Holy God: McCain’s Hagee Problem

The John McCain of 2000 would have likely never sought John Hagee’s endorsement, but we’re not talking about that John McCain, we’re talking about this John McCain. A John McCain that doesn’t admonish the leaders of the Religious Right as “Agents of intolerance”, but instead embraces them in a political move to shore up support among religious voters.

But what, exactly, has McCain embraced?

You thought, “God Damn America” was bad? “Chickens have come home to roost?” Oh no… not nearly.

Of John Hagee’s endorsement, McCain expressed that he was, “glad to have it.” This after McCain condemned, and Hagee apologized for, the minister’s description of the Catholic church as the “Great Whore.” But that, my friends, was only the tip of the iceberg.

As Sam Stein reports in HuffPo, Hagee is caught on tape explaining that Hitler mass murder of millions of Jews was the fulfilling of God’s will. You see, according to Hagee, Hitler was simply shepherding the Jews to Israel, where they belonged. Granted by “shepherding”, we’re talking about gas chambers and concentration camps and nightmarish medical experiments, but I suppose God works in mysterious ways.

In a way Hagee’s explanation does make logical sense, though in a very effed up, twisted, and ugly way. Hitler was God’s bad guy that helped Jews realize they REALLY needed to go to Israel.

Stupid, wrong, and offensive, but at least there is some semblance of logic behind it, I guess. But wait, there’s more.

As Wilson notes, in his 2006 book “Jerusalem Countdown”, Hagee proposed the theory that “anti-Semitism, and thus the Holocaust, was the fault of Jews themselves — the result of an age old divine curse incurred by the ancient Hebrews through worshiping idols and passed, down the ages, to all Jews now alive.” He also wrote that “Most readers will be shocked by the clear record of history linking Adolf Hitler and the Roman Catholic Church in a conspiracy to exterminate the Jews.”

emphasis added

And Hagee’s pro-Israel? Really?

Actually, that does make sense in a way as Hagee likely is among those who are actively trying to bring about the rapture, and while I’m no biblical scholar, I do know the end of days has something to do with Israel.

Back on topic.

One wonders how this will play with McCain’s attempt to woo the Jewish vote; specifically that McCain embraced the endorsement of a man that believes that Hitler, only the most evil man in history, was doing God’s work, and that Jews brought anti-Semitism upon themselves. I’m sure that will go over swimmingly.

And yes, McCain does stand to answer for this, and yes it IS different than Obama’s relationship with Wright and not in a way that is beneficial to McCain.

You see, with Wright, we are talking about two men with a long term familial relationship borne from the elder bringing the younger to God. Wright has done much good in this world, and he has preached much that is offensive and terrible. But for Obama the choice and path that that relationship took is one that many of our relationships take. One in which we look beyond the flaws of our loved ones because they are just that, loved ones, family. Only when Wright actively betrayed Obama and made it clear that their long term friendship was not worth more than Wright’s own self promotion did Obama return the favor.

It is not a perfect story by any means, but anyone who has had a friend or family member who has held views or have performed acts that were inherently ugly, but loved them anyway, should be able to relate. And how many of us have been betrayed by those we thought loved and cared for us?

McCain’s story is quite a bit different. Eight years ago, he would have never accepted the endorsement of a man such as Hagee. McCain stood out on principle against the kind of hateful screeds that those like Falwell, Robertson, and Hagee have produced over the years. That was then.

But now, in 2008, he has openly embraced the endorsement of a man, even refusing to denounce the man and his endorsement after he called the Catholic Church the “Great Whore.” McCain has yet to renounce Hagee in toto.

And why? Is McCain simply struggling to deal with a long term relationship that has gone sour? Nope. Instead McCain is expressing a new found zeal for political expediency he would have looked down upon eight years ago. It is hard to imagine McCain embracing Hagee for any reason beyond attempting to attract religious voters.

McCain accepts the endorsement of someone who spews hate-filled bile in an attempt to shore up his base. That, at least in my opinion, is about as low as you can get.

McCain has a problem of which Hagee is only a symptom. In his desire to win the White House, McCain has turned his back on just about everything that might have made himself attractive to moderates and those left of center, and yet he’s still going to try and portray himself as the party bucking “Maverick”.

Torture, he was against it before he was for it.

Bush’s tax cuts, he was against them before he was for them.

Hate-spewing religious leaders, he was against them before he was for them.

If McCain really wants to be seen as the man he was, he first needs to renounce this garbage and renounce it clearly and unequivocally. Otherwise he’s hardly different than any other 50 + 1 Republican, and definitely not the Maverick so many people think he is.

More at Memeorandum: Washington Monthly, Megan McArdle, Crooks and Liars, Donklephant, The Carpetbagger Report, The Smirking Chimp, Shakesville, Brave New Films blog, The Seminal and Oliver Willis

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