Sunday, March 16, 2008

Obama and McCain React To Clergymen

Senator Barack Obama's has responded to the hateful, anti-American exhortations of his (recently retired) pastor, Jeremiah Wright, by posting on The HuffingtonPost.com. Here they are in relevant part,reprinted from RealClear Politics, followed by my comments:


I vehemently disagree and strongly condemn the statements that have been the subject of this controversy. I categorically denounce any statement that disparages our great country or serves to divide us from our allies. I also believe that words that degrade individuals have no place in our public dialogue, whether it's on the campaign stump or in the pulpit. In sum, I reject outright the statements by Rev. Wright that are at issue.... All of the statements that have been the subject of controversy are ones that I vehemently condemn. They in no way reflect my attitudes and directly contradict my profound love for this country.

I have one problem with this explanation- the too-common resort of politicians to denouncing/criticizing/disagreeing with "any" statement. It smacks of a blanket condemnation, intentionally avoiding acknowledgement of any specific statement being unacceptable.

But I'm being picky. Obama's statement otherwise is forthright and definitive. He asserts "vehement" disagreement with "all of the statements that hve been the subject of controversy" and maintains "they in no way reflect my attitudes and directly contradict my profound love for this country." Note that the Senator: 1)condemns the statements; 2) says they do "not reflect my attitudes" (personalizing his opposition to the remarks); and 3) acknowledges that they contradict a ("my") "love for this country." Pretty strong stuff.

We all know about John McCain's tepid response to Reverend John Hagee's remarks about Roman Catholics and his failure to respond at all to Hagee's remarks about blacks, homosexuals, and an apparent lust for war with Iran: "We've had a dignified campaign, and I repudiate any comments that are made, including Pastor Hagee's, if they are anti-Catholic or offensive to Catholics" (emphasis mine).

But how about Reverend Rod Parsley, pastor of the Pentecostal megachurch World Harvest Church of Columbus? At a campaign rally on February 26, 2008 in Cincinnati, Ohio, Parsley endorsed McCain as "a strong, true, consistent conservative" and McCain in turn called the evangelical minister "a spiritual guide." And I suppose this is the spiritual guidance the fellow from
Arizona gets from him:

Parsley has argued "The fact is that America was founded, in part, with the intention of seeing this false religion destroyed, and I believe September 11, 2001, was a generational call to arms that we can no longer ignore." Similarly, he says "It was to defeat Islam, among other dreams, that Christopher Columbus sailed to the New World in 1492…Columbus dreamed of defeating the armies of Islam with the armies of Europe made mighty by the wealth of the New World. It was this dream that, in part, began America." And, Mother Jones bureau chief David Corn says of Parsley "in 2007, the grassroots organization he founded, the Center for Moral Clarity, called for prosecuting people who commit adultery. In January, he compared Planned Parenthood to Nazis. In the past Parsley's church has been accused of engaging in pro-Republican partisan activities in violation of its tax-exempt status."

The mainstream media has focused attention on Reverend Jeremiah Wright but has virtually ignored Reverend Hagee and Reverend Parsley. Given that the latter two are extremists who have endorsed the traditional media's favorite politician, that comes as no surprise.

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