December 27, 2013
 Pope Francis delivers his Christmas Day message from the central balcony of St Peter's Basilica on Dec. 25. (Franco Origlia/Getty Images)
Pope Francis delivers his Christmas Day message from the central balcony of St Peter’s Basilica on Dec. 25. (Franco Origlia/Getty Images)

After I saw the headline “Hope and the Pope” featured on the Huffington Post Web site yesterday, complete with side-by-side photos of President Obama and His Holiness Pope Francis, I figured it was fair game for skeptics to say something about it. The pope didn’t even get top billing.

Maybe I’m being too cynical. But is President Obama trying a little too hard to associate himself with Time magazine’s “2013 Person of the Year“? There is certainly nothing wrong with a president taking inspiration from our religious leaders. Still, it makes me a little suspicious that the president has embraced the new, popular pope so publicly, his handlers have been so actively spinning it and the Obama apologencia has taken so quickly to promoting it. It is typical of Obama to associate himself with the pope. He would prefer to be in the league of the spiritually revered rather than live with the pedestrian reality of being the senior executive manager of the United States.

Does the pope appreciate the shout-out from the president? Does the president expect the pope to reciprocate? Does the president think that if he does the equivalent of retweeting the pope, some of His Holiness’ good will and popularity will rub off on him? It is all a little too much.

It’s too far from the midterm elections to take today’s headlines — or today’s polls, for that matter — and extrapolate out to November. But the president and the Democrats are in trouble, and they’ve never been shy about promoting themselves when they have felt threatened. The story of the president and the pope can only go so far, since the two have never met. And no doubt the slow news cycle because of the holidays is fueling the coverage. But here we are. President Obama has made skepticism and cynicism a fair reaction to his loud overtures.

 

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Ed Rogers is a contributor to the PostPartisan blog, a political consultant and a veteran of the White House and several national campaigns. He is the chairman of the lobbying and communications firm BGR Group, which he founded with former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour in 1991.