When President Obama heads to the Vatican tomorrow, he and the pope should have a lot to talk about. America's first black president is meeting the Catholic Church's first Latin American pope; both took their jobs amid crises; both have political minds and initially boasted widespread support, notes Doyle McManus in the Los Angeles Times. Obama's support, however, has flagged, while the pope's approval rating is at 85%—and it's not just because Obama's been at his job longer.
The pope has managed to "rebrand" Catholicism, but he's done it subtly. "He's called for more openness toward gay people, for example, but he hasn't proposed any formal changes in the rules," McManus notes. He's opted for reforms "likely to be broadly popular." Obama instead went straight for the challenging issue of health care reform. Meanwhile, the pope has been concerned about being seen as a superhero, something Obama knows a little about. The two men may be able to offer each other some guidance. After all, "even popes and presidents can't know how long their popularity will last." Click for McManus' full piece.