closely watched meeting to show how aligned he is with the pope on income inequality, poverty and immigration — issues important to both the White House and Democrats as they try to paint Republicans as insensitive to the needs of Americans before the upcoming midterms.
“He needs the Francis bump,” said Chad Pecknold, a theology professor at The Catholic University of America.
White House aides — starting at the top with chief of staff Denis McDonough, who is an observant Catholic — speak excitedly about that connection to the pope. And that’s the sense among their outside allies as well. Francis is a huge help in talking about income inequality, they feel, both because he elevates the issue and depoliticizes it, putting the Democrats onto higher moral ground.
This reminded me of the argument in The Road to Freedom: How to Win the Fight for Free Enterprise by Arthur C. Brooks. We must learn to present arguments in such a way that those with patently (or at least arguably) errant positions cannot merely appeal to emotion and, thereby, claim the “moral high ground” from those who tend to cite statics, which sound cold.
Just thinking out loud.
From Charles Krauthammer on FNC (Andrew Napolitano heard to laugh in the background at the same time I did):