Rolling out the big names in the endorsement game

REALITY CHECK by Dawn Cariello: Was George W. Bush sent by God?

By: Dawn Cariello
   Howard Dean’s thumbs-up from Gov. James E. McGreevey is the latest move in the highly competitive endorsement game. Mr. Dean may have won the blessing of the governor but George Bush has support from a much bigger name — God.
   The Deity endorsement is the most coveted of all, but until the Bush presidency the belief that God partakes in partisan politics was never openly suggested. But, as has been said, Sept. 11 changed everything, including the idea that a Supreme Being — as opposed to the Supreme Court — made George W. Bush president.
   In speeches to religious groups, Gen. William Boykin (the man leading the charge to find Osama bin Laden) has told audiences, "George Bush was not elected by a majority of the voters in the U.S. He was appointed by God." This non-secular nonsense is no longer just a religious right rant. Rudy Giuliani — not known as a zealot (except when dealing with squeegee men) has said, "There was some divine guidance in the president being elected." Former Bush speechwriter David Frum recently penned these enlightened words: "While the president’s opponents have made much sport of the idea that God called George Bush to the presidency, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to doubt that God wants President Bush re-elected."
   What does the president think of this? Speaking of his initial 2000 run, he claimed, "I feel like God wants me to run for president." Earlier this year, his close friend and Commerce Secretary Don Evans said, "Bush believes he was called by God to lead the nation at this time."
   The onset of Higher Power politics presents profound problems for the Democrats. Howard Dean is trying to win backing from Buddha, but that doesn’t carry the same weight. John Kerry was prepared to announce that Saint Jude was on board until he learned that Jude was the patron saint of lost causes. Dick Gephardt was sure he had the most powerful support possible until he realized the Teamsters have (slightly) less power than God. And the devout Joe Lieberman is feeling more like Job Lieberman as he once again is passed over for an endorsement that he thought was rightfully his.
   Democratic victory hopes aside, this alleged celestial seal of approval raises bigger concerns for voters. Does it make sense to vote for a candidate who doesn’t have a prayer of winning? Why even hold an election when the outcome is predestined?
   Fear not, ye of little faith. There are many among us who believe that God is above the political fray, that religion and politics mix together as well as (holy) water and (snake) oil and that those who profess God’s will in electoral issues are not being prophetic but profane. We await deliverance to a Promised Land where politicians don’t imply divine election intervention.
   In the meantime, don’t give up hope. Regardless of the religious rhetoric, the 2004 presidential election is not a done deal — because George Bush isn’t the only one who works in mysterious ways.
Dawn Cariello’s column, Reality Check, appears monthly in The Packet, a sister publication of the Cranbury Press.