The “McCain standard” and the rise of the Calphalon Candidate

If you’re following America’s electoral theater at all, you know that we have a candidate with a preacher problem. And that the candidate in question has been put in the uncomfortable position of having to repudiate some of said preacher’s remarks (while not alienating those voters in the flock who actually, you know, agree with what the Reverend was saying). In case you haven’t been paying attention, the controversial cleric has pronounced God’s doom upon certain of the nation’s citizens, and the backlash against him and his favorite for the White House has significantly damaged the candidate’s chances.

Of course, I’m talking about the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and Barack Obama. Errr, wait … that’s not right. That’s not who I’m talking about at all.

No, I’m talking about the Rev. John Hagee and His Maverickness, John Dubya McCain.

You might recall (or you might not, since the Fourth Estate has devoted so few column inches to the story) that Preacher Hagee, a many-jowled man who does little to explode cheap stereotypes about fundamentalist Texans and whose public pronouncements are a living indictment against every academic institution he ever attended, decreed that Hurricane Katrina was a divine smiting against the city of Sodom New Orleans because it was planning to allow a public parade by a bunch of queers. To be sure, Preacher Hagee believes a great many interesting things (I mean, come on, he called the Catholic Church “‘The Great Whore,’ an ‘apostate church,’ the ‘anti-Christ,’ and a ‘false cult system’”) so in context his New Orleans theory is actually fairly tame.

Besides, he’s been called to account for the outrage, with the nation’s top journalistic watchdogs walloping him no less than 8% as often as it has the Rev. Wright.

A Media Matters for America Nexis search* found that since February 27, the date that televangelist John Hagee endorsed Sen. John McCain for president, The New York Times and The Washington Post combined have published more than 12 times as many articles mentioning Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr. and Sen. Barack Obama as they have mentioning Hagee and McCain. The Post published 53 articles during that period that mentioned Wright and Obama, compared with three articles mentioning Hagee and McCain. The Times published 46 articles since February 27 mentioning Wright and Obama, compared with five articles mentioning Hagee and McCain.

Additionally, during the same period, the Post published 40 editorials or opinion pieces that included Wright and Obama while publishing two editorials or opinion pieces that mentioned McCain and Hagee. The Times published 22 editorials or opinion pieces that included Wright and Obama, compared with two editorials or opinion pieces that mentioned McCain and Hagee.

Now that’s fair and balanced!

Still, none of this matters because McCain is having nothing to do with Hagee. Ummm, hold on. No, no … that’s not right, either. McCain said he was right honored to have the good Reverend’s endorsement. Of course, he’s repudiated Hagee’s New Orleans remarks. But he’s still glad to have the endorsement.

I know what you’re probably thinking: here comes a “flip-flopper” crack. Nope. Flip-flopping is when you say/do one thing and them come back later and say/do the opposite. It hardly counts as flip-flopping when you’re saying/doing both things at the same time (and please watch the video). No, that’s some other kind of advanced forked-tonguery that the noise machines haven’t coined a catchy name for yet (although “Double-Talk Express” does have a certain ring to it). In the meantime, let’s just call it “lying.” Never mind having his cake and eating it, too – he’s having my cake and eating it, too.

In any case, at least Hagee has calmed his ass down lately. What? I’m sorry, hold on a sec …. he said what? You have got to be kidding me.

In a sermon given at his San Antonio, Texas Cornerstone megachurch that was telecast and available in up to ninety million homes worldwide, controversial pastor John Hagee, who has endorsed the presidential bid of Arizona Republican Senator John McCain, Jr., claimed that American public schools provide abortion services. Hagee stated, “Your daughter can get an abortion in public school without telling you but she can’t get an aspirin without your approval.” The pastor also claimed that public school teachers can force their students to study a “precursor to witchcraft” and suggests that America has invited “satan” and demonic spirits into its public school systems by failing to display the Ten Commandments on classroom walls.

Well, surely the press is going to be all over this one. Right?

One of Ronald Reagan’s nicknames was “the Teflon President,” because no matter what he said or did, and no matter how many cookie jars his people got caught looting, nothing ever stuck.

Are we now seeing the ascendance of The Calphalon Candidate? McCain flips and flops like a live trout on a hot griddle. He’s got a temper like an adolescent with roid rage. He called his wife – in public, with witnesses (and brace yourself for some intemperate language, if you would) – a “cunt.” Since no reporters are willing to ask about this bit of immoderacy, an attendee at an Iowa Town Hall event did.

No normal rabble rouser was the questioner, by the way. He was a Baptist minister. And he got tossed from the event for having the temerity to utter such blasphemy in the presence of, you know, adult voters.

I’m not sure what to say here that isn’t obvious. Maverick is clearly less the straight shooter than he wants us to believe and the nation’s press has no interest in holding him to the same standards it holds his opponents to. Welcome to The McCain Standard. Had he and Hagee been subjected to the same scrutiny that Obama and Wright have endured how very interesting these past few weeks would have been.

I’ve been resisting the urge to question why white Christianity is getting a pass while black Christianity gets pummeled. Why white whack-jobs of the first order can say any goddamned crazy shit that pops into their heads while distinguished military veterans with – and let’s be honest here – fairly legitimate questions about the plight of blacks in America get demonized like they thought up 9/11 all by themselves.

Of course, now I’ve gone and done it, I guess, but explain to me, if you will, how I’m being any less fair to the American press than they’re being to America.

I have no illusions that our nations reporters, editors and obscenely rich (and occasionally Australian) media moguls are going to act in the best interest of the country. Right now I guess I’d count it as a victory if they’d just pretend a little harder.


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  • Cornerstone Church is precisely 3.8 miles from my home, by the way. We get the batshit breezes all the time.

  • one wonders? why all Catholic’s are not asked by the Press? ( to denounce and reject} their pastors in the light of all the sex assaults on the children of the church. Is God watching? Why only Obama must renounce and reject his pastor? he has not raped any one. As hillary says he ( not muslim as far as I know?). whats up with that?

  • At first I thought “why is no one reporting on this?” Then I realized that so many people believe in what this dude thinks. I honestly wonder if having this guy behind you will actually help you in “red” states. I never thought people were really this dumb until I talked to an old friend from Louisiana who actually thinks that black people should consider themselves lucky. He says “their tearing apart the country” I then ask “how?” His reasons: They were the strongest, smartest, best looking, and had the best teeth. I’m not making that up, it’s not some lame black joke it’s 100% real. It was on of the few times in my life I was speechless. He then asked me about his pastor, I said “at least he believes in jesus”. Of course that’s when he went with plan B, “isn’t he muslum?” I wish I could have recorded that conversation, it was classic. It was also a point where I actually though Barack could lose.

    In similar news Matt Taibbi had a great article about Cornerstone

    In case you missed Matt’s article, (Matt Taibbi Undercover with the Christian Right) here it is, it’s pretty funny

  • “McCain flips and flops like a live trout on a hot griddle. He’s got a temper like an adolescent with roid rage. He called his wife – in public, with witnesses (and brace yourself for some intemperate language, if you would) – a “cunt.” Since no reporters are willing to ask about this bit of immoderacy, an attendee at an Iowa Town Hall event did.”

    I find it difficult to believe that if there were journalists present that they did not write about it/speak about it/go on record somewhere. So all one is left with is an unsubstantiated and unsupported allegation that he used the C word.

    Otherwise I really found this article brilliant. Having watched all the TV coverage of Rev Wright it somewhat addresses the balance.

    I applaud Jimmy Carter’s support of Mr Obama on how he handled the ‘crazy’ pastor.

    …and I wonder whether Mr Obama was thinking God Damn Rev Wright.

  • Yes, Darrell. It will help you. People are insane.

  • “John Dubya McCain”

    Ok. I think I’ll step in for a second to talk about effective and ineffective ways to bash a candidate. Calling them names is usually cheap and childish but only effective if it rings somewhat true. Insisting that McCain is a clone of Bush does great disservice to the incompetent abomination that is the Bush Administration. It takes a certain kind of special to do what they did. And you can’t believe we would be in the mess we are in today if McCain won in 2000. Would Gore have been orders of magnitude better for this country than McCain? Sure, but insisting that eight years of McCain would follow the trajectory of the previous eight years under Bush seems to be guided more by ideology than rationality. Looking at the volume of decent criticisms above, you’ve got more than enough mud to sling around without having to Godwin the debate.

    While still dressed in my Devil’s Advocate costume, here’s where I see where the Wright/Hagee comparison fails. McCain is about as religious as the Clintons; which is to say, not much at all. Both Hagee and McCain did the handing out and receiving of endorsements out of calculated political necessity. Obama, on the other hand, has been attending Wright’s church for a couple decades, became a Christan under him and was truly his “spiritual counsellor”. The amount of press that Wright received in comparison to Hagee is a sad commentary on race in this country. But that is not a straight up analogy because their relationships with the candidates are not at the same level. So, I don’t give the press a complete pass on this, but I can understand why there isn’t identical coverage of both preachers.

    Now McCain’s great audition for the part of “Angry Old Coot” is brilliant. From “McNasty” to screaming at fellow legislators to cursing out and publicly humiliating his wife, I’m waiting for him to holler “Get off my lawn!” to America. This is a great foil to Obama’s “Mr. Cool” character.

    While McCain is no Bush, I’m afraid that he will still have a tendency to defer to his staff and the Republican party in general when he doesn’t give a shit about a topic he is confronted with. Take his view on AIDS and contraception:

    Q: “What about grants for sex education in the United States? Should they include instructions about using contraceptives? Or should it be Bush’s policy, which is just abstinence?”

    Mr. McCain: (Long pause) “Ahhh. I think I support the president’s policy.”

    Q: “So no contraception, no counseling on contraception. Just abstinence. Do you think contraceptives help stop the spread of HIV?”

    Mr. McCain: (Long pause) “You’ve stumped me.”

    Q: “I mean, I think you’d probably agree it probably does help stop it?”

    Mr. McCain: (Laughs) “Are we on the Straight Talk express? I’m not informed enough on it. Let me find out. You know, I’m sure I’ve taken a position on it on the past. I have to find out what my position was. Brian, would you find out what my position is on contraception – I’m sure I’m opposed to government spending on it, I’m sure I support the president’s policies on it.”

    So, my great fear is that he will be more of a Reagan clone than Bush II. Instead of being informed and take his own position on matters, he will let the Republican ideologs do his thinking for him.

  • I can’t say I’m surprised. Hagee’s rhetoric is practically word-for-word what Jerry Falwell was preaching, and McCain got in bed with him a couple of years ago. I agree with Djerrid @ 6 that McCain is no more religious than the Clintons, but he’s going to do everything it takes to win the presidency, including pandering to the evangelicals even if he doesn’t really believe every stupid-ass proclamation their leaders make.

  • McCain isn’t like Bush, huh? That’s a testable hypothesis.

  • More of the Same

    “John Dubya McCain”

    Sorry but it does have the ring of truth. I agree that in 2000, before the infection that is the Bush Administration gave us the collective governmental clap McCain would have charted a different, probably somewhat better, course than the Monkey. However, if you haven’t noticed, McSame has spent this last election cycle cozying up to the Republican Conservative/Bush wing of the party and he has basically assured them that he will carry much of their agenda forward. He is Bush’s third term, and telling it straight up or making a sarcastic joke about it, doesn’t matter, it’s the truth.

  • I’m sorry — I’m eternally indebted to Hagee for calling my beloathed Catholic church the “great anti-Christ.” Of course, it takes one to know one.

    Hagee aside, note that at Counterpunch, its editor — respected journalist and Nation columnist Alexander Cockburn — has thrown his weight behind the long-rumored McCain-as-Hanoi-collaborator story by making it the lead article in the print version of his magazine.

    It’s available to subscribers only, but here’s an excerpt:

    “…McCain was held for five and half years. The first two weeks’ behavior might have been pragmatism, but McCain soon became North Vietnam’s go-to collaborator. . . .McCain cooperated with the North Vietnamese for a period of three years. His situation isn’t as innocuous as that of the French barber who cuts the hair of the German occupier. McCain was repaying his captors for their kindness and mercy.”

    This is light years beyond Swift-boating.

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