See Ya!

Well, it looks like John McCain is done. I don’t suppose that he had much of a shot at the Republican nomination anyway, but now he’s being roasted alive for some candid remarks he made during an interview at

What was McCain’s unpardonable offense? Being a Christian himself, he expressed a wish to have a Christian president. Wasting no time, and with depressing predictability, the Muslims, the Jews, and presumably everyone else on down to the Jains and the Zoroastrians have queued up to bastinado him for his effrontery.

It’s a fine line a candidate has to walk; strait is the gate, and narrow the path. On the one hand, he is required to appear on CNN specials to bawl like a carnival barker about the vital role his “faith” plays in his life, because American voters would sooner elect a carjacking crack addict than a Godless heathen. But if he actually goes so far as to believe the teachings of his religion, and to consider them to be of sufficient worth that he would prefer to see the leader of the free world informed by them — and is honest enough to say so — he is promptly assailed as a bigot.

What appears to be required, then, is a deep and abiding religious faith, with an unshakeable and fortifying reliance upon the guidance and wisdom of the Almighty, but also untainted by any content specific enough to differentiate a Calvinist from a Yazidi.

Small wonder the Europeans think we’re a bunch of lunatics.


  1. The path may be narrow, but it has already been blazed:'s%201960%20Speech%20as%20Catholic%20Victim

    To paraphrase Lloyd Benson: needless to say, John McCain is no John Kennedy.

    Posted October 2, 2007 at 1:46 pm | Permalink
  2. If that link doesn’t work, try

    Posted October 2, 2007 at 1:48 pm | Permalink
  3. Malcolm says

    Thanks for the links, Pete. That’s one of JFK’s best moments.

    The situation here is somewhat different, of course: on the one hand we have JFK defending himself against allegations of divided allegiance, and on the other we have McCain actively wishing for a president of his own religion. But it boils down to the same question, and Kennedy answered it about as well as a person could.

    Posted October 2, 2007 at 2:10 pm | Permalink
  4. Well, but I can certainly understand why it would be an unpardonable offense in a secular country. Anyone who isn’t of his denomination, for example, might have a similar but contrary wish — the wish for a President of their own denomination. That way leads the Balkans, well, okay, maybe not, but some incredibly fragmented politics.

    As an atheist, though, I find it just stupid. What I would wish for would be a President who is a man or woman of integrity, of passion, of intelligence, who is going to do a good job at running a nation. Religion need not enter it all, and that it does shows that religion, at least on one level, serves (or is made to serve, by most of its adherents) to sort people into “us” and “them.”

    Now, I can understand someone of an “us” group wanting an “us” for president, but when they voice that, questions arise. For what purpose? Is it like in Korea, where people of Jeolla Province were so happy to have someone from their province take over the country so that he could spray development money willy-nilly into their area (and let’s not forget accusations of corruption) just as previous leaders from other areas had done? That kind of wish is maybe understandable on a gut level, but not conscionable in a developed nation’s democratic philosophy. It’s something I think warrants being shoved out of the running for good. (Likewise religious culture warriors wanting a fundamentalist President so he can cram their cult’s rules into secular law and down the nation’s throats.)

    I’m not saying McCain was being like this. But I am saying that I personally applaud distrusting anyone who brings notions of one’s own religion being specially represented in the White House. I wish people did it more universally. In other words, I wish the CNN specials were axed, too, and the American people would get a grip in the direction of recognizing that religion and the job at hand may not necessarily be so vitally related. (Since, anyway, all that pretending it does results in is more people pretending they’re very religious as they jockey for votes.)

    Posted October 4, 2007 at 10:40 am | Permalink
  5. Malcolm says

    Hi Gord – nice to see you again.

    Well said all around. This was, of course, the thrust of Kennedy’s speech as well.

    It is quite understandable that a genuinely religious person would prefer to see the tenets of his religion — which, almost tautologically, he will consider to be a highly distilled guide to wisdom and morality — informing presidential decision-making. I’m sure fundamentalist Christians would love to see one of their own in office (in fact we had ample evidence of that in the disturbing movie Jesus Camp), Jews would be glad of a Jewish president, and so forth. As you say, it’s only human.

    What really singes my drawers is that while one can get in political trouble, as McCain did, if one draws the us/them boundary too tightly (in his case, Christians vs. everyone else), it’s just fine to build a huge enclosure around all people of “faith”, and have a big televised party therein on CNN, while we nonbelievers are left out in the cold. It’s still us/them; it’s just that in America the religious “us” greatly outnumbers the secular few.

    Posted October 4, 2007 at 11:09 am | Permalink

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