McCain Dithered before Denouncing Hagee
Frederick Clarkson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Sat Mar 08, 2008 at 10:54:43 AM EST
After a week of dithering in the wake of the firestorm generated by Texas evangelist John Hagee's endorsement of John McCain for president, in an interview with the Associated Press, McCain finally got around to "renouncing" Hagee's anti-Catholicism and anti-Semitism. But McCain did not renounce the endorsement itself, which he had courted for at least a year. (First reported here at Talk to Action).

He also did not renounce Hagee's vile anti-gay views.

It is also worth noting that McCain did not distance himself from Hagee's by then, well-known bigotted views until he was publicly criticized by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

The Associated Press reports:

Hagee, leader of a San Antonio megachurch, has referred to the Roman Catholic Church as "the great whore" and called it a "false cult system" and "the apostate church" -- "apostate" means someone who has forsaken his religion.

On Friday, McCain took a stronger stance on Hagee's views in an interview with The Associated Press.

"We've had a dignified campaign, and I repudiate any comments that are made, including Pastor Hagee's, if they are anti-Catholic or offensive to Catholics," McCain said.
"I sent two of my children to Catholic school. I categorically reject and repudiate any statement that was made that was anti-Catholic, both in intent and nature. I categorically reject it, and I repudiate it," McCain said.
"And we can't have that in this campaign," McCain said. "We're trying to unite the country. We're uniting the country, not dividing it."

He was responding to one critic in particular, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, who raised the issue in a Thursday conference call with reporters.

"She made the attack. I am responding by saying that I am against discrimination and anti-Semitism, anti-Catholic, anything racial, and I have proved that on the campaign trail," McCain said.

On Friday, the Columbia Journalism Review wondered why the press was not pursuing the Hagee connection as vigorously as some had pursued the question of Louis Farrakhan's endorsement of Barack Obama.

CJR highlighted examples of Hagee's anti-Catholic and anti-Semitic and anti-gay views, citing for example:

All hurricanes are acts of God, because God controls the heavens. I believe that New Orleans had a level of sin that was offensive to God, and they are -- were recipients of the judgment of God for that. The newspaper carried the story in our local area that was not carried nationally that there was to be a homosexual parade there on the Monday that the Katrina came. And the promise of that parade was that it was going to reach a level of sexuality never demonstrated before in any of the other Gay Pride parades. So I believe that the judgment of God is a very real thing. I know that there are people who demur from that, but I believe that the Bible teaches that when you violate the law of God, that God brings punishment sometimes before the day of judgment. And I believe that the Hurricane Katrina was, in fact, the judgment of God against the city of New Orleans.

While McCain's belated comments might barely pass as renunciation by the Obama/Farrakhan standard, they are considerably less than straight talk about his personal and political relationship to one of the most high-profile bigots in America. Instead of issuing a statement with straight talk, it took a question from a reporter after more than a week of evasions for McCain to get around to rejecting and renouncing anti-Catholicism.  One would think that one would have been a no-brainer.

But there are a lot more questions reporters could ask McCain about his relationship to Pastor Hagee, such as why he courted Hagee for more than year. After all, Barack Obama did not seek Farrakhan's endorsement and firmly denounced his anti-Semitic views. What was it about Hagee that made McCain and his campaign turn a blind eye Hagee's hateful and dangerous views, and then dither and delay when he was called on it?


You ask "What was it about Hagee that made McCain and his campaign turn a blind eye [to] Hagee's hateful and dangerous views, and then dither and delay when he was called on it?"

I'll take a stab: pandering to the potential votes from the Christian conservative bloc, and hoping that nobody would do any research into just what and who Hagee actually is, and stands for.

Doesn't seem to have been a particularly well thought-out plan, though. One would think that McCain would have anticipated that folks like you and I do our homework on people like Hagee, and that we would not hesitate to take McCain to the woodshed over it.

Further, as you note, it is disconcerting that McCain ommitted reference to Hagee's homophobic bigotry. But then gays don't have a Bill Donohue in their camp, and so I guess it's still fairly safe for McCain to ride the fence on this one.

by Forrest Prince on Sat Mar 08, 2008 at 12:54:28 PM EST

Hagee's anti Catholic and Semitic views pale into insignificance compared to his advocacy of a "preventive" war with Iran. He is a dangerous fanatic. And McCain's contention that he is the only candidate capable of dealing with "Radical Islam", combined with the Hagee endorsement, is downright scary. Carl

by CCROEL on Sun Mar 09, 2008 at 08:10:08 PM EST

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