Public Relations is a mix of art and science and is a practice every professional needs to master, even if it’s just to market yourself. Today you’ll learn a lesson at the expense of Sen. John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee for the office of President of the United States.
It’s clear the flak that Barack Hussein Obama, Jr. has caught from his two-decades long association with his radical Afro-centric pastor, Jeremiah Wright has McCain’s attention. McCain is afraid that being endorsed by John Hagee and Rod Parsley will become his own Jeremiah Wright. Unfortunately, McCain did the knee jerk reaction, and in the humble opinion of your simple scribe, he has hurt himself.
McCain has denounced the endorsements of Hagee (based on his beliefs about the Catholic church, Israel’s rightful claim to the Holy Land and other issues) and of Parsley (primarily because of his historically-accurate teachings on Islam). By doing this he might have distanced himself from some political fallout, but he also distanced himself from many tens of thousands of evangelical voters who weren’t entirely in love with McCain to begin with.
Here’s what he should have done. (Get out your notebooks.)
First, he should have made it clear that he greatly appreciates everyone’s support, even if he doesn’t agree with them. Then he should have shown that Christianity is made up of many diverse and highly fragmented groups, many of which don’t agree with each other — but they coexist as fellow believers focused on love as the primary Christian attribute. Then he should have pulled it further out to encompass the broader Republican tent which has space for many religious and non-religous people to disagree on some issues but agree on a stronger and better America.
He should have also made it clear that these pastors were never HIS pastor. That he never sat under their teaching, and never had them perform religious sacraments for his family. And by doing this he could have both distanced himself from their teachings while again binding Obama tighter to Rev. Wright.
McCain has a history of shooting before aiming — I think he did it again. Your lesson: be careful in dealing with a potential crisis that you don’t alienate your existing support base. You and I need all the friends we can get!