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President Obama and Pope Francis captures the world stage for 52-minutes

President Obama and Pope Francis meet for the first time
President Obama and Pope Francis meet for the first time
Gabriel Bouys / AP

President Barack Obama made a visit to the Vatican on Thursday and his visit with Pope Francis lasted longer than was expected. After all the pomp and fanfare of a visiting dignitary, the scheduled five minute face to face meeting between the two world leaders lasted eight minutes shy of being one hour. Obama has been criticized for bowing while greeting leaders of various countries but the press has given him a pass for bowing as his shook hands with the pope. Even though most of the attention has been devoted to Russia’s annexation of Crimea during this European trip, getting an audience with the pope offered a welcomed change of pace for those who follow and listen to every word and watch every action of President Obama.

Unfortunately, with cameras flashing and no one being allowed to get within hearing distance as the pope and the president conversed for 52 minutes, we can only speculate about the content of the conversation that captured the world's attention for nearly one hour. Reading the commentaries of several news organizations you would get the impression that the meeting was merely a publicity stunt to boost Obama’s popularity among Catholic voters.
Despite the professionalism in which this notion was propagated, it must be dismissed due to the fact that Obama has no plans to run for public office and doesn't need to court the votes of any constituency. What would have been a better analogy would have been the thought that he was confessing the sins of a nation and hoping that the pope could actually grant forgiveness for them.

One such instance of this need for forgiveness was the speech Obama gave in Amsterdam on Wednesday. In that speech the president poked fun at the Russian President Vladimir Putin and referred to that nation as a regional power. Obama then went into a dialog in which a rational thinking person would think that it came out of a fictional novel.

Here’s what President Obama said:

“We did not claim or annex Iraq’s territory, nor did we grab its resources for our own gain,” he said. “Instead, we ended our war and left Iraq to its people and a fully sovereign Iraqi state could make decisions about its own future.”

I fully realize that only days after Obama took the oath of office in his first term he announced that his administration was going to look forward and not look backwards. In essence he was saying that the sins committed by the Bush administration were going to go unpunished. That was then and this is now.
But to go on a European tour amidst the conflicts going on in the world today and deny the reason for invading Iraq is absurd. It would take an enormous amount of time to rehash the facts that are common knowledge precluding our invasion of Iraq, but liberating the Iraqi people was not one of them.

Obama could have better served his people in America by pointing out one simple fact. That being the fact that after Bush and Cheney set up an oversight commission in Iraq to divide up the oil fields and establish a new constitution, that constitution included government health coverage for all Iraqi citizens.

Many have speculated that Obama and Pope Francis were discussing ways to help the poor and the income disparities persistent in the world today. This may be true but again, who knows? One thing we do know is that upon meeting and greeting the pope, Obama said: "It is a great honor. I'm a great admirer. Thank you so much for receiving me. I bring greetings from my family. The last time I came here to meet your predecessor I was able to bring my wife and children."


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