Day after day, week after week, as I watch in amazement the actions and decisions of our new, untrained and apparently naïve young president, I find myself thinking of Pinocchio.

So much so that I actually looked up the original story by an Italian writer, Carlo Collodi, published in 1883. It told of a piece of pinewood carved into a wooden puppet by a woodcarver named Geppetto. The old man named his creation Pinocchio, a Tuscan word meaning “pine nut.”

Walt Disney animated the tale famously many years ago, and in both accounts the puppet could speak and feel, wooden as he was, and often announced his fervent desire to become a real boy. His little friend, Jiminy Cricket, warns him that little boys who don’t obey their parents eventually become donkeys, but after old Geppetto makes him lifelike feet, Pinocchio runs off and winds up in town with a couple of no-goods, Cat and Fox.

Though the puppet sometimes tries to be good, since he believes this is the path toward real boyhood, the evil influence of Cat and Fox take him further into degradation, and with each lie he tells his wooden nose grows longer. In the original tale, it gets so long he can’t turn around in a room. In the Disney version, a kindly fairy godmother advises “the longer you tell a lie, the more it becomes as plain as the nose on your face.”

But Pinocchio is trapped in his bad decisions, and while his nose grows, his ears do too, becoming ominously donkey-like. The three miscreants wind up in Pleasure Isand, where nobody works and wayward boys can do anything they please, no matter who it hurts or what the consequences, even to themselves. Even the Disney version depicts the still-wooden puppet guzzling beer, smoking fat cigars and exclaiming, “Doing bad things is fun!”

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Eventually, through serious trials and punishment for his misdeeds, the puppet gets reunited with his creator, Geppetto, does some unselfish things and becomes a real live boy. Happy ending, good moral. Right?

Wish I could foresee a happy ending for us and our President Pinnochio in real life, but right now, I’m very pessimistic.

In his own first autobiographical book, Barack Obama tells of his childhood-long insecurity, the absence of a father, his indecision about whether he was white or black, and what kind of a future he could create for himself. He reveals that a strong friendly influence on his teen years was an alienated black man in Hawaii. Then, along the way, both at Columbia University and Harvard, he fell in and communed with others who encouraged his black identity, but also a certain distance from his white friends and acquaintances.

We’ve become acquainted with subsequent events, like his brief turn as a community organizer, as a law professor in Chicago, his marriage to a strong-minded woman who, in her college papers, revealed deep-seated anger at some perceived inequities, though she was enjoying a rather privileged life compared to many.

Then, as he became active in elective politics, he was closely involved with ACORN and with William Ayers, people as subversive and anti-establishment as you can get and still stay within the limits of the law (and even that is open to question). And for close to 20 years, Mr. and Mrs. Obama were members of Trinity United Church of Christ, hearing the sermons of an angry firebrand named Jeremiah Wright.

When the whole world heard Wright’s infamous “God damn America!” candidate Obama denied having ever heard words like that in his 20 years of church attendance. But now, as president of the United States, he has condemned the country that elected him as “arrogant” and has been personally apologizing for America’s “immoral interrogation techniques” applied to captured terrorists, and for bruising the feelings of Muslim people worldwide.

In Europe and Central America, he has been positively obsequious, bowing to King Abdullah, glad-handing the president of Turkey and Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, and creating the impression he wants to personally atone for the sins of America and lift us out of the moral swamp we’re in. Like a benevolent savior.

And as his nose and ears grow and reshape, our President Pinnochio is cavorting wildly, unrestrained by Congress, spending and committing trillions of dollars to programs and reckless bailouts. He and his associates appear to have arrived in their Pleasure Island determined not to “waste a crisis” but to shove universal health care, liberal education policies and virtual socialism into place, utterly without any approval of the American people – and with no regard for who gets hurt or the consequences of the actions.

Always articulate and reasonable sounding, this young, inexperienced president seems high on his newfound power and unprecedented authority; he can do virtually anything he wants, please the interest groups who elected him and forget about the campaign promises he made to religious groups who believed he was not the most liberal senator – and president – ever elected.

Though he soothed the apprehensions of Catholics and pro-life people with expressed intentions to enact policies that would greatly reduce abortions, he has already committed hundreds of millions to Planned Parenthood groups worldwide! Not just in our country, but internationally.

He is forming his own “Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships” Advisory Council, composed of personal choices like Harry Knox, a militant homosexual activist who, just last month, called Pope Benedict XVI and certain Catholic bishops “discredited leaders” for opposing same-sex marriage. While giving this council a pious name, he’s stacking the 25-member board with like-minded leftists inclined to allocate its funds to liberal, secular causes.

Though he vowed publicly that, if elected, he would personally veto every “pork” earmark in federal appropriation bills, the very first one he approved has 10,000 pet projects that will cost $19.6 billion! This in his first year that is projecting a $1.8 trillion deficit! And he has announced a $10 trillion agenda for the next four years! And again, without as much as a nod to the citizens of this democratic republic.

Carlo Collodi’s Pinocchio was a fable. This Pinocchio has somehow become our president. Truth – truly, and perhaps ruinously – is stranger than fiction.

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