Dana Milbank's snarky "Washington Sketch" column in the Washington Post Tuesday employs a bad, even mildly offensive, analogy in comparing Bush and Cheney to the last two Popes: "As vice president, Cheney has always played the hard-line Cardinal Ratzinger to Bush's sunny John Paul II. Before the war, Cheney asserted that Iraq had 'reconstituted nuclear weapons.' Since the invasion, he has gone further than others in the administration in asserting Iraq's ties to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. He caused a stir when he directed an obscenity at a Democrat on the Senate floor, and he has sparred with senators in both parties in his bid to block a ban on torture."
As much as I may admire the president and vice president, comparing them to holy men that millions of Catholics believe were chosen by God to lead the worldwide church of Jesus Christ is just wrong -- starting with Cheney the Ratzinger telling Sen. Patrick Leahy to go (love) himself. Milbank was so pleased with the analogy he used it within seconds on MSNBC with Keith Olbermann Monday night, that Cheney and the Holy Father were both "dour hardliners." This is a caricature of both men. But secular reporters also focus only on where the Pope draws a line on hot-button social issues, and not on his love and care for the church and its members and its traditions.
Besides offending Catholics, it's just clumsy to compare politicians with religious leaders. Is Dana Milbank Richard Gere to Keith Olbermann's Dalai Lama? That makes about as much sense as Milbank's very fallible papal analogy.