Barack Obama's Black Smoke

Barack Obama's Black Smoke
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We know from his autobiography that President Barack Obama likes to think of himself as audacious, but this takes the cake.

On the morning of Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio's ascension to the papacy, Obama told George Stephanopoulos that he thought an American pope would govern just fine and refused to believe that such a pope might listen to him. "I don't know if you've checked lately," he laughed, "but the conference of Catholic bishops here in the United States don't seem to be takin' orders from me."

We can leave aside for a moment the President's very bad joke, and consider the brazen, self-absorbed attempt to insinuate that "Gee, wouldn't everything be better off if the Bishops went my way?" It called to mind his rather juvenile performance late last year in negotiations to avert the so-called fiscal cliff when he told Speaker John Boehner, I'm the President and "you get nothing."

That Obama flippantly alluded to a debate still riling his Administration bares quite clear a dangerous puerility the likes of only Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi could match with her infamous dismissal of "this conscience thing," as if conscience protections were some laughing matter.

Wednesday's lame joke was peculiar in so far as the President can't seem to give orders anyway as far as the Catholic Church is concerned. The United States Ambassadorship to the Holy See is sitting vacant and has been for over 130 days. If the College of Cardinals could manage to assemble in Rome, deliberate, and elect a pope all in a week, why can't President Obama at least offer a name? Habemus papam, sed ubi est nostro legato?

There were some rumblings in January that Congressman Daniel Lipinski's name was being passed around. Good, nominate him. Stephen Schneck? Fine, whatever. Just send someone to the Senate for confirmation. The more Obama dithers on this, the more it seems the United States is diplomatically inept or grossly neglectful of normal relations with the Holy See. And no, sending Vice President Biden to Pope Francis's installation Mass doesn't count.

Obama claims to have studied Ronald Reagan. Had he opened The Reagan Diaries, he might have noticed an entry where his predecessor complained the State Department was too slow in processing his Holy See appointment and suggested that someone ought to "get off his ass" and get this done. Soon after, William A. Wilson was confirmed as our first Ambassador to the Vatican.

Well, Mr. President...

Nicholas G. Hahn III is the editor of RealClearReligion. Follow him on Twitter @NGHahn3.

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