For the record, I believe John McCain. That’s hardly surprising. I also think that just as Hillary Clinton was reluctant to describe her Methodist faith, John McCain has been reluctant to describe his religious experiences — he seems to have quirky religious views which aren’t always easy for him, or anyone else, to define. This famous reluctance ebbed later in his career, in part out of a recognition that it reflected an older sensibility, one that was no longer in tune with the electorate. So, starting in the run-up to his first presidential campaign, he began to speak more frankly and forthrightly about his Christianity.
Is this that strange?
But leaving that aside, I caution the Obamaphiles who are trying to make an issue out of this — who are making the unprovable claim that McCain simply made this story up out of whole cloth.
Making this a story does not help Barack Obama. Making this a story — forcing the McCain campaign to constantly emphasize his religious experience, his captivity, the decency of at least one of his Vietnamese captors — does not make John McCain look dishonest or cynical. It connects him with a constituency that hasn’t always connected with him on a visceral level.
Of course, I’m sure this isn’t being raised for merely tactical reasons. It is being raised because some see it as a legitimate issue. And that’s fair enough. It happens to be a conversation that objectively helps McCain as it makes those behind the accusation seem unkind, at the least.
So if I were the McCain camp, I’d say, “Please, please continue. And MoveOn? Please, cut an advertisement on this subject. We want to hear about this more.”
During the primary campaign, the Obama campaign was careful not to discuss low-level vandalism by political opponents, including racist graffiti, etc. They knew that talking about the attacks would change the narrative in a way that was unfavorable to the campaign, that would make Obama look like a victim.
But sometimes looking like a victim is a good thing, i.e., when you are a devout Christian under siege by critics who accuse you on lying about Christian decency under uniquely painful, trying circumstances. Just a thought.