How’s this for a coincidence? (No, it’s synchronicity.)
I was e-mailing with a friend who told me how she was working at memorizing a psalm in the King James Bible. This reminded me of a couple of passages in the Gospels I’ve memorized in the past, in particular Jesus’ discourse in John 14 which begins,
If ye love me, keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever, even the spirit of truth…
And I recited to myself those lines and the next few lines, which I hadn’t done in a long time, maybe in years.
A half hour later a reader sent me a link to an item at NRO by Jim Geraighty, about Obama saying today in a speech in North Carolina that people should pass the jobs bill to show that they love him. The brief post included a video clip in which Obama says to the cheering crowd: “If you love me, you’ve gotta help me pass this bill.”
Immediately below Geraighty’s post a commenter named Ed Ahlsen-Girard quipped:
- end of initial entry -
If ye love me, pass my commandments.
At the same time, I don’t think Jim Geraighty has it exacty right. Here is the title and entire text of his NRO entry:
Posted by Lawrence Auster at September 14, 2011 11:21 PM | Send
Sure, You Say You Love President Obama…
Geraighty was overstating what Obama actually said. In the clip, Obama is speaking, and someone in the crowd yells out, “I love you,” and Obama answers, “I love you back.” Then he returns to the speech text that was interrupted by the exchange, but he immediately seems to get a new idea, stops what he was saying, and says instead, “But if you love me,” (cheers from audience), “if you love me, you gotta help me pass this bill.”
Do you love President Obama? He wants to know. In fact, he needs to see a demonstration of that love.
Look, it’s perfectly normal for heads of state to declare that legislation must be passed as an expression of the public’s love to themselves.
So Obama is not saying to his followers that he wants to know if they love him or that he needs a demonstration of their love. He’s saying, “Since you love me, I need for you to show that love by helping me pass this bill.” His primary concern is not with their love, but with the bill.
That may seem too fine a distinction, but I think my interpretation is different from, and not as bad as, what Geraighty says Obama is saying.
Which doesn’t mean that what Obama said is ok. It was creepy and inappropriate for him to speak this way. The president is a constitutional magistrate charged with securing the rights and promoting the general welfare of the American people, not a cultic figure organizing and activating the American people around their personal love of him. What he said was more suited to the despot of some tribal African country than to a U.S. president. Certainly no president has spoken this way before.