McCain and Hagee
The Catholic League's Bill Donohue has pointed out an interesting difference between John McCain and the two Democratic candidates. Whereas Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama have both rejected any support they may receive from bigot Louis Farrakhan, John McCain has not only not rejected, but he has warmly welcomed, the support he is receiving from bigot John Hagee. When asked about Hagee's support, according to a report at the Catholic League website, McCain said
he was “very proud” of Hagee’s “spiritual leadership,” noting, however, “That does not mean that I support or endorse or agree with some of the things that Pastor Hagee might have said or positions that he may have taken on other issues.”I think it's worth quoting Donohue's comments in full:
McCain’s latest response is helpful, if disappointing. I expected more from the self-described ‘Straight Talk’ presidential candidate. Why couldn’t he have spoken specifically to the Catholic-bashing record of John Hagee?Clearly McCain hopes to gain the support of evangelical (read: conservative) Christians in order to weaken Huckabee and strengthen his own position, but possibly he does not fully agree with Bush's low opinion of religious bigots. He seems willing enough to say that he does not support everything that Hagee stands for (oh, I'm sorry, "Pastor" Hagee), but he does not specifically mention anti-Catholic bigotry or other forms of noxious ignorance and anti-intellectualism. If Hagee were a racist, I think any candidate would be quick to say the guy's a nutjob, and they would say it in no uncertain terms. But anti-Catholicism appears to be one of those issues that many folks think "Hey, reasonable people can disagree on issues like this." But that's a very dangerous attitude, I think: I'm not convinced that hatred and ignorance deserve the same sort of forum that the First Amendment guarantees to rational (if not always thoughtful) political discourse.
Contrast McCain’s tepid response to what George W. Bush said in a letter to Cardinal John O’Connor regarding his 2000 appearance at Bob Jones University. Bush said he did not approve of ‘the anti-Catholic and racially divisive views associated with that school.’ He added, ‘Such opinions are personally offensive to me, and I want to erase any doubt about my views and values.’ Moreover, Bush opined that ‘I reject religious intolerance—because faith is defined by grace and hope, not fear and division.’ Right after Bush sent his letter, Cardinal O’Connor sought my response. I appeared on the ‘Today Show’ to say I was satisfied; this effectively put an end to this issue.
McCain will have other opportunities to address this issue. He would be well advised to model himself on Bush’s Bob Jones response if he wants to bury it altogether. Meanwhile, it would be even better if Hagee would cease and desist from demonizing my religion. And we would really appreciate it if McCain gave Hagee some ‘Straight Talk’ and told him to zip it.