The Pols’ Lincoln

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Lincoln.jpegIn her explanation to Charlie Gibson of what she meant when she talked about praying that America’s plan in Iraq was God’s plan, Sarah Palin 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.

The words of Lincoln that she said she was repeating are contained in the following quotation: “Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God’s side, for God is always right.” That’s not a prayer and, so far as I can tell, Lincoln never said it. It’s semi-smart apothegm, dumbed down from the Second Inaugural, with a tautology at the end; and politicians have a weakness for it. Barack Obama too has made reference to it. Ronald Reagan riffed on it when he told the assemblage at the 1980 National Affairs Briefing, the coming-out party of the religious right, that while he knew they couldn’t support him, he supported them and all that they did.