McCain and Hagee
Barack Obama has been condemned by many conservatives for his relationship with Reverend Jeremiah Wright—and it’s not hard to see why. His support of Wright’s church, and tacit endorsement of his ideas represents stunning irresponsibility and incredibly bad judgment. Obama should never have stayed at Wright’s church, much less permitted him to become his spiritual advisor. Those who condemn him are right to do so.
John McCain, on the other hand, has gotten almost no criticism for his relationship with the equally controversial pastor John Hagee. The conservative media has, for the most part, either ignored the issue or attempted to downplay his relationship with Hagee (McCain’s relationship with Hagee was nowhere near as intimate as Obama’s relationship with Wright), while liberals use it primarily to excuse Obama’s friendship with his crazy pastor.
It is a pity that this story has received comparatively little coverage, because it represents an inexcusable error of judgment on the part of John McCain. Like Wright, Hagee has said a number of things that are both offensive and incredibly stupid. Hagee is a notorious anti-Catholic, and has accused the Church of being the Great Whore of Babylon mentioned in Revelation. In addition, he declared that Hitler’s anti-Semitism was borne of his Catholic upbringing. According to Hagee, Roman Catholicism preaches a “theology of hate.”
When not raving about the iniquities of the Catholic Church, Hagee establishes his craziness in other little ways. For example, he suggested that God personally sent Hurricane Katrina to strike New Orleans in a fit of divine retribution for a gay pride parade scheduled for the day the hurricane struck. I can’t say that I’m am expert in the field of divine judgment, but I’m pretty sure that there are at least a few places more evil than New Orleans. Contrary to what many fundamentalist Protestants think, there are actually sins that are worse than homosexuality—in fact, almost all of them.
McCain’s defenders are correct in saying that McCain did not choose Hagee as his pastor and spiritual advisor. However, he did expend considerable time and effort into courting Hagee’s endorsement. McCain’s staff argues that he was unaware of Hagee’s anti-Catholic views, but that claim simply cannot be true. Being ignorant of Hagee’s opinions while courting his endorsement would be like a political pundit not knowing that Rush Limbaugh is conservative. McCain must have known about Hagee’s inane rants—evidence is everywhere. On Hagee’s Wikipedia entry, his controversial views are prominently mentioned on the first page.
Most pundits and media figures know these facts—it’s not like I had to look hard for this information. But they don’t pay much attention to it—the Wright controversy drew weeks and weeks of (justified) attention, while McCain’s relationship with Hagee was only mentioned by embarrassed liberals trying to divert attention from Obama’s problems, with an occasional tepid condemnation by a few conservatives.
To be fair, McCain had nowhere near the relationship with Hagee that Obama did with Wright. But still, imagine if it turned out that Obama had actively lobbied, say, Louis Farrakhan for an endorsement. Commenters on all sides would be justifiably outraged. But when McCain does a nearly equivalent thing (I say nearly only because Hagee is not quite so extreme as Farrakhan), few say anything, and the condemnations of those who do are pretty tepid.
The difference in coverage cannot simply be chalked up to race. Wright’s remarks are far more telegenic than Hagee’s, and his close relationship with Obama makes him a more attractive target. The fact that Obama and Hillary Clinton are engaged in a fierce primary battle, while McCain sits on the sidelines, also undoubtedly plays a role. But whatever the reasons for the lack of coverage of this story, it deserves more airtime. McCain’s actions in this case are inexcusable, and should be known and condemned.