McCain: Just when you thought he couldn't go any further around the bend

It's hard to believe, but there was once a time when I had some respect - even admiration - for John McCain. Now, all I have is pity. The guy sold his soul to the Christian Right, but they haven't paid up. So what does he do? He tries to get them to take the last pitiful shreds of his intellectual integrity, too. He just did an interview with Beliefnet, and tried his best to make sure that he said all of the things that they wanted to hear. I just hope - more for his sake than anyone else's - that he doesn't actually believe them himself.

Beliefnet questions are in bold; McCain's drivel is not:

Has the candidates' personal faith become too big an issue in the presidential race?

...But I think the number one issue people should make [in the] selection of the President of the United States is, 'Will this person carry on in the Judeo Christian principled tradition that has made this nation the greatest experiment in the history of mankind?'"

OK. McCain is obviously trying to see how many trite phrases he can pack into a single answer, and given that he's talking to Beliefnet we probably shouldn't expect him to say that religion is too big an issue. But that was the fluff question. Let's see how he does with what passes for real questions:

It doesn't seem like a Muslim candidate would do very well, according to that standard.

I admire the Islam. There's a lot of good principles in it. I think one of the great tragedies of the 21st century is that these forces of evil have perverted what's basically an honorable religion. But, no, I just have to say in all candor that since this nation was founded primarily on Christian principles.... personally, I prefer someone who I know who has a solid grounding in my faith. But that doesn't mean that I'm sure that someone who is Muslim would not make a good president. I don't say that we would rule out under any circumstances someone of a different faith. I just would--I just feel that that's an important part of our qualifications to lead.*

If you don't think he did too good on that one, don't worry - his campaign staff (or what's left of it) agrees. The little star at the end of the answer leads to a footnote at the bottom of the page:

*McCain contacted Beliefnet after the interview to clarify his remarks: "I would vote for a Muslim if he or she was the candidate best able to lead the country and defend our political values."

Call me nuts, but given the number of times that McCain talked about the alleged relationship between Christianity and our system of government, I have a feeling that "defend our political values" is intended to be taken as code for "not in a million years" in this particular context.

In fairness, I should mention that he wasn't quite so hard on other religions:

People are raising similar concerns about Mitt Romney's Mormonism, which some consider to be outside the Judeo-Christian tradition.

I believe that the Mormon religion is a religion that I don't share, but I respect. More importantly, I've known so many people of the Mormon faith who have been so magnificent. I think that Governor Romney's religion should not, absolutely not, be a disqualifying factor when people consider his candidacy for President of the United States, absolutely not.

"I believe that [it] is a religion that I don't share, but I respect." Good grief, it's like the man's been taking articulation lessons from Bush or something. He believes that he doesn't share the Mormon religion? He's not sure?

I do know what I believe about McCain's answer. I believe he knows that there are a lot of Mormons in this country, that they tend to be Republicans, and that they are very likely to vote. Particularly in the primaries.

Of course, he needed to pay for that moment of religious inclusiveness to keep that interview on the proper track. Fortunately for him, the opportunity came very soon after that:

A recent poll found that 55 percent of Americans believe the U.S. Constitution establishes a Christian nation. What do you think?

I would probably have to say yes, that the Constitution established the United States of America as a Christian nation. But I say that in the broadest sense. The lady that holds her lamp beside the golden door doesn't say, "I only welcome Christians." We welcome the poor, the tired, the huddled masses. But when they come here they know that they are in a nation founded on Christian principles.

There was no later clarification from the candidate's camp on that one. There was also no comment about whether the Senator has actually read the document in question. This might have been because the remnants of his campaign staff were too busy examining their resumes, and trying to figure out if they'd be better off highlighting or hiding their time working for him.

Hat tip: georgia10 at DailyKos

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Can anybody offer any insight into why they use 'Judeo-Christian' when they really me Christian, and the Christians they mean are the ones who don't like Jews?

By Watt de Fawke (not verified) on 30 Sep 2007 #permalink

Watt, that's an easy one. "Judeo-Christian" is magical incantation. They hope that by throwing in a five letter prefix now and then, Jews will magically forget everything else and vote for them. The anthropological term for this type of naming magic is "crass pandering."

Perhaps he means:
I don't share, but I respect the Mormon "religion."
I admire, but I neither share nor respect teh Islam.
I'll wait and see if I get the nomination before I decide if I should do the Baptist baptism thingy.

He can't even get Christianity right. Did you see that part where he told the moving story about being POW Chaplain:

I'll never forget that first Christmas when I gave--when I read from the Nativity story from the different Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. And I looked in that room around and there were guys who had already been there for seven years and tears were streaming down their face, not out of sorrow, but out of joy that for the first time in all that captivity, we could celebrate the birth of Christ together. It was a scene I will never ever forget.

Except that neither Mark nor John have a Nativity Story.

Ridger, I pointed that out in my post on this. I think he was trying to impress us by being able to name all four gospels in the right order.

Well, it's an order. I think that different sects actually do rearrange them. Personally, I prefer the standard chronological - Mark, Matthew/Luke, John. Gives more of a picture into the development of the belief system.

McCain has totally lost all integrity. His leadership potential is ZERO. I wouldn't follow McCain into a bar if they were giving away free beer.

What is sad is that there was a time when McCain stood for something, but he sold out. Too bad.

As a counterpoint, I would vote for McCain before I would vote for anyone who could answer these smoothly and pleasingly to the right wing religionistas.