Tony Blair does God
The media last night and this morning have been full óf stories about the effect of Tony Blair's Christian beliefs on the decision to invade Iraq.
Because the Prime Minister has given an interview to the veteran chat-show host, Michael Parkinson, and ITV wants the highest possible ratings for its show tonight.
Any other reasons?
Because anything Tony Blair says about religion, however commonplace, arouses media distrust like nothing else.
As far as I can gather from the direct quotes this morning, the Prime Minister has made two points to Mr Parkinson about how his war judgement will itself be judged.
The first is that the verdict will come from 'other people'.
The second is that 'if you believe in God' there will be a verdict from 'God as well'.
The first is self-evidently true. Nor is his saying it new. He said several times during the war that history would be his judge and that historians would be his judges.
It is fascinating to reflect whether and how Tony Blair, or any other leader, acts differently as they come closer to contemplating a place in history.
Tony Blair's comparative youth, in an era marked by a quickening pace of historical revisionism, means that he can look forward to an unusually large number of different judgement points before his time is up.
As I wrote at the time of the war, in the diary of my fly-on-the-wall month with him, he is clearly conscious of that.
Possibly - but not greatly so, I think.
Maybe he now thinks that more of those judgments will be harsh. But he still knows he can do nothing about them.
The second point, the religious claim that has excited commentators more, is as commonplace a view for any common-or-garden Christian as one could imagine. Tony Blair believes that his acts on earth will be judged by God. That is what Christians believe. That is what anyone who still cares to know about Christianity knows that Christians believe.
I heard him say during the war that he would have to justify himself to his Maker for the deaths and injuries that had been caused by his decisions. The frankness was interesting - and was duly and heavily reported when the book of the diary was published. But the thought itself - common to hundreds of millions of Christians, whether they are soldiers or sausage-makers, is not.
Despite media comment last night and this morning, nothing in what has been reported of Tony Blair's chat-fest on ITV suggests any change in his view on either history or religion since 2003.
Indeed, his views on the judgement of history have proably not changed since the time he first saw that he might have a place in history. How could they? What other view is there? That he might wake up one day in some Pharaonic realm in which he alone could write the books?
Winston Churchill tried it. But, in this age, there are too many competing accounts already. And no sign of a let-up.
As for his religious views, I doubt they have changed in this regard since his twenties. I still see no sign of a belief by Tony Blair that God directed his hand to back George Bush or that his God had thereby guaranteed him a good verdict on Judgement Day, or that his Christian God was directing a war against those whose beliefs are in a different God.
There are different kinds of Christians who do believe all those propositions. I have met them - many of them in places like Midland, Texas, where George Bush learnt his religion.
I am sympathetic to those who fear that George Bush himself might hold those views although my own view is that he does not. In as much as one can be certain of anything in this area, Tony Blair certainly does not.
So is there anything new in this story at all?
If Tony Blair were tonight to be seen as actively and deliberately parading his Christian beliefs, I might be persuaded that something significant had indeed changed. But there is no sign of that.
To judge from the publicity extracts, the remarks had virtually to be dragged from his mouth.
I remember watching during the war while Alastair Campbell and other advisers told him that he could not end a TV broadcast with 'God Bless You'. I was there when Campbell told an American inquirer on religious matters that 'we don't do God'.
Some current advisers, even of a PM who has promised not to face the next election, might prefer that he had not answered Mr Parkinson's questions as directly as he did.
But others, seeing benefit tonight in a well-watched personal interview with a popular chat-show host, may be well pleased.
TV ratings tonight.
Opinion poll ratings next week.
And afterwards, one type of judgement that no one, however masterly over the media, can control.
And another that only an individual of Christian faith can claim even to know.