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McCain's Reverends Right: His Faustian Bargain with Radical Christianity


"So I can understand, I can understand why people are upset about this. I can understand why Americans when viewing these kind of comments, are angry and upset." -John McCain on the interminable Jeremiah Wright controversy (April 27, 2008)

John McCain, the great empathizer, is running low on empathy. Quick to condemn the remarks of Obama's former pastor on behalf of American umbrage, McCain is reticent about his own knee-deep quagmire of offensive associational guilt. While Obama has bitterly terminated his unpopular alliance, John McCain continues to cling indefatigably to his.

All is quiet on the radical Christian front.

McCain has made a deal with the devil-- actually, three devils. Desperate to unify what is left of his ideological shamble of a Republican Party, McCain has allied with three of its most bigoted and hateful "spiritual" personalities: John Hagee, Rod Parsley, and (before his death) Jerry Falwell.

Though Americans take sincere offense at the vile statements of his powerful radical Christian allies, John McCain refuses to renounce them or disassociate himself from these hateful hucksters of hypocrisy.

Many, includingFrank Rich today, have already noted that the mainstream media has effectively ignored this most unholy of political alliances. As a result, it is quite likely that many Americans have yet to hear any of these incendiary statements. The following is a 10 minute synthesis of the greatest scatological hits of McCain's fundamentalist friends (see YouTube for myriad full-length footage):

It's not hard to see the thematic and stylistic similarities between the rhetoric of McCain's trinity-of-intolerance and Wright's well-publicized harangue: both claim government orchestration of black genocide; both point to the moral culpability of Americans in causing their own tragedy on 9/11; both exemplify the outrageous theatricality characteristic of evangelical pulpit-speak; and both fulminate with conspicuous rage. Wright has been condemned for speaking kindly of the Jew-hating Farakhan; Parsley's reference to the Rothschilds as he traces the genealogy of an international banking conspiracy wreaks of Protocols antisemitism.

But Obama established his relationship with Wright long before any of his inflammatory comments were made (and before Obama was made aware of them), while John McCain embraced Fallwell, Hagee, and Parsley with full knowledge of their bigoted reputations after they had argued their positions publicly. McCain sold his maverick soul in a Faustian bargain with those very "agents of intolerance" he once impugned.

The Wright affair will at most have raised questions for voters about Obama's ability to negotiate a scandal. Since his final renunciation of Wright, there can be no remaining doubts over where Obama's loyalties lie.

John McCain might privately disparage his radical Christian friends, but he has offered no indication to voters that he can untangle himself from their influence. McCain, like Bush before him, is deeply imbricated in the radical religious constituency that buttresses his party. As Arianna Huffington put it: the lunatic fringe of the party has hijacked McCain, like Bush before him.

Republican loyalists will hardly find these observations disturbing, since after all, better the devil you know than the angel you don't.