Presidential Holiday Messages Prove What, Exactly?

Like many of you, I’ve been fond of Misfit Politics ever since ATTACK WAAAAAAAAAATCHTheir newest video was uploaded the other day.

It is a comparison of President Obama’s recent Christmas message with his Ramadan message of 2009.  Misfits’ video makes a profound impression.  It highlights the way President Obama uses even nonpolitical messages for political purposes, by injecting his “I’m ending the war!” bit into both.  Moreover, a difference between the videos in Obama’s tone and substance is unmistakable.

Should anyone wonder whether clever editing is to blame, the Misfits provide a link to each original message.  Sure enough, a full viewing leaves one with the impression that the President takes Ramadan more seriously than Christmas.

So, does he?

This question led me on a morning-long quest for the bigger picture.

Here’s what I can tell you.  The bigger picture is much less impressive than the one-two punch in a single video.  After reading a little on the history of presidential Christmas messages, comparing previous presidents on YouTube, officially released White House holiday statements, and Obama’s various holiday messages, I have come to two conclusions.

First, protracted viewing of presidential holiday messaging makes me want to nap.  Second, questioning the President’s religious beliefs is not a good idea.

I understand the religion angle:  if a man is willing to be deceptive on an issue so personal, so important, and so personally important as his religious beliefs, than literally not a single word he utters can be trusted.  It would mean a complete loss of credibility.

But, there is a problem.

Who can see in a man’s heart, and know his innermost thoughts, feelings, and beliefs?  Not you or I.  Sure, we can get some glimpses (always subject to interpretation, of course), like when the President expertly rattles off details about Islamic practice.

What are we to think, then, when President Obama expertly rattles off details about Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur?  Does that mean he is secretly Jewish?  Well, that video is merely half the length of the Ramadan video, so perhaps not.  Should, then, we be concerned about the President’s reference to the spirit of Umoja?

How about the fact that in this latest (and patently goofy) Christmas video, the President referred to the birth of Jesus as a story?  Perhaps this is a damaging little subconscious admission.

Ah, but I noticed something in this lovely 1981 Christmas message from President Reagan.  He referred to the birth of Jesus as a “story” at :46.

President Bush has some interesting quotes too.  In this Ramadan statement, he rather glibly pronounces Islam to be a peaceful religion, and he uses the Islamic term “mubarak” as though he, too, is an expert.

Please, don’t take this the wrong way.  I’m still fond of Misfit Politics, and their video quite fairly leaves the viewer to judge for himself.  My point is, we have better fish to fry.  Lower hanging fruit hangs all over this tree.  (Can you tell by my analogies that I’m getting hungry?)

Many other examples of Obama hypocrisy are both easy to prove and ultimately more damaging, for they do not require us to disprove what Obama claims to hold in his heart.  First, how about the way Obama condemned Bush’s use of signing statements in 2008, and then felt free to use signing statements himself as a way to avoid new laws?

Or how about that 2008 Obama promise of a “net spending cut?”  /snicker/

Or the way he claimed that Obamacare was going to lower healthcare costs?  Or his promise to close down Guantanamo Bay?  How about all the cronyism?  Or the chart showing what the Recovery Act was supposed to accomplish, versus the reality?

Please, do add to this list.  I know there are more examples, but the hour is past my lunch time, and I’m starting to draw a blank.

Supposedly, 1 in 5 of us think that our President is really Muslim.  I think we should avoid such unprovable theories like the plague.

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12 thoughts on “Presidential Holiday Messages Prove What, Exactly?

  1. rogueoperator 28 December 2011 at 3:43 pm Reply

    Very thorough post, and I respect the thought, effort, and conclusion. Happy New Year!

    Would like to know your opinion about the GOP’s use of religion in politics. Cynical and calculated? Mostly sincere? What place does religion have? Should candidates be forced to pay lip service? Should it go mostly without saying? Should candidates make a big deal about publicly going to church? Just wondering, because it is a matter I struggle with in my political thinking.

    • nooneofanyimport 2 January 2012 at 5:00 pm Reply

      I can’t really say that the GOP has used religion in a cynical and calculated way, overall. Neither, can I say, however, that they are mostly sincere. Except Dubya, he seems quite sincere. I’m too young/didn’t pay enough attention to judge Reagan, Bush the Elder.

      Beyond presidents, I largely avoid trying to assess the character of individual politicians, as it seems an impossible task. I hate the vetting process. I like political theory, not political people.

      What place should religion have? Well, an important one, in as much as I believe religion should have an important place in each individual’s heart. So I must admit that I like a good Christian label on my electoral candidates.

      On the other hand, we are all SICK TO DEATH of lip service, so I’d rather get an admitted atheist than somebody paying lip service to the issue of religious beliefs or anything else. That’s why Herman Cain and Chris Christie had/have such appeal to me. Even if I don’t agree with all their stances, I just like feeling that I actually know where they stand.

      And no, they do not need to make a big deal about publicly going to church. There’s something in the back of the Bible about it being better to pray in private than loudly on the street corner for show, isn’t there?

      Then again, if an honest evangelical urge to spread the Word burns deep in a man’s heart, he should do so. And if that gets him elected, great.

      What do you think?

  2. [...] I respect nooneofanyimport’s opinion not to cast aspersions about the president’s faith, and it is a political loser to do so, [...]

  3. Cheryl of Alexandria 28 December 2011 at 9:25 pm Reply

    Wow. I can tell that this post took a long time to think about and write. I appreciate your going to the effort.

    The thing about religion in politics is that I don’t care what the candidate’s religion is as long as he or she represents it honestly. Don’t be all fake about how hard you pray or whatever. Kerry did that in 2004. It sounded like something a person would say if they had spent very little time on their knees.

    On second thought, I do care. I need a candidate to believe in something bigger than himself. That is my problem with BO. I don’t believe he thinks there is anything bigger than he is.

    Hope you had a great Christmas, my blog-friend!

  4. Matt 28 December 2011 at 9:51 pm Reply

    I think the perception that he favors islam leads to that view. I think he might be his own god.

  5. Freedom, by the way 29 December 2011 at 10:03 pm Reply

    I rarely watch the President’s holiday message…and didn’t this year. Whatever they say doesn’t mean a hill of beans as to how I celebrate Christmas. (I’ll pick on Obama and the government again next week. Now it’s time for another egg nog!–Cheers!)

  6. edge of the sandbox 30 December 2011 at 12:26 am Reply

    BO, I think, is not so secretly atheist or “spiritual, but not religious” like his dear friend Oprah. We don’t know much about him, so people speculate that he’s Muslim. If Islam is special to him, it’s because it’s a religion that looks exotic and is currently in vogue, but one that he can claim as his own. In the beginning of his presidency he did somehow fancy that he can win hearts and minds of the Muslim world. The fact that he didn’t get very far with that one is more important than his religious believes — or lack of them…

  7. Country Thinker 30 December 2011 at 3:06 pm Reply

    i sensed your rage beginning to build at the end. I’ve missed it!

  8. [...] Presidential Holiday Messages Prove What, Exactly? [...]

  9. [...] NoOneOfAnyImport: Presidential Holiday Messages Prove What, Exactly? [...]

  10. Citizen Tom 2 January 2012 at 11:17 pm Reply

    Because I can see the work and thought that went into it, I like this post. Nonetheless, I have little doubt Obama does not take Christianity seriously. I doubt he takes any religion seriously, but that I don’t really know. Although we can learn much from what a man says and does, there are limits.

    From his own words, I know Obama has a shallow understanding of the Bible. That does not make him a bad Christian. Nonetheless, if he were a serious Christian, he would have studied the Bible.

    From the website of the church Obama attended for so many years, we can also learn much — at least if that web site has not been seriously modified. Obama attended a church with a political agenda, not a Christian agenda.

    So are Obama’s religious beliefs relevant? Yes, but the lamestream media will only challenge a candidate’s religious beliefs if he is a Republican, especially a socially conservative Republican.

  11. Teresa Rice 2 January 2012 at 11:54 pm Reply

    My position is that he is a combination of a secular humanist (his mother was a secular humanist) and a cultural Muslim and that is why he is sort of a-religious or all over the map religiously. I agree that we can’t know what’s in his heart but we can have an idea based on his words and actions.

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