I liked what John McCain said at Saddleback, but there was one thing that I frankly found deceitful…
…the “Cross in the Dirt” story.
I’m aware of two different times that John McCain has told that story, with very different purposes each time.
At Saddleback, it was to say to Evangelicals, “I’m one of you.”
The last time (February 28, 2000) it was to say to non-Evangelicals, “I’m NOT one of those divisive ‘Agents of Intolerance’.”
My friends, I am a Reagan Republican who will defeat Al Gore.
Unfortunately, Governor Bush is a Pat Robertson Republican who will lose to Al Gore.
Neither party should be defined by pandering to the outer reaches of American politics and the agents of intolerance, whether they be Louis Farrakhan or Al Sharpton on the left, or Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell on the right.
Many years ago, a scared American prisoner of war in Vietnam was tied in torture robes by his tormenters and left alone in an empty room to suffer through the night. Later in the evening, a guard he had never spoken to entered the room and silently loosened the ropes to relieve his suffering. Just before morning, that same guard came back and re-tightened the ropes before his less humanitarian comrades returned.
He never said a word to the grateful prisoner, but some months later on a Christmas morning as the prisoner stood alone in the prison courtyard, the same Good Samaritan walked up to him and stood next to him for a few moments. Then with his sandal, the guard drew a cross in the dirt. Both prisoner and guard stood wordlessly there for a minute or two venerating the cross until the guard rubbed it out and walked away.
This is my faith, the faith that unites and never divides, the faith that bridges unbridgeable gaps in humanity.
John McCain called George W. Bush a “Pat Robertson Republican” then said Pat Robertson was one of the “agents of intolerance“, so he effectively called George W. Bush an “agent of intolerance Republican“.
When questioned about that speech the next day (March 1, 2000), McCain made it clear that those remarks were very intentional and he would not retract anything he had said.
Later, Tim Russert asked John McCain about this, and McCain rambled before finally saying that he and Jerry Falwell “agreed to disagree on certain issues” without clarifying what those disagreements were.
(Videotape, February 28, 2000):
SEN. McCAIN: Neither party should be defined by pandering to the outer reaches of American politics and the agents of intolerance whether they be Louis Farrakhan or Al Sharpton on the left or Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell on the right.
MR. RUSSERT: “Agents of intolerance.” And you were asked about that speech and you said this: “I must not and will not retract anything that I said in that speech at Virginia Beach. It was carefully crafted. It was carefully thought out.” Based on that, do you believe that Jerry Falwell is still an agent of intolerance?
SEN. McCAIN: I would like to first respond to several comments that you made as a predicate. First of all, on the tax cuts. I do not believe in tax increases. Now, it was a gimmick that was—that the tax cuts were temporary and then had to be made permanent. The tax cuts are now there and voting to revoke them would have been to—not to extend them would have meant a tax increase. I’ve never voted for a tax increase in my life.
MR. RUSSERT: Well, that’s important. But it would, it would, it would mean that…
SEN. McCAIN: But it’s be very important that I finish saying what I think.
MR. RUSSERT: But, let me just, for the record, it would have gone back to tax rates.
SEN. McCAIN: Yes.
MR. RUSSERT: That you had supported.
SEN. McCAIN: Yes. But the economy had adjusted, the tax cuts were there, and if it would have been—and that’s the way it was designed. It would’ve been tantamount to a tax increase. And that’s, and that’s a fact. And I’ve never voted for a tax increase in my life with the exception of…
MR. RUSSERT: So there’s no politics?
SEN. McCAIN: …supporting a tax. No. I do things because I think they’re right. I mean, and obviously you—if people are free to judge however they want to. As regards to Reverend Falwell, which is the major thrust of your comments, I met with Reverend Falwell, he came to see me in Washington. We, we agreed to disagree on certain issues and we agreed to move forward. I believe that speaking at Liberty University is no different from speaking at the New College or Ohio State University, all of which I’m speaking—I speak at a lot of colleges and universities. I’m pleased to have the opportunity to do so, to talk to young Americans and talk to them about the obligations and the privileges of freedom.
MR. RUSSERT: But Senator, when you were on here in 2000, I asked you about Jerry Falwell, and this is what you said.
(Videotape, March 5, 2000):
SEN. McCAIN: Governor Bush swung far to the right and sought out the base support of Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell. That’s—those aren’t the ideas that I think are good for the Republican Party.
MR. RUSSERT: Do you think that Jerry Falwell’s ideas are now good for the Republican Party?
SEN. McCAIN: I believe that the Christ—quote, “Christian right,” has a major role to play in the Republican Party. One reason is, is because they’re so active, and their, and their followers are. And I believe they have a right to be a part of our party. I don’t have to agree with everything they stand for, nor do I have to agree with everything that’s on the liberal side of the Republican Party. If we have to agree on every issue, we’re not a Republican Party. I believe in open and honest debate. Was I unhappy in, in, in the year 2000 that I lost the primary and there were some attacks on me that I thought was unfair? Of course. Do I—should I get over it? Should I serve—can I serve the people of Arizona best by looking back in anger or moving forward?
MR. RUSSERT: Do you believe that Jerry Falwell is still an agent of intolerance?
SEN. McCAIN: No, I don’t. I think that Jerry Falwell can explain to you his views on this program when you have him on.
So, even though McCain said he no longer believed Jerry Falwell was an “agent of intolerance”, McCain said nothing to explain why he had changed his opinion. McCain made it clear that he was not part of the:
quote, “Christian right,”
At Saddleback church on Saturday, I really would have liked to hear John McCain affirm that taking a stand for Biblical morality and Biblical truth doesn’t qualify you as an “Agent of Intolerance”. I would have liked to have heard him say that he was wrong in 2000 and explain why he changed his “carefully thought out” views. Specifically, retracting that “Bush is a Pat Robertson [i.e. Agent of Intolerance] Republican“. The only thing I’ve seen President Bush be intolerant of is EVIL … just like Ronald Reagan was intolerant of evil.
John McCain said, “I am a Reagan Republican.”
Here’s a reminder of what a Reagan Republican is.