The first Republican Abraham Lincoln famously proclaimed, "My concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God's side." Now, in the latest sign of the transformation of the Party of Lincoln into the Party of God, Nevada Senate candidate Sharron Angle declared the Almighty is on her side. And to be sure, Angle, who just two weeks ago proclaimed "God has a plan" for pregnant victims of rape and incest, is far from alone in believing in the Divine Right. As it turns out, Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, Mike Huckabee, Jan Brewer and Michael Steele are just some of the Republicans who believe they have been touched by the hand of God.
"How do you explain all this? You're now a national story, are you kind of overwhelmed by it all?" asked Reed.
"I believe that God has been in this from the beginning and because of that when he has a plan and a purpose for your life and you fit into that, what he calls you to he always equipped you for," Angle replied.
As Americans learned last month, if nothing else Sharron Angle is equipped with a heart of stone. Given the 2008 Republican platform and John McCain's prime-time mockery of the "health of the mother," Sharron Angle's extreme position on abortion sadly is not unusual among hard-line conservatives. But what is unique is her frankness in claiming the suffering of rape and incest victims is divinely mandated:
MANDERS: Is there any reason at all for an abortion?
ANGLE: Not in my book.
MANDERS: So, in other words, rape and incest would not be something?
ANGLE: You know, I'm a Christian, and I believe that God has a plan and a purpose for each one of our lives and that he can intercede in all kinds of situations and we need to have a little faith in many things.
For Sarah Palin, one of those things can be found in her mirror.
Her April address to an evangelical group called Women of Joy provides a recent case in point. Palin wasn't content to advocate the demolition of the wall separating church and state ("Lest anyone try to convince you that God should be separated from the state, our Founding Fathers, they were believers"). She announced she was "so appreciative" of the "prayer warriors" battling on her behalf:
"Prayer Warriors all across the country -- and I know some of you are here tonight -- your prayer shield allows me and others to go forth. You give out strength, providing a prayer shield. That is the only way to put one foot in front of the other, and get through some of these days with joy."
And while you're at it, Sarah Palin suggested to the Tea Party Convention in February, you can pray for America, too. Unlike President Obama's repeated warnings to the American people not to assume that "our progress was inevitable -- that America was always destined to succeed," Palin declared that "divine intervention" and not being "unafraid to do what was hard" was the key to the nation's future:
"And then I think kind of tougher to, kind of tougher to put our arms around but, allowing America's spirit to rise again by not being afraid, not being afraid to kind of go back to some of our roots as a God fearing nation where we're not afraid to say, especially in times of potential trouble in the future here, we're not afraid to say, you know, we don't have all the answers as fallible men and women so it would be wise of us to start seeking some divine intervention again in this country, so that we can be safe and secure and prosperous again."
Of course, in Sarah Palin's telling, the Lord is going rogue with her.
As the Washington Post summed it up in its review of book, Palin's worldview is "an Alaskan frontierswoman's trinity" of "God, Todd and dominion over animals." And to be sure, the Quitta from Wasilla sees the hand of God everywhere in her life:
Right away, Palin posits her faith as the pillar of her career, as if her successes have unfolded according to a grand divine plan. Her selection as McCain's running mate was a "natural progression," she writes in one section. "I don't believe in coincidences," she writes in another.
But as it turns out, Sarah Palin doesn't just have the Lord in her corner, she's also His spokesman.
The war in Iraq, as then Governor Palin told students at the School of Ministry at the Wasilla Assembly of God, is "a task that is from God." And when it came to the multibillion natural gas pipeline she hoped would span her state, Palin lectured, "I can do my job there in developing our natural resources...But really all of that stuff doesn't do any good if the people of Alaska's heart isn't right with God," adding:
"God's will has to be done in unifying people and companies to get that gas line built, so pray for that."
A jaw-dropping expose in Vanity Fair revealed the shocking extent of Palin's divine narcissism:
When [her son] Trig was born, Palin wrote an e-mail letter to friends and relatives, describing the belated news of her pregnancy and detailing Trig's condition; she wrote the e-mail not in her own name but in God's, and signed it "Trig's Creator, Your Heavenly Father."
Of course, Sarah Palin apparently has long believed she was touched by both the voice - and hand - of God. In May 2005 process complete with a laying on of hands, Kenyan pastor Thomas Muthee prayed over Palin, imploring Jesus to protect her from "the spirit of witchcraft." As Election Day approached last fall, the GOP vice presidential claimed to be unconcerned by her ticket's dismal poll numbers. Victory, she insisted, was in God's hands:
"To me, it motivates us, makes us work that much harder. And it also strengthens my faith, because I'm going to know, at the end of the day, putting this in God's hands, that the right thing for America will be done at the end of the day on Nov. 4. So I'm not discouraged at all."
God, it seems, wanted Barack Obama in the White House.
Of course, the half-term Alaska Governor isn't the first - or the last - of the Republicans so graced by God. The divine high-fives started with George W. Bush, an unnatural disaster still supported by 57% of the Tea Party faithful.
The portrait of Bush as Savior was painted in books like Kevin Phillips' American Theocracy and Michael Lind's Made in Texas. Phillips concludes that George W. Bush is convinced that "God wanted him to be president", a view backed by Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention, who reported, "Among the things he said to us was: I believe that God wants me to be president." As White House official Tim Goeglein once put it, "I think President Bush is God's man at this hour, and I say this with a great sense of humility."
Minnesota Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann also proclaimed a mandate from the Almighty. In 2006, she testified that "God then called me to run for the United States Congress." In 2009, she told WorldNetDaily she would consider a run for the White House if He wanted it, "But I will not seek a higher office if God is not calling me to do it." Until such time as she gets the sign, Bachmann assured her constituents:
"You are now looking at a fool for Christ. This is a fool for Christ."
Truer words were never spoken.
Fallen South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, too, insists God has a plan for him. After comparing himself to King David, Sanford told Palmetto State residents, "It is true that I did wrong and failed at the largest of levels, but equally true is the fact that God can make good of our respective wrongs in life." Sanford explained that he needed to remain in office "for God to really work in my life." So, Mark Sanford explained, the Lord wants him to hike the Appalachian Trail for Him:
"I would ultimately be a better person and of more service in whatever doors God opened next in life if I stuck around to learn lessons rather than running and hiding down at the farm."
Joining Newt Gingrich and Iran-Contra villain turned Fox News regular Oliver North at Rock Church in Hampton Roads, Virginia in June, the former Baptist Minister and 2012 White House hopeful testified to God's role in furthering both the American Revolution and Huckabee's own reactionary social policies. As the Virginia Pilot recounted:
"The notion that we are just one of many among equals is nonsense," Huckabee said. The United States is a "blessed" nation, he said, calling American revolutionaries' defeat of the British empire "a miracle from God's hand."
The same kind of miracle, he said, led California voters to approve Proposition 8, which overturned a state law legalizing same-sex marriages.
And God, in the Governor's telling, stands with Mike Huckabee.
Back in December 2007, Huckabee attributed his dramatic surge in Iowa, a state he later won, to His divine intervention:
"There's only one explanation for it, and it's not a human one. It's the same power that helped a little boy with two fish and five loaves feed a crowd of 5,000 people and that's the only way that our campaign could be doing what it's doing.
"And I'm not being facetious nor am I trying to be trite. There literally are thousands of people across who are praying that a little will become much and it has, and it defies all explanation. It has confounded the pundits, and I'm enjoying every minute of their trying to figure it out. And until they look at it from a just experience beyond human, they'll never figure it out. And that's probably just as well. That's honestly why it's happening."
The list of those tea bagging for Jesus hardly ends there. Long before she signed the draconian immigration law that put her on the national stage, Arizona Republican Governor Jan Brewer announced, "God has placed me in this powerful position." And Michael Steele described his divine ascension to the chairmanship of the RNC. "God, I really believe, has placed me here for a reason," Steele insisted, "because who else and why else would you do this unless there's something inside of you that says right now you need to be here to do this?"
And to be sure, those who carry the Republicans water seem to believe they can walk on it. In April, Glenn Beck announced:
God is giving a plan I think to me that is not really a plan...The plan that He would have me articulate, I think, to you is "Get behind me." And I don't mean me, I mean Him. "Get behind Me. Stand behind Me."
Joe "the Plumber" Wurzelbacher also has a direct line to the Almighty as well. Asked about running for office, the former McCain-Palin campaign prop replied:
"You know, I talked to God about that and he was like, 'No.'"
Finally, there's Sarah Palin's mini-me, Carrie Prejean. As the beauty pageant contestant turned anti-gay crusader told the adoring crowd at the Values Voters Summit:
"God chose me for that moment. He knew I was strong enough to get through all the junk that I have been through."
Sadly for Carrie Prejean, all of America soon learned that she had been touched not by God's hand, but her own.
Still, Ms. Prejean can take some comfort knowing, as Sharron Angle apparently believes, it's all in God's plan for her.