posted at 7:07 pm on March 17, 2008 by Ed Morrissey
The Huffington Post sends us this essay by Frank Schaeffer claiming that Republicans have acted hypocritically in scolding Barack Obama over Jeremiah Wright — because the GOP embraced him and his father. His father is “Religious Right leader Francis Schaeffer”, which around here might combine up with a buck to buy a bag of donut holes. Schaeffer fils has repented of his conservativism — hence the appearance at HuffPo — and spends most of it spanking his dad:
Take Dad’s words and put them in the mouth of Obama’s preacher (or in the mouth of any black American preacher) and people would be accusing that preacher of treason. Yet when we of the white Religious Right denounced America white conservative Americans and top political leaders, called our words “godly” and “prophetic” and a “call to repentance.”
We Republican agitators of the mid 1970s to the late 1980s were genuinely anti-American in the same spirit that later Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson (both followers of my father) were anti-American when they said God had removed his blessing from America on 9/11, because America accepted gays. Falwell and Robertson recanted but we never did.
My dad’s books denouncing America and comparing the USA to Hitler are still best sellers in the “respectable” evangelical community and he’s still hailed as a prophet by many Republican leaders. When Mike Huckabee was recently asked by Katie Couric to name one book he’d take with him to a desert island, besides the Bible, he named Dad’s Whatever Happened to the Human Race? a book where Dad also compared America to Hitler’s Germany.
The hypocrisy of the right denouncing Obama, because of his minister’s words, is staggering. They are the same people who argue for the right to “bear arms” as “insurance” to limit government power. They are the same people that (in the early 1980s roared and cheered when I called down damnation on America as “fallen away from God” at their national meetings where I was keynote speaker, including the annual meeting of the ultraconservative Southern Baptist convention, and the religious broadcasters that I addressed.
Has anyone heard of this guy? I mean, besides Mike Huckabee?
Even getting beyond the arrogance, Schaeffer sets up at least a couple of straw men in this argument. Has anyone of significance accused Rev. Wright of treason? We’ve certainly accused him of America bashing and of conducting hate speech from the pulpit, but neither of those are treason. We have also questioned whether Obama’s description of him as a “spiritual adviser” and as a political mentor means that Obama shares the view that God should damn America and that it should be called the US of KKK-A. Given that Obama explicitly campaigns on his claims of better judgment, shouldn’t we look at his judgement in associating with that kind of hateful rhetoric — especially when he has so little else to offer?
Second, we are told that he “had lunch with the Fords, stayed in the White House as their guest, he met with Reagan,” and was a “frequent” guest of the Kemps, although Schaefer doesn’t exactly give that any context. So he met once with Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan, and stayed overnight with the former — who wasn’t exactly enamored with evangelicals anyway. One supposes that Jack Kemp probably arranged the meetings, but it doesn’t sound as if either President found him or his rhetoric attractive enough to have a second meeting. That’s both quantitatively and qualitatively at the far end of the spectrum from Obama’s relationship with Jeremiah Wright. He sat in that church for 20 years, bringing his children to hear Wright speak and donated over $20,000 in 2006 to support Wright.
Also, I just checked, and Jack Kemp isn’t running for President in 2008. Reagan and Ford aren’t either, although some Republicans did everything but dig Ronaldus Magnus out of his grave in the primaries. \
Schaeffer undermines his own argument in the passage above, too. He notes that Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson made inflammatory and downright stupid statements about the 9/11 attacks — and hell, Robertson has made foolish and objectionable remarks both before and since. Both, however, apologized for those remarks and retracted them. They didn’t do that because Democrats objected; they did it because Republicans denounced them for making those statements. Trent Lott similarly resigned from his leadership position in the Senate for saying a lot less than Wright uttered in the mildest of his sermons, and only after his fellow Republicans openly called on him to do so.
At least I know why I’ve never heard of either Schaeffer.