In addition to having previously referred to Catholicism as “The Great Whore,” controversial pastor John Hagee said on NPR in September 2006 that Hurricane Katrina was the result of God condemning New Orleans because “there was to be a homosexual parade there” the day the hurricane hit — a belief he recently reaffirmed.
Despite Hagee’s radical and bigoted beliefs, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) sought and received Hagee’s endorsement for president — one McCain said he was “very honored” to have. Since then, Hagee’s views have garnered more attention, sparking wider questions as to why McCain would accept such an endorsement.
In a recent article on the McCain/Hagee saga, Newsweek reports that McCain aides attribute the courting of Hagee’s support to “poor vetting.” But some from McCain’s own party wonder how his views could have “slipped through the cracks”:
McCain’s aides attribute the Hagee controversy to poor vetting. But even some Republicans (not affiliated with the campaign) privately wonder how the pastor’s extreme views slipped through without notice. McCain personally wooed Hagee for more than a year.
Indeed, “some Republicans” weren’t the only ones greeting this explanation with confusion. The New York Times’s Frank Rich noted yesterday that “[a]ny 12-year-old with a laptop could have vetted this preacher in 30 seconds, tops”:
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.
Newsweek noted that McCain “likes to think of himself as a straight-shooter” but when asked about Hagee’s endorsement, McCain starts “bobbing and weaving” — which is exactly what happened last month during an interview on ABC’s This Week. McCain agreed that the endorsement was “a mistake,” but 30 seconds later said he is “glad to have it.”
In seeking Hagee’s support, perhaps McCain and his staff did not “properly” vet the controversial pastor because they were taking advice from McCain’s buddy Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), who just last year compared Hagee to Moses.