[freedomtowernight_edited.jpg] 26th Parallel: Of Preachers, Pulpits and Presidential Candidates

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Of Preachers, Pulpits and Presidential Candidates

After being without internet access for 2 days, a hectic week at work and a full day away from the computer, I'm back with my usual "day late and a dollar short" analysis of the latest happenings.

First off: it's perfectly understandable why the Cuba U-23 football team was able to tie the U.S. team early this week in pre-Olympic qualifying...you're at your best when you have something to look forward to. Freedom can do that to someone. My buds at Babalu are all over this story, so go there to check out the latest news and analysis.

Now to the fun part of the post. Dealing with bigoted preachers.

A couple of weeks ago, John McCain accepted the endorsement of John Hagee, the corpulent, fire and brimstone pulpit-pounder who sees the end of the world in everything and everyone. OK, maybe I'm exaggerating a bit. Naaaah. But that's no big deal. What is a big deal are Hagee's anti-Catholic and anti-gay statements. McCain understandably faced some questioning about his ties to Hagee. McCain denounced Hagee's controversial statements while still accepting his endorsement.

Fast forward to last week. Barack Obama is grilled over controversial anti-American and racism-laced remarks uttered by his church's pastor, Jeremiah Wright.

Predictably, many on the left are pointing to McCain's acceptance of Hagee's endorsement to come back at Republicans and conservatives who are criticizing Obama for his ties to Wright (they're doing something similar regarding Spitzer and his call girls). Of course, by doing so, they are acknowledging that Obama stepped on doo-doo big time. Thanks for the admittance, guys and gals. I knew it was in ya.

The real issue, at least for me, is the significance of each "relationship" and what it could mean. McCain is doing what any politician in a heated race would do: accept endorsements. Let's be realistic here. As Redstate astutely points out:
To be sure, I would rather McCain completely disassociate himself from Hagee, but his failure to do so (no doubt as a matter of political prudence) is not nearly enough for me to sit out an election that may, among other things, decide who gets to fill as many as three Supreme Court vacancies in the next four years.
Who reading this doesn't think Hagee would endorse anyone on the right who's running against either Hillary or Obama? Hagee would endorse a cut-out of Ronald Reagan at this point. He typifies the very ugly right (as if left or right really matters when referring with people like this). If you think Hagee represents rank and file Republicans and conservatives, think again. Then again, just think.

OTOH, Obama has what is undoubtedly a close and personal relationship with Jeremiah Wright. He married Mr. and Mrs. Obama. He baptized Obama's two children. He is the pastor of Obama's church. He is Obama's spiritual advisor and mentor.

I think you know where I'm going with this. McCain is using Hagee for political gain (while still denouncing his statements), while Obama has a close relationship with Wright (while still denouncing his statements). Which one is worse? I believe Obama when he says that he considers Wright a "crazy uncle" who sometimes says crazy things. If so, then why wait until the crapola hits the fan to denounce the guy's ridiculous, reckless and dangerous statements? The fact is, I believe Obama was willing to downplay his spiritual mentor's anti-American and bigoted remarks because....I have no idea.

Actually, I do. Read on.

If it was me, and my pastor was an anti-American bigot, I would drop him like a bad habit. No looking back, no questions asked. To the Obamas, however, it's just "crazy uncle" acting up again. Until Barack's presidential candidacy is as stake, however. Then it matters.

You know what? What I'm about to say may be unfair, and if it is then so be it. Michelle Obama's recent comment about "being proud to be an American for the first time in her adult life" makes perfect sense now when you put it in the context of the spiritual and moral guidance she and her family has been receiving for the past 2 decades. I may not be an intellectual, but I can put 2 and 2 together. You don't belong to a church, listen to a pastor's sermons for the better part of 20 years, and NOT have some of the pastor's values and thoughts seep in at some level. I'm not saying that Barack (or even Michelle) Obama hates the United States. I'm not saying that he faults the United States for 9-11. I'm not saying he's a bigot. But at some level, even if it's way below the surface, he must find some common ground with Wright's ideology.

For McCain, Hagee is someone he can use for his political gain. As dirty as it is (it is politics after all), it's just politics.

For Obama, Wright means much more. And that's scary.


Blogger Rick said...

I have no idea why Obama didn't dump his buddy long ago. And I also don't know why it took Republicans years and years to realize that Obama is this "scary." But I find it fascinating and somewhat comical that some otherwise level-headed people are breathlessly questioning a U.S. Senator's patriotism. Of course, this is the latest American that Republicans have made their Turncoat Du Jour, so it's not exactly a new tactic or innovative one. But, regardless, it's something that we need to play along with and address.

Let me share with you some things that I think are scary.

$4/gallon gas. Recession. Big recession. Banks failing. Torture. Torture accepted by large segments of America. Christian extremists having influence in the White House. A war without end. Illegal surveillance conducted by the government. A politician that sings Beach Boy songs about war. White House officials revealing the identities of our CIA agents. Not being able to afford healthcare. My President lying to me. Again. And again. Well, now....you get the idea.

Yeah, Robert, these are the things that really, really scare me. Sen. Obama's choice of pastors does concern me, but scare me?



7:09 PM, March 16, 2008  
Blogger nonee moose said...

Geez, Rick. Sounds like your Manchurian Candidate is better. You win. I guess.

Given all the unexpected excesses of the past 8 years (that is aside from the knowns going in), shouldn't everyone be on pins and needles about any mounting circumstances that in the aggregate may be cause for concern? Is it fair to be concerned?

I also think McCain should have handed Hagee's endorsement right back to him, soaked in urine. But that would be injecting too much principle into the game of naked politics. Likewise, I wasn't prepared to hang Farrakhan's endorsement around Obama's neck, assuming a similar lack of intimacy to the relationship as Haggee's to McCain. The Wright mater seems to me a horse of a different color. I'll go one better: I buy the "crazy uncle" line. What concerns me, truly, is the attending circumstances that seem to undermine that theory at every turn. So the scrutiny should be on the appearance that Obama may be trying to have it both ways. But that's not even the cause for my concern. In any other case, such an attempt would be par for the course.

My concern is that here is a guy who is making more headway, piercing the embedded cynicism of political campaigns, running an unabashed identity campaign at all levels. The campaign strategy, IMHO, has been brilliant in its high-concept plan, and has largely succeeded in deflecting almost all criticism of a total lack of substance in favor of the gut-driven meta-issues of trust and cooperation and unity and fluffy kittens. And nevermind the tacit dare to "either inject the race issue, or I will." Heck, I still have my doubts about him. And I mean that in a good way.

The downside of running a campaign that is "above politics" is that, when perceived to be playing politics, the scrutiny can be crippling.

We shall see.

9:42 AM, March 17, 2008  

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