Friday, March 16, 2012

With God On Their Side

What do Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Rick Perry, and Rick Santorum (hint: eventually) have in common?

They all were forced to drop out of the Repub presidential nomination, sometime after they suggested that the Almighty inspired them to run.

Asked in early June whether he had "that sort of calling to run for president." Representative Bachmann replied "yes, I've had that calling and tugging on my heart that this is the right thing to do."     Later that month, just before announcing her run, she told Bob Schieffer "I am a Christian, as is my husband. I became a Christian when I was 16 years old. I gave my heart to Jesus Christ.     Since that time, I've been a person of prayer. And so when I pray, I pray believing that God will speak to me and give me an answer to that prayer.  That's what a calling is.    If I pray, a calling means that I feel like I have a sense from God."

In August, Governor Perry gave a 13-minute address infused with Scriptural references at "The Response: A Call to Prayer for a Nation in Crisis" in Houston's Reliant Stadium.      The prayers at the event, according to the New York Times, "were given in Jesus Christ’s name, and the many musical performers sang of Christian themes of repentance and salvation."     The previous month, Perry had told the Des Moines Register “I’m not ready to tell you that I’m ready to announce that I’m in.      But I’m getting more and more comfortable every day that this is what I’ve been called to do. This is what America needs.”

In November,Herman Cain assured the Georgia Young Republicans "I'm a man of faith, I had to do a lot of praying for this one, more praying than I'd ever done before in my life. And when I finally realized that it was God saying that this is what I needed to do, I was like Moses. 'You've got the wrong man, Lord. Are you sure?'"

As you would expect, Rick Santorum also believes that God brought him in to the race. Early this month, an official with the Romney campaign boasted "As you can tell all we have to do is keep doing what we’re doing and we can get to the nomination.     For those guys it’s going to take some sort of act of God to get to where they need to be on the nomination front.”     Santorum, campaigning in Puerto Rico, demurred, stating "One of my opponents recently said that it would take an act of God for me to win this primary. I agree with him."

To be sure, none of the three candidates who have departed the race claimed that God had designated him/her to be the next President, nor even the next GOP nominee.        Nor did Santorum say that God is running interference for him- only that if he were to win the Puerto Rico primary, it would be the Lord's doing.    

In July, the Daily Beast's Michelle Cottle spoke to longtime cultural conservative and American Values president, onetime presidential contender and current Santorum supporter (phew!) Gary Bauer.    She asked him to explain Perry:

"Sometimes it’s presented in media that the individual believes that God has picked him to be president. That would be very jarring to people, and would not be a wise thing for candidate to say—since the voters would certainly like their chance."  He adds with a laugh, "That would mean God would go before Iowa!"

But Bauer added "Being called is basically about praying and trying to discern God’s will," Bachman, Perry, Cain, and Santorum all have implied strongly that God's will was that they run for the Repub nomination for President.     I have a sense from God that this is the right thing to do, Bachmann said.    Perry suggested that he would be "in" if it's "what I've been called to do."      Cain apparently was told by God "this is what I needed to do."       And now Santorum has announced that he will win Puerto Rico if and only if God wishes.

It's over, for this cycle, for Herman Cain.     But Michele Bachmann is running for re-election to the U.S. House, it's hardly likely that Rick Perry's career in Texas is over, and Rick Santorum has an outside (barely) chance to be the GOP nominee for U.S. President.  And each seems to believe that God is in his/her corner, having selected that individual over all others.

A partisan would argue that the media is giving GOP candidates a pass on their rather interesting take on the role of the Almighty.        Not being partisan (insert chuckle here), I believe instead that the media is awfully uncomfortable about raising the issue.    But it must be probed; religion is very important to these politicians, or at least they claim it to be.    It appears to be an important part of whom they are, let alone the reason they've gotten into, or remain in, the political arena.     Ignoring the elephant in the room won't make the elephant go away, only encourage more politicians in the future to maintain that God is on their side, and uniquely so.

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