McCain’s bizarre beliefs

McCain’s bizarre beliefs

McCain’s bizarre beliefs

Bad Astronomy
The entire universe in blog form
May 16 2008 12:29 PM

McCain’s bizarre beliefs

Regular readers know I am no fan of Presidential candidate John McCain. I used to be, back when he made sense, and he didn't pander to religious extremists, didn't constantly flip-flop, didn't have weird ideas about the economy and the war, and actually appeared to be telling the truth about some things. Those days are long past.

And while those other reasons are enough for me to not want him to be President, now comes the news that his grip on really is really really tenuous. I mean really.

Phil Plait Phil Plait

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  

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He's superstitious.

OK, sure, big deal, you think. Many people are superstitious, maybe even most. We talk about luck, we use body language to force the bowling ball to curve after we've bowled it, we wear lucky shirts to interviews. I understand those feelings, and they're natural. I've had 'em myself. But when they take over your life, and seriously affect your actions, then you have a problem.

McCain is really superstitious.

The Washington Times -- one of the most conservative papers in the country -- has a report detailing McCain's supernatural beliefs. The report tries to make it sound playful, but to me it's a little disturbing.

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He won't throw a hat on a bed -- that's a very old superstition that if you do that, someone in the household will die soon (too bad throwing your hat in the ring doesn't mean your chances of winning will die). He won't take a salt shaker from someone's hand. He carries around lucky change, a lucky compass, a lucky feather. The report says he has dozens of lucky rituals.

Dozens.

Now again, you may be thinking, big deal. So what?

The Washington Post reported that this has effects on his staff and schedule (emphasis mine):

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When McCain once misplaced his feather, there was momentary panic in the campaign, until his wife found it in one of his suits. When the compass went missing once, McCain assigned his political director to hunt it down.

"Momentary panic"? Good thing that didn't happen during a high-level meeting with Medvedev or Wen Jiabao at a G8 summit (oops-- if McCain gets his way, Russia and China won't be members of the G8 anyway).

Is it too much to ask that a Presidential candidate feel like he can function without his lucky feather?

Years ago, during the Reagan Administration, it was widely chuckled over that Nancy Reagan consulted an astrologer. But I didn't chuckle: she forced Ronald Reagan -- the President of the United States -- to schedule meetings according to astrology's nonsensical rules. That's where this type of fantasy thinking leads.

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If you have what you think is a lucky number, or you don't shave your beard during finals week, or any of a hundred other superstitions, that's generally not a big deal. But we're not talking investing a dollar in the lotto, or trying to psych yourself up for an exam. We're talking about a man who will control a vast military force, trillions of dollars of our money, and could appoint judges to the Supreme Court.

Chances are, of course, this won't amount to much. The odds of it interrupting a high-level meeting or causing him to push The Button are low, but still...

Do we really want him relying on his lucky dime to make decisions about those things? And honestly, if he is willing to believe in this stuff, what else is rattling around in his head?

Oh, speaking of bizarre beliefs, remember how McCain actively sought -- for a year -- the support of far-right wing hate-mongering preacher John Hagee? McCain hypocritically tried to distance himself from some of what Hagee was saying, but specifically embraced Hagee due to his "support for the state of Israel". The problem? Hagee supports a state of Israel because it'll bring Armageddon and the end of days, as written in Revelation. Perfect.

Stevie Wonder said it best:

When you believe in things that you don't understand, then you suffer; Superstition ain't the way, no, no, no.