Barack Obama

Will McCain Pick Up Huckabee’s Baggage?

Last week, there was speculation swirling that John McCain was considering choosing one-time presidential rival Mike Huckabee as his vice-presidential running mate and over the weekend, Huckabee himself made it abundantly clear that he really, really wants this job:

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said yesterday he’d like to be John McCain’s running mate.

“There’s no one I would rather be on a ticket with than John McCain,” said Huckabee, who was a stronger than expected challenger against McCain for the Republican presidential nomination.

“All during the campaign when I was his rival, not a running mate, there was no one who was more complimentary of him publicly and privately. . . . I still wanted to win, but if I couldn’t, John McCain was always the guy I would have supported and have now supported.”

The conventional wisdom is that picking Huckabee would go a long way toward helping McCain shore up the right-wing base that has been somewhat reluctant to support him, given that McCain’s own outreach to that community has little to show so far beyond the controversy generated by the endorsements of John Hagee and Rod Parsely.   

Considering that McCain’s own efforts to woo the Right have been such a disaster, it might behoove his campaign to think long and hard about bringing Huckabee on board because if he climbs aboard the Straight Talk Express, he’ll be bringing his own right-wing baggage along for the ride. 

By now, everyone is familiar with Huckabee’s 1992 statement that the government should have been quarantining those infected with HIV or his statement on the campaign trail that the US Constitution should be amended to meet “God's standards,” or his view that the role of government was to promote Jesus Christ,  so McCain ought to expect to be asked whether he agrees with those views.  He can probably also expect to get lots of grief from former supporters of Mitt Romney, who did not particularly appreciate Huckabee’s attempts to use his own Christian faith as a means of highlighting Romney’s Mormonism and thereby undermine his campaign efforts to reach out to right-wing voters.  

While the McCain camp might consider itself prepared to deal with these sorts of issues, it’ll have its work cut out when it tries to explain away the people who endorsed Huckabee … people like Janet Folger, for instance, who think that the marriage ruling in California is a sign of the End Times.   

Folger was an avid Huckabee supporter from the moment he won the Values Voter Debate which she organized and for which she hand-picked the choir that sang “Why Should God Bless America?,” after which she anointed him the "David among Jesse’s sons."  She went on to pen columns claiming that only Huckabee could prevent Hillary Clinton from throwing all Christians into prison and save her fantasy world from “evil queen and her dragon of slaughter.”  

For her efforts, she was tapped by Huckabee to serve as co-chair of his Faith and Values Coalition, so McCain can look forward to answering questions about whether he agree with her efforts to pray for bad weather to keep voter turnout down, her statements that supporting Barack Obama is like supporting Nazis, and the front-group she launched to attack both Mitt Romney and McCain himself.

And McCain can also look forward to answering questions about Rick Scarborough who, like Folger, served on Huckabee’s Faith and Family Values Coalition.  Scarborough, a self-described “Christocrat” heads Vision America and, when he’s not out palling around with Alan Keys, has a penchant for suggesting that evangelical leaders are dying off because the nation has turned its back on God, suggesting that Christians will have "the blood of martyrs on [their] hands"if they don't oppose hate crimes legislation, blaming "the church" for just standing by and allowing the election of "unrighteous leaders" in 2006, saying that opponents of the War in Iraq are committing treason, organizing conferences designed to highlight the “War on Christians and Values Voters,” and penning books entitled “Liberalism Kills Kids” among other things.

In fact, McCain and Huckabee would have a difficult time explaining away pretty much the entirely of Huckabee’s Faith and Family Values Coalition, which included dozens of right-wing activists like of Don Wildmon, Mike Farris, Mat Staver, Kelly Shackelford, and Phil Burress; not to mention Huckabee’s consorting with the likes of Tim and Beverly LaHaye and Steve Hotze, who once signed a manifesto declaring:

    • A wife may work outside the home only with her husband's consent

    • "Biblical spanking" that results in "temporary or superficial bruises or welts" should not be considered a crime

    • No doctor shall provide medical service on the Sabbath

    • All disease and disability is caused by the sin of Adam and Eve

    • Medical problems are frequently caused by personal sin

And let’s not forget Huckabee’s first job working with James Robison:

Considering that the McCain campaign chalks up the Hagee and Parsley controversy to poor vetting, presumably they intend to do a better job in the future; but if they pick Huckabee, it’ll be obvious that they haven’t learned their lesson at all.  While they may think that Huckabee’s primary contribution to the McCain effort will be his ability to bring along a rabid following of extreme right-wing supporters, allowing McCain to focus on courting the general electorate, it is possible that they will instead end up spending a lot of time trying to distance themselves from controversy such blatant pandering will inevitably generate.

Bishop Harry Jackson: “Registered Democrat”

Ever since Bishop Harry Jackson first emerged on the political scene a few years ago, he has used the fact that he is a “registered Democrat” as a means of gaining traction in the media in order to assist the Religious Right in furthering its agenda. 

And push the right-wing agenda he has: fighting against hate crimes legislation; participating in right-wing events like the “Justice Sunday” rallies and Values Voter Summits; hobnobbing with the Religious Right powerbrokers in The Arlington Group;  serving as a loyal foot-soldier fighting the War on Christmas; and writing columns criticizing Barack Obama and others minimizing concerns about the thousands of people being killed in the war in Iraq by contrasting those deaths to the “genocidal murder” of “millions of black babies.

Most recently, Jackson has been paling around the country with the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins, with whom he wrote a book entitled “Personal Faith Public Policy” and now, joining Perkins for regular video features called “The TRUTH in Black and White” (Jackson is black, Perkins is white, get it? If you don't, Perkins kindly points it.)  

Through out it all, Jackson has steadfastly maintained and exploited his status as a “registered Democrat” in order to give himself the appearance of nonpartisanship and independence instead of admitting that he is just another right-wing operative.  And now this “registered Democrat” is penning columns urging John McCain to take a firm stand against marriage equality in order to win right-wing votes by demonstrating fealty to “our cause”:

Yet, we also need to urge John McCain to raise a clear banner for social responsibility. The only way McCain will be able to beat the Obama Express is to rally social conservatives and give evangelicals a reason to get excited about his candidacy. Although many Christians don’t want to acknowledge that we are in a cultural war, millions will gather to support a leader who champions our cause. Let’s ask McCain if he will rise to the challenge.

Of course, the fact that Jackson is supporting McCain isn’t as much of a surprise as it is a sign of just how bogus his “registered Democrat” shtick truly is ... but he’s sticking with it because, as he explained back in 2006, it is something he maintains solely because it suits his political needs:

I voted for President Bush, but here in Maryland—a primarily Democratic state—in order to vote in the primaries that affect the election, you need to be a Democrat. That's where I started. Over time, however, I've found that I have very little in common with the Democratic Party in terms of national moral values issues. Still, being able to say I'm a registered Democrat disarms many of the people who want to write me off as an "Oreo" or an "Uncle Tom."

Catholic League's Precarious Position

On Friday, we discussed Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights President Bill Donohue’s campaign against Barack Obama’s Catholic advisory council—a beef based on the fact that a number of these advisors, like most U.S. Catholics, are politically pro-choice. It might seem odd that a group so sensitive to references to Catholicism that it would boycott a beer company with flimsy links to a gay-themed “Last Supper” would be so easy to mollify when it came to McCain’s alliance with John Hagee, and odder still that Donohue seems to be settling in for the long haul of dogging Obama for links to pro-choice Catholics.

But readers of this blog have probably noticed, that’s just Donohue modus operandi. Whether he’s hyping a mythical “War on Christmas,” mouthing off randomly about gays, or intimidating critics of Bush’s judicial nominees with phony charges of anti-Catholicism, Donohue’s tool belt is limited to hyping his “beef” with popular culture and attacking political opponents as religious “bigots.”

Catholics for Choice (formerly Catholics for a Free Choice) has been Donohue’s top target for years—for example, he would label the group’s past president “the biggest anti-Catholic bigot in the nation.” Now, CFC has released an in-depth report on Donohue and the Catholic League (PDF here) (via RH Reality Check):

According to an annual report put out by the League, the number of examples of anti-Catholicism grew from 140 in 1995 to 320 in 2006, yet the only thing that seems to have actually increased is the League's definition of what constitutes anti-Catholic activity.

Despite (or perhaps because of) Donohue’s predictable partisanship and bullying style, the Catholic League still manages to get a fair number of its shotgun press releases into the media, where Donohue is treated as if he were a representative of all Catholics, if not a spokesman for the church itself. This is a precarious position for a group whose political philosophy is built upon the suggestion that those who are pro-choice—including the majority of U.S. Catholics—are the “anti-Catholic” enemy.

Religious Right Decides Who's Catholic Enough

Pope Benedict’s visit to the United States is long over, but the Washington Times continues to doggedly report on one particular angle: the many thousands receiving communion at the pope’s masses included a handful of Democratic politicians, who, like the majority of American Catholics, are pro-choice.

While this seems like the season for picking over politicians’ personal religious lives, the Right has been trumpeting this point of contention for a number of years to use as a wedge between liberal candidates and faith. In particular, John Kerry’s communion became a public issue in 2004.

In 2008, none of the major presidential candidates are Catholic. But that just means the Right has to get more creative.

Last week, Catholic League President Bill Donohue tried to jump on the Rev. Wright bandwagon with his own brand of religious policing, attacking not Barack Obama’s faith, but that of his Catholic advisory council: “If these are the best ‘committed Catholic leaders, scholars and advocates’ Obama can find, then it is evident that he has a ‘Wright’ problem when it comes to picking Catholic advisors.” Donahue’s beef? Many of Obama’s Catholic backers disagree with him on abortion, stem-cell research, and school vouchers.

The advisors complained, bringing up the existence of other moral issues besides the ones that fit the Republican platform: war, poverty, etc. Donohue responded, calling it “shocking” that one could set political priorities on par with abortion.

And then, seeing a chance to attack Obama instead of his advisors, Donohue promptly compared the senator to Hitler (for opposing a graphic bill designed by abortion opponents to establish personhood for the fetus):

“It is so nice to know that Obama thinks abortion ‘presents a profound moral challenge.’ Is infanticide another ‘profound moral challenge’? To wit: When he was in the Illinois state senate he led the fight to deny health care to babies born alive who survived an abortion. That, my friends, is not a moral challenge—it’s a Hitlerian decision.”

Right Steps Up Attacks on 'Racist' Planned Parenthood

For several years, a handful of far-right activists have promoted the idea that the occurrence of African American women choosing abortion amounts to a so-called “black genocide” perpetrated consciously by clinics. But it’s only seeming to catch on now, as more and more right-wing media outlets have picked up on the claim in the last few months. Televangelist Rod Parsley recently embraced the notion as a personal cause, and a UCLA student group deployed actors to call Planned Parenthood offices and pose as racist donors (under the assumption that if the operator accepts the money, the organization must be racist).

Activists promoting the “black genocide” idea converged on Thursday at a Washington, DC clinic protest. From a CBN report:

Kristan Hawkins, Students for Life: Planned Parenthood, guess what? Your secret is out!

John Jessup, CBN: That secret? That Planned Parenthood is deeply rooted in targeting African Americans for Abortions.

Day Gardner, National Black Pro-Life Union: Black America must wake up, and stand up, to this racist organization that purposefully plants abortion facilities firmly in black and minority neighborhoods. […]

Rev. Clenard Childress, Black Genocide: I believe, as always, that if abortion was not lucrative, it would not be legal and they are benefiting off of the blood of innocent babies.

Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) attended, promising to offer legislation to make it illegal “to abort a baby based solely on their sex or their race,” while others pushed Congress to prevent Planned Parenthood from receiving any federal funding for its non-abortion health programs. (Federal funding of abortion is already prohibited by law.)

Protesters also linked their cause to the presidential campaign. Gardner’s National Black Pro-Life Union sent a letter to presidential candidates, calling on them to condemn Planned Parenthood’s supposed “racist business practices.” In particular, Barack Obama seemed to be the target. "If (Obama) supports abortion, which is a scourge of our community, which is devastating our community, then we cannot, we must not, support him," said Dallas pastor Stephen Broden at the protest.

The National Black Pro-Life Union has dogged Barack Obama for some time, as have others at Thursday’s protest. Clenard Childress of, for example, recently accused Obama of being a black “front” man for Planned Parenthood.

Protest at Planned Parenthood - CBN

Alan Keyes In a Nutshell

It appears as if Alan Keyes’ presidential hopes have officially come to an end … at least for this year.

After launching a vanity campaign last summer, Keyes had high hopes for a solid showing in Iowa that never panned out. Keyes then relocated his campaign to Texas, where he pledged to deliver a major breakthrough that likewise never materialized.

Without apparently actually bothering to withdraw from the Republican Primary, the Keyes campaign went quiet before it emerged earlier this month to make a major announcement that he would be officially leaving the Republican Party to seek the Constitution Party’s presidential nomination.

The Constitution Party’s convention was held over the weekend and Keyes did not fare well:

Things aren't working out well for Alan Keyes. The perennial candidate with a worse electoral track record than Harold Stassen spent most of his adult lifetime in the Republican Party. He lasted in the Constitution Party for less than two weeks.

Chuck Baldwin -- a preacher, radio show host, and columnist who actually agreed with the Constitution Party's platform on the issues in question -- beat Keyes 3-to-1, a margin worthy of Barack Obama or Barbara Mikulski. Paleocons praised the Constitutionalists for sticking to their principles, which they did, but Keyes's odd notions about how to win friends and influence people also contributed to his drubbing.

Following his embarrassing defeat, Keyes granted an interview to "Missouri Viewpoints" where he expressed bitterness over being repeatedly stabbed in the back by every party he belongs to.  Recounting that he had been “invited in by the leadership of the Illinois party” to run against Barack Obama, he complained that the party then failed to support him and instead, as he put it, “tried to kill me.”  Keyes noted that there seems to be a pattern in all of his campaigns and activities where “people invite me in, and then they kill me; they invite me in and then they kill me; they invite me in and then they seek to kill me.”

But with his loss in seeking the Constitution Party’s nomination, Keyes finally has it all figured it all out and explains it as only he could:

The Lord shared with me that, Alan, the child that you are defending in the womb … in the act of procreation, people are joyfully, ecstatically, with great pleasure in every fiber of their being, saying "yes" to the coming of that new life. They invite the child in. And then in abortion, they kill it. So what, in point of fact my political career is, is the paradigm and pattern of that which I am trying to stop for the child. I kind of represent, in political terms, the abortion. You're invited in, but they kill you. You're invited in, but they kill you.

More on the Right's 'Double Standard' for Religion in Politics

Radio talker Michael Medved complains about some imaginary “double standards” he saw following remarks by Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama at a Compassion Summit earlier this month:

From most commentators, Hillary received high marks for her thoughtful, surprisingly intimate answers to such questions. … Nevertheless, the generally positive reaction to her comments raises obvious questions about faith, Democrats and double standards.

Imagine that George W. Bush told a public forum that he had “felt the enveloping support and love of God” since childhood, and that on “many, many occasions” he “felt like the Holy Spirit was there with me.”

It’s not hard to imagine the derisive tabloid headlines: “Bush: God Is With Me” or “Prez Sees Spirits” or “W. Talks About His Imaginary Friend.” Howard Dean might comment: “It sounds like Bush is once again saying that he talks to God, so we better watch out. The last time that happened, he took us to a war based on false intelligence.” …

Why is it less controversial when liberals talk about their religious outlook than it is for conservatives to speak about our faith?

Controversial? In fact, it’s difficult to name any recent candidate for any major office who didn’t talk about his or her faith. And now that he mentions it, we might point out that it’s been the liberal candidates (along with poor Mitt Romney) who have had their faith questioned by the Right. When the right-wing media hasn’t been whispering that Obama is a secret Muslim, they’ve been speculating about the particulars of his pastor’s theology. One activist conducted his own investigation and declared Obama’s Christianity “woefully deficient.”

Likewise, Clinton’s faith is considered fair game for attacks from the Right. For evidence, look no further than four paragraphs later in the very same article by Michael Medved, when he cavalierly asserts that “no one objects to Hillary’s God-talk because, in essence, nobody fully believes it. Her frequent encounters with the Holy Spirit sound no more formidable than Dennis Kucinich’s sighting of a UFO (in the company of Shirley McLaine – now that’s a problem).”

As for Hillary, she can’t point to a single issue in which her supposedly “deep commitment to my Methodist faith” actually shaped her thinking, beyond a very bland and generalized concern for the poor as “the least among us.” She doesn’t scare non-believers because all the religious overtones in her speeches and interviews can’t erase the overwhelming impression they receive that “she’s one of us” – and her positions on abortion, homosexuality, stem cells, and most church-state issues further reassure them that she’s still on their side on the culture war.

According to Medved, “no one in the country” takes Clinton’s “well-advertised interaction with the Holy Spirit” as genuine.

While Clinton’s membership in a Capitol Hill prayer group is common knowledge, her fellow members in the group—such as Rick Santorum and Jim Inhofe—are taken at face value when they talk about how their faith influences their politics. Clinton, as Medved demonstrates, is not—apparently because the Right doesn’t like her political positions. What’s the term for that? Oh yeah—“double standard.”

Dusting Off the Dirty Playbook

It looks like the man responsible for 1988’s infamous Willie Horton ad is back and has his sights set on Barack Obama:

Starting Tuesday, a group of conservative activists led by Floyd Brown, author of the famous Willie Horton ad used so effectively against Michael Dukakis in 1988, will begin a campaign to tar Obama as weak on crime and terrorism, a strategy that aims to upend Obama's relatively strong reputation among Republican voters.

Brown's new ad focuses on a 2001 vote by Obama in the Illinois Senate to oppose a bill that would have expanded the use of the death penalty if the perpetrator of a crime belonged to a gang. The links between Obama's vote on that issue and the deaths of three Chicago resident's are indirect and tenuous, as is the further connection the ad draws between the issue of Obama's position on the death penalty and the issue of international terrorism.

Time reports that the ads will be funded by a PAC called the National Campaign Fund “which had $14,027 in the bank at the end of March,” which probably explains why Brown is focused on creating the “most Internet-intensive effort for an ad debut ever” and hoping to gin up free media coverage to make up for the ad’s lack of funding, much like Mike Huckabee did, or at least tried to do, with his campaign ads (it is worth noting that Ari Berman of the "The Nation" reports that Brown's efforts are being "run by Bruce Hawkins, a former field organizer for Pat Buchanan and Pat Robertson who recently worked for Mike Huckabee in Iowa.")

And speaking of free advertising, it looks like a pastor in South Carolina is trying make a name for himself by suggesting that Obama might secretly be Muslim:

ObamaChurch.gifPastor Roger Byrd of Jonesville Church of God put the sign up which reads "Obama Osama humm are they brothers?"

Pastor Byrd says the sign is not meant to be racial or political but rather to make people think. "His name is so close to Osama, I have a feeling he might be Islamic therefore he doesn't recognize Christ," Pastor Byrd said.

Of course the ad is not political and was merely designed to make people think … that Obama is a Muslim and possible a terrorist.

Keyes Makes It Official

Alan Keyes has officially left the Republican Party: "Former Republican presidential candidate Alan Keyes announced Tuesday night that he has left the GOP and is considering joining the Constitution Party. Keyes, who also ran as a Republican to challenge Barack Obama's U.S. Senate bid in Illinois in 2004, says he is talking with leaders and rank-and-file members of the Constitution Party."

Perkins' Invitation Lost in the Mail?

Yesterday we wrote a post about various Religious Right figures blasting the “Compassion Forum” that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama participated in over the weekend. Among those most bitter about the event was the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins who dismissed the entire thing as a sham mainly because he wasn’t invited to take part:

[O]rganizations like FRC, which have historically addressed faith issues, were not invited to participate or even submit questions to the candidates. Instead, the event's radical board, which included pro-abortion and homosexual advocates, used the forum as an opportunity to chip away at the traditional agenda of the faith-based community.

Well, as it turns out, the folks over at Faith in Public Life, who organized and co-sponsored the event, have something to say about that:

Perkins claimed that he was not invited to the Forum. In fact, Perkins was invited to attend the Forum AND the VIP reception for faith leaders held beforehand. He never responded to the invitation.

So much for that complaint.

But while we are rehashing old blog posts, we may as well note that the other part of that post dealt with the fact that John McCain subbed the event entirely and the fact that nobody on the Right seems too upset about it. In fact, someone from McCain’s religious outreach team reached out to the Brody File to spread the word that McCain’s faith is “extremely private” and that he won’t be talking about it. 

Needless to say, that sort of attitude isn’t going over too well with the Right:

Pastor Rob Schenck of the National Clergy Council says not much is known about McCain's personal faith, except that he was raised in a family that believed religion was to be kept private. But Schenck contends that does not comport with the beliefs, customs and practices of evangelicals.

"We live with a mandate to preach the gospel, to unashamedly testify what Christ has done in our lives, to generously share that information with others," says Schenck. "... And John McCain has yet to give that kind of public testimony, and it's undermining the confidence of evangelicals in John McCain."

Schenck believes McCain's reluctance to talk more in-depth about his faith is not a good thing for him, his support base, or the country.

McCain’s faith may be private, but if he wants to win over the Religious Right, he’d better start offering up some public testimony, because that is what they want to hear.

But McCain had better not be too open about his faith because Schenck will just start criticizing it as “woefully deficient” and saying that it shows that he has "no real moral philosophy."  Oh wait, no he won’t – he reserves that sort of criticism for Democrats.

The Right’s Weakening Stranglehold on Religion

When Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama agreed to participate in a “Compassion Forum” over the weekend to “discuss how their faith and moral convictions bear on their positions on … important issues,” you’d think that the Religious Right would be elated and that they’d be criticizing John McCain for blowing off the event entirely, especially since they are constantly claiming that it is imperative for politicians “to bring their religiously-informed moral values to bear in election campaigns and public policy decisions.”

You’d be wrong:

Far Right Defies Caricature

Two weeks ago we described the right-wing reaction to Barack Obama’s pastor as “generally promoting the idea that Obama is some kind of Manchurian candidate who secretly hates both America and white people.” The reference to “The Manchurian Candidate”—a novel and movie in which a political candidate was brainwashed into becoming a Communist assassin—was intended to highlight the absurdly sinister discussion of Obama’s relationship with his church.

Whistleblower coverBut apparently we underestimated the Right’s absurdity: WorldNetDaily asks, “Is he America's political messiah – or a Manchurian candidate?”

In a few short months, the young and relatively unknown politician Barack Hussein Obama may very well be elevated to the presidency of the United States and command the mightiest military in world history.

Would the eloquent and charismatic Obama unite, inspire and renew a troubled nation, as tens of millions of voters passionately believe? Or is it possible he's a Manchurian candidate – harboring an ominous secret agenda few understand, a man destined to wreak havoc on America should he become president?

That's the question that is explored definitively in the April issue of WND's acclaimed monthly Whistleblower magazine, titled "THE SECRET LIFE OF BARACK OBAMA."

Among other tidbits, the feature promises to present “an intriguing case that Obama, a Muslim in his youth, may still be a closet Muslim.”

Right Wing Joins Conversation About Race

A few voices on the Right have expressed partial praise for Barack Obama’s speech on race, but by and large, right-wing commentators have stuck to the script, picking over the parts where Obama mentioned the country’s racial wounds, excoriating him for failing to disavow affirmative action or liberal economic policies, and generally promoting the idea that Obama is some kind of Manchurian candidate who secretly hates both America and white people.

But if Obama hoped to start a national conversation about race, he succeeded, in a way. Many right-wing commentators have proved willing to redirect their attacks on Obama to a discussion of their views on African Americans in general. Cal Thomas opined that “black people should be listening to” Bill Cosby, not Rev. Wright. Ann Coulter announced that she had had enough of blacks talking about racism:

But the "post-racial candidate" thinks we need to talk yet more about race. How much more? I had had my fill by around 1974. How long must we all marinate in the angry resentment of black people? …

We treat blacks like children, constantly talking about their temper tantrums right in front of them with airy phrases about black anger. I will not pat blacks on the head and say, "Isn't that cute?" As a post-racial American, I do not believe "the legacy of slavery" gives black people the right to be permanently ill-mannered.

Unfortunately, the online videos of Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s church appear to be the first exposure some on the Right have had to blacks or the African American church. Human Events reporter Ericka Anderson admitted as much: “Those of us outside the black community lack any deep knowledge of black churches. The only black minister we are very familiar with was Martin Luther King, Jr.” Anderson added, “He never damned America.”

George Neumayr, editor of the Catholic World Report, was apparently scandalized by what he described as the “feverish” church-goers in the videos “hopping up and down like hyperactive children” as they follow their “buffoonish[],” “sashaying” pastor.

Perhaps we should leave the final word to Pat Buchanan, who has made a career out of claiming that “white America” is under constant threat from other ethnicities. Before Obama’s speech, Buchanan pined for the “Negroes” of the 1950s:

That Wright is a revered preacher in black America also tells us that, far from coming together, we Americans are further apart than we were in the 1950s, when Negroes could be described as Christian, conservative and patriotic. Malcolm X and Elijah Muhammad did not speak for black America then. Roy Wilkins, Whitney Young and Dr. Martin Luther King did. But Jeremiah Wright makes Stokely Carmichael and Rap Brown sound like the Mills Brothers.

After the speech, Buchanan was more blunt, writing that “Wright ought to go down on his knees and thank God he is an American.”

What is wrong with Barack's prognosis and Barack's cure?

Only this. It is the same old con, the same old shakedown that black hustlers have been running since the Kerner Commission blamed the riots in Harlem, Watts, Newark, Detroit and a hundred other cities on, as Nixon put it, "everybody but the rioters themselves."

Was "white racism" really responsible for those black men looting auto dealerships and liquor stories, and burning down their own communities, as Otto Kerner said -- that liberal icon until the feds put him away for bribery.

Barack says we need to have a conversation about race in America.

Fair enough. But this time, it has to be a two-way conversation. White America needs to be heard from, not just lectured to.

This time, the Silent Majority needs to have its convictions, grievances and demands heard.

Double Standards

Although it wasn’t surprising to see John McCain spend much of the past few years courting the Religious Right in advance of securing the Republican presidential nomination, he continued to pander even after his primary victory was all but finalized. Beginning with his speech to the right-wing activists at CPAC—which followed shortly after his main rival, Mitt Romney, dropped out—McCain seemed to step up his embrace of the fringe, picking up more and more endorsements, campaigning with apocalyptic televangelist John Hagee and “Patriot Pastor” Rod Parsley, and reaching out to the Council for National Policy.

McCain’s search for religious-right support might have raised a few flags. Hagee, for example, frames his support for Israel in terms of the end times, going as far as warning that any U.S. foreign policy decision that isn’t “pro-Israel” enough will result in God bringing a “blood bath” of terrorist attacks to America. Hagee also identifies the Catholic Church as the “great whore” of Revelation (a characterization he now denies) and said Hurricane Katrina was God’s punishment on a sinful city.

When confronted with some of Hagee’s extreme views, McCain simply responded “all I can tell you is that I am very proud to have Pastor John Hagee’s support.'’ After a lot of pressure from the Catholic League, McCain finally issued a bland statement: “I repudiate any comments that are made, including Pastor Hagee’s, if they are anti-Catholic or offensive to Catholics.”

Indeed, McCain would have had difficulty criticizing Hagee any further—much less call the pastor out on his “profoundly distorted view of this country,” to quote Barack Obama’s critique of Rev. Jeremiah Wright—because McCain had sought out Hagee precisely for his extreme stance and the religious-right constituency he can reach.

Just as McCain sought out Hagee for his political clout, it was politics that brought McCain and Ohio televangelist Rod Parsley together on the campaign. When McCain brought Parsley on stage and called him a “spiritual guide,” that didn’t mean the senator had sent the Word of Faith preacher a financial “seed” in hopes that God would bolster his campaign contributions. Instead, McCain was embracing Parsley’s far-right political views and the political machine of “Patriot Pastors” he leads.

David Limbaugh, one of the many right-wing commentators who dismissed Obama’s speech on his pastor, claimed there was a “double standard” when it came to conservatives: “When the remotest connection can be inferred between a conservative and a bigoted supporter, there is always hell to pay.”

But in fact the opposite double standard seems to be in play: While Obama continues to be attacked for his personal relationship with a pastor whose controversial political ideology he’s rejected, McCain’s ongoing ideological relationship with the far Right—consisting, in essence, of him telling them he embraces their political views—remains unconnected to McCain’s political reputation.

What’s Obama To Do?

As a way of dealing with the controversy surrounding the various remarks made by his pastor Jeremiah Wright, Barack Obama is set to deliver a speech tomorrow where he promises to talk “about not just Reverend Wright, but the larger issue of race in this campaign .”

Regardless of what he says in this speech, it’ll probably do little to appease the rank-and-file conservative Christian voters in the Republican Party who never liked him anyway and now seem to really, really dislike him, at least judging by most of the comments mailed into CBN’s David Brody:

I am sure Obama was listening to rev Wrights sermon about "America causing this to happen...and that the chickens came home to roost...etc."Right there Obama has lied on TV, to news reporters and to his supporters-claiming he knew nothing of these awful hate filled sermons.

Obama being a member of this church for over 20 years and calling this guy his spiritual mentor and having him at present on an advisory committee is political suicide. He should pull out the race now, make a statement that he is leaving this radical black church and try to salvage whatever political career he has left. If he is the dems nominee they are handing the white house to the Republicans. It has been said time and time again that this guy should have been vetted. He is now, which is only the tip of the iceberg. The media has given him a pass.

[N]ow that he has made that statement, I await the video of Wright spewing a bunch of crap while Obama's family is shown applauding in the pews. I wouldn't be surprised if it's coming.

Of course, the fact that Brody himself has posted on the Obama/Wright issue a total of ELEVEN times so far (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11) - versus the two times he posted about John McCain and John Hagee and the zero times he posted about McCain and Rod Parsley - might have something to do with that.

Anti-gay right-wing activist Harry Jackson also weighed in, saying that it is entirely reasonable that Obama be held responsible for the words of his pastor:  

“Should Mr. Obama be judged because of the acts of his pastor.” My answer is yes! Pastor Wright’s worldview and his understanding of race, culture, and religion of the bible will in some measure affect how Barak Obama views the world. Only time will tell whether Obama’s life and message have been helped or handicapped by the ministry of Jeremiah Wright. If Obama says nothing elese, many people will simply label him as a hypocrite who says one thing in public but acts differently behind closed doors. During the next few months it will be important for Obama to set the record straight concerning his faith.

Does that mean that the congregants at Jackson’s own Hope Christian Church ought to be made to answer for Jackson’s anti-gay rhetoric?   Presumably. 

For his part, Obama has publicly distanced himself from Wright’s comments, calling them “inflammatory and appalling” … and now that has gotten him in trouble with the Right as well:

The National Clergy Council finds Dr. Wright's recent comments extraordinarily indiscrete, inapt, inaccurate and ill-considered, yet we find Mr. Obama's disloyalty even worse. We adjure Mr. Obama to remain faithful to the man who in so many ways shaped him for the campaign he now undertakes.

Mr. Obama's tossing of Dr. Wright under the bus for political advantage is a painful spectacle and is a classic politics-as-usual move.

The National Clergy Council adjures Mr. Obama to stay faithful to his father-in-the-faith and take whatever criticism comes.

Considering that the head of the National Clergy Council, Rob Schenck, has been on a one-man crusade to convince the world that Obama’s Christian faith is “woefully deficient” and that he might really be a Muslim, it is probably safe to assume that his “stand by your man” advice is not being dispensed with the purest of intentions.

Do The Dobsons Agree?

Last month, James Dobson made clear that he would never, ever, under any circumstances vote for John McCain and even seemed to be seeking to enlist a million others to join him in his boycott. He then cravenly endorsed Mike Huckabee, but by then it was too late and Huckabee eventually dropped out and Dobson hasn't been heard from since. Now comes news that Dobson's wife Shirley, chairman of the National Day of Prayer, is launching an "election prayer campaign":
For 16 years, Mrs. Shirley Dobson has served as chairman of the National Day of Prayer (NDP). This year, she has added another campaign — a call to seek God’s guidance for the elections. “As long as God is on His throne, there is always hope,” says Mrs. Dobson, wife of Focus on the Family founder and Chairman Dr. James Dobson. She spoke with CitizenLink about the two critical prayer campaigns. 1. What is so important about this election? I believe our country is at a crossroads. Whoever is elected president will play a pivotal role in determining the future of our country. It’s imperative people go to the polls and elect a candidate whose leadership will reflect a moral and principled perspective.
Mrs. Dobson is aware that her husband explicitly rejected McCain because he does not "reflect a moral and principled perspective" and blasted both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama for their "virulently anti-family policy positions," isn't she? If so, how exactly are voters supposed to "follow God’s instructions" and elect the right candidate when her husband is busy telling the country that none of the current candidates are acceptable?

Obama Must Explain His Faith

For months, rumors have been swirling around that Barack Obama is secretly a Muslim.  One would think that these sorts of rumors would be easily quashed by his seemingly straight-forward declarations that he is, in fact, a “devout Christian [who has] been a member of the same church for 20 years [and prays] to Jesus every night.” 

For the most part, these rumors have been dismissed by anyone willing to look at the evidence or take Obama’s words at face value.  But for those with a religious/political agenda to advance, it turns out that the simple question of Obama’s faith is really, really complicated.  

Case in point

Missionary to Capitol Hill and Evangelical leader Rev. Rob Schenck (pronounced SHANK) takes on the thorny question of Barack Obama's religious identity in a new video blog posting called Faith and Action Live! which will post today, March 5, at 1:00 PM (EST) at

In his video blog, Rev. Schenck discusses Senator Obama's public profession of Christian faith, his Muslim background and the view of the Islamic world on what defines a Muslim.

Schenck apparently fancies himself an expert on the topic because he “has been at the forefront of a series of religious dialogues between Evangelical leaders and their Muslim counterparts” and his “adult daughter has for the last year lived among Muslims while directing a private school in the desert of North Africa.” 

Schenck reports that last year he “sent a research assistant to Chicago to investigate Obama's relationship to his church, the Trinity United Church of Christ, where until recently Obama's spiritual mentor, Dr. Jeremiah Wright, was pastor” and emerged with a report that found “Obama's Christianity woefully deficient.” 

At the time, Schenck seemed willing to accept that Obama was a Christian, but now Schenck is growing concerned that Obama may in fact be a Muslim because, as he put it, the issue is really how the Muslim world defines being Muslim.  As he sees it, Muslims inherit their religion from their parents, specifically their fathers. Thus, to be born of a Muslim father makes one a Muslim.  By Schenck’s analysis, Obama has a Muslim father and a Muslim name and while he may now proclaim himself a Christian, the question remains whether he is really just an apostate, infidel, or unfaithful Muslim rather than a non-Muslim.

For his part, Schenck declared that he has no reason not to take Obama “at his word” regarding his Christianity  … and then proceeded to question the legitimacy and depth of his faith, saying “The question becomes: How serious, how profound is the religious commitment that Barack Obama has made" considering that the United Church of Christ to which he belongs has strayed dramatically from “historical, Biblical Christianity … from historic, moral Christian instruction.”  Schenck also says it is interesting that Obama claims to “pray to Jesus” rather than “pray to God in Jesus’ name” and takes issue with Obama’s claim that his views on topics like civil unions and abortion don’t make him any less of a Christian, saying that “he owes the public a further explanation of that and most certainly religious people.”   

Schenck declares that what religious affiliation a political figure claims is less important that what positions they espouse and promote – and when it comes to Obama, this issues is vitally important because not only is he a bad Christian, he might also be a unwitting Muslim:


“Obama has said quite plainly that he is a Christian.  It is true that he is a member of a Christian church, that he did in fact walk the aisle and kneel beneath a cross.  He has told us that he prays every day to Jesus.  Muslims certainly do not pray to Jesus.  They do not kneel at the foot of a cross.  They do not join churches.  They do not make a public statement such as “I am a Christian, a devout Christian. They don’t do that.  Based on that, I would have to conclude, no, he is not a Muslim.  And yet the question haunts us: how does the Muslim world see that?  How does a Muslim religious authority see that? Would a Muslim religious authority say he was born of a Muslim father, therefore he remains a Muslim.” 


The issue of Obama’s faith is, according to Schenck, an “extremely important question that demands to be asked more and in greater depth” – one that he is pressuring Obama to discuss with him “face to face.”

Obama: Fronting for Racists

Clenard Childress Jr., founder of Black Genocide.Org, says Barack Obama is serving as a front-man for a racist Planned Parenthood strategy to destroy African Americans: "No other ethnic group in the United States has been decimated more by abortion than the Afro-American community. The war being waged upon innocent captives in the womb is led by Planned Parenthood. The strategy?Convince the targeted community to accept their eugenic racist plan by selecting one from their ethnicity to promote it."

The Maverick and the Armageddon Advocate

Last year, when John McCain's presidential campaign was floundering, we noted that he was making in-roads with fringe right-wing figures like Armageddon advocate John Hagee, who harbors a not-so-secret desire for the US to start a war with Iran in order to bring about the subsequent return of Jesus Christ.

At the time, there didn't seem much to worry about because McCain's campaign appeared dead-in-the-water and though, over the coming months, McCain continued to court Hagee, the pastor appeared content to stick to his rabid theologizing and warnings to the United States:

If America does not stop pressuring Israel to give up land, I believe that God will bring this nation into judgment, because I believe what this book says. And if God brings this nation into judgment, He will very likely release the terrorists that you've already let get here through the ridiculous immigration policy you refuse to stop, and this nation is going to go through a bloodbath that you have permitted because of what you have done. You have disobeyed the law of God, and now, we as a nation are going to pay a price for that.

And then, just before Christmas, Hagee seemed to be leaning toward Mike Huckabee, whom he hosted at his church in San Antonio, which angered people like Bill Donohue, who blasted Hagee's anti-Catholic record and accused him of "slandering the Catholic Church."

But now that McCain appears set to wrap-up the Republican nomination in the near future, all his hobnobbing with Hagee is about to pay off:

John McCain's efforts to bring wary members of the Religious Right to his side gets a big boost later today when San Antonio televangelist John Hagee is expected to endorse him. Rev. Hagee has a big following among religious conservatives and is a leading figure in Christian Zionist movement. ... The announcement is expected later this afternoon during a McCain campaign visit to San Antonio.

Yesterday, McCain made news by repudiating statements attacking Barack Obama made by right-wing radio talk show host Bill Cunningham at an event in Ohio. What are the chances that McCain will take the opportunity of Hagee's endorsement to repudiate Hagee's reprehensible statements such as saying that "New Orleans had a level of sin that was offensive to God, and they were recipients of the judgment of God for that ... Hurricane Katrina was, in fact, the judgment of God against the city of New Orleans."

McCain Brings Parsley on Stage—Get Ready for 'Patriot Pastors' Campaign

Rod Parsley

“A spiritual invasion is taking place!” shouted Rod Parsley at the “War on Christians” conference in 2006. “… Man your battle stations! Ready your weapons! Lock and load!” Parsley, an Ohio megachurch pastor and televangelist, promised to build an army of “Patriot Pastors” to march to the polls, an even bolder political machine than the one he led in 2004 that helped pass an anti-gay amendment in the state and nudge George W. Bush to reelection. Parsley’s 2006 candidate, Ken Blackwell, ultimately lost the governor’s race, but the televangelist remains an outsized political force, and his “Patriot Pastors” machine is still a model for church-based electoral organizing—as demonstrated by Mike Huckabee’s surprise win in Iowa.

Thus far, Parsley has kept his distance from the presidential race, while continuing to use his TV show to oppose abortion and hate-crimes protections. But now he’s jumped in to help John McCain lock up the Republican nomination. From the Columbus Dispatch:

Parsley and McCainMcCain campaigned yesterday in Cincinnati, where he appeared with the Rev. Rod Parsley of World Harvest Church of Columbus. McCain called Parsley a "spiritual guide," while Parsley later labeled McCain a "strong, true, consistent conservative." …

Parsley shared the stage with McCain during a rally at Hamilton County Memorial Hall in Cincinnati but didn't speak.

In a later interview, Parsley said he supports McCain because the senator will be tough on national security and "protect the unborn."

The megachurch pastor, criticized in the past for mixing religion and politics, acknowledged that McCain isn't the ideal candidate for evangelical Christians, who overwhelmingly backed President Bush in 2004.

"Yet at the same time, when you put John McCain up against Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama, the ideological and philosophical differences are overwhelming," Parsley said.

While the results of next Tuesday’s GOP primary vote in Ohio are all but certain, Parsley’s intervention suggests that he may deploy his “Patriot Pastor” machine on behalf of McCain ahead of November, when the state is likely to be a closely-fought “battleground” yet again.

Recent polling suggests that no matter how much time McCain has spent recently pandering to far-right activists, he still retains the positive image of a political “maverick.” That air of bipartisanship is difficult to reconcile with McCain’s decision to campaign side-by-side with Parsley, a figure who has taken partisanship to apocalyptic levels, translating the Republican-Democrat divide into spiritual warfare.

(AP photo of McCain and Parsley.)

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Barack Obama Posts Archive

Kyle Mantyla, Tuesday 10/06/2009, 1:57pm
If, in the coming days and weeks, you start getting an odd feeling that a bunch of strangers are praying for you, it might be because they are, now that Liberty Counsel has officially rolled out its Adopt A Liberal effort: Liberty Counsel has launched a new program called Adopt a Liberal™. The program encourages people to pray for those in leadership to restore poor leaders to right thinking. The Adopt a Liberal™ prayer-in-action program is based on the words of the Apostle Paul to Timothy to pray for "all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Tuesday 10/06/2009, 10:40am
For the last several years, every time a Religious Right leader or conservative politician or nominee was criticized for their positions or views, the immediate response from the Right was to accuse the critics of attacking that person's faith (see, for example, the Family Research Council's first "Justice Sunday" event.) And these sorts of direct attacks on someone's faith, according to the Religious Right, amounted to a personal affront that was beyond the pale of accepted political discourse. But then Barack Obama ran for president and suddenly that standard went completely out... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Monday 10/05/2009, 11:06am
We already knew that Vision America's Rick Scarborough, who recently spoke at the How To Take Back America Conference, was a Birther.  But we were not aware of the fact that the organization was also actively involved in the various lawsuits, but it looks like that is the case since they just used their email list to send out this fundraising pitch from Gary Kreep and the United States Justice Foundation: You can read the full text of Kreep's email after the jump: MORE >
Peter Montgomery, Wednesday 09/30/2009, 4:47pm
The How To Take Back America conference held in St. Louis September 25 and 26 drew some 600 activists and, according to organizers, 100,000 online viewers. The gathering was an expanded version of the annual conference held by Phyllis Schlafly’s Eagle Forum, co-hosted this year by radio personality and far-right activist Janet Folger Porter and promoted by other right-wing bloggers and radio shows. Conference leaders and participants were both fearful and optimistic: fearful that if the Obama administration gets its way, freedom in America will give way to servitude to a... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Friday 09/25/2009, 11:54am
Last night we posted audio of Rifqa Bary's surprise appearance on the National Day of Prayer Task Force's effort to mobilize its Christian warriors to counter the "dark spiritual content" of the scheduled Muslim prayer rally in Washington, DC, which, as we've seen over the last several days, and continue to see, seems to be causing the Religious Right to completely freak out: Robert Knight is a senior fellow at the American Civil Rights Union and a senior writer for Coral Ridge Ministries. He says having 50,000 Muslims on Capitol Hill paints a very potent picture for Muslims... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Tuesday 09/22/2009, 12:22pm
Every once in a while, Religious Right leaders take a break from railing against abortion and gays and czars and death panels and whatever to weigh in on foreign policy issues, like back in 2007 when a group of them released a statement demanding that the US remain in Iraq, or last year when another group demanded a meeting with Barack Obama to discuss their ideas on how to defeat terrorism. Now a similar group is back with a new letter demanding sanctions on Iran: In a remarkable ecumenical and bipartisan display of unity, Christian leaders representing over 28 million evangelicals,... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Monday 09/21/2009, 2:19pm
I have to say that I really don't understand what Rick Warren's role is when it comes to politics ... or rather, I don't understand what Rick Warren thinks his role is when it comes to politics because he surfaced recently to insist to USA Today's Cathy Lynn Grossman that he doesn't get involved in political or policy questions: Warren has no plans to burst back into politically-fired headlines, however. When politicians call him, he says, I never get involved in policy. Never. But I'll talk to guys (like Barack Obama and Sen. John McCain and a host more) about their family,... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Wednesday 09/09/2009, 1:49pm
Josh Gerstein reports on yesterday's federal court hearing on Orly Taitz's Birther lawsuit challenging President Barack Obama's eligibility to be president, noting that "the ball didn't move much." But he does point to an interesting development between Taitz and two of the plaintiffs she was representing, Markham Robinson and Wiley Drake. It seems that Robinson and Drake decided that they would rather be represented by Gary Kreep, of "Defend Glenn Beck" fame, and mailed documents to Tatiz informing her of their decision.  But Taitz refused to sign the documents and... MORE >