In February, when controversial Pastor John Hagee endorsed Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), he called the senator “a man of principle” who “does not stand boldly on both sides of any issue.” But since then, McCain has sought to have it both ways by both distancing himself from Hagee’s divisive record while maintaining the Pastor’s political support.
Yesterday, McCain played the game again on Bill Bennett’s radio show, where he said, “I repudiate any comments that are anti-Semitic or anti-Catholic, racist, any other.” But then added, in Hagee’s defense, that the pastor “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.
As ThinkProgress noted yesterday, context does not change the indefensible nature of Hagee’s most divisive comments, such as his belief that “Hurricane Katrina was, in fact, the judgment of God against the city of New Orleans” for hosting a gay pride parade. McCain has said that he “repudiates” Hagee’s words “that are anti-Semitic or anti-Catholic, racist, any other,” but he has never specifically criticized Hagee’s blatantly anti-gay rhetoric.
This should come as no great surprise. Though McCain sought gay support in his 2000 run for president, he has also had no qualms about allying himself with anti-gay activists. In the fall of 2006, McCain appeared in two commercials supporting a draconian ban on same-sex marriage in Arizona: