The good news is that Bill Curry, a liberal columnist and former counselor to former President Bill Clinton who now writes for the Hartford Courant, does not think the videos many of us have seen of Sen. Barack Obama’s pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, are "very pretty.”
“Wright has some odious opinions,” Curry writes, “ — America brought 9/11 on itself; the government may have given black men AIDS — which he shouts with a fervor hard to find in, say, a mostly white Congregationalist church.”
Curry thinks that candidates ought not to be held responsible for their pastor’s opinions and wonders why Sen. John McCain, the Republican presidential candidate, is not held to the same standard as Obama: “Meanwhile John McCain solicits support from the likes of televangelist John Hagee, who accuses the Catholic Church of spreading 'a theology of hate.' This is the same guy who said Hurricane Katrina was how God punished New Orleans for granting a permit to organizers of a gay pride parade.
“For those who don't know much about Christianity, that isn't the Gospels, it's hate speech. Will TV be as tough on McCain and his political ally as it was on Obama and his minister? You bet it won't. Can you think of a good reason why not?”
If we can't hold Obama or McCain responsible for Wright or Hagee, that pretty much lets eveyone off the hook, but aren’t we – just a wee bit – comparing apples and oranges here?
There are some important differences between Wright and Hagee. Wright was Obama’s pastor for twenty years. Hagee is not McCain’s pastor. Hagee has not been McCain’s spiritual advisor, the man who, in Obama’s words, “led him to Christianity” or, as Curry would prefer, “hate speech.” Twenty years of Sundays is more than a thousand Sundays. Obama’s familiarity and intimacy with his pastor makes the comparison with McCain a bit far fetched. How many of McCain’s children did Hagee baptize? How many of a thousand Sundays did McCain sit at Hagee’s feet relishing his anti-Catholic “hate speech?”
Curry hints that the media’s velvet glove treatment of McCain, as against its harsh treatment of Obama, may be due to a lingering mental racism: “But might it be race? Not in an evil or even conscious way, but in the way, after centuries, it still infects our brains.”
Well, polls measuring Sen. Chris Dodd's popularity as a president fell far short of the number of votes presently collected by Obama, mostly from white admirers, some of whom are media people. Not even Obama has suggested that he had come under critical hatchets because racism unconsciously has affected the judgment of his critics. That notion, considering his popularity, would have been decried by the same critics as highly implausible.
McCain has repudiated Hagee’s anti-catholic bigotry. Had he not done so, he would have been set upon by other non-anti-Catholic bigots, some of whom are Catholics.