The Difference Between McCain/Hagee vs. Obama/Wright

Frank Rich’s (Corrected) latest column futilely tries to make a case that the netroots has been making for weeks,

BORED by those endless replays of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright? If so, go directly to YouTube, search for “John Hagee Roman Church Hitler,” and be recharged by a fresh jolt of clerical jive.

What you’ll find is a white televangelist, the Rev. John Hagee, lecturing in front of an enormous diorama. Wielding a pointer, he pokes at the image of a woman with Pamela Anderson-sized breasts, her hand raising a golden chalice. The woman is “the Great Whore,” Mr. Hagee explains, and she is drinking “the blood of the Jewish people.” That’s because the Great Whore represents “the Roman Church,” which, in his view, has thirsted for Jewish blood throughout history, from the Crusades to the Holocaust.

Mr. Hagee is not a fringe kook but the pastor of a Texas megachurch. On Feb. 27, he stood with John McCain and endorsed him over the religious conservatives’ favorite, Mike Huckabee, who was then still in the race.

Are we really to believe that neither Mr. McCain nor his camp knew anything then about Mr. Hagee’s views? This particular YouTube video — far from the only one — was posted on Jan. 1, nearly two months before the Hagee-McCain press conference. Mr. Hagee appears on multiple religious networks, including twice daily on the largest, Trinity Broadcasting, which reaches 75 million homes. Any 12-year-old with a laptop could have vetted this preacher in 30 seconds, tops.

Since then, Mr. McCain has been shocked to learn that his clerical ally has made many other outrageous statements. Mr. Hagee, it’s true, did not blame the American government for concocting AIDS. But he did say that God created Hurricane Katrina to punish New Orleans for its sins, particularly a scheduled “homosexual parade there on the Monday that Katrina came.”

Mr. Hagee didn’t make that claim in obscure circumstances, either. He broadcast it on one of America’s most widely heard radio programs, “Fresh Air” on NPR, back in September 2006. He reaffirmed it in a radio interview less than two weeks ago. Only after a reporter asked Mr. McCain about this Katrina homily on April 24 did the candidate brand it as “nonsense” and the preacher retract it.

Mr. McCain says he does not endorse any of Mr. Hagee’s calumnies, any more than Barack Obama endorses Mr. Wright’s. But those who try to give Mr. McCain a pass for his embrace of a problematic preacher have a thin case. It boils down to this: Mr. McCain was not a parishioner for 20 years at Mr. Hagee’s church.

We could have a little debate over whose offensive remarks are more offensive, Wright’s or Hagee’s, but that’s a “how many angels can dance on the head of a pin” argument.

So, what is relevant? How about this…

* Is McCain a member of Hagee’s church? No.

* Has McCain attended Hagee’s church for 20 years? No.

* Did McCain take his children to Hagee’s church? Again, no.

* Did Hagee baptize McCain’s children? No.

* Did Hagee marry McCain and his wife? No

* Did McCain title a book after one of Hagee’s sermons? No.

* Did McCain compare Hagee to his uncle? No.

* Did McCain call Hagee his “sounding board?” No.

* Was McCain’s relationship with Hagee so close that he said he could no more disown him than he could disown his own grandmother? No.

But, has McCain criticized Hagee’s offensive remarks in a way that Obama has never done for, say Jesse Jackson’s “Hymietown” comment or Al Sharpton’s Tawana Brawley escapades? Yes, he has done that.

The primary difference here, which seems obvious to everyone but liberals like Rich (corrected), is that Obama has been so closely associated with Jeremiah Wright for so long, that it is extremely difficult to believe that he doesn’t share a lot of the man’s views.

You can’t go to Klan meetings for 20 years, pal around with the guy running the whole kit and kaboodle, and then pretend to be shocked when he says something racist. “Why, I never knew the Grand Exalted Cyclops had a racist bone in his body! I certainly never heard that when I was at one of those Klan meetings!”

But that’s exactly what Obama’s trying to do. He went to an anti-white “Christian” church and spent 20 years buddying up with a vile, virulently racist, anti-American conspiracy kook and now he’s trying to convince people that not only does he not share any of Wright’s views, he didn’t even have any idea that he held them in the first place.

That’s the difference between McCain/Hagee and Obama/Wright.

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