A Retraction

On two separate occasions in the past month, I condemned John McCain for being honored to receive endorsements from Rev. John Hagee and Rev. Rod Parsley. This condemnation was on the basis of statements I read in articles about them, statements I freely admit I do not know the full context of. Additionally, I don’t know if those statements represent the bulk of those men’s religious philosophy or whether they were small matters. For that matter, I have no idea if those ideas had ever been later retracted by the men in question.

In short, I based my comments solely on a couple of hit pieces from John McCain’s political enemies. Because I don’t support McCain’s candidacy (or care much for McCain the man), and because I’m not overly fond of the religious philosophies of a lot of conservative Christian churches, I was pretty eager to jump on and gleefully condemn. This was a philosophic error. It may be that Parsley and Hagee are worthy of condemnation, but I honestly don’t have enough information to make that judgment.

Even worse was my immediate denunciation of McCain’s association with these men, when I’m fairly sure that McCain does not agree with the specific comments that I highlighted in those two posts. Frankly, I should know better.

I also freely admit that I’m only now coming to this retraction because of the association of my own favored candidate and his pastor. I myself was not particularly happy to hear the portions of Rev. Wright’s speeches that have been playing on a constant loop on Fox, and had serious questions about Obama’s association with that church and pastor. My questions about those issues were satisfied both by Sen. Obama his speech yesterday, as well as reading more of Rev. Wright’s sermons in full (especially this one, which this non-Christian found pretty moving), which satisfied me that there was more to the man than the few snippets I was privy to.

On account of that, I will again state that I retract my condemnation of McCain’s association with Hagee and Parsley, because as of this moment I simply lack enough information necessary to form any judgment about it one way or the other. And lacking that information, I’ll give McCain the full benefit of the doubt.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2008, Religion, ,
Alex Knapp
About Alex Knapp
Alex Knapp is Associate Editor at Forbes for science and games. He was a longtime blogger elsewhere before joining the OTB team in June 2005 and contributed some 700 posts through January 2013. Follow him on Twitter @TheAlexKnapp.

Comments

  1. Obama’s speech “A More Perfect Union” was just brilliant. Most impressive was his ability stand with one foot in his White heritage and the other in his Black heritage and speech frankly about race in a way neither a Black or White man ever could.

    Even more impressive for me, is that after 8 years with a slack-jawed dufus in the Whitehouse, we can look forward to not only a President that can string a 6 word sentence together without drooling on himself, but he can actually WRITE such an elequent speech.

    That’s right – Obama wrote that speech he gave. By Himself. This speech, being lauded over by both critics and pundits alike as “Historical”, was written by Senator Obama. He gets it. Without being told what to say and think by polls and advisors – he really gets it.

    The man is impressive and uniquely qualified to lead our country in these Dark times.




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  2. Triumph says:

    On account of that, I will again state that I retract my condemnation of McCain’s association with Hagee and Parsley, because as of this moment I simply lack enough information necessary to form any judgment about it one way or the other. And lacking that information, I’ll give McCain the full benefit of the doubt.

    I would retract your retraction. There is a fundamental difference between McCain and Hussein.

    McCain actively courted Hagee and Parsley for reasons of political expediency as a shameless way to pony up to radical Christian elements in an attempt to prop up his dismal presidential bid. These two people are widely known national political figures.

    Jeremiah Wright is a neighborhood preacher with no significant political influence outside a mile radius of his church. Obama was simply a long-time parishioner at his church. This, of course, is old news, since Obama recounted his interactions with Wright in his best-selling memoir over a decade ago.

    Obama’s relationship with Wright has been purely personal (and, hence, irrelevant to his presidential capacity) whereas McCain is actively looking to nuts like Hagee & Parsley to leverage votes.




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  3. Wayne says:

    Yep, until the next time a Republican has a questionable associate whether it is someone close or just someone introducing them. The time to be tolerant or to forgive is before you or someone you support gets into trouble.




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  4. Alex Knapp says:

    Yep, until the next time a Republican has a questionable associate whether it is someone close or just someone introducing them.

    I resent the implication, sir.

    The time to be tolerant or to forgive is before you or someone you support gets into trouble.

    No doubt that’s the ideal time, sir. But it’s never too late to admit a mistake and take steps to ensure that one doesn’t make it again.




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  5. Alex Knapp says:

    McCain is actively looking to nuts like Hagee & Parsley to leverage votes.

    That may be true, but I don’t know that 100%. Additionally, I don’t know that Hagee and Parsley are actually nuts, since everything I know about them comes from articles condemning them.




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  6. Triumph says:

    That may be true, but I don’t know that 100%.

    McCain appeared with both of them at public campaign rallies. Why else would you have them speak to your rally if you were not asking them to leverage votes?




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  7. Bill H says:

    Obama challenges us to look at ourselves. You did. Good for you.

    Obama’s whole campaign is about we the people taking charge of our own government. “This is not about me,” he says, “this is about you. Change does not happen from the top down, change happens from the bottom up. You will change the way government works and I will lead you in that effort.”

    “If you are ready to make change happen…” Obama says.

    This is the leadership that has been missing from America for too long.




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  8. rwb82 says:

    While I applaud your ability to recognize your skewed view, your admitted timing and reason for such realization amounts to no small potatoes.

    In light of your correction of a mistake (after events and time had passed), what is your take on Sen. McCain’s mistaken Iran/Al-Quaeda connection? I would point out that his correction was made immediately and there is some evidence that the connection does in fact exist – http://www.nysun.com/article/46032 – (via documents McCain would have access to).




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  9. Hal says:

    That may be true, but I don’t know that 100%. Additionally, I don’t know that Hagee and Parsley are actually nuts, since everything I know about them comes from articles condemning them.

    My lord, don’t you watch YouTube? I mean, I watched probably over 2 hours of excerpts from Hagee’s rants and raves. Further, I watched the most excellent mashup the TPM folks put together of McCain’s active embrace (literally) of Hagee and others.

    Really, Alex, you’re quite welcome to this objective soul searching and certainly one can have vastly different views on whether Hagee rates as a radical or is merely the mainstream of evangelical thought in America. But to claim that your only sources on Hagee are just “hit pieces” is rather odd. I mean, quite frankly it just seems like you need to hear about this new fangled technology called “Google”.

    It’s not like Hagee has been hiding, nor has McCain been shy about his interaction with him.




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  10. Alex Knapp says:

    Hal,

    Really, Alex, you’re quite welcome to this objective soul searching and certainly one can have vastly different views on whether Hagee rates as a radical or is merely the mainstream of evangelical thought in America. But to claim that your only sources on Hagee are just “hit pieces” is rather odd. I mean, quite frankly it just seems like you need to hear about this new fangled technology called “Google”.

    I do plan on looking into Hagee and Parsley, but simply haven’t had this new fangled part of physics known as “time”. 🙂 I would not be suprised to learn that Hagee and Parsley are people that a prominent Presidential candidate shouldn’t be embracing. But I don’t know that for certain, because all I’ve seen are the bad things they’ve said. Not whole sermons.




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  11. Hal says:

    Maybe it’s my context growing up steeped in the evangelical community (going to non-denominational Christian schools, etc), but I find it hard to put a context on the “Catholic church as the great Whore of Babylon” and the Catholic church as an apostate church, or the assertion that god destroyed New Orleans because of the gay pride parade that would put it in a different light.

    Maybe you need a whole sermon to decide whether saying that god is damning America for it’s non-support of Israel and letting terrorists destroy us is a wacky thing to believe, but that’s a level of objectivity that seems to be completely unwarranted.

    I mean, I didn’t think the Wright issue was a big deal, but I certainly didn’t take the stance that perhaps his comments were out of context and that I needed to view whole sermons to get a feel for what he was actually saying. I mean, it was quite clear even from the sound bites.

    What judgements you take from these statements and such is not dependent on the context, per se. There isn’t a whole lot of nuance in these men and their beliefs that needs fine parsing and weighing.




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  12. Wayne says:

    “But it’s never too late to admit a mistake and take steps to ensure that one doesn’t make it again.”

    Alex if you can do the second part, you are better than most. Then again most have a hard time at admitting mistakes. They usually come up with some excuse or another.




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  13. David says:

    Alex, it’s hard to forget that I was reprimanded for politely disagreeing with your post when you initially made it. While I don’t adhere to or defend the beliefs of Hagee or Parsley, it did seem like a bit of a “hit piece” on your part to associate McCain to the people endorsing him, as I said at the time. It just seems a bit disingenuous to suddenly feel the need for a “retraction” when a similar scenario has come to light regarding a candidate you actually like. Pretty sure that was addressed at the time of your initial post as well. This retraction simply seems to reinforce the fact notion that the initial post was nothing more than an opportunity to take a shot at a candidate you oppose. When a candidate you like suffers the same type of publicity is not the time to suddenly discover the joys of introspection.




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  14. Steve Plunk says:

    I don’t want to sound condescending but it is a measure of a man’s intellect and honesty for him to admit errors. I disagreed with your assessment at the time and understand where you are coming from now.

    I wouldn’t associate Obama too closely with this particular reverend any more than I thought it was a good idea to associate McCain with the two others. When running for office you should at least be polite to those who support you.

    Obama probably doesn’t believe half the junk Wright throws out for consumption and belonging to his church doesn’t make it so. The world is full of people with funny ideas.

    Thanks for letting us know you changed your mind. You have that right and now the whole matter is forgotten.




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  15. bains says:

    It just seems a bit disingenuous to suddenly feel the need for a “retraction” when a similar scenario has come to light regarding a candidate you actually like.

    Just as many here have divined motives for other’s actions, let me join in. Mr. Knapp is trying to grasp the moral high ground. Recognizing that an active association with, contributions to, and seeking council of a arguably racist Minister is quite a bit different from accepting endorsement from a Minister with whom one has no active engagement. This kind of moral relativism doesn’t sell well to a large swathe of America. Best to try appear humble (and magnanimous to boot) and take what one initially thought was a trump card off the table. Or said differently, after having played a King, only to take the Queen, can we please not play Spades.

    Sorry Alex, but you chose the game. Trying to back out only now does not impress.




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