With just a few months remaining before Election Day 2008, John McCain's presidential campaign settled on an unexpected line of attack. "Barack Obama," the Republican campaign said in a national online ad, "may be The One."
As the New York Times noted at the time, "The heavens part in this new Web ad, which wraps Mr. Obama's words around the emerging meme among Republicans ... that the presumptive Democratic nominee is the 'anointed' one, and mocks him with a parting of the seas by Moses."
Twelve years later, Republicans have stopped mocking Obama as the chosen one and started sincerely labeling Donald Trump the chosen one.
Energy Secretary Rick Perry said in an interview that he told President Donald Trump that he was God's "chosen one" to lead the United States, just as he chose the kings to lead Israel in the Old Testament. [...]The former Texas governor said he told Trump that some people "said you were the chosen one.""And I said, 'You were.'"
Former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley made related comments to TV preacher Pat Robertson's cable program, saying, in response to a question about a divine hand possibly putting Trump in the Oval Office, "[E]verything happens for a reason... I think that God sometimes places people for lessons and sometimes places people for change."
In the spring, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also sat down with the Christian Broadcasting Network and said he believes God may have sent Donald Trump to Earth to protect Israel.
Two months earlier, then-White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said, "I think God calls all of us to fill different roles at different times, and I think that He wanted Donald Trump to become president and that's why he's there."
It's worth clarifying that there may be some theological nuances at play. It's possible, for example, that Perry, Haley, Pompeo, and Huckabee Sanders aren't trying to position Trump as some kind of celestial messenger, so much as they believe every president has God's blessing.
Indeed, Perry was rather explicit on this point, telling Fox News, "Barack Obama didn't get to be the president of the United States without being ordained by God. Neither did Donald Trump,"
But after all the mockery we heard from the right in 2008 about Obama being seen as "The One," it's striking to see Republicans turn around now and make the case that Trump's presidency has divine underpinnings.