Thursday, May 22, 2008

Clinton's Hypocrisy on Michigan and Florida Pushes Latest Hagee Comments from Media Scrutiny

I was all set to write about Hillary Clinton's completely self-serving, fraudulent and hypocritical speech yesterday setting herself up as the champion of disenfranchised voters in Florida and Michigan. I was going to talk about the hyperbole of linking the issue with events like Selma and the 2000 presidential election and lay out the history of how Clinton signed a pledge not to "campaign or participate in any state" with a primary or caucus before February 5, other than Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina. I was going to talk about how then Clinton Campaign Manager Patti Solis Doyle said in September 2007 that the campaign believed that "Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina play a unique and special role in the nominating process" and how Clinton herself said in October 2007 of the Michigan primary: "It's clear, this election they're having is not going to count for anything." I was even going to quote Judge Judy's famous exhortation, "Don't pee on my leg and tell me its raining."

I was going to point out the inequity of rewarding states for violating party rules they agreed to, and the chaos that could result in 2012 and future primary seasons if there are no repercussions for states moving their contests earlier and earlier in a race to be first. I might even have noted that Clinton is asking to have votes counted in Michigan when she was the only major candidate on the ballot (not exactly a fair election, unless, of course, you are a big fan of the Soviet Union).

I was going to argue that it was clear that Clinton was only taking the position on seating the full delegations from Florida and Michigan because she is about to lose (or already has lost, depending how you look at it) and thinks she needs the votes and delegates won in those tainted contests. And finally, I was going to note that Clinton's false sanctimony on the issue is exemplary of the very inauthenticity, slipperiness and lack of moral center that her numerous and vociferous detractors regularly accuse her of exhibiting.

But I decided I'm not going to write about Clinton today (at least any more than I just did). It's time to move the focus of the coverage of the election away from Clinton and to the two candidates who will actually contest the election in November. The chorus of Clinton supporters saying she has a "right" to stay in the race are only arming the Republicans in the fight for the White House. For every minute Clinton is in the news making self-serving remarks like she did yesterday, that's one minute that is being diverted from the all-but-inevitable John McCain-Barack Obama matchup. That means that the outrageous comments made by McCain and his supporters get pushed to the periphery.

Exhibit A: Rev. John Hagee. Sure, McCain hasn't had a longstanding relationship with Hagee like Obama had with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, but what McCain did with Hagee is actually worse. McCain knew (or should have known) about Hagee's extreme and bizarre views, and yet with that full knowledge in hand, he not only actively sought Hagee's endorsement, but said he was proud to have it, even after McCain was made aware of some of Hagee's statements.

We already knew that Hagee called Catholicism "the great whore," and that Hurricane Katrina was God's punishment to New Orleans for the city's embrace of homosexuals.

This week, Hagee's latest off-the-wall remarks came to light, as a sermon emerged in which he said that Hitler was sent by God to trigger the Holocaust so Jews would be forced to move to Israel. (Audio is available at this link.)

In April, on ABC's "This Week," McCain admitted it was a mistake to seek out Hagee's support, but he didn't back down. He said he was "glad to have his endorsement" and added, "I admire and respect Dr. Hagee's leadership ... I admire and appreciate his advocacy for the state of Israel, the independence of the state of Israel."

Right. McCain admires and appreciates a man who said in a 2006 book that "the Holocaust was the fault of Jews themselves -- the result of an age old divine curse incurred by the ancient Hebrews through worshiping idols and passed, down the ages, to all Jews now alive."

The way McCain has flip-flopped on many of his major views from his 2000 run for the presidency to this try at gaining the White House, it should come as no surprise that he is happy to be in bed with a dangerous wack-job like Hagee. McCain is the man who, in 2000, called Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson "agents of intolerance" and criticized Bob Jones University, but who, this time around, bowed down to these very same folks, speaking at Falwell's Liberty University and Bob Jones University and courting the support of Hagee and other fundamentalist preachers.

But instead of covering McCain's flip-flop on right-wing fundamentalists, tax breaks for the rich, torture, and a host of other important issues, the media is airing Clinton's mock outrage over the delegates in Michigan and Florida. I'm not immune. This article that complains about the coverage of Clinton spends half its space doing just that.

If Clinton wants to stay in the race, fine, I get the importance of her run to many voters and the fact that she came within a hair of winning the nomination. But if she cares at all about beating McCain in November, she has to stop the completely insincere grandstanding, especially when her assertions are so obviously contradicted by her own statements and conduct from last year, when she figured she would win the nomination easily.

Let the voters get to know Obama: The more he talks about issues, the more his numbers seem to go up. Let the voters get to know McCain: The more his views are given a mass airing, the more it becomes apparent how closely he has voted with Bush, how much he wants to continue Bush's policies in key areas like the economy and Iraq, and how much his views have flip-flopped since 2000 (showing that he is no longer as independent as people seem to think), and the more he will be revealed as an unattractive candidate to Americans sick of the Bush administration and its policies.

It's time for Obama and McCain to take the spotlight. And it's time for Clinton to exit the stage, gracefully, I hope.