The president is now portraying himself as a great expert on Judaism, but we know–as I wrote some years ago–that this is false. He has demonstrated considerable misunderstanding of Judaism, including the significance of our holiest day, Yom Kippur.
But that does not stop him from lecturing twenty-odd rabbis on Judaism, nor claiming that no other president before him has understood it as well as he does. So he tells the Jews what they really believe, and therefore what they should do.
In the coverage of his alleged role in personally selecting the targets of Hellfire missiles in the Middle East, it was claimed that he arrived at this remarkable decision after reading Sts. Aquinas and Augustine on “just war.” Do you believe it? Did any journalist think to ask for specifics?
In any event, it is a further case of the president telling Catholics what to believe, and therefore how to act. We all know the other cases, which have led to an open revolt from American Catholic leaders against the president’s theology and his policies.
In his speech in Cairo–the one he addressed to the “Muslim World”–he made numerous false statements about Islam, including Muslim theology and history. He spoke as if he did not realize that the Muslim Middle East is a failed culture (as numerous Muslim scholars have said). Nonetheless, that did not prevent him from telling Muslims what they believed and therefore how they should act.
He probably told the Dalai Lama something similar, dontcha think?
In short, he’s not only commander-in-chief who thinks our soldiers serve him, not the nation and its Constitution, but the prophet-in-chief for all religions.
There are words for this sort of self-image, ranging from extreme narcissism to megalomania. Combined with his insistence on keeping secret the most mundane aspects of his life, it suggests a desire to create a personal myth about himself, a myth that entitles him to speak ex cathedra to all men and women.
If he really were a great religious scholar and a deep philosophical thinker, I might be inclined to celebrate the world’s fortune in having a transcendent, world-historical figure in the White House. But he isn’t. He keeps getting the facts wrong from “Polish death camps” to “all 57 states,” from “Muslims invented printing” to “my Austrian isn’t very good,”, which is not the way of the prophets.
It’s nuts, actually.
(Cross-posted at Faster, Please.)