Paul Greenberg

The White House dismissed all such objections as technicalities, mere technicalities. It would decide when Congress was and wasn't in session, thank you. Those nitpicking Republicans were making a great big fuss over a little nothing. Just a few words of the Constitution. To be specific, Article I, Section 5, and only the last clause of it at that. Big deal. Our president has decided to ignore that petty detail. Call him our constitution czar.

Those same Founders prescribed the oath that presidents take on entering office, and even stuck it in the new Constitution, obliging the chief executive to swear, in front of God and everybody, to "preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States."

But, hey, those are only words, too.

Why let them stop a president? Why not occupy the Constitution, too?

Thrown out of Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan, Occupy Wall Street has sought sanctuary elsewhere. This led it, naturally enough, to the traditional providers of sanctuary, the nearest church, in this case Trinity Wall Street.

Trinity Wall Street. What a perfect name for a church, combining as it does the holy and profane. But what doesn't? And just which is which? And why can't the two mix, like good and evil, commerce and holy orders?

Even a church has to keep books, if only to keep up with tithes, and the most sincere prayers may be uttered on the floor of a stock exchange. Especially during a crash. Think of the appeals to heaven that must have risen from the New York stock exchange in October of 1929. There may be few things more sincere than desperation. Blessed are the poor in spirit.

Trinity Wall Street offered the Occupiers sanctuary all during their takeover of nearby Zuccotti Park -- not just "expressions of sympathy," according to a report in the ever-earnest New York Times, "but also meeting spaces, resting areas, pastoral services, electricity, bathrooms, even blankets and hot chocolate." Sounds homey.

But when the Occupiers wore out their welcome at the park, and sought sanctuary on church property at Duarte Park, the Rev. James Cooper decided enough was enough. "Calling this an issue of 'political sanctuary' is manipulative and blind to reality," the reverend pronounced.

Doing unto others is one thing, being done unto quite another, and that's where the Rev. Mr. Cooper drew the line. It was one thing for public property to be occupied, another when his own church became occupied territory. His eyes were opened, praise the Lord.

No, it may not have been a miracle. On the contrary, you might say the reverend's reaction was wholly natural under the circumstances. It's called the Tragedy of the Commons. What's everybody's property is nobody's while one's own is seen as sacred. The reverend may have been blind before, but now he sees. Nothing increaseth understanding like being victimized by self-proclaimed victims. In this changing world, that much doesn't seem to have changed at all.

Paul Greenberg

Pulitzer Prize-winning Paul Greenberg, one of the most respected and honored commentators in America, is the editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.