Hagee, Wright, Parsley, Fallwell, Obama and McCain

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I've never gone ga-ga for guilt-by-association assassinations, but it seems to be that if one campaign is willing to make an issue out of one's associations, they should be open to questions about their own.

And, in truth, some associations are more meaningful than others. Barack Obama's close friendship with, his intellectual debt to, and the spiritual advice he's gotten from Rev. Jeremiah Wright almost pre-books that 60 Minutes interview you know he'll do in the fall explaining it.

But John McCain needs be careful.

As J-Mart notes this morning, McCain's campaign included Ron Kessler's WSJ op-ed in its clips, which implies that they believe reporters should make a note of it. But as his colleague B-Smith later noted, that conflicts with what McCain strategist Charlie Black (C-Black?) told Joe Scarborough on MSNBC this morning -- namely, that "I don't think Senator McCain wants to get in the middle of a discussion about Senator Obama's former pastor or his faith."

More, from Black:

"He believes that people who endorse you, people who befriend you are entitled to their own views, but you are not held personally accountable."

Well, now McCain is part of that discussion. And it's a dangerous place for him to be, what with Rev. John Hagee's anti-gay remarks (curiously unremarked upon by anyone in the McCain campaign -- is the McCain campaign afraid to repudiate anti-gay remarks?), his anti-Catholic remarks (once condemned by McCain, but now McCain wants to give Hagee the benefit of the doubt)?, his millennialism (which means, as some honest McCain adviser must have explained to the candidate by now, the death of millions of innocent Muslims)... also: Jerry Falwell, and his casual association of 9/11 with the sins of homosexuality, and Rod Parsley, a man who McCain has called a "spiritual guide," a man who has also called Islam a "false religion" and has advocated war against it and various other bad things.

Why are these folks entitled to these opinions and Wright isn't entitled to his?

The McCain campaign is quick to respond to the slightest whiff of tarnish to McCain's image as a reformer. They don't seem to know what to do about his new friends and some of their more colorful comments.

Pull back the curtains a bit.

Everytime I write about McCain and lobbying, I hear from senior McCain officials within a microsecond of saving my post.

Everytime i write about McCain and these subjects, the radio is silent.

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Marc Ambinder is an Atlantic contributing editor. He is also a senior contributor at Defense One, a contributing editor at GQ, and a regular contributor at The Week.

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