Pray for Me While I Kick Some Ass – From the Cutting Room Floor of Blind Allegiance to Sarah Palin
By Ken Morris and Jeanne Devon
As outlined in our last piece Obsessive Perfection and Anger Mismanagement, Sarah Palin’s temperament, emotional instability, and what others suggested were psychological disorders that bordered on, or actually crossed into pathology, necessarily leads to the inescapable conclusion that she would, as Frank Bailey stated in Blind Allegiance, be a “disaster of Biblical proportions” if ever elected to high public office.
According to individuals who knew her for decades, the compulsion to be perceived as perfect in both physical and intellectual terms drove Sarah Palin to “botox addiction,” bulimia, and abuse of diet pills even during pregnancy. In addition to the omnipresent quest to maintain a beauty queen image, Blind Allegiance described the lengths she went to manufacture intellectual chops, including ghost written op-eds and self-penned letters to the editor signed by others who were instructed to lie about their authorship. The need for this unattainable perfection (fueled, perhaps, by the side effects of diet pills, and what was described to us as binge and purge sessions), caused Sarah’s political inner circle, including husband Todd and Frank Bailey, to be constantly grappling with Sarah’s mercurial moods, in which she bounced between manic childishness, and depressive, brutal viciousness. These cycles left everyone she interacted with on a regular basis beyond edgy.
Confirming this roller coaster ride, an individual who knew her socially and reached out to us after Joe McGinniss’ leak of our manuscript in February said of the narrative in Blind Allegiance to Sarah Palin, “One thing about the manuscript that rings so true is this: you didn’t know which Sarah you’d meet up with. It’s so exhausting. You never knew. When it was time, and the family knew Mom would be home soon, even Todd, the whole demeanor of the house would change because you didn’t know if she was going to be happy as a lamb—the world is wonderful, ‘Hi, kids,’ laughy, laughy, laughy, good times—or if she was going to come in and slam her stuff down, be pissed off at Todd, slam some doors, and go to her room. You never knew what was going to walk in. I laughed my head off when I saw [in the leaked manuscript] that Todd was calling Frank Bailey to give him a heads-up about who she was that morning. That is classic Sarah. But isn’t it kind of sad to think that as the governor of a state, your spouse is having to call your support staff to tell them what kind of mood you’re in? But this doesn’t surprise me at all because Todd would complain about that all the time. And the kids knew what to look for too. If she was in her big, bad mood, they would disperse and hide.”
Sarah’s ferocious temper and retributive, attack dog personality conflicted strikingly with her tenacious insistence that God was at the core of her life. Throughout the years Frank worked alongside her, she continued to have email and personal contact with a longstanding and dedicated group of Prayer Warriors. She beseeched them and others to “pray hard” for her, and her mission to battle evil forces in the state and the nation. Palin took pains to heap public thanks on these groups, including in the acknowledgments of her memoir (what we like to fondly call her “dark comedy”) Going Rogue. The term Prayer Warrior is used by many evangelical Christian churches (and those espousing Dominion Theology), where adherents actively engage in what they believe to be spiritual warfare against demonic spirits. Sarah clearly expressed great sympathy for this religious philosophy as she swore to political and personal friends that those who opposed her were evil and suggested that she was at the center of a spiritual battle. She embraced as her legacy the Biblical images of Queen Esther and Jabez (both described in some detail in Blind Allegiance).
Once Sarah arrived on the national stage and became the Rebpublican party’s beloved hockey mom and vice presidential nominee, prayer networks across the country cropped up (with her full endorsement). Each stood at the ready to act on her requests and pray for her success on a day-to-day basis, including for her performance in a particular speech, debate or interview. She often received messages that supporters were praying for her, including Lt. Governor (now Governor) Sean Parnell of whom she said, “I’m so pleased to have a brother in prayer while in office as the Lt. Governor and I pray for God’s wisdom and His will to be done through us in this state…”
Sarah regularly received gushing emails from individuals who felt they were personally chosen by God to intercede for her. Just as Frank on the political front, there were those in her spiritual circle willing to lay down their lives for her if necessary. Lt. Governor Parnell and friends would share particular verses or prayers passed on to them by others, as if these were spiritual transfusions that would keep their beloved Sarah strong. Prophesies and visions were joyously passed to the governor and even her own dreams and those of others, were interpreted for their Biblical and political significance by spiritual “prophets.”
Palin attended at least one prayer meeting in Wasilla just before the VP nomination. She described herself as “quite anxious” to meet with, and have hands laid upon her by a small and secretive group of Prayer Warriors who congregated at a local business. They would pray and beg God for protection and political success for the woman they described as “God’s anointed” and in danger of being “toppled by the enemy.”
On June 7, 2008, Palin used Alaska state funds to travel from the capital of Juneau home to the Mat-Su Valley to attend two June 8th events hosted in part by the Wasilla Assembly of God, which she had been associated with for almost two decades. At one of the events, held at the Wasilla Sports Stadium, Palin spoke and dedicated the state of Alaska to Jesus. Governor Palin with her daughter Piper by her side, and son Trig in a sling, spoke to a cheering crowd, “I’m thinking, you know, what can our critics do? What can my critics do? They can’t take it back if I dedicate [the state] according to the authority I have within me to the Lord. They can’t take it back!” Upon learning of this dedication, her legions rejoiced: Sarah was, they now knew for sure, willing to eradicate the boundaries between a secular state and a rule by and for the glory of God. One Prayer Warrior commented that was the moment she knew Palin was without question, “one of us.”
When senior McCain staffers heard that the local Wasilla Prayer Warriors were planning to release a video tape of the 2008 One Lord Sunday event, in which both Governor Palin and Lt. Governor Parnell were blessed on stage in what is known as a laying on of hands, by Wasilla Assembly of God’s pastor Ed Kalnins, they grew extremely concerned. For them, this was yet another political disaster, and something that would be interpreted by the average voter as religious nut-baggery.
Bruce Wilson, reporting for AlterNet in September of 2008, noted that the sermons of Pastor Kalnins “espouse such theological concepts as the possession of geographic territories by demonic spirits and the inter-generational transmission of family ‘curses.’”
When the hapless McCain campaign was notified by Palin—who was apparently clueless that the film was incendiary—that the video was ready for circulation, it flew up the chain of command. McCain advisor Tucker Eskew diplomatically told Palin that “…general rule of thumb to our friends is let’s not give opponents new things to distort.”
Despite the potential powder keg of her own religious background that was ready to blow, Sarah was desperate for the McCain camp to attack candidate Obama over his affiliation with the controversial Rev. Jeremiah Wright, a man who had delivered sermons that sometimes sounded racially inflammatory. All the while, Sarah had radical religious tapes in the can that needed no distortion to be regarded as unsettling. Much to the McCain staff’s dismay, a video of Reverend Thomas Muthee, in which the visiting African cleric was shown laying hands on then gubernatorial candidate Sarah Palin and praying for her victory in the election, was being widely circulated. Muthee not only heaped praise on Palin, but he discussed how the church needed to take over the education system, the banks, the government, and the media; and prayed for Palin to be kept safe from witchcraft.
Wilson had this to say about Muthee: “Palin has also been blessed, or ‘anointed,’ by an African cleric [Muthee], prominent in the Third Wave movement, who has repeatedly visited the Wasilla Assembly of God and claims to have effected positive, dramatic social change in a Kenyan town by driving out a ‘spirit of witchcraft.’ The Wasilla Assembly of God church is deeply involved with both Third Wave activities and theology. Their Master’s Commission program is part of a three year post-high school international training program with studies in prophecy, intercessory prayer, Biblical exegesis, authority and leadership.”
While Frank Bailey noted in his book that Sarah never prayed in public or carried a Bible on trips, she invoked religiosity regularly (some would say, opportunistically). Knowing that she was pregnant with a Down Syndrome child, for example, she told friends that her pregnancy was a message from God to “walk the walk” and choose life for a “less than perfect” child. In a letter to family and friends which Palin wrote entirely in the voice of God, she included the biblical passage “My ways are not your ways, my thoughts are not your thoughts… for as the heavens are higher than the earth, my ways are higher than yours!” Palin stated that it took time to come to terms with the pregnancy, but wrote in an email to a close confidante in late March, “It’s all good. And I’m anxious for May. And anxious to find normal clothes to wear – I’m about out of scarves and fat blazers. And we’ll figure out how to tell others eventually also. No one else knows except Dr CBJ, her nurse, and the sonographer folks.”
When Sarah learned daughter Bristol was pregnant, a tentative and politically expedient shot-gun engagement to the baby’s father, Levi Johnston, was in the works. She told Todd on July 25, 2008, “I think she [Bristol] needs to get married on our anniversary. Word?” Coincidentally, the Palins anniversary happened to be on August 29, the very day of her nomination to the vice presidency. When Todd didn’t reply to this message, Sarah prodded, “Ya didn’t answer! Pray about it.” Apparently if the prayers were effectual, they led to the ultimate dissolution of said engagement and, eventually, dueling books from the one-time lovebirds.
In writing Blind Allegiance—and even more so after listening to those who reflected on her non-political life—we struggled to understand Sarah’s lack of New Testament virtues including charity, forgiveness, and compassion. The born-again bona fides she swore were at the core of her spiritual life seemed hollow and without substance. Despite Sarah’s pleas to staff and followers to shield her with prayer when she believed evildoers were seeking to do her harm, Frank Bailey suspected that she had a different approach to faith than the one he’d embraced growing up on Kodiak Island.
For us as authors who read over 50,000 emails and spent two years researching Sarah’s campaign and governorship, we developed more than a suspicion. The only Biblical message that seemed to resonated for the half-governor was from the Old Testament, and Sarah seemed a revisionist at that – rewriting the familiar verse from Exodus as Two eyes for an eye. Our subsequent interviews with those who knew her well confirmed and extended these observations. Blind Allegiance, we were authoritatively told, was, if anything, understated, and the devout images projected publicly were nothing more than a sham.
One friend of the Palins commented, “I cannot ever remember a religious moment in the house. Ever. I can’t remember hearing a prayer. Ever. Todd rarely would get up and go to church with Sarah. When they did decide to go to church, it was a screaming match. ‘We’ve got to go now!’ Sarah would scream. ‘Get your asses in the car!’ The girls would roll out of bed, no breakfast, hair all messed up. Seemed that there was a lot of swearing.” Mad and stressed out, “Sarah often yelled at her family . . . the kids kind of learned to ignore it because it happened so much.”
None of these observations prove that Sarah wasn’t a woman of faith. Frank certainly believed she was.
Despite this undercurrent of extreme religious fervor, and frequent comparisons to Biblical figures by her army of warriors, the flashes of temper at staff and eventually anyone who opposed her demonstrated that the woman who played so well for the camera and the religious right had a much darker side that remained unseen except to those in her inner circle.
To the extent she practiced faith, it appeared to many to be a radical spirituality – filled with demons, witches and dark forces that drove her to feel justified in destroying anyone who opposed her. She used God and her perceived role as one chosen to lead as an excuse to launch Crusade-like attacks on enemies including even (as described in Blind Allegiance) a Juneau neighbor who simply complained about traffic congestion. In this and other facets of her life we will write about a bit later, it also demonstrates a personality that is devoid of self-realization and full of monumental hypocrisy.
Stay tuned. Illegal drugs, affairs of the heart, and serial hypocrisy yet to come.