Once again the smartest man ever to serve as President, King Hussein Obama the First, has got himself into trouble with his big mouth; this time with his remark that "We are God's partners in matters of life and death" during a conference call on August 19th with a group of rabbis. http://www.politico.com/blogs/bensmith/0809/We_are_Gods_partners_in_matters_of_life_and_death.html?showall Of course you'd think a man who's been derided so often by his critics as the "Messiah" might hesitate to declare himself the equal of God but apparently common sense is far too pedestrian a quality for someone as brilliant as our reigning King.
Now usually when I hear about a controversial quote like this I try to go back to the original source and try to put the quote into context. After all, how many times have the liberal hacks in the media tried to make conservatives look bad by twisting our words? But as I searched for a transcript or a recording of the call I found out that His Majesty's words were supposed to be off the record. http://jta.org/news/article/2009/08/20/1007369/obama-appeals-to-rabbis-to-help-pass-health-care-reform The rabbi in attendance, Jack Moline, who originally released the quote in a twitter feed (to Sarah Palin!!) later deleted his comments "saying that it was a huge mistake". And Rabbi Josh Yuter, who has released the most complete account of the call to date http://joshyuter.com/archives/2009/08/rabbi_obama_health_care_conference_call.php , wondered if he should even be writing about the call at all. As a Jew myself, I can only congratulate these rabbis on their highly developed sense of guilt. Somewhere two Jewish mothers must be very proud.
And not betray my own sensitivities but I wonder why the call to a bunch of rabbis had to be so hush-hush when later that day His Majesty had no problems with being recorded when he addressed a much larger interfaith group of clergy in a conference call sponsored by a Christian-oriented group, Faith in Public Life. http://blogs.suntimes.com/sweet/2009/08/obama_health_care_pitch_to_rab.html You can listen to the King in his own words at that group's website or at www.blogtalkradio.com/40mins4health Why whisper to the Jews off in the corner and then shout to the Christians in the main room?
Since this post is taking on a religious tone, I can only say heaven forbid you should listen to the entire 40 minutes of Faith in Public Life's conference call like I did. God forbid you should know such things. However if you want a good laugh, skip ahead to the 30 minute, 15 second mark which is approximately when the King is introduced. Ordinarily when somebody introduces the President of the United States, even when the President is a screw up like Obama, the speaker rabbles on and on in an effusion of praise, which I'm sure the President's Tele-Prompt-Ter thought would happen. Instead, in this case, the liberal clergy picked a 15 year old girl to introduce His Majesty and she simply said:
I'd like you all to join me in welcoming our President, Barack Obama
It's funny to listen to the King stumble through the following as he realizes how inappropriate his remarks are after that lame introduction:
Thank you so much, Carla, for the wonderful introduction.
You'd think the most brilliant man ever to serve as president could have ad-libbed something like, "Thanks Carla and it's so wonderful to see someone so young taking an active interest in a national affairs." Instead the dummy inadvertently called attention to how inappropriate her lame introduction was.
So for those of you who are still with me in this ever lengthening post, what led the King to declare we were God's partners? According to witnesses, as reported in the Politico story listed above, Obama was referring to a Rosh Hashanah prayer that says at the start of each Jewish New Year it is decided "who shall live and who shall die." For all of my non-Jewish readers, a more complete explanation is probably required.
The prayer being referred to is the "U'Netaneh Tokef Kedushat Hayom" which means "Let Us Tell How Utterly Holy This Day Is" http://www.ou.org/chagim/roshhashannah/unetanehtext.htm As someone who's sat through many a Rosh Hashanah morning service, I can tell you the recitation of this prayer is a very powerful and moving part of the service. The King lifted his quote from the following:
On Rosh Hashanah will be inscribed and on Yom Kippur will be sealed how many will pass from the earth and how many will be created; who will live and who will die
Later on in the prayer, we note that God's decision can potentially be changed if we change our behavior:
But REPENTANCE, PRAYER and CHARITY
Remove the Evil of the Decree!
Hence, our current sage, Rabbi Obama, claims that we are a partner with God because we can potentially change His mind.
Now I don't claim to be a Talmudic scholar like Obama but I know a little bit about my own religion and I think Obama's statement stretches the metaphor of the prayer almost to the breaking point. In the prayer, God is compared to a shepherd and mankind is compared to his flock.. And each "sheep" will pass "under His staff" and God will determine their fate. But as noted above, if we change our ways, God will lift the decree. But instead of being partners with God, we are supplicants. God determines our fate and only by following his ways can we change this fate. Consider this quote from the end of the prayer which highlights the difference between man and God:
A man's origin is from dust and his destiny is back to dust, at risk of his life he earns his bread; he is likened to a broken shard, withering grass, a fading flower, a passing shade, a dissipating cloud, a blowing wind, flying dust, and a fleeting dream.
But You are the King, the Living and Enduring G-d.
On a more general note, only a completely irreligious man would dare to say he was a partner with God. His comments border on sacrilege. Personally, I'd bet Obama, like most liberals, doesn't give a damn about religion, and is only turning to the clergy now because he's desperately trying to find a way to sell his healthcare plan. Since the argument on the facts is turning against him, he's trying to turn the debate into a morale one. And as disclosed in the following article from Commentary, this new strategy for pushing his healthcare fraud was the real reason for these conference calls. http://www.commentarymagazine.com/blogs/index.php/richman/76502
A rabbinic student who received the URJ (Union for Reform Judaism – VOE) invitation and participated in the call sent me an e-mail about it that read,
President Obama spoke for about 20 minutes, then got off the call and we listened to three other rabbis who had prepared discussions about "helpful" Torah and Talmud texts, and how to craft a "non-political" (that is, pro-Democratic Party but wouldn't be able to get into legal trouble) sermon. . . .
• Pres Obama urged us explicitly to discuss healthcare reform in our high holiday sermons. He said repeatedly, "I need your help in getting this information across." My personal feeling is that it is an abuse of the pulpit to propagate a specific political agenda in that venue. . .
Sounds like the young rabbinic student knows a little bit more about Constitutional Law then the former editor of the Harvard Law Review. Maybe Obama was out smoking dope on the day they covered the First Amendment back in law school so perhaps I shouldn't be so tough on him but you'd think some of his liberal friends might have mentioned at one of those parties he's always throwing at the White House how they'd like to see churches advocating conservative causes lose their tax-exempt status.
- In 2004, Americans United for the Separation of Church and State asked the IRS to revoke the tax-exempt status of the Roman Catholic diocese in Colorado Springs because its Bishop threatened to withhold Communion from those who disagreed with the church. http://www.firstamendmentcenter.org/news.aspx?id=13441
- In 2008, bloggers on the website Democratic Underground wondered if the Massachusetts Catholic Conference should lose their tax-exempt status because they urged parishioners to send letter to state legislators to express their disappointment with their vote not to ban gay marriage. http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=104x1792107
- Gay activists have repeated called for the Mormon Church to lose their tax-exempt status because of their opposition of to gay marriage. The earliest call for this action by the IRS I could find was in 1999. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/e/a/1999/07/07/NEWS11688.dtl&hw The latest example was in 2008 on the website Daily Kos, complete with a link to the IRS forms needed to request administrative action against this church. http://www.dailykos.com/story/2008/11/7/85033/5853
In a way, it would be funny to see some congregation lose their tax-exempt status because their clergy stupidly followed the Kings' advice and openly advocated for his healthcare fraud. I'm not into conspiracy theories but maybe the King is secretly hoping for such a result. After all, the King is spending money at such a tremendous rate that he needs every dollar he can get, even if he has to rob it from the offering plate.