The Magazine

Nearer, My God

The deity in the White House.

Jun 22, 2009, Vol. 14, No. 38 • By NOEMIE EMERY
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If God is not supposed to be detached and impartial, neither is the American president. He may be a man of the world, and sometimes he is, but he is first and foremost our national leader, elected to protect the American people and to ruthlessly deal with their enemies. He is not expected to be impartial as between our interests and the interests of others; or between our allies' interests, and those of their enemies. Outreach to the Muslim world is all very well, but the words "Muslim world" are themselves a misnomer. Lebanon is not Iran, which is not Saudi Arabia, which is not Indonesia. There is a difference between a dispute between Jordan and Israel, and one between Israel and Hamas or Iran, and the president is expected to know it, and act accordingly.

The famously bellicose Theodore Roosevelt helped make an impartial peace in 1905 between Japan and Russia, but this involved no vital American interests. He did not say "children, stop fighting," nor did cousin Franklin, years later, when Germany threatened the West. "We actually do not want our president to 'stand above the country,' " notes Peter Wehner, correctly. "And we do not believe it is particularly sophisticated to disparage as chauvinistic and provincial those who speak up for her."

But some of us do. "Another Arab analyst .  .  . said that Obama didn't sound like a U.S. president at all but more like an enlightened regional leader," an NBC correspondent told Chris Matthews, with an air of approval. To which Matthews answered, "You make me happy. That's what we have to do in the world."

For almost four decades, the left and the media (do we repeat ourselves?) have waited for a president who sounds above it all, and they are in heaven now that the Word is made Flesh. And what flesh it is. Does it hurt that Obama is graceful and slender, when most of these pundits are sucking in paunches; that he's glowing and tan while they are washed out and pallid; that he looks as if he's on an permanent photo shoot for a Ralph Lauren ad or the Burberry catalogue? This is a God with chiseled pectoral muscles and a Portuguese Water Dog, wearing "moral authority" like an Armani jacket, while wholly at home in Men's Vogue.

And the Democrats have their slogans in place for the 2012 election: Obama: Like God, Only Better! Like God, Only Cuter! Like God, Only Cool!

Noemie Emery is a contributing editor to THE WEEKLY STANDARD and a columnist for the Washington Examiner.