Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Some of McCain's Confusions Revisited

A blogger has certain responsibilities, not least the abstinence from self-cannibalization, but ... but? I throw out a term like "self-cannibalization" and then a comma and then "but"? Yes. It has come to this.

Back in September -- a simpler time, an untroubled idyll -- I posted on some astonishing stupidity issued from the lips of Wide Stance presidential candidate John McCain, at the time believing along with the rest of the free world that McCain would never get the nomination. Well, he up and got the nomination thanks to the untimely deaths of Rudy Giuliani and Fred Thompson, the gay-sex-for-meth scandal of Mike Huckabee, and the strangling of six-hundred-sixty-six puppies carried out on live TV by Mitt Romney. I'd link to all of these stories, but I can't seem to find them on the googles, so I'll just trust everyone's memories of them are as vivid as mine are.

Anyway, this is what I said about McCain back then, slightly edited.

The time John McCain spent undergoing torture and maltreatment as a POW in Vietnam vividly contrasts with the experience of the likes of George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly, Bill Kristol, Ted Nugent, Victor Davis Hanson, and well, nearly every famous right-wing baby boomer. McCain has a reservoir of credibility that few with his conservative voting record share, but sadly, he has spent the last few years draining it as quickly as possible.

Case in point: Beliefnet has posted an interview with McCain in which he displays the current sad state of his groveling acquiescence to the far right elements of the GOP wingnut Christianist "base." It seems he wants to be President more than he wants to stand up to bullshit, and that's a shame.

Here's McCain discussing the prospect of a Muslim President:

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.
I don't admire "the Islam," but no one asked me. If I squint really hard and apply my most charitable assumptions, I can read McCain's statement on the "perversion" of Islam as a euphemized statement of regret that not enough Muslims have decided to ignore the barbarities of their founding texts but have instead taken its depraved teachings seriously. So sure, it would be nice if all, most, or at least more Muslims decided to get out the scissors and remove the Koranic passages that hearken for a repressive worldwide theocracy enforcing the arbitary, hidebound dictates of a capricious, vicious god. Not much of the book would be left, and I question the wisdom of the project as opposed to the project of tossing the entire book into the nearest recycling bin, but I grant it would be a step in the right direction.

Beliefnet then asks McCain an incredibly stupid question that is based, evidently, on an incredibly stupid poll question:
A recent poll found that 55 percent of Americans believe the U.S. Constitution establishes a Christian nation. What do you think?
I think this polling question is asinine, and measures nothing more than Americans' ignorance of the historical and ideological circumstances of the USA's founding. But again, no one asked me.

McCain answers stupid with stupid:
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.
Oh? What "Christian principles" are those? Here and in other instances in the interview, McCain avoids naming these Christian principles by modifying them with the word "broad." By classifying the principles as broadly Christian, he walks the sort of cowardly tightrope that "mavericks" are famous for disavowing: on one hand, he throws an applause line to the Christianists, but on the other, he can't be accused of the false claim that the founders invoked or used specifically Christian beliefs when writing and ratifying the US Constitution.

The word "broad" allows McCain to get away with the sloppy but common conflation of "Christian" with "that which I find just and decent."

McCain knows, or should know, that the US Constitution owes as much to "Christian principles" as does the warbling of a wren or the contents of this post; and he should also know that a "maverick" tells uncomfortable truths, even to Christianist audiences. But the fact is, he either doesn't know or doesn't care, and either way, he should not be president.

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