Many conservatives, not to mention Clinton supporters, were smiling wide last week during the Democratic debate in Ohio when MSNBC’s Tim Russert asked Barack Obama about being praised by Louis Farrakhan.
But the controversy faded almost before it started after Obama denounced the Nation of Islam leader’s anti-Jewish remarks and, with a little prodding from Hillary Clinton, rejected his words of support as well.
Instead, even as he moved to secure the Republican nomination with primary wins in all four states that voted Tuesday, it was John McCain who has spent the past week on the defensive over an endorsement from a controversial clergyman, John Hagee.
Hagee, the San Antonio-based televangelist and mega-church leader, is best known to American Jews for his rousing speech at last year’s annual AIPAC conference and his groundbreaking success in launching a Christian pro-Israel lobby.
Now he finds himself at the center of the presidential campaign, accused of bashing Catholicism, Islam and homosexuality. And despite his long record of supporting Israel and speaking out against anti-Jewish bigotry, he’s even being accused of anti-Semitism by some liberal critics.
At issue are a string of inflammatory comments and speeches, most notably a presentation posted to YouTube in which Hagee appears to describe the Roman Catholic Church as “the great whore of Revelations” and a “false cult system.”
The media and Democrats began to pounce on the issue after Bill Donohue, the president of the Catholic League, issued a public statement calling on McCain to follow Obama’s lead and denounce Hagee.
That liberals and Democrats are essentially taking their cues from Donohue — a self-described conservative and a high-profile defender of Mel Gibson during the fights over “The Passion of the Christ” — is just one of the ironies/hypocrisies to emerge during the debates on the campaign trail over Farrakhan and Hagee.
For starters, what to make of Republicans who rushed to condemn Obama over his pastor’s support of Farrakhan and charge the Democratic presidential hopeful of somehow not doing enough to speak out against the Nation of Islam, but are mum about McCain’s failure to condemn Hagee? (MORE)