While most conservative bloggers have faulted presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain for criticizing an ad by the North Carolina GOP linking the two Democratic gubernatorial candidates, Richard Moore and Bev Perdue, to Pastor Jeremiah Wright via his former parishioner Barack Obama (whom they both have endorsed), I am kind of ambivalent about the whole hullabaloo.
In an ideal world, McCain would have a point. We should reject the notion of guilt by association. Just because these two Democrats have endorsed a man whose pastor made offensive and anti-American remarks doesn’t mean they share his sentiments. It’s one thing to fault Senator Obama for attending Wright’s church and never challenging his pastor for his hateful remarks, it’s quite another to link those supporting the Senator’s presidential bid to those remarks.
But, we’re not living in an ideal world as McCain should know by some of the recent attacks leveled against him. For example, a number of left-wing groups (e.g., moveon.org) have presumed to establish his guilt by association, faulting him for “refusing to renounce the endorsement of Texas televangelist John Hagee” because of preacher’s anti-Catholic and anti-gay remarks. While “McCain repudiated the remarks as ‘nonsense,’ . . . he declined to renounce the pastor’s endorsement.” But, that repudiation wasn’t enough for the left.
It’s not just the left, CNN made much of a McCain supporter’s use of the B-word to describe Mrs. Clinton.
If the left can attempt to establish McCain’s “guilt” by his association (albeit infrequent) with this bigoted preacher, can’t conservatives then establish the “guilt” of Democrats by their association (albeit tenuous) with a bigoted preacher?
In an ideal political world, we would not focus so much on the associations of the people endorsing various candidates, but on his ideas, experience as well as the people with whom the candidate associates on a regular basis. Sometimes, alas, we do have to leave the ideal world and enter the real world, the rough-and-tumble of politics.