Apparently it was not enough that many of America’s best-known journalists disgraced themselves and their profession by portraying Barack Obama during last year’s presidential campaign as a savior-like figure come to redeem a sin-sick America. Now that the Anointed One is in a position to exercise his wise and benevolent rule from Pennsylvania Avenue, it will no longer do to cast him as a mere mortal.
In case you missed it, Evan Thomas, an editor at the new, deracinated version of Newsweek, remarked earlier this month that “Obama’s standing above the country, above the world. He’s sort of God.”
Having proclaimed “The End of Christian America” in a cover story last April, it’s only understandable that Newsweek is shopping for a new deity – in this case a Supreme Being refashioned in the image of the man who’s been on the magazine’s cover so many times in the space of a year, he might as well be incorporated as the publication’s mascot/logo/figurehead.
Think of it: What the legendary image of Eustace Tilley – the fop with the monocle and top hat – has been to The New Yorker for better than eighty years, the beneficent and magnificent Obama can be to Newsweek, only where Tilley is a cartoon figure, Obama is, well, to quote Newsweek’s Thomas, “sort of God.”
If “sort of God” sounds like something of a hedge, it’s probably because your typically liberal editor of your typically liberal magazine isn’t about to prostrate himself before an all-powerful Lord of Hosts. No, something a little less imposing and far less threatening is called for – Divinity Light, if you will.
As Noemie Emery writes in The Weekly Standard,
Obama being Obama, however (and Newsweek being Newsweek), this is not quite your usual God. This is not the God of Battles, to whom Henry V prayed before Agincourt. This is not “Our fathers’ God, to Thee/Author of Liberty/to Thee we sing.” This is definitely not the God of the “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” as this God isn’t given to trampling anything, and when it comes to the terrible swift sword, you can simply forget it. This God doesn’t do swords, much less battles. This is a modern God, a media God, a God for Whole Foods, and the Politics & Prose bookstore on upper Connecticut Avenue, a God who is into recycling. There is the God of the Old Testament, and the God of the New Testament, but this is the God of the Newsroom. Religious tradition tells us that God created man in His image, but the press has created this God in its image – diverse, multilateral, and nonconfrontational. He is cool, hip, urbane, and extremely un-Texan. He is all that the Fourth Estate values in life, and aspires to be in its own private dealings. He is all it holds dear.
If Obama has been an object of unprecedented veneration for the Fourth Estate in general, a good part of his superstar status is due particularly to the steady stream of cotton-candy cover stories courtesy of the two major alleged newsweeklies. (Newsweek has at least more or less acknowledged what was true long before its recent makeover – that it’s largely a magazine of liberal opinion; Time continues to keep up the pretence of objectivity.)
A prime example of the reverential tone accorded Obama by both Newsweek and Time is the following atrocity committed by Newsweek managing editor Jon Meacham in a recent psalm to the Great One:
“As he turned to make the walk back to Air Force One, a breeze blew – and everybody scurried anew, to keep up with him. It was that kind of day – and it has been that kind of presidency: Barack Obama, moving as he wishes to move, and the world bending itself to him.”
The Weekly Standard’s Andrew Ferguson wrote of the above piece of prose: “You could just imagine everybody reading this if anybody read Newsweek. They would admire the rich, fecund gorgeousness of Jon’s prose – a breeze blew/scurried anew – and nod and tap their lower lips with their index fingers, because while everybody will say that Jon’s point is true, it isn’t. What Jon wrote, in fact, is the direct opposite of the truth. Even as the sentence was being written, the president was violating several campaign promises for the simple reason that he has had to bend himself to the world, as presidents usually do. And a good thing, too.”
Jason Maoz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org