Sunday, May 04, 2008

The minister-candidate double standard

New York Times Op-Ed columnist Frank Rich has managed to provide some larger context for the controversy surrounding Barack Obama and Reverend Jeremiah Wright, in today's column "The All-White Elephant in the Room." His column questions the double standard of scrutiny experienced by Obama regarding his relationship with Rev, Wright versus that of white Republican current and resigned presidential candidates John McCain, Mike Huckabee, and Rudy Guiliani to their religious leader associates and endorsers. Here's an excerpt which discusses one of various YouTube videos of Rev. John Hagee, who has endorsed John McCain, after McCain sought out the minister's endorsement:

...white televangelist Rev. John Hagee, lecturing in front of an enormous diorama. Wielding a pointer, he pokes at the image of a woman with Pamela Anderson-sized breasts, her hand raising a golden chalice. The woman is “the Great Whore,” Mr. Hagee explains, and she is drinking “the blood of the Jewish people.” That’s because the Great Whore represents “the Roman Church,” which, in his view, has thirsted for Jewish blood throughout history, from the Crusades to the Holocaust.

Mr. Hagee is not a fringe kook but the pastor of a Texas megachurch. On Feb. 27, he stood with John McCain and endorsed him over the religious conservatives’ favorite, Mike Huckabee, who was then still in the race.

Are we really to believe that neither Mr. McCain nor his camp knew anything then about Mr. Hagee’s views? This particular YouTube video — far from the only one — was posted on Jan. 1, nearly two months before the Hagee-McCain press conference. Mr. Hagee appears on multiple religious networks, including twice daily on the largest, Trinity Broadcasting, which reaches 75 million homes. Any 12-year-old with a laptop could have vetted this preacher in 30 seconds, tops.
Is there more? Yes there is, and none of it is getting the level of playback currently being experienced by Wright's original decontextualized sound bytes, or apparently the new ones after his perhaps ill-advised attempt to address the press on their terms (and in their own house) regarding their characterization of him to date.

Endnote:
YouTube "John Hagee compares Roman [Catholic] Church to Hitler"
NYT reporting on Rev. Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson's televised comments blaming 9/11 attacks on the United States having become "a nation of abortion, homosexuality, secular schools and courts, and the American Civil Liberties Union."
YouTube "Falwell and Robertson on The 700 Club after 9/11"
Media Matters for America article "Will MSNBC devote as much coverage to McCain's embrace of Hagee's support as it did to Obama's rejection of Farrakhan?" which provides a number of instances of hate-mongering remarks from Hagee.

Update: With thanks to New Black Man ("A Hand Clap of Praise for Bill Moyers") Bill Moyers' May 2, 2008 essay on Reverend Wright after his conversation with the minister last week on PBS.

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