OF GOD AND PAY GRADES
At the Saddleback Church forum, Barack Obama told Rick Warren, in response to a question about when fetuses have human rights,
Well, you know, I think that whether you're looking at it from a theological perspective or a scientific perspective, answering that question with specificity, you know, is above my pay grade.
He's been slammed for that by right-wingers ever since. (Fred Thompson, for instance, said at the Republican convention, "We need a president who doesn't think that the protection of the unborn or a newly born baby is above his pay grade.")
But now let's talk about Sarah Palin. A few months ago she appeared at her old church and spoke about the Iraq War:
"Pray for our military men and women who are striving to do what is right. Also, for this country, that our leaders, our national leaders, are sending [U.S. soldiers] out on a task that is from God," she exhorted the congregants. "That's what we have to make sure that we're praying for, that there is a plan and that that plan is God's plan."
When Charlie Gibson asked her to clarify this, she said:
But the reference there is a repeat of Abraham Lincoln's words when he said -- first, he suggested never presume to know what God's will is, and I would never presume to know God's will or to speak God's words.
But what Abraham Lincoln had said, and that's a repeat in my comments, was let us not pray that God is on our side in a war or any other time, but let us pray that we are on God's side.
And later she said,
I don't know if the task is from God, Charlie.
Isn't she saying, like Lincoln, that ascertaining the rightness of the war is above her pay grade?
If right-wingers have a problem with Obama's answer, shouldn't they have a problem with Palin's -- and, for that matter, Lincoln's?
(Let me state for the record that, as critical as I am of Palin, I think she's accurately describing what she meant in that church appearance -- I read her words as "Pray that this is what God wants." Her other prayer call, involving a natural gas pipeline -- "I think God's will has to be done in unifying people and companies to get that gas line built, so pray for that" -- suggests a hell of a lot less doubt about what God wants, however.)