Poor Jim Leach. In August 2009, when the former Republican congressman was named chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, Barack Obama had not yet exhausted his charisma. The renegade Republican had cast his lot with the man who campaigned on “fundamentally transforming the United States of America,” explaining that he decided to break ranks and support Obama’s candidacy because “never in American history was the case for a course change more compelling in international relations and because I had become convinced that seldom had a more natural humanist been chosen to represent his party for national office.”

Mr. Leach likes the word “humanist.” When Obama delivered his notorious “new beginning with Islam” speech in Cairo in January 2009, Mr. Leach pronounced it “one of the great humanist speeches of our time.” Proba ...