The most apropos tweet concerning the debate last night came from John Piper: “Obama: America, the only indispensable nation. Romney: America, the hope of the earth. This does focus our prayers for them.” I want to get to that in a moment, but first let me just affirm the consensus that appears to be developing.
Romney is clearly husbanding a lead, and Obama was trying to catch up. Romney was acting like an incumbent, and Obama was acting like a challenger. Romney was happy to wait out the round in a clinch, and Obama wanted (and needed) a knock out blow that he didn’t get. Both campaigns clearly know the way things have settled out, and are playing in the same game. At the end of September, the RNC had an 18 to 1 cash advantage over the DNC. I believe that things are in a desperate way for Obama, and he now knows it. He avoided knowing it for so long because he lives inside the bubble that is the leftist media. The whole thing is an example of what Glenn Reynolds calls a “preference cascade,” and which I encourage you to follow up on here.
But, that said, back to Piper’s observation. Both Obama and Romney are clearly civic idolaters — with the one significant difference between them appearing to be that Romney really believes it. Obama is willing to mouth the civic pieties during a campaign, but his actual idols are elsewhere. And so how did we get to the place where Christians prefer the idolater who actually believes in Baal?
Of course, I don’t want to be hyper. If a candidate says that he believes that America is basically a good and decent nation, who would want him to be corrected by some over-scrupulous Christian? “My friend, no one is good but God alone.” But what we are seeing in these avowals really is religious in nature. One sees how it all works of course, but there is only one problem. America isn’t Jesus.