Much ado about nothing?

Maybe not. Barack Obama is getting some heat for his Gospel Tour, named "Embrace the Change," in large part because of one of the performers, Donnie McClurkin, is a bit of a nut.

A Bush supporter, McClurkin performed for the President at the Republican National Convention last year. "There is a moral aspect that was overwhelmingly a part of Bush's appeal," said McClurkin, who also appeared in Michigan with Bush during the campaign. Shortly after, he was quoted on the Christian Broadcasting Network's (Pat Robertson's organization) web site saying: "I'm not in the mood to play with those who are trying to kill our children." So now gays are trying to kill children. That's completely absurd and there's no proof to validate that statement.

Not the kind of guy who'd be the first pick to appear with Barack Obama, I'd say. The NY Times piece certainly sounds like Obama's campaign put this together, and one would think that extends to the choices of the performers. Somebody either didn't vet this guy very well, or figured it was more important for Obama to appeal to religious voters in South Carolina than it was to potentially piss off gay voters (and their allies) everywhere.

I don't think Obama is anti-gay, by the way--I think he's looking at the poll numbers and thinking he has to do something to move black voters away from Clinton and toward him if he's going to have a shot at the nomination, and he saw the gospel tour as a way to do that. And even though I'd rather see religion play a much less prominent role in Presidential politics, I don't blame Obama for doing just that. It's part of the crappiness of running for President--you have to try to be all things to all people. It's why, even though I'd love Al Gore to run for President again, I fully understand why he won't. Douglas Adams was right when he said that "Anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job," because you have to be willing to give up part of your soul to do it. Assuming Obama's people knew what kind of a man McClurkin is when they invited him (and that they invited him in the first place and didn't outsource the job), Obama has done just that--given up a part of his soul in search of votes.

So I'm a little dismayed at this point. I hope Obama's campaign removes McClurkin from the bill, and I hope there's an explanation forthcoming from the campaign. And most of all, I wish this was a country where doing a gospel tour wasn't a political statement.

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