Monday, June 09, 2008

The Problem Isn't So Much When It Was Said....

Robert Novak is upset that John McCain hasn't finished the process of flip-flopping on every issue he has ever championed. Conflating the political desires of all conservative factions into one, Novak writes,
McCain clinched the nomination, he has not satisfied conservatives opposed to his positions on global warming, campaign finance reform, immigration, domestic oil drilling and how to ban same-sex marriages.
Novak also suggests that McCain has been unfair to John Hagee, you know, by holding him accountable for his words.
Founder and pastor of the Cornerstone megachurch in San Antonio, Hagee endorsed McCain at a joint news conference Feb. 27. William Donahue, president of the Catholic League, immediately asked whether McCain agreed with Hagee's description of Catholicism as a "Godless theology." McCain started backing away, asserting that his courtship of the pastor was "probably" a mistake.

Donahue, accustomed to no remorse by Catholic-bashers, was surprised when Hagee apologized in writing and then engaged him in a warm private meeting at Catholic League offices in New York. But Obama supporters seeking the McCain equivalent of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright were not done. The Huffington Post featured a decade-old video of Hagee asserting that Adolf Hitler was God's "hunter," who forced Jews to create the state of Israel as their natural home.
It was a decade old? How inexcusable. As should be obvious to any adherent of Novak, it's only fair to go back seven years when dredging up videos of pastors saying inflammatory things. Besides, Wright used the active voice rather than the more acceptable passive voice. (What sort of minister uses the active voice, anyway?)

For people who aren't Novak, and thus don't apply the bright line "seven years of video clips" rules to radical statements, the question might be, "Does he still believe what he said?" There's every indication that both Wright and Hagee stick by their words. Some people attempt to defend Hagee by suggesting that there are extremist Jewish leaders who make similar arguments. Others point to his related statements, suggesting that the anti-Christ will be a gay man and, like Hitler, of Jewish heritage, and question how far we are supposed to go in rationalizing away Hagee's injection of Jewish heritage into the most contemptible people of human experience. (You don't get more contemptible than the anti-Christ, do you?) That recording is only four years old? I guess Novak's rules for the use of audio clips are different than his rules for use of video clips.
Actually, Hagee was a founder of Christians United for Israel and the first non-Jew named "humanitarian of the year" by the San Antonio B'nai B'rith. Donahue, his former adversary, called Hagee "the strongest Christian defender of Israel I have ever met." But McCain, who held his fire when reacting to Hagee's anti-Catholic remarks, had no patience with less clear evidence of anti-Semitism.
Here's the thing. Some people have a problem with an evangelical leader who introduces elements of anti-Semitism into his theology, and endorses an ultimate theory that Israel must be defended not for the Jews, but as part of a Biblical "end of days" prophecy under which all of the world's Jews will gather in Israel to either convert to Christianity or perish in a Sea of Fire. In the eyes of some, even if you form a group called "Christians United for Israel", there's cause for concern that this is exclusively an evangelical Christian vision of Israel, not one that actually favors Jews - a people you describe as "not spiritually alive".
A prominent Christian ally of McCain's understands his reluctance to make a pilgrimage to Colorado Springs with no assurance that Dobson would endorse him or even restrain his criticism of him. But this evangelical sees the treatment of Hagee as cold calculation designed to ensure that McCain does not lose the Jeremiah Wright issue.
Let me get this straight. An anonymous, but "prominent" evangelical backer of McCain suggests what seems obvious - that McCain is walking away from Hagee and Parsley in order to preserve his ability to attack Obama on Rev. Wright? But his objection is to McCain's walking away, not to his original cynical embrace of two leaders who, only a few years ago, McCain might have decried as agents of intolerance? WWJD, indeed....

1 comment:

  1. "WWJD, indeed...."

    Weep, one would assume . . . although I suppose the "money lenders in the Temple" response is also a possibility . . .