New York Times journalists Jim Yardley and Michael Shear on Thursday compared Barack Obama to Pope Francis. According to the writers, the pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage Barack Obama and the pro-life, anti-gay marriage religious leader have a lot in common.
Yardley and Shear connected "an Argentine pope and an American president who each burst onto the global scene as a history-making change agent." They insisted that each arrived "promising to promote a new post-partisan ethos, each having made the cover of Rolling Stone."
The journalists highlighted how the last Pope dared to offer Obama a present he might disagree with:
When Mr. Obama met Pope Benedict XVI in July 2009, the meeting was described as very cordial, with broad discussions over foreign policy. Yet the tone-setting gesture was a gift from Benedict to the president: a copy of a Vatican book on bioethics that condemned embryonic stem cell research and abortion rights. The president, who supports both issues, joked that it would provide him with reading material for his outbound flight.
Shear and Yardley began the story by hyping the connection between the two:
VATICAN CITY — They are an unlikely pair with seemingly much in common: an Argentine pope and an American president who each burst onto the global scene as a history-making change agent, each promising to promote a new post-partisan ethos, each having made the cover of Rolling Stone.
But when President Obama and Pope Francis meet on Thursday, the question is whether the common arcs of their political biographies also amount to true political common ground.
Such comparisons aren't new for the Times. On January 27,1999, writer James Bennet connected Bill Clinton to Pope John Paul:
"If there was any doubt that by virtue of his position, Clinton occupied as lofty a plane as the Pope on Tuesday -- or that the Pope, by virtue of being human, had some of the same needs as Clinton -- it was erased by the sign marking a restroom near their meeting room: ‘President or Holy Father Only,’ it read."
-- Last sentence of a January 27, 1999 New York Times story by reporter James Bennet on Clinton’s St. Louis visit with the Pope.
This bizarre linkage, it should be pointed out, was after Clinton's sex scandal with Monica Lewinsky.