McCain seeks distance from pastor
PHOENIX - John McCain is refusing to renounce the endorsement of a prominent Texas televangelist who Democrats say peddles anti-Catholic and other intolerant speech.Well it's not just the Democrats that are upset with McCain. Our often reasonable friend on the right, Rick Moran has some choice words for St John and a rather strong opinion about Mr Hagee.
Instead, the Republican presidential candidate issued a statement Friday afternoon saying he had unspecified disagreements with the San Antonio megachurch leader, John Hagee. Hagee endorsed him at a news conference Wednesday in San Antonio.
"However, in no way did I intend for his endorsement to suggest that I in turn agree with all of Pastor Hagee's views, which I obviously do not," McCain said in the statement.
His campaign issued the statement after two days of criticism from the Democratic National Committee, the Catholic League and Catholics United.
Democrats quoted Hagee as saying the Catholic Church conspired with Nazis against the Jews and that Hurricane Katrina was God's retribution for homosexual sin, and they recited his demeaning comments about women and flip remarks about slavery.
"Hagee's hate speech has no place in public discourse, and McCain's embrace of this figure raises serious questions about John McCain's character and his willingness to do anything to win," said Tom McMahon, executive director of the Democratic National Committee.
How this man has amassed the influence and power he has is frankly beyond my comprehension. To realize that still, in this day and age, there is the kind of virulent anti-Catholic bigotry that animated so much of American history by coloring our attitudes toward newcomers from Ireland, Italy, and Slavic countries is depressing in the extreme. To the ignorant followers and believers in this man and what he teaches, I have nothing but contempt.Now what my friend Rick should realize is that McCain or any other Republican is truly between a rock and a hard place. The intolerant Christian Taliban are part of the base created by Lee Attwater and Karl Rove. While they may cost McCain independent and even moderate Republican voters if they are offended it almost guarantees a third party candidate that will syphon off votes for McCain. Yes Republicans you reap what you sow and you can't win without them and you can't win with them.
The question is, why doesn’t John McCain share that feeling of disgust? He has issued a milquetoast disclaimer that he doesn’t hold with all of Hagee’s beliefs. In fact, since his warm acceptance of Hagee’s endorsement, McCain has done nothing but try and backtrack, tripping over himself as he does:McCain was pressed on the issue Friday morning in Round Rock, Texas. Hagee “supports what I stand for and believe in,” McCain said.Doesn’t McCain realize that Hagee’s “spiritual leadership” includes filling the heads of the faithful with hate filled rants against Muslims, gays, Catholics, and others? How can a presidential candidate who says he wants to change the quality of dialogue in this country accept the endorsement of this bigot?
“When he endorses me, that does not mean that I endorse everything that he stands for and believes in,” McCain said. “I don’t have to agree with everyone who endorses my campaign.”
He added that he was “proud” of Hagee’s spiritual leadership of his congregation at the 17,000-member Cornerstone Church.
McCain is no stranger to controversies like this. In the 2000 campaign, he spoke at the notorious Bob Jones University where interracial dating was against school policy.
(As an aside, why aren’t these people read out of the conservative movement the same way the Birchers and other extremists were kicked out by Buckley and others in the 1950’s?)
Simply saying you don’t agree with everything Hagee says isn’t good enough. There are some endorsements that should be rejected out of hand. Saying “I reject John Hagee’s endorsement and all the bigoted statements he has made…” would be political suicide with a segment of evangelicals but might be the start of sweeping these extremists out of the party.