Senator McCain's motto seems to be: Judge me not by what I say or do or who I climb into bed with, rather judge me by the fact that I served my country. This is what might be called the, I'm Jesus Christ argument. Having suffered, been imprisoned and then raised again on behalf of America, who are ordinary mortals such as Senator Obama, to question McCain's judgments?
Two related stories in today's New York Times illustrate McCain's I'm-Jesus-so-above-criticism deceit. The Times reports that McCain repudiated the Reverend Hagee for saying that God used Hitler to get the Jews to return to Israel. In another story the Times reported that Obama backed the New GI Bill to give vets better educational benefits. The Times also reported on McCain's opposition to the New GI Bill.
In one of the stories Obama was answering questions from a Jewish audience about his support for Israel. "If my policies are wrong, vote against me because my policies are wrong," Obama told people gathered inside the synagogue, B'nai Torah Congregation. "Don't vote against me because of who I am."
In the other story on military benefits Obama said: "I respect Senator John McCain's service to our country ... But I can't understand why he would line up behind the president in opposition to this G.I. Bill." McCain retorted, "I take a back seat to no one in my affection, respect and devotion to veterans," Mr. McCain said. "I will not accept from Senator Obama, who did not feel it was his responsibility to serve our country in uniform, any lectures on my regard for those who did."
What does this add up to?
McCain didn't support Senator Jim Webb's new GI Bill, but that doesn't matter because McCain served his country.
McCain is relying on the support of bizarre evangelical anti-Semites to win the White House, but that doesn't matter because he served his country.
I have an insider's perspective on both the military benefits and evangelical-support-for-Israel issues: I was a lifelong Republican, and my late evangelical-leader father -- Francis Schaeffer -- and I helped found the religious right. My son also served in the Marines and fought in Bush's wars. (Note: I left the evangelical world long ago and am now registered as an independent having once actively worked to get McCain elected in 2000.)
Senator Obama shows actual respect for the service of our troops. Senator McCain shows an actual disdain, given that he endorsed the Pentagon's argument against the new GI Bill.
McCain said that the benefits the GI Bill provides will lure troops out of service in the Bush/McCain Iraq war and into civilian life. McCain is more interested in warmongering and "victory" in a war where no one can define what that means, than in actually helping our men and women in uniform.
Similarly when it comes to Israel and the Jews, McCain professes that he "didn't know" the views of Rev. Hagee, concerning the fact that the good Rev. believes that Hitler was an "instrument of God" when driving the Jews to Israel where they "belong."
That's like saying that when you got the endorsement of the grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan that you didn't know they were a racist outfit. McCain has had enough run-ins with the Evangelical right, to know exactly who they are.
An interesting comparison emerges. Senator Obama shows authentic respect for Jews and Israel in word and deed. McCain is looking for votes from a huge group of evangelicals who hold -- as a Calvinistic theological absolute truth -- that God is "sovereign" and has "predestined" everything, including the Holocaust, and that the Holocaust was "God's will" in order to "restore Israel," not for the good of the Jews but so that Jesus might return to earth, thus fulfilling biblical prophecy (as understood by most evangelicals).
Those same apocalyptic "prophecies" predict that upon Jesus' return only evangelical Christians will be saved, and that the vast majority of Jews living in Israel (or elsewhere) will be killed. The "unsaved" Jews' destiny will be eternal damnation and the anguish of hell for having "refused" the Messiah.
Evangelical's "support for Israel" is something like a pedophile's "support" for children. Evangelicals want to "save" Jews from Judaism and save Israel to hasten the return of Jesus so that they can travel on spaceship Jesus to heaven at the so-called rapture.
Evangelicals want Israel up and running as a launching pad for themselves, not as a home for Jews. Jews who don't go back to Israel, therefore, condemn evangelicals to die alongside ordinary mortals, before Jesus comes back and snatches the Evangelicals bodily into the clouds ...
If Jews vote for McCain instead of Obama, because they have believed lies about Obama's "lack of support" for Israel, they'll be voting for a Republican Party whose powerbase believes in apocalyptic fantasies more hostile to Jews' identity and well-being than most people can even imagine.
If military people vote for McCain because of his service they'll be voting for a man ready and willing to sacrifice American sons and daughters to his own war-making gods where even an ill-defined "victory" is better than admitting that all those years of service still didn't protect him from making a historic mistake when he voted for, then supported, Bush's war and Iraq.
John McCain was willing to accept the endorsement of a minister who just happened to represent the views of millions of American evangelical Christians, upon whom the Republicans depend. These are the folks who gave us 8 years of Bush, 4000-plus war dead, 40,000 wounded, 3 trillion in wasted money, a collapsing economy and 4 to 5 dollar a gallon gas and worldwide disrespect for our country.
McCain's hypocrisy and double standards merge in the issues of "who really loves the Jews and Israel most?" and "who really loves the military most?" On both counts McCain is a hypocrite. And in the case of "not knowing" what his Evangelical supporters really consist of he's a liar.
His only answer? "I served!"
Senator Obama is not seeking the support of the terminally deluded, or resting on services rendered almost half a century ago in another failed war. As he says, we should judge him on his actions, his words and his beliefs. On that basis Senator Obama actually supports our troops and actually supports Israel and the Jews' right to be (and remain!) Jewish. Obama supports both because he supports human beings, not as a means to an end (let alone as pawns in the "End Times"), but because Obama believes in the intrinsic worth of each of us and that we Americans are all one family.
Frank Schaeffer is a writer and author of "CRAZY FOR GOD-How I Grew Up As One Of The Elect, Helped Found The Religious Right, And Lived To Take All (Or Almost All) Of It Back"