On Wednesday, the president’s schedule included calls with two different clergy groups, intended to enlist them to sell ObamaCare to their “flocks.” The first call was with 1,000 rabbis from across the country:
In a morning conference call with about 1000 rabbis from across the nation, Obama asked for aid: “I am going to need your help in accomplishing necessary reform,” the president told the group, according to Rabbi Jack Moline, who tweeted his way through the phoner.
“We are God’s partners in matters of life and death,” Obama went on to say, according to Moline’s real-time stream. The president concluded by wishing the rabbis a “Shanah Tovah (Happy Jewish New Year).”
The 15-minute morning briefing was sponsored by the Religion Action Center of Reform Judaism, and included rabbis of all persuasions. Although the RAC hosts the call each year, participants had never before heard from a sitting president.
Rabbi Moline must have caught heat from his Twitter comments because later in the day Moline deleted the feed, saying that it was a “huge mistake.”
The second call was to 140,000 clergy of all faiths:
“I know there’s been a lot of misinformation in this debate and there are some folks out there who are frankly bearing false witness,” he said.
Obama called the notion that his proposed changes to the health care system would lead to so-called death panels “just an extraordinary lie,” said the idea that they would require federal funding for abortions or provide insurance for illegal aliens was not true and told callers the plan would not amount to a government takeover of health care or to cutting Medicare benefits for the elderly.
The president framed the debate as a battle between hope and fear, a not-so-subtle attempt to convince the clergy that he was leading the forces of good against his evil opponents.
“These are all fabrications that have been put out there in order to discourage people from meeting what I consider to be a core ethical and moral obligation and that is that we look out for one another,” he said. “That I am my brother’s keeper, I am my sister’s keeper and in the wealthiest nation on Earth right now, we are neglecting to live up to that call.”
The president called on religious leaders to “knock on doors” and “speak the truth” to help him spread the good word about health care reform.
At the end, Obama did not take any questions, and, with a simple “bye bye,” ended the call.
Gary Bauer, chairman of the Campaign for Working Families, was not happy about the president’s use of God to sell his program:
But now, as his scheme to take over health care unravels by the day, President Obama is attempting to exploit Jesus to justify more big government. As I recall, government was not very kind to Jesus. And Jesus never suggested that government should be a substitute for individual Christian charity. Helping our neighbors and the disadvantaged is an individual charge — not a call for more bureaucracy.