One certain outcome of Obama getting the Democratic nomination is seeing those clips of his former pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, again and again–until November. While I have my problems with Obama, this isn’t one of them. Let’s just hope for equal air time regarding McCain’s pandering to John Hagee and his organization, Christians United for Israel (CUFI).
Wright was just on Bill Moyers Journal and got the chance to put his comments in perspective, both by words and by showing longer segments to give context to the snippets getting so much air play. He successfully makes the “God damn America” and “Home to Roost” comments more of a non-issue for me.
The segment didn’t address his comments on HIV as a government conspiracy, an idea that also has traction with some in the HIV activism community. I don’t buy it, but I do hold the Reagan Administration directly responsible for allowing the epidemic to grow unchecked during those critical early days. If that’s what Wright means, then we’re once again closer on a larger truth glossed over in sound bites.
The punditry agrees that Wright’s public appearances can only hurt Obama, saying it’s an excuse for the media to trot out the sound bites. If it’s not full coverage like the Moyers program, they might be right. Let’s just hope that (the Democrats make sure that) McCain’s link to Hagee gets equal time. These scandals are not created equal.
Hagee is the founder of CUFI, an organization that supports Israel for the sole purpose of fulfilling Biblical prophecy. Israel is merely a means to an end, to be discarded when all of CUFI’s good little Christians ascend to heaven in the Rapture. This is an Apocalyptic cult with some values in common with suicide bombers who throw away their lives for the promise of 72 virgins in paradise. It’s just too easy to justify horrible acts in this life if you believe in a distorted view of the afterlife, a consequence of any kind of religious fundamentalism.
Hagee himself is virulently anti-gay and anti-Catholic. He’s cut from the same cloth as Robertson and Falwell, claiming that Katrina was God’s punishment for gay Mardi Gras. It mystifies me that we haven’t seen more clips of Hagee spewing his vitriol; maybe there’s just too much for the media to choose from. Howard Dean should give them a hand and send around a top five.
McCain’s active pandering to fundamentalist Christians like Hagee and Robertson since his Jekyll-to-Hyde transformation two years ago is a continuation of the selling-out of the Republican Party. It’s foolish to think he can shrug these people off once in office; promises are being made, and they will be kept. These aren’t people who sound bad in out-of-context sound bites. These are bad people, hateful xenophobes who pervert religion for their own gain. By seeking their endorsement, McCain is assuring their continuing influence in American politics and culture.
Obama isn’t pandering to Wright and there’s no expectation of influence once he’s in the White House. IMHO, Obama’s failure was going “didn’t inhale” on the comments. He should have stuck to his guns from the Philadelphia speech, talked more about the context of the statements, and hammered home that he supports Wright as family but rejects his comments. Obama doesn’t do well with controversy when he has to improvise, and that worries me going into November. The litmus test will be how his campaign handles the dust kicked up by Wright’s latest appearances. Super-delegates, please pay attention!