McCain's Hagee Problem
By Big Tent Democrat
Appealing to "values voters" is a double edged sword for the candidates in this race. The problem is that much of the "appeal" that needs to be made is of the paranoid variety. To really appeal to "values voters" - you must hate the people they hate or find a way to spur the hate to vote for you. In 2004, Karl Rove, who remains the shrewdest (this is a neutral term morally) political operative of recent years, was able to provide hatred of gays and gay marriage to drive this extremist base to vote in droves. George Bush did not have to get his hands dirty. The other thing Bush and Rove did was never apologize for his supporters.
But "The Maverick" John McCain is in a different place. His Media Darling status is based in part on the perception that he does not play footsy with this extremist base. Of course he has to now, while trying to retain his Media image. This problem is amplified because he believes his opponent will be Barack Obama, the first Democratic Presidential candidate who is a Media Darling since JFK. That is why, as Glenn Greenwald discusses, John McCain has a John Hagee problem:
John McCain yesterday happily received an endorsement from, and then expressed lavish gratitude towards, one of the most hateful and radical evangelical ministers in the country, Pastor John Hagee. As documented in that post, Hagee has a history of making some of the most extreme and twisted statements of any religious figure in the country towards multiple groups of Americans.
Among the many groups which McCain's new associate has targeted for hateful bigotry are Catholics. As a result, The Catholic League today issued a statement -- entitled "McCain Embraces Bigot" -- which pointed out that Hagee:has waged an unrelenting war against the Catholic Church. For example, he likes calling it "The Great Whore," an "apostate church," the "anti-Christ," and a "false cult system."
The Catholic League demanded that McCain repudiate Hagee and his endorsement, just as Barack Obama did earlier this week with Louis Farrakhan (despite the fact that Obama, unlike McCain with Hagee, never sought out or accepted Farrakhan's endorsement).
This is all rather ironic and funny as Bill Donohue and the Catholic League, which is not affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church, are pretty darn hateful themselves. But the Media has treated him as a serious person when attacking Democrats. If Hillary Clinton is the nominee, this is probably not a problem for McCain. But Barack Obama changes that. He is a Media Darling too.
One pitfall for Obama is that playing the renouncing game has never been a good play for Democrats. And Obama will be provided a list of people he will need to repudiate, we have already seen Farrakhan brought to to the discussion by Tim "Pumpkinhead" Russert. But there is no doubt that if Obama is the nominee, the ugliest side of the Republican coalition may see the light of day in this campaign. And that is bad news for John McCain.
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