Just when I thought I had written all I needed to concerning the attacks against Barack Obama over his relationships with men like the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and former Weather Underground member Bill Ayers, one morning I dared to turn my radio dial to The Glenn Beck Program.
Beck's guest, colonel-turned-commentator Oliver North, said that Wright's fiery language was helping recruit young men into Al-Qaida. I'm not kidding. North really said this, and Beck agreed with him. "Just how stupid are we going to get with this controversy?" I thought to myself.
North and Beck are not alone. Take a quick listen to Sean Hannity, Michael Savage, Mark Levin, and the entire Republican talk radio echo chamber, and you will find all-Obama attacks, all day, every day, as hosts offer the most tortured, guilt-by-association arguments imaginable. These hacks aren't simply beating a dead horse at this point — they've buried the horse, dug it back up, and are now obsessing over the carcass.
Each host insists that they are doing voters an invaluable service and believe it's fair game to judge Obama by the company he keeps. Fine. But why not apply the same logic to John McCain?
Take the Rev. John Hagee for example, whose endorsement McCain has embraced despite his anti-Catholic and fundamentalist views. McCain blatantly solicited Hagee in order to shore up evangelical votes. While Obama has distanced himself from his former pastor's actual statements, the Pope-bashing Hagee endorses McCain solely because he believes the senator's willingness to kill Arabs en masse might jump-start Armageddon and bring back Jesus. Even more hypocritical, in 2000 McCain rejected the Christian right, comparing Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell to Al Sharpton and Louis Farrakhan. In 2008, McCain says of Hagee, "I'm glad to have his endorsement."
McCain has repeated the talk radio assumption that Obama's reluctance to end his "relationship" with Ayers and denounce the "terrorist" is indicative of what kind of leader he might be. Writes the Chicago Tribune's Steve Chapman, "What McCain didn't mention is that he has his own Bill Ayers — in the form of G. Gordon Liddy. How close are McCain and Liddy? At least as close as Obama and Ayers appear to be."
Not only did Liddy spend four years in a federal prison for his involvement in the Watergate scandal, but as Chapman notes, he proposed kidnapping anti-war activists during the 1972 Republican National Convention and even planned the murder of an unfriendly newspaper columnist.
In 1994, Liddy gave this advice to listeners after the tragedy in Waco, Texas: "Now if the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms comes to disarm you and they are bearing arms, resist them with arms. Go for a head shot; they're going to be wearing bulletproof vests ... Kill the sons of bitches." Liddy, like Ayers, was openly promoting armed resistance against the U.S. government. Still, McCain calls Liddy an "old friend."
Obama's critics can't fathom how he could have had a 20-year relationship with a reverend that expressed anti-American views and admires Louis Farrakhan. In 1987, future U.S. Supreme Court Justice and conservative hero Clarence Thomas told Reason magazine that he was "partial to the Black Panthers" and an admirer of Malcolm X. A passing fancy in his youth perhaps? Not according to Thomas, who said, "I've been very partial to Malcolm X, particularly his self-help teachings. I have virtually all of the recorded speeches of Malcolm X."
We can only assume that if Thomas has "virtually all" of X's speeches, his collection must include the famous 1964 speech "The Ballot or the Bullet" in which X urged disenfranchised blacks to violently resist the government, railed against "crackers," and said, "I don't even consider myself an American. I don't see any American dream; I see an American nightmare." In terms of radicalism, racial themes, and anti-American rhetoric, Wright's sermon pales in comparison. And unlike Obama, who has rejected Louis Farrakhan forthright, in 1992 the Utne Reader reported that "Thomas expressed a fondness for Farrakhan in a 1983 speech."
Thomas was appointed to the Supreme Court by George H.W. Bush, performed Rush Limbaugh's wedding ceremony, has been hailed by every Republican candidate for decades as the ideal federal judge, is a revered icon on conservative talk radio circuit. Without question, the Republican Party has openly embraced this man for 20 years, even after Thomas' sympathies were publicly advertised, and after he acknowledged that he admired black nationalists who were far more radical than Rev. Wright and who were as much "terrorists" in the eyes of the establishment as Ayers.
Despite McCain's relationships with Hagee and Liddy, not to mention his party's willingness to embrace a "radical" like Thomas, some might believe that I'm trying to create smoke where there's no fire; that no reasonable person could possibly believe that McCain and his friends endorse terrorism, racism, and anti-Americanism; and that my willingness to engage in such dirty politicking only illustrates my own lack of ideas. You might even say Jack Hunter is really stupid for even suggesting such nonsense.
You'd be right.
Catch Southern Avenger commentaries every Tuesday and Friday at 7:50 a.m. on the "Morning Buzz with Richard Todd" on 1250 AM WTMA.