Donohue as Broken Watch (The Catholic Right, Fifty-one in a Series)
Frank Cocozzelli printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Sat Mar 01, 2008 at 08:05:08 PM EST
As the saying goes, even a broken watch is correct twice a day. Well, with the Catholic League's Bill Donohue's condemnation of Senator John McCain endorsement by Evangelical John Hagee, ole Bill is at least half right.

Yet though this watch may seem broken, it is still wound up to start ticking again in 2012.

In that regard it is worth reminding ourselves about Donohue's thinly-veiled anti-Semitism, his defense of the Inquisition, and most relevant to this post, his past soft-peddling of John Hagee and his very real anti-Catholicism.

As Fred Clarkson and Bruce Wilson and have both been reporting, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee, Senator John McCain had actively sought out and received the endorsement of the highly anti-Catholic Evangelical preacher, John Hagee. And as Don Byrd reported, the Arizona senator is quite honored to have his endorsement.

To his credit, Donohue condemned the endorsement. In a strongly worded Catholic League press release dated February 28, 2008, Bill fired this volley at his fellow Religious Righter:

Yesterday, Senator John McCain said he was "very honored by Pastor John Hagee's endorsement." The Republican presidential hopeful also called Hagee "the staunchest leader of our Christian evangelical movement," citing the minister's pro-Israel stance.

Catholic League president Bill Donohue addressed this today:

"There are plenty of staunch evangelical leaders who are pro-Israel, but are not anti-Catholic. John Hagee is not one of them. Indeed, for the past few decades, he has waged an unrelenting war against the Catholic Church. For example, he likes calling it 'The Great Whore,' an 'apostate church,' the 'anti-Christ,' and a 'false cult system.'

And as if to really emphasize his point, the Catholic League president took the unusual step of saying something positive about a Democrat:

"Senator Obama has repudiated the endorsement of Louis Farrakhan, another bigot. McCain should follow suit and retract his embrace of Hagee."

Wow! I said to myself, he really doesn't like McCain!

However, Bill Donohue was never much of a John McCain fan. For example, back in 2000, Donohue basically gave then-Governor George W. Bush a pass when he spoke at the very anti-Catholic Bob Jones University -- and then attacked McCain for denouncing the Bush visit. During that brouhaha, Donohue pooh-poohed the Bush visit, and was quoted as saying:

While Governor Bush's delay in apologizing was not lost on him, Mr. Donohue said, he said he did not want the Catholic League ''to become the issue, by being the one that demanded an apology, and then when he supplied it, we said 'that's not good enough.' ''

He added, ''One of the great touchstones of Catholicism is forgiveness for the wrongdoer who admits that he or she is wrong, and there's nothing to be gained by beating this dead horse.''

In a recent interview with Glenn Greenwald, Donohue put it this way:

Why were they so exercised about Bob Jones? This is worse. . . . If someone said to me: who is the biggest anti-Catholic bigot in the evangelical community, I would say: hands down, John Hagee.

For the record, Bob Jones, Jr. once described Catholicism in vile terms equivalent to that of Hagee, saying of my faith that it is "not another Christian denomination. It is a satanic counterfeit, an ecclesiastic tyranny over the souls of men....It is the old harlot of the book of the Revelation-'the Mother of Harlots."

McCain may have alienated an important bloc of swing voters, especially if he does indeed face Obama in the general election (Hillary draws blue-collar Catholics, Obama does not). Now even the most conservative Catholic has good reason not to support McCain.

But as I've previously noted, Donohue, is often selective with his charges of anti-Catholicism -- especially when it can further his political ends. While I applaud Donohue for taking the issue of Hagee's vile bigotry there is something else going on here. That is long-term politics.

Many religious rightists just don't like john McCain. Among other things, they don't like his support for embryonic stem cell research; his membership with "the Gang of Fourteen" that sought compromise on President Bush's Federal judicial appointment (all while the Religious Right was engaging it series of "Justice Sunday" rallies); and to the Arizona Senator's recognition of the problem of global warming.

If the GOP loses the White House in 2008 the Religious Right -- particularly the Catholic Right -- is already setting the stage for 2012. Perhaps a candidate more to their liking, someone along the lines of a Jeb Bush, Rick Santorum or Sam Brownback will emerge. Making certain that McCain loses this year may well be part of that strategy. Foolishly, the Arizona senator gave disenchanted Catholic social conservatives a weapon with which to grievously wound him -- and handed Donohue was the rare opportunity to appear consistent while being able to neuter a candidate who is seen as unreliable on a variety of issues.

Donohue and his ilk seem to be betting that either Hillary or Obama would be a one-term wonder. Many on the Right see losing an election every now and then as a painful but necessary part of making long term gains.  If the Republican nominee doesn't measure up to their factious form of social conservatism then they are willing to bet that the Democrats will give them back Congress within two years, and maybe even the White House within four years as well.

Such a scenario is far from being an illogical stretch. In the second year of President Clinton's first term Congressional Democrats lost their majority in both chambers due to a combination of implementing necessary tax increases and a very unnecessary Congressional Post Office scandal. In 1980 Jimmy Carter lost the White House after only one term to Ronald Reagan.

The liberal Catholics United also criticized Senator McCain's sought-after endorsement from Pastor Hagee. However, they used language that was simultaneously more evenhanded and a lot less partisan. But then again, Catholics United tends to do the right thing out a sense of propriety-and not like Bill Donohue who often does so from a sense of political calculation.

The Catholic Right: A Series, by Frank L. Cocozzelli :

Part One  Part Two  Part Three  Part Four  Part Five  Part Six   Intermezzo   Part Eight   Part Nine  Part Ten   Part Eleven   Part Twelve   Part Thirteen   Part Fourteen   Second Intermezzo   Part Sixteen   Part Seventeen   Part Eighteen   Part Eighteen   Part Nineteen   Part Twenty   Part Twenty-one   Part Twenty-two   Part Twenty-three   Part Twenty-four   Part Twenty-five   Part Twenty-six   Part Twenty-seven   Part Twenty-eight   Part Twenty-nine   Part Thirty   Part Thirty-one   Part Thirty-two   Part Thirty-three   Part Thirty-four   Part Thirty-five   Part Thirty-six   Part Thirty-seven   Part Thirty-eight   Part Thirty-nine   Part Forty   Part Forty-one   Part Forty-two   Part Forty-three   Part Forty-four   Part Forty-five   Part Forty-six   Part Forty-seven   Part Forty-eight   Part Forty-nine   Part Fifty




Display:
I suspect that Donohue and others on the Religious Right have a two-tiered strategy. The first tier would be short-termed and highly visible, designed to sabotage McCain who they view as unreliable and not socially conservative enough for their tastes.

The second tier is an on-going, long-term strategy. Right now they maintain low-grade but continuous assault on the two potential Democratic nominees. For example, the Catholic League issue a press release criticizing Obama's Terri Schiavo comments during last Tuesday's debate. However--for now--the valuable television time was used to attack McCain.

Once either Hillary or Obama is in the White House, then Donohue and his friends will immediately escalate their rhetoric. The first major volley would probably concern embryonic stem cell research. Hillary promises to sign an Executive Order on her first day in office to rescind the Bush restrictions of August 9, 2001. While Obama might get the legislation--doing the same thing--in February or March, either way that would be probably when they will kick into overdrive.

by Frank Cocozzelli on Sat Mar 01, 2008 at 08:12:35 PM EST

I hope I don't hear a "vote for a pro-life candidate" message like the ones going around in 2004. I am sure the Republicans have something up their collective sleeves.

This is one of the few times I find myself agreeing with ol' "Screamin'" Bill in his criticism of Hagee.  It's not clear whether it represents an impending crackup of the Christian Right in its right-wing Catholic and Protestant manifestations.

by khughes1963 on Sat Mar 01, 2008 at 09:21:46 PM EST
Parent

Unlike many on the Left, the Right tends to play a long-term game. Our side sees things through the lens of one election at a time. Our opponents understand that losing an election, though a risky proposition, can bring empowerment over longer period of times.

Let me illustrate what I mean. If Ford had beaten Carter in 1976 there probably have been no Reagan in 1980. Unfortunately, Carter, who was a good man, with good ideas and presented a very uplifting message,  just wasn't ready for the presidency (in hindsight, Mo Udall or Ed Muskie would have been better choices). Unfortunately, there was Ronald Reagan ready to pounce.

I believe this what Donohue and his friends are hoping what happens. It is why I think he has chosen this moment to pounce as he never has on Hagee. It is simply the right time for him to look like he's doing the right thing when what he's really doing is setting up for 2012.  

by Frank Cocozzelli on Sun Mar 02, 2008 at 02:31:30 PM EST
Parent

I think the Right tends to play a long-term game with politics, but they are destroying our political system and republic along with their political games.

by khughes1963 on Sun Mar 02, 2008 at 07:04:20 PM EST
Parent
...but how they employ that strategy that is pernicious.

by Frank Cocozzelli on Sun Mar 02, 2008 at 07:37:47 PM EST
Parent






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