Saturday, June 07, 2008

Thinking About endorsements

How should we evaluate the endorsements a candidate receives? Both Barack Obama and John McCain have been criticized for being endorsed by certain controversial people. In looking to see who has endorsed whom, I found that Barack Obama has been endorsed by or has the support of more controversial people than has John McCain, and I say that with the caveat that how one determines who is controversial and who isn’t is to some degree subjective.

That said, here are those whom I consider controversial that have endorsed or given their support to Obama: British MP and Saddam lover George Galloway, rapper 50 Cent, Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, filmmaker Michael Moore, Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, and convicted terrorist and professor William Ayers.

Here are those whom I consider controversial that have endorsed or given their support to McCain: radical ministers John Hagee and Ron Parsley, Democrat Sen. Joe Lieberman, President George Bush, and former UN Ambassador John Bolton. I did a Google search honestly looking for as many controversial people as Google could find for McCain, and these are all I found. But how many are on each list really isn’t all that important for the purpose of this column.

It is true that a candidate cannot prevent some less-than-ideal person from endorsing him or her, but it doesn’t mean that the endorsee agrees with the views of the endorser. So, if Barack Obama gets the endorsement of, for example, Louis Farrakhan, that doesn’t mean that Obama agrees with Farrakhan. And, if John Hagee endorses John McCain, it doesn’t mean that McCain agrees with the views espoused by Hagee.

Those endorsements do tell us something, however, and they should not be ignored just because they do not constitute a direct link between the parties. They tell us that there is something about the candidate that appealed to the endorser, and perhaps that is more important. When you examine the people who have endorsed the candidates, you might ask, “why does John Hagee, a Christian minister with weird ideas about Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans, think McCain is the right person to be President of the United States?” And, “why does Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, a racist and anti-Semite, think Obama is the right person to be President of the United States?”

Hagee has been condemned for such comments as this one: “I believe that New Orleans had a level of sin that was offensive to God, and they were recipients of the judgment of God for that.” That comment, and others by Hagee are clearly outside the mainstream of thought in America.

Farrakhan has created a litany of anti-Jewish and racist comments that are legend; he has called whites “blue eyed devils” and Jews “bloodsuckers” that controlled the slave trade. Like Hagee, Farrakhan is outside the mainstream of American thought.

I find many of these people’s ideas undesirable, on both sides. I don’t agree with the approach to Christianity of either Hagee or Parsley, but Bush and Bolton are okay with me. Hagee and Parsley have some strange ideas, but they aren’t racists, or America-haters, or former terrorists, or communists. On Obama’s side, I disagree strongly with the views of Galloway (Socialist/Communist and Saddam sympathizer), Ortega (Socialist), 50 Cent (rap is mostly poison, and isn’t very musical, to boot), Farrakhan (racist/anti-Semite), Ayers (former terrorist and radical Lefty), and Moore (radical Lefty and dishonest in his work). Even though it is possible that Obama does not agree with anything that any of them believe or say, the fact that these people see something beneficial in Obama is troubling. I don’t see the same sort of thing in the McCain endorsers.

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