McCain Tries to Have It Both Ways on Rev. Wright

By Nitya

Apr 28, 2008 7:39am

Yesterday in Florida, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., raised and twisted remarks Rev. Jeremiah Wright made in 2003 while insisting he would continue to avoid making political hay out of Wright.

Quite an interesting maneuver.

Asked what steps, if any, he would take to stop the North Carolina GOP TV ad that hammers two Democratic gubernatorial candidates for associating with Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, who associated with Wright, McCain said, "I’ve stated my position very clearly that I don’t like the ad."

McCain’s campaign has intimated using Wright in the ad is race-baiting and asked the state party to stop running it.

That said, McCain noted comments Obama made to Fox News Sunday seeming to OK Wright as an issue. Obama said that, "I think that people were legitimately offended by some of the comments that he had made in the past.  The fact he’s my former pastor I think makes it a legitimate political issue.  So I understand that."

Said McCain, "If he believes that, then, it will probably be a political issue."

McCain then picked up some of the Wright passages that are getting renewed attention on conservative/Hillary Clinton-backing blogs and radio, though they are not new.

"I saw yesterday some additional comments that have been revealed by Pastor Wright," McCain said. "One of them, comparing the United States Marine Corps with Roman legionnaires who were responsible for the death of our savior.  I mean, being involved in that.  It’s beyond belief.  And then of course, saying that al Qaeda and the American flag were the same flags.  So, I can understand.  I can understand why people are upset about this.  I can understand why, that Americans when viewing these kinds of comments are angry and upset."

Wright never said "al Qaeda and the American flag were the same flags." He compared Americans thinking that God blesses US military actions that kill innocent civilians with the belief of al Qaeda. He decried "making a pre-emptive strike in the name of God. We cannot see how what we are doing is the same thing that al-Qaeda is doing under a different color flag -– calling on the name of a different God to sanction and approve our murder and our mayhem.”

You may well find that offensive in itself, but McCain misrepresented what Wright said, in his April 2003 sermon.

After making a political issue out of an issue he said he wouldn’t make a political issue, McCain then pivoted to attach Obama to Wright in making comments McCain considers to be out-of-touch, saying Americans would be offended by what Wright said "just like they viewed Senator Obama’s statements about why people turned to their faith and their values. He believes that it’s out of economic concerns, when we all know that it’s out of fundamental belief, fundamental faith in this country and its values and its principles.  Again, Senator Obama, out of touch.  I can’t control, and will not in the future control.  I will voice my opinion, and I will continue to think it to say that I think that that ad should not be run."

A reporter noted that McCain had previously said that Wright was not a legitimate political issue.

“I have said that I will not do, have any comment on it and that because I thought, and I believe that Senator Obama does not share those views," McCain said. "But Senator Obama himself says it’s a legitimate political issue.  So, I would imagine that many other people will share that view and it will be in the arena.  My position, that Senator Obama doesn’t share those views, remains the same.”

How is it unacceptable for the North Carolina GOP to use Wright as an issue, quoting him accurately in the TV ad, but totally fine for McCain to do so, misrepresenting what Wright said?

Wright, meanwhile, continues to draw attention to himself.

- jpt

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