May 5th, 2008 14:12 EST
Media Wild About Jeremiah Wright; Mute About John McCain's Preacher Problem
If I ever run for a local political office, I would seek out the endorsement of politicians who share my political ideology. Office-holders have to be circumspect in their behavior and speech -- they answer to an electorate all too quick to turn against them if they deviate from the norm. It's unlikely that a seasoned politico would say anything so crazy that it would hurt my political aspirations.
But I would never, under any circumstances, seek or accept the endorsement of any religious leader. Preachers don't have to answer to anyone but god; they have carte blanche to spew the most ridiculous, hurtful and divisive comments. Politicians are often called upon to explain why they accepted the blessing of a "man of god" who makes homophobic or racist statements.
I don't know the heart of Sen. Barack Obama, maybe he joined Jeremiah Wright's church out of a genuine desire for spiritual fulfillment. But I wouldn't be surprised if he became a member of Wright's congregation out of political expediency; it's easier to win elections if Americans perceive you as a faithful churchgoer.
But the bottom line is that Obama's close affiliation with the lunatic preacher has caused incalculable harm to his presidential aspirations. It seems like every other day, for the past couple of months, Obama has had to denounce another of Wright's insane comments.
Obama isn't the only presidential candidate with a "preacher problem":
"While Senator Obama's pastor has been ripped to shreds in the media, John McCain's have gotten a complete free ride. Did you know that the man John McCain calls his "spiritual guide" thinks the purpose of America is to get into a giant war with all of Islam and destroy it? Other than being bigoted, that's also insane. And how much have you heard about that guy? Who can even name who he is?
Other pastors whose endorsements John McCain has proudly accepted have blamed the city of New Orleans for Hurricane Katrina and America's liberal policies for the attacks of 9/11. How is that any different than what Rev. Wright said?"
Quotation from the Young Turks Report hosted by Cenk Uygur and Ben Mankiewicz.
There are very few calls from the media for Sen. John McCain to "denounce and reject" John Hagee and Rod Parsley, two whacko televangelists who have endorsed him.
According to an article published in Mother Jones Parsley has called for persecuting people who commit adultery, and he has also compared Planned Parenthood to Nazis. Parsley is as nuts as Wright, but we don't hear much about McCain's "preacher problem".
There shouldn't be a double standard, McCain should be called to task for seeking and accepting endorsements from controversial evangelists. It's hard to believe that during his 2000 presidential campaign, McCain branded Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson "agents of intolerance." I guess the "straight-talker" saw the light and realized that he couldn't win the Republican nomination without the support of the far-right televangelists.
Some pundits claim that racism is the reason why the press focuses only on Obama's preacher. Some black pastors, including Wright, have a penchant for engaging in histrionics that mainstream America finds ridiculous and disturbing. It's easy for the mostly white mainstream press to satirize a black minister who hoots and hollers.
I don't subscribe to this racism theory; the media has attacked Wright without mercy, to a large extent, because of his anti-American remarks. Televangelists say all sorts of crazy things, but they always tout their patriotic credentials. The press wants to be liked, and they will be perceived more favorable by the public if they condemn anti-American rhetoric.
Politicians shouldn't be in the game of seeking endorsements from clergymen. What ever happened to the separation of church and state? If I were a Muslim, Buddhist, or pagan I would be angry that mainstream political candidates only seek the endorsement of Christian ministers.
I hope Barack Obama is the next president of the United States, but I have very little sympathy for his self-inflicted preacher problem. I hope every politician who accepts the endorsement of a "man of god" finds himself in a similar predicament.