I am no pinnacle of humility, and I've learned my fair share of hard lessons from the camps of conceit. But I'm not sure the former Chicago politician occupying the White House ever has been schooled with a primer on the perils of pride.
It's one thing (though still distasteful) to be boastful in a sports or fighting ring; it's quite another in the Oval Office. We were promised change, but it seems to me this White House's smug swagger and strut rival the great taunts and bluster of Muhammad Ali in his heyday. In fact, if I were handing out awards, President Barack Obama would win hands down the Oscar for overconfidence and arrogance.
Here are a few examples of his Oscar-worthy political performances:
Who can forget the State of the Union address back in January, when the president utterly disregarded and disrespected our military commanders and the U.S. Supreme Court? President Obama rebutted the entire Supreme Court in the justices' presence and before the whole nation, with a premeditated and prepared accusation (later proved incorrect). "The Supreme Court," he said, "reversed a century of law that I believe will open the floodgates for special interests -- including foreign corporations -- to spend without limit in our elections."
And what about the looks on the faces of the military commanders during the State of the Union? My view on gays in the military aside, the president's smug demeanor in pushing the issue and the military leaders' stoic response prompted me to ask, "Is the State of the Union really the place for a commander in chief to cast in-your-face politics before his leading military personnel with all of America watching?"
Consider even the recent so-called health care summit. It might sound simple to some, but I believe it is symptomatic when members of Congress address the president as "Mr. President" and he calls on them only by their first names. The president went the entire six hours or so in this room full of Washington politicians and various notables addressing them by their first names rather than by the socially accepted and proper forms of address for senators and representatives. "John," "Paul," "Louise," "Marsha," etc. -- one may argue that these are examples of familiarity, but I believe they are of contempt.
In addition, to Sen. John McCain's genuine concern for ramming a pork-ridden health care bill through Congress by politics as usual, President Obama replied, "We're not campaigning anymore. The election is over."
And to Rep. Eric Cantor's polite opening greeting, President Obama sarcastically commented about the high stack of pages in front of Cantor by saying: "Let me just guess; that's the 2,400-page health care bill. Is that right?"
As for other Americans who oppose his far-left agenda, the president jeered at them before a live audience a few months back, when he condescendingly declared: "Those folks who are trying to stand in the way of progress, let me tell you: I'm just getting started! I don't quit. I'm not tired. ... It is important for those folks to understand I'm just ready to go. We're just going to keep on going."
The president demonizes any opposition and even tried socially to quarantine No. 1 Fox News as an illegitimate news organization because some commentators disagree with him. His actions remind me of these words of Fulton J. Sheen's: "Pride is an admission of weakness; it secretly fears all competition and dreads all rivals."
Lou Pritchett -- a former vice president of Procter & Gamble -- who retired in 1989 after working at the company for 36 years, hit the nail on the head when he wrote his renowned "open letter to President Obama": "You are the thirteenth President under whom I have lived and unlike any of the others, you truly scare me. ... You scare me because you lack humility and 'class', always blaming others."
The president lords himself over not only broadcast agencies, other politicians, his opponents and the American people but also our most precious founding documents. As I noted in last week's column, President Obama described the Constitution as "an imperfect document ... a document that reflects some deep flaws ... (and) an enormous blind spot." He also said, "The Framers had that same blind spot."
In possibly his gravest error, Obama haughtily placed himself above Judeo-Christian Scriptures when speaking at a church in June 2006 as a senator. In that message, he denigrated biblical books, including Leviticus and Deuteronomy, ridiculed the issue of the Bible's inerrancy, called the Sermon on the Mount a radically inapplicable passage of Scripture, and declared that basing public policies upon the Bible "would be a dangerous thing." He arrogantly concluded that "folks haven't been reading their Bible," setting himself above not only most others' understanding of Scripture but also all of us who read it. In olden days, such sacred contempt would have been regarded as an abominable desecration -- a man standing in the house of God claiming to be like a god, above others and even Scripture itself.
President Obama, I don't know whether you've spent a day in a Sunday school class, so here's a verse that might help you. Proverbs 16:18: "Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall."