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May 30, 2008

Late Night FDL: the price of forgiveness

Posted in: 2008 Election,Conservatism,Family values,GOP ethics,John McCain,Religion,Republicans

Bill Donohue of the Catholic League and various right-wing think tanks (a man of notoriously fungible christian charity, particularly when his longtime political ally the pro-choice, pro-gay rights, apostate serial adulterer former Mayor of New York is concerned) is Very Unhappy Indeed that mean people are questioning his forgiveness of Senator McCain’s great and good friend Rev. Hagee over that silly Great Whore business (particularly since McCain decided to reject both Hagee and his endorsement). He can’t imagine why anyone would think he was in the tank.

His friend, Mr. Hudson (former Catholic outreach pointperson for George W Bush, for various interesting reasons) can’t imagine either

First of all, let’s grant that the question of political motivation would naturally arise after such a turn of events. Did Donohue, in fact, make up with Hagee for political reasons? A moment of reflection on the history of the Hagee affair should be enough to lead any fair-minded person to a negative conclusion.

Why? As I heard Donohue tell a reporter from the San Antonio Express, "Why would I criticize Hagee in the first place if I was trying to help John McCain?" This is a complete refutation of the charge that Donohue was politically motivated, clear to anyone who understands the basic laws of cause and effect.

Class, let’s see if we can help Mr. Hudson.

In the beginning (2/27), Donohue was extremely indignant

According to Donohue, Hagee has "made a lot of money off bashing the Catholic Church and blames Catholics for the Holocaust." What does it say about McCain that he would embrace such a figure? "This doesn’t speak well for him. He’s tolerating an endorsement by an inveterate bigot, and it’s been brought to his attention."

Regarding the intense 2000 media controversy when then-Gov. George Bush spoke at Bob Jones University, Donohue said:

Why were they so exercised about Bob Jones? This is worse. . . . If someone said to me: who is the biggest anti-Catholic bigot in the evangelical community, I would say: hands down, John Hagee.

For Catholics, McCain’s association with someone like Hagee is simply intolerable: "At that point, Catholics cannot join with evangelicals. To the extent you’re going to insult my religion, all bets are off."

Donohue contrasted McCain’s embrace of such a hateful and radical figure with Obama’s denunciation earlier this week of Louis Farrakhan: "Obama did the right thing. You’ve got to throw overboard the people who are the bigots even if they’ve done good work here and there. This is the problem I have with McCain." And he added that Hagee’s bigotry is hardly confined to Catholics, noting that a "prominent rabbi" had contacted him earlier today to ask that they issue a joint denunciation of Hagee/McCain, as the rabbi was deeply concerned that "too many Jews have also been mislead by Hagee."

The next day, McCain responded to the controversy

And just this afternoon, McCain issued yet another pro-Hagee statement when asked about Hagee’s repellent history:

I don’t have to agree with everyone who endorses my candidacy. They are supporting my candidacy. I am not endorsing some of their positions. . . .

And I am very proud of the Pastor John Hagee’s spiritual leadership to thousands of people and I am proud of his commitment to the independence and the freedom of the state of Israel. That does not mean that I support or endorse or agree with some of the things that Pastor John Hagee might have said or positions that he may have taken on other issues.

As has been noted many times, most recently today by Matt Yglesias, Hagee’s so-called "commitment to Israel" actually means that he wants Israel united so that the Rapture can happen and all Jews, including Israelis, will be slaughtered and sent to hell. And the "spiritual leadership" which McCain heralds consists of calling the Catholic Church the "Mother Whore" and a "cult" and arguing that Hurricane Katrina, which resulted in the devastation of tens of thousands of lives, was God’s punishment against New Orleans because it scheduled a gay pride parade that week.

Yeah. That was helpful.

Donohue didn’t think so either. He kept pounding until McCain did better (but apparently not good enough). McCain apologized. Donohue didn’t accept in somewhat peremptory terms.

On March 4, though (on a day when a number of Donahue’s attacks appeared, including one in which he said that Senator Obama handled his pastor problems better, fighting words if ever there were some), Senator McCain won the nomination anyway. Coincidentally, Mr. Donahue’s tone changed somewhat after that

March 5: “If McCain was right to slam Bob Jones in 2000, why is he letting Hagee off the hook now? In fact, when Bush did apologize for his visit to Bob Jones (he was explicit and forceful in his denunciation of the school), McCain criticized him for taking so long. He said, if ‘you don’t say anything until three weeks later, then you have—are—abandoning your role as a person….’ Once he [McCain] explicitly rejects the anti-Catholic baggage that Hagee carries, it will be enough to settle this matter once and for all.”
—Bill Donohue comparing McCain’s reaction to the Hagee controversy with his reaction to Bush’s speech at Bob Jones University in 2000

March 6: “No one should take from my criticism of McCain on this issue that I in any way think he is anti-Catholic. If anything, John McCain has been a good friend to Catholics. But he and his staff have, thus far, grossly mishandled this issue.”
—Bill Donohue on McCain’s poor judgment regarding the Hagee endorsement

March 6: “Pastor Hagee endorsed me. That does not mean I endorse everything Pastor Hagee said. All I can say is lots and lots of people endorse me. That means they embrace my ideas and positions. It does not mean I endorse them.”
—John McCain, when asked about the Hagee controversy while in Georgia

March 7, morning: “Fortunately for McCain, he did not shut the door and say this matter is over. But time is running out. We expect to hear a more definitive statement that explicitly rejects Hagee’s anti-Catholicism. If we don’t, criticism from many quarters will only escalate. It is one thing for a candidate to disagree with the Catholic position on certain public policy issues, quite another to break bread with an anti-Catholic bigot.”
—Bill Donohue on McCain’s continuing tepidness

March 7, evening: “We’ve had a dignified campaign, and I repudiate any comments that are made, including Pastor Hagee’s, if they are anti-Catholic or offensive to Catholics…. I sent two of my children to Catholic school. I categorically reject and repudiate any statement that was made that was anti-Catholic, both in intent and nature. I categorically reject it, and I repudiate it.”
—John McCain when interviewed by the Associated Press

March 10: “Sen. McCain has done the right thing and we salute him for doing so. As far as the Catholic League is concerned, this case is closed.”
—Bill Donohue, in response to McCain’s repudiation of Hagee’s anti-Catholic comments

and as the night to the day, it follows that Mr. Donohue found that Hagee wasn’t a bad guy after all, through the auspices of Mr. Hudson

Today at 3.30 pm I had the pleasure of introducing Rev. John Hagee to Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, at Donohue’s office in Manhattan.

Donohue said, "Pastor, you are my friend from this point forward and nothing’s going to change that. We have our theological differences but we Catholics and Evangelicals need to work together — that is the liberals worse nightmare."

Unfortunately for the newly-minted nonpartisan BFFs, it wasn’t a nightmare McCain decided to stay a part of

Republican John McCain has rejected the endorsement of an influential Texas televangelist criticized for his anti-Catholic views.

John Hagee, the Texas preacher, withdrew his endorsement at the same time.

McCain issued a statement after audio surfaced in which Hagee said God sent Adolf Hitler to help Jews reach the promised land.

McCain said in a statement: “Obviously, I find these remarks and others deeply offensive and indefensible, and I repudiate them. I did not know of them before Reverend Hagee’s endorsement, and I feel I must reject his endorsement as well.”

Hagee also issued a statement saying he was tired of baseless attacks and he was removing himself from any active role in the 2008 campaign.

Donahue didn’t see it quite that way

“One week ago today, I met with Pastor Hagee in my office. I found him to be sincere, apologetic and friendly. I also found him to be the strongest Christian defender of Israel I have ever met, and that is why attempts to portray him as anything but a genuine friend to Jews—one for whom the Holocaust is the horror of horrors—is despicable.

Hagee’s decision to sever all ties to McCain is noble: He knows he has become a liability to McCain, even after he has made amends to Catholics. What this proves is that Hagee, unlike Rev. Jeremiah Wright, is not an egocentric man. He is also not like the partisans at the Interfaith Alliance which today called on McCain to reject Hagee: when it was founded, the Interfaith Alliance received $25,000 in seed money from none other than the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

Pastor Hagee can now move in the religious circles he has become accustomed to, and continue his ministry without distraction.”

Certainly Pastor Hagee can agree with that. No-one could credibly accuse him of being antisemitic. Antisemitism, he says, is a peculiarly Catholic phenomenon (as was the Holocaust). Made a whole movie about it.

Mr. Donahue told me so.

Before March 4th.


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