Monday, August 18, 2008

Faith and Politics Part 2: Cone-gate

All the blogosphere was caught up today on a comment that Andrea Mitchell made on "MTP", where there were some allegations that McCain may not have been in the "Cone of Silence" as Pastor Rick Warren had stated as part of the forum set up. Interestingly, McCain's camp immediately fired off a letter to NBC Executive Steve Capus complaining of partisian politics.

In addition McCain's camp made a statement of outrage Nicolle Wallace, a spokeswoman for Mr. McCain, said on Sunday night that Mr. McCain had not heard the broadcast of the event while in his motorcade and heard none of the questions.
“The insinuation from the Obama campaign that John McCain, a former prisoner of war, cheated is outrageous,” Ms. Wallace said.

I find it interesting that their extra defense is that "McCain is a former POW". Again they use that as a shield, as if John McCain is excused from any and all future wrong doing. No one can deny that he served his country honorable. This is not to take away from the time that he has served as a POW, but what does that have to do with his infallibility as a man?? He even admitted that he has been a very imperfect man. This is a man who is reverting to using negative campaign tactics used by Rove's proteges to win an election. These are the same people who smeared his honor and spread rumors about his adopted daughter Bridget in the 2004 Election campaign.

From my point of view, his moral values do come into play. We are talking about a man who cheated on his wife, and quickly divorced her upon his return from the Vietnam War, to marry a much younger, wealthy heiress. He made a vow to God - for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, and quite frankly, he broke it. Oh but that's right, according to Hannity (and the rest of the crazy people at Fox news), it's all justified because he was a POW. He was allowed to cheat and abandon his disabled wife who, before her debilitating car accident, was a model. Because she had gained weight, he deserves a "hot" wife after nearly 5 years as a POW.

This type of allegation, on whether he was fed some advance intelligence, will be very difficult to prove, and could backfire as "sour grapes" for the Obama supporters. However, what is not in question is that McCain was on his way to the event, and not in the "cone of silence" as was suggested. He was in a motorcade and arrived 30 minutes prior to when he was supposed to go on. I think what has everyone talking are two specific examples where McCain jumped to answer the question - BEFORE Warren even has a chance to ask what those questions are...

REV. WARREN: All right, let's go into the tough ones. That was just (opening ?). Let's deal with abortion. I, as a pastor, have to deal with this all the time -- every different angle, every different pain, all the decisions and all of that. Forty million abortions since Roe v. Wade. Some people -- people who believe that life begins at conception would say that's a holocaust for many people. What point is a baby entitled to human rights?
SEN. MCCAIN: At the moment of conception. (Cheers, applause.) I have a 25-year pro-life record in the Congress, in the Senate. And as president of the United States, I will be a pro-life president and this presidency will have pro-life policies. (Cheers,
applause.) That's my commitment. That's my commitment to you.
REV. WARREN: Okay. We don't have to go longer on that one. (Laughter.)
Define marriage.
SEN. MCCAIN: A union -- a union between man and woman, between one
man and one woman. That's my definition of marriage. (Applause.)

Are we going to get back to the importance of Supreme Court justices, or should I mention it?
REV. WARREN: We will get to that.
SEN. MCCAIN: Okay. All right. (Laughter.) Okay.
REV. WARREN: Man, you're jumping ahead. You know all my questions.

REV. WARREN: All right, let's talk about education. America ranks 19th in high school graduations, but we're first in incarcerations. Everybody says they want more accountability in schools. About 80 percent of America says they support merit pay for the best teachers. Now, I don't want to hear your stump speech on education.

SEN. MCCAIN: Yes, yes, and find bad -- (laughter) -- find bad teachers another line of work. (Laughter, applause.)
REV. WARREN: You know, we're going to end this -- you're answering
so quickly.

The question that was put to Obama earlier was 1) Do you think better teachers should be paid better, 2) Should they be paid more than poor teachers...which is what McCain's "yes. yes..." answers were responding to, so how did McCain know to answer that way without hearing Warren's questions???

REV. WARREN: Okay, let's go to education. America right now ranks 19th in
high school graduations. We're first in incarcerations.
SEN. OBAMA: Not good.
REV. WARREN: Not good. Eighty percent of Americans, a recent poll said
they believe in merit pay for teachers. Now, I'm not asking do you think all
teachers should get a raise. Do you think better teachers should be paid better, they should be paid more than poor teachers?
SEN. OBAMA: I think that we should, and I've said this publicly, that we should set up a system of performance pay for teachers, negotiated with teachers, worked with the teachers to figure out the assessments so that they feel like they're being judged
fairly, that it's not at the whim of the principal, that it's not simply based
on a single high-stakes standardized test. But the basic notion that teaching is
a profession, that teachers are underpaid so we need to pay them all more and
create a higher baseline, but then we should also reward excellence. I think
that is a concept that all of us should invest in. (Applause.)

But it seems that McCain's problems are not just limited to whether or not he was truly in a cone of silence or whether he had some advantage on knowing what the questions were in advance. The other hot topic that came up was whether or not one of the POW stories that McCain shared, where McCain relates that there was a guard who formed a cross in the dirt to secretly share that he was a Christian, was plagerized. The question came up, as McCain had not previously told this story until his 1999 memoir was published (all his earlier memoirs, including the personal account he wrote for US News & World Report in the mid 70s did not mention this incident).

The reason for the whispers is due to the fact that it seemed awfully similar to the passage in Alexander Solzhenitsyn's book "The Gulag Archipelago ". One other additional point of interest are the recent claims where McCain has professed his admiration for Solzhenitsyn and his works.

This is not the first time that McCain is being accused of "plagerism", for when the initial incidents with Georgia and Russia came out, McCain immediately seized the moment to make a statement to show his Foreign Policy prowess (even before Bush had a chance to make a statement), and ended up giving a history lesson on Georgia, in his press conference, that appeared to be remarkably similar to the explanations about Georgian from Wikipedia. Here I suspect that McCain didn't purposely plagerize, he was just unfortunate to have a lazy campaign writer who probably didn't know enough about the Georgia history and conflict with Russia.

All in all, this is going to most likely stay in the blogosphere, with the divided opinions between the left and the right. The right feeling injured and angry that McCain is being demonized, and the left feeling fustrated that again McCain is getting a free pass on incidents that Obama would not have been let off the hook for.

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1 comment:

David Gerard said...

McCain and Wikipedia has vast comedy potential. (Feel free to propagate the picture.)