On Monday, Glenn Greenwald took Andrew Sullivan to task for calling the President of the United States a "father figure." Sullivan was effusive in his praise from Barack Obama's decision to come out in support of gay marriage -- on of the few things, in my view, that Obama should be applauded for (though I personally doubt his motives).
...it is wrong on every last level to relate to the President as a “father figure.” There was a time when I thought Sullivan’s serial blinding reverence for political leaders — Reagan and Thatcher, then Bush 43, now Obama — was the by-product of some sort of transferred British need to be subjects of a monarch. But I don’t think that theory explains much, since all kinds of native-born Americans do the same (remember all this and this?). I was supportive of Obama’s marriage announcement because of the political benefits it would engender, not because it gave me some kind of personal validation that my father has finally accepted who I am. The President is not Our Father; he’s a politician who, like all people wielding political power, is in great need of constant critical scrutiny and adversarial checks — from all citizens, but especially media figures. Relating to him as some kind of guiding paternalistic authority is, I’m sorry to say, really quite warped.What could account for this need to bestow the "father figure" mantle on powerful public figures? My guess is that religion plays a key role.
Sullivan, for his part, is Roman Catholic and Catholics elect a father figure, the Pope. Those who embrace one of the three Abrahamic religions all buy into the notion that we are children of a male deity. So, it seems rather predictable that they would look to anoint those men who hold worldly power as a sort of substitute daddy.