Stephen Colbert points out that Barack Obama's speech on race on Tuesday would have been completely unnecessary had Obama taken a page out of John McCain's lesson book.
But the real problem here is not whether the Senator attended church, or whether he was aware of his reverend’s views, but how he handled an inflammatory spiritual leader during a presidential campaign. If you want to know how to do it right, ask John McCain. He also has a long-standing and complicated relationship with controversial preachers: Jerry Falwell, Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson. Now I’m not comparing Falwell and Robertson to Jeremiah Wright, after all, the Sunday after September 11th, Rev. Wright said this:
Wright: “America’s chickens are coming home to roost.”
Chickens? Roost? That implies we have the terrorists cooped up in tiny cages for years and we didn’t do that until after 9/11. By comparison, Falwell and Robertson delivered a touching sermon three days after September 11th:
Fallwell: “I really believe that the pagans and the abortionists and the feminists and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way, all of them, who tried to secularize America, I point the finger in their face and say ‘you helped this happen.’”
Robertson: “I totally concur”
It is even more inspiring than their sermon about the two sets of footprints on the beach. The second set belongs to a gay dude sneaking up on you. Run, Jesus! But like the out of control Rev. Wright, Falwell and Robertson were also condemned by a presidential candidate. During John McCain’s 2000 campaign, he called them both “agents of intolerance.” But before this campaign, McCain did what was necessary to win. Here’s what he said about them this time:
McCain: I believe that the “Christian Right “ has a major role to play in the Republican Party.”
Russert: Do you believe that Jerry Falwell is still an agent of intolerance?
McCain: No, I don’t.
He embraced them. In fact, in 2006, McCain gave the commencement address at Falwell’s Liberty University. I’m telling you folks, the man is such a maverick, he is even independent from his own true feelings! McCain was able to cozy up to preachers who say that gays and Satanists are the same thing and it’s a non-issue. I think that Obama’s mistake is that he did it backwards. If he had denounced Rev. Wright years ago, then quietly embraced him for this election, he could have spent the time he wasted on yesterday’s speech focusing on the issues that really matter.