Best of the Web Today: The Parochial President

Obama’s Catholic school comments are less substantial than his critics think.

Barack Obama is turning into a one-man gaffe machine. “Obama repeatedly called British finance minister George Osborne ‘Jeffrey’ at the G8 summit.” Agence France-Presse includes this lovely deadpan observation: “The chancellor, 42, bears little resemblance to Jeffrey Osborne, a 65-year-old African-American hit singer-songwriter known for his 1982 classic ‘On the Wings of Love.’ ”

Sky News called Jeffrey Osborne for comment, and he said: “I was really delighted actually. I was really not aware that [Obama] was that much of a fan that he would call the chancellor Jeffrey Osborne. Tell the chancellor when I come over I will have to hook up with him and we will do a duet of ‘On The Wings Of Love.’ ”

Yeah, well, it’s all fun and games until somebody gets hurt. Earlier in the week, Obama made what the Scottish Catholic Observer construed as “an alarming call for an end to Catholic education in Northern Ireland”:

Obama . . . repeated the oft disproved claim that Catholic education increases division in front of an audience of 2000 young people, including many Catholics, at Belfast’s Waterfront hall when he arrived in the country this morning.

“If towns remain divided–if Catholics have their schools and buildings and Protestants have theirs, if we can’t see ourselves in one another and fear or resentment are allowed to harden–that too encourages division and discourages cooperation,” the US president said.

The president’s words rankled on the other side of the Atlantic too. tied them in with the ObamaCare assault on religious liberty, which America’s Catholic bishops, rightly in our view, call “an ‘unjust and illegal mandate’ that violates the constitutionally guaranteed right to free exercise of religion” (the quote is from CNSNews).

On this point, however, it seems to us that the president’s critics are overreaching. Considered in context, his comments seem to us the product of ignorance and parochialism rather than hostility toward Catholicism (or Protestantism, which he mentioned in a parallel fashion).

Read today’s full column

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