Republican presidential nominee John McCain has a nasty little religion problem about which the traditional media aren't saying an awful lot. Specifically, McCain has embraced the endorsement of Texas über-televangelist and pastor John Hagee. Trouble is, Hagee is a known bigot as well as a frighteningly extreme character who has gone on record and video--and countless times at that--spewing anti-Catholic hatred and making all manner of outrageous statements. Via TPM:
"He should be forced to address it [the issue]
everywhere he campaigns."
-- McCain spokesman Dan McLagan on then-presidential candidate George W. Bush, who had visited with, and been endorsed by, known anti-Catholic bigot Bob Jones, in 2000
"If we lose any of the Catholic vote we'll lose the election."
-- Bush campaign adviser Deal Hudson on the Republican Party Catholic Strategy initiative, in 2004
"Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand."
-- Jesus, on all of us, a long--but not that long--time ago
Hagee's comments about world affairs can make Farrakhan seem pedestrian at times: He eagerly awaits the Armageddon, considers the Catholic Church to be the Anti-Christ, and has said that Jews brought their own persecution upon themselves.
Bear in mind this salient fact: there are 64 million Catholics in the United States, and many of them identify as "conservative Catholics". One needn't be among their numbers to understand that they are not terribly happy about Hagee's characterizations of, or predictions for, members of their faith.
And the resonance and significance of Senator McCain's continuing silence on the matter of the John Hagee endorsement rival that of a thousand rats' asses not being given.
Catholic League president Bill Donohue, in an interview with Salon's Glenn Greenwald, said: "If someone said to me: who is the biggest anti-Catholic bigot in the evangelical community, I would say: hands down, John Hagee". Donohue now appears to find himself in the unusual position of actually praising a high-profile Democrat--in this case, presidential candidate Senator Obama, for his clear and matter-of-fact "denouncement and rejection" of Louis Farrakhan. In a March 4th letter to League members, he calls for McCain to do likewise:
The difference between the way Obama and McCain have handled their endorsements by bigots is enormous. Even worse, McCain actually solicited Hagee’s endorsement. [...] In short, Obama has set the bar for McCain. Whether he wants to clear it or walk away is his choice.
And in a follow-up letter today, Donohue points out a glaring irony: when then-candidate George W. Bush visited Bob Jones University and hobnobbed with its founder in 2000, John McCain himself was among the loudest critics:
In fact, when Bush did apologize for his visit to Bob Jones (he was explicit and forceful in his denunciation of the school), McCain criticized him for taking so long. He said, if ‘you don’t say anything until three weeks later, then you have—are—abandoning your role as a—as a person.’ Well, it hasn’t been three weeks since McCain has been apprised of his Hagee problem, but the clock is ticking.
The day after I accepted Bush’s apology on ‘The Today Show,’ February 28, 2000, McCain spokesman Dan McLagan said of Bush, ‘He should be forced to address it [the issue] everywhere he campaigns.’
Also at Cogitamus.