McCAIN CRAVENNESS WATCH….Speaking of craven pandering, Mother Jones and Brave New films have released a pretty good short video about one of John McCain’s newest homies, the Rev. Rod Parsley. Compare and contrast. First, here’s McCain on a stage in Cincinnati a few weeks ago:

“I am very honoured today to have one of the truly great leaders in America, a moral compass, a spiritual guide, Pastor Rod Parsley….I am very grateful you are here.”

And now, the great moral compass himself:

“I do not believe that our nation can truly fulfill its divine purpose until we understand our historical conflict with Islam….I know that this statement sounds extreme. But I am not shrinking back from its implications The fact is that…America was founded in part with the intention of seeing this false religion destroyed.”

We have, of course, all gotten inured to this over the past few decades. Frothing at the mouth about Muslims and gays and baby killers and Hurricane Katrina just seems like normal stuff from crazy right-wing white preachers. But it’s not normal. It’s crazy, and John McCain used to agree that it was crazy. But now there’s an election coming up, so he’s delighted to cozy up with lunatics like Parsley and John Hagee.

This isn’t just some dumb campaign gotcha, either. Unlike Jeremiah Wright’s egocentric blatherings, which got truckloads of attention but don’t, in the end, really matter, this does. That’s why I chose to link to al Jazeera’s report about McCain’s appearance with Parsley in Cincinnati even though lots of other news outlets covered it too. One of the biggest foreign policy challenges Barack Obama will face if he wins in November is the fact that a very large number of Muslims believe that the United States is not merely fighting terrorism, but is engaged in a war against Islam. And why wouldn’t they? Rod Parsley says so, and one of our presidential candidates is willing to get up on a stage, shake his hand, and call him a “moral compass.” Andrew Sullivan, who is occasionally still readable when he takes a break from his 24/7 Hillary hatefest, gets it right:

And the truth is: the GOP is far, far more influenced by its religious fanatics than the Democrats by theirs’. And yet the right-wing extremist ranters are given a pass, as mainstream Republicans like McCain feel obliged to suck up to them. After what the right has done with Wright, they don’t get a pass any more. The GOP needs to be held accountable for every religious extremist it panders to, especially when their sectarian rhetoric could impact the work of American foreign policy.

If McCain were serious about the war on terror, he’d stay a million miles away from a guy like Parsley. Instead he begs for his endorsement. It’s an election year, after all.

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