I mentioned this in Tuesday’s convention thread but now that the smear’s broken big it deserves fuller attention. It’s come to this, kids: The Huffington Post, Arianna’s playpen, is actually fairer to Palin than the Associated Press. Watch the clip at the link; the money part runs from about 5:30 to 6:15. HuffPo quotes her, accurately:

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.”

Here’s what the AP turns it into:

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin told ministry students at her former church that the United States sent troops to fight in the Iraq war on a “task that is from God.”…

“Our national leaders are sending them out on a task that is from God,” she said. “That’s what we have to make sure that we’re praying for, that there is a plan and that plan is God’s plan.”

What’s missing from the AP’s version? Right — the beginning of what she said, the part that makes clear she’s not asserting that we’re doing God’s will but simply praying that we are. It’s the difference between me saying “McCain will win” and “I pray McCain will win.” The first is an assertion of fact/secret knowledge, the second is an expression of desire/hope. The AP actually stoops to picking up the quote mid-sentence to make it better fit the stereotype of the holy-roller yokel claiming divine inspiration for Bush’s Crusade. And the punchline? Just two days before HuffPo’s post, the meme du jour circulating among the nutroots was that Palin is some sort of Iraq war skeptic who thinks we’re fighting to some extent over oil we don’t need given that we’re stocked to the gills with domestic energy in Alaska. “Nonsensical” she called it — and then 48 hours we’re to believe she thinks it’s providentially ordained. Square that circle if you can.

Update: Would you believe the YouTube version of the clip is bowdlerized in precisely the same place? It’s so unlike the left to resort to those tactics.