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John McCain gives the wrong answer when asked what he would think about having a Moslem President.

By 10.2.07

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Are the American Jewish Committee and its coreligionist public organizations really stupid enough to think that Senator McCain said, indicated, intimated, hinted or otherwise communicated that he would be averse to having a Jewish President? Good grief. They are either astonishingly obtuse or pretending to misunderstand a coded message that every other American can decipher with ease.

The story, for those who wisely put baseball above politics and have had their attention occupied in our pastime's stadia, goes like this. Some interviewer for Beliefnet asked McCain what he would think of a Moslem President. He answered that while he, as a Christian, personally preferred someone grounded in that faith, he would vote for whoever was best suited to lead this nation. Later he dug his foxhole a little deeper, by adding that the Constitution established the United States as a Christian nation.

Suddenly a phalanx of Jewish groups are tripping over each other's feet to get to the mike to issue condemnations. Why, the specter of a Christian theocracy is beginning to loom, and we must slip down the slope from Mount Sinai to prevent the Sermon from slippery-sloping its own way up there. Next come the Crusades. How long before the skinheads are given a collective amnesty by President Bush to come roaring out of the prisons and do forced conversions of the Jewish infidels? Then the Inquisition. Mel Martinez will round up the last recalcitrant Hebrews and bring them to New Mexico for a big auto-da-Santa-Fe.

Gimme a huge break. Everyone knows that Joseph Lieberman won the popular vote for Vice-President in this country, and that had the electoral vote coincided, and had President Gore resigned to rescue polar bears from global warming, no one would have been a more loyal friend of President Lieberman than John McCain. If there is an actual living breathing Jew in this country who does not get that, I am prepared to offer my long-distance diagnosis of paranoia free of charge.

What McCain really meant to say, but was constrained from saying by prevailing conventions of public discourse, was that no one wants a Moslem President at this point in our history. That may be a regrettable fact, but it is a fact nonetheless, and an eminently defensible one. Look, none of us are big Koranic scholars. Most of us may think that Sura is the name of Tom Cruise's baby. But none of that matters, not at this moment in history. What is happening right now is that a large body of Moslems -- we know not just how large -- worldwide have undertaken a war to the death against our nation using their faith as a basis for the conflict.

Unfortunate though it may be for a fantastically well-deserving hyper-qualified good-willed and good-faithed individual somewhere, this is no time to elect a Moslem. While we fought the Japanese in World War Two, the Shinto worshipers had to put their presidential aspirations aside for the nonce. Same for the wise Confucians while we struggled against China in the Korean War. That's just one of those things, folks. All Moslems should graciously recuse themselves from the presidential fray at this time. Nothin' poy-sonal.

Now let us imagine what Senator McCain would have said if he was asked about the possibility of a Jewish President. (Some aggressive researcher may soon unearth something he did say on the subject back in 2000.) It might have gone approximately thus: "If it's Homnick, I'm certainly in favor. If it's Noam Chomsky, I'm strongly opposed. I think that Judaism and Christianity have roughly parallel value systems when used seriously to shine a light on moral choices in our society. On the other hand, people who are nominal practitioners of this or that but really play to the prejudices of leftist elites are no darned good in any case."

It seems fair to assume that these groups who are waxing wroth over this know well what McCain thinks. They are just taking the opportunity to carry some political water for the Democratic Party. If this is true, they are engaging in a shocking abuse of their public trust. They are given their role for the valuable purpose of protecting against Jews being victimized. Their credibility in protest is a precious resource that needs responsible husbanding.

Still, Senator McCain would be better advised not to answer that sort of question. He needs to learn from the Jews and answer a question with a question: "Why not?" The midst of a Presidential crusade is no time to be tripped up by an inquisition.

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About the Author

Jay D. Homnick, commentator and humorist, is a frequent contributor to The American Spectator.