McCain in Mexico

Full disclosure: I’m a mexican, born, raised and living in Mexico. As such, I only have an indirect (albeit rather large personal) interest in U.S. politics.

Just today I was discussing with some co-worker the tour through Latin-America that McCain just made.

My position: WTF?!?

  1. McCain is not Catholic. So visiting a Catholic bastion of faith is kind of … hypocritical, isn’t it?
  2. If you want to have the Mexican-American vote… why go to the Basílica? (It’s where the iconic Virgen de Guadalupe is housed, but still, wouldn’t a visit to East L.A., or, maybe San Diego be more effective ?)
  3. Won’t he alienate the radical ‘Christian’ vote? (I’m picturing a Chick’s tract… but somehow I can’t see how it would have a positive angle)

My co-worker took the position that “Well… they probably know what they’re doing”. My position is: it was a truly stupid move on McCain’s part.

I guess the “Great Debate” is: Was McCain’s trip to Mexico:

  1. Huge waste of time, resources, and over all stupid move
  2. Sly, sly move by McCain

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3. Neither a waste nor particularly sly.

Bear in mind it’s part of his whistle-stop tour of Latin America. The whole thing has been put together as a way to boost his international cred as well as his standing among Latino voters.

As to your first point, I don’t see the hypocrisy. I’d like to visit the Basilica, and I’m not Catholic. It’s a sweet tourist stop, and an important cultural site. Visiting shows he’s interested in the culture, even if he doesn’t share it.

And as for the radical fundagelical voters, fuck 'em. Anyone who would not vote for McCain because of a visit to a Catholic church in a largely Catholic state is so batshit they wouldn’t vote for him anyway.
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I’d assume you’re not a huge political figure, either. In that way, well, it’s understandable you’d want to visit the Basílica. As a tourist.

During an official visit? I’m not so sure about that.

And, isn’t the fundagelical vote (good neologism, btw) a huge factor in U.S. politics? I’ve seen it credited for Gore’s “defeat” more than once.

It’s a factor, but then so is the “Catholic vote.” McCain got hammered by Catholics for accepting the endorsement of a prominent, but rather anti-Catholic evangelical preacher earlier in the campaign. It was one of several factors that led him to ultimately back away from that endorsement. An article on the Catholic vote in the U.S.: http://news.yahoo.com/s/time/20080703/us_time/thebattleforcatholicvoters

Beyond that though, I suspect the number of self-described evangelicals in the U.S. that would get incensed about McCain visiting a Catholic church as part of a glad-handing tour of a foreign country is actually pretty small, even among those that disdain Catholicism. Most aren’t quite that frothing-at-the-mouth irrational.

It’s number 1. But now that McCain has revamped his staff again, this time with Rove operative Schmidt at the top, a lot of the future staging and prep work gaffes will disappear.

ETA

Even conservative talking heads were flummoxed by his trip to Mexico, what with him being out of the country on the day that jobless figures were announced. The announcement was a planned event and everyone knew that yesterday was the day, so leaving the country was a really bad move. Plus, when he comes back, he’s going to Ohio for a jobs speech Wednesday. Only problem is that he touted the virtues of NAFTA (when he wasn’t criticizing Obama), and Ohio doesn’t like NAFTA.

Only if he’s somehow pretending to be Catholic, but he’s not. I’d call it simply a gesture of respect and friendship to the people of his host country. If he were the (now rare) kind of Protestant who refuses to enter a devil-worshipping Catholic “church” on principle, that would be newsworthy.