On Bill Bennett’s radio show this morning, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said he repudiates “any comments” by hard-line conservative Pastor John Hagee “that are anti-semetic or anti-Catholic, racist, any other.” “I repudiate the words that create that impression,” said McCain.
But unlike his previous, half-hearted attempts to distance himself from Hagee, McCain also spoke up in the controversial pastor’s defense, saying that Hagee “said that his words were taken out of context”:
I will say that he said that his words were taken out of context, he defends his position. I hope that maybe you’d give him a chance to respond. He says he has never been anti-Catholic, but I repudiate the words that create that impression.
McCain then said he could look past Hagee’s bigoted comments because “when we were doing the No Surrender tour, he came and spoke on behalf of not surrendering in Iraq.”
Even if Hagee does support McCain’s vision of 100 years in Iraq, that does nothing to change the context of his past toxic comments. What context would absolve his belief that “Hurricane Katrina was, in fact, the judgment of God against the city of New Orleans” for hosting a gay pride parade?:
All hurricanes are acts of God, because God controls the heavens. I believe that New Orleans had a level of sin that was offensive to God, and they are — were recipients of the judgment of God for that. The newspaper carried the story in our local area that was not carried nationally that there was to be a homosexual parade there on the Monday that the Katrina came. And the promise of that parade was that it was going to reach a level of sexuality never demonstrated before in any of the other Gay Pride parades. So I believe that the judgment of God is a very real thing
When McCain ran for president in 2000, he chastized then-Governor Bush for “seeking the support of Southern fundamentalists who have expressed anti-Catholic views,” saying that he “would condemn openly” such “agents of intolerance.” Now he says such intolerance is just “taken out of context.”
UPDATE: TPM has more of the “context” of Hagee’s intolerant comments here.
BENNETT: I’ve got to ask you about something, as a Catholic. This was something a lot of Catholics were talking about. A couple of weeks ago, senator, you received the endorsement of San Antonio Pastor John Hagee. He’s written about my church, “there’s a clear record of history linking Adolf Hitler and the Roman Catholic church in a conspiracy to exterminate the Jews.” He’s called the Catholic church “a great prostitute,” except he used a stronger word. He’s called my church a “cult.” Your comment on this. There’s actually been a lot of talk about it.
MCCAIN: Well, obviously I repudiate any comments that are anti-semetic or anti-Catholic, racist, any other. And I condemn them and I condemn those words that Pastor Hagee apparently…that Pastor Hagee wrote. I will say that he said that his words were taken out of context, he defends his position. I hope that maybe you’d give him a chance to respond. He says he has never been anti-Catholic, but I repudiate the words that create that impression. I will say, I’d like to say on his behalf, he’s been a very strong supporter of the state of Israel and when we were doing the No Surrender tour, he came and spoke on behalf of not surrendering in Iraq. So, but any comments that are made that are in anyway offensive then I repudiate those for all of the obvious reasons, Bill.
BENNETT: Good, good.