Update: more on Hagee and McCain here.
We’ve all heard about how Barack Obama’s relationship with the controversial pastor, Jeremiah Wright, hurt Obama’s numbers in Pennsylvania, and how it may hurt his chances of being elected should he be the Democratic nominee.
But what of the Republican nominee? Is Barack Obama the only one with specious religious friends?
No. Despite calling the big names of the Christian Right (Falwell, Buchanan, Robertson) “agents of intolerance” in 2000, McCain spent a good deal of time actively seeking, successfully, the support of one of the Religious Right’s true hatemongers, John Hagee. This is a man who blames homosexuals for Hurricane Katrina, and the Jews for anti-semitism (it’s their fault for rebelling against God, apparently).
Obama has been forced to “reject and denounce” Farrakhan, and had to endure being called a black racist. Why none of this scrutiny for McCain’s morally dubious religious friends and supporters, bigoted men whose support McCain sought, with full knowledge of their controversial positions?
This is rather like Holmes’ dog barking in the night. The fact that the media didn’t seize on this story is more telling than McCain’s association is, itself. Is it that we expect our Republican candidates, given the stellar past seven years, to associate with bigots, hatemongers, and charlatans, so long as those individuals dress themselves up in the clothes of pious “Christian” men? I certainly hope not, but that seems to be the case. Christianity is not a shield behind which bigotry is entitled to hide – not for Wright, not for Hagee.
If we’re going to scrutinize the Wright & Obama relationship with a fine-tooth comb, the Hagee & McCain connection deserves the same attention. And it may deserve more: if Obama’s relationship with Wright allegedly signified his tacit approval of Wright’s radical views, McCain’s active courtship of Hagee is either explicit approval of Hagee’s views, or at least gives the lie to McCain’s “maverick” identity. Hagee was a political ally, not a long-term friend, and McCain’s attempts to back away from Hagee should be viewed with due suspicion.