Bloggers on John McCain's rejection of John Hagee.

The latest chatter in cyberspace.
May 23 2008 4:35 PM

Pastor Imperfect

Bloggers are talking about John McCain's repudiation of controversial evangelical preacher John Hagee and dishing on whether Hillary Clinton should be Barack Obama's vice president.

Pastor imperfect: Presumptive Republican nominee John McCain has officially rejected the endorsement of evangelical preacher John Hagee. In a sermon he gave in the 1990s, tapes of which were circulated this week, Hagee said that God sent Hitler to embark upon the Holocaust "because God said my top priority for the Jewish people is to get them to come back to the land of Israel." McCain repudiated the remarks, first calling them "offensive and indefensible" and later "crazy and unacceptable."

Rachael Larimore Rachael Larimore

Rachael Larimore is Slate's managing editor.

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"When a preacher like Hagee is saying that Adolf Hitler was sent by God to accomplish His divine purposes by mass murder and brutality, something stinks to high heaven about that brand of Christianity," writes Bruce Miller at the liberal Blue Voice. "You don't need to jump through theological hoops to see that."

At liberal Daily Kos, Hunter isn't letting McCain off the hook: "It's not like Hagee wasn't extraordinarily well known, before this election season, or somehow unvettable. I have Hagee's 2006 book, 'Jerusalem Countdown', sitting on my table; it's chock full of insulting statements, dire prophecies and interpretations of Scripture so, shall we say, 'unusual' that they bear far more resemblance to the ramblings of a UFO cult than to what many people would call Christianity." Conservative Sister Toldjah suggests a reason for McCain's timing: "I'm guessing at this point McCain had tired of the issue continually dogging him. ... It's a political move that will give him time to make amends with Catholics who were greatly offended by McCain's seeking out and acceptance of Hagee's endorsement."

At Beliefnet's God-o-Meter, Dan Gilgoff explains how McCain stumbled: "McCain, unlike Bush--and Ronald Reagan before him--never took the time to study up on the difficult art of appealing to evangelicals and their political leaders. And without that kind of schooling, faith-based messaging and outreach is a minefield."

At the Volokh Conspiracy, David Bernstein has a lengthy post explaining why he's not offended by Hagee: "This is a pretty stupid idea, but I don't find it 'anti-Jewish.' That's probably because I've heard similar statements from Orthodox Jews." He tells the story of a fourth-grade classmate whose father explained the Holocaust "like 'God did something horrible to us for reasons known only to Him, and then paid us back (collectively) with a lasting benefit.' Even as a fourth-grader, I thought this was a repugnant idea."

In his statement, McCain tried to strike down the comparison between his pastor problem and Barack Obama's problems with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, pointing out that "Reverend Hagee was not and is not my pastor or spiritual adviser, and I did not attend his church for 20 years." Not so fast, says Pastor Bob Cornwell at Faithfully Liberal. "Obama never sought his pastor's political endorsement. Indeed, he's made it clear that he didn't seek his pastor's political advice, though Wright's commitment to social justice does influence his own commitment to social justice," Cornwell writes. "Politically, however, they have taken different routes to accomplish this task."

Read more about John McCain and John Hagee. Talking Points Memo offers a helpful timeline to Hagee and McCain's relationship. In Slate, Christopher Beam says it's a bad time for McCain to risk alienating Jewish voters.

Vice President Hillary? The New York Times is reporting that Bill Clinton is "contemplating" the idea of Hillary Clinton running as the vice president; her chief fundraiser is hinting Obama might lose without her; and  CNN's Suzanne Malveaux is reporting that "informal campaign advisers" for the Clinton and Obama camps are talking about a way to end the stalemate known as the Democratic primary. Malveaux offers three scenarios: that Obama ignores Hillary and makes someone else his veep; that he offers the veep spot to Hillary with the "understanding she would turn it down"; or that the candidates actually sit down and hash this out.

Political Animal Kevin Drum isn't designing any Obama/Clinton '08 bumper stickers: "Obama's camp denies all this, and even the Clinton sources apparently say that Hillary herself isn't much interested in these ongoing discussions. What's more, it all seems to come down to scenario #3 anyway, doesn't it? In other words, nothing. This strikes me as much more heat than light."

Retired journalist Stephen P. Pizzo at News for Real imagines Hillary as Obama's No. 2. Or tries to. "And there she'd sit, as President Obama makes decisions he will likely only share with her after he's made them," he writes. "And once made VP Hillary Clinton would be expected to publicly embrace and promote President Obama's policies — as though they were her own — only they won't be. And, should those policies prove beneficial to the nation, Obama would get the credit, not Hillary. How do you imagine that will go down? With everything we now know about Hillary and Bill Clinton, imagine that for moment. (It will only take a moment.)"

Ann Althouse has advice for Obama: "Don't do it! I mean, talk to her, get her to behave well toward your campaign, but don't put her on the ticket." At right-leaning Wizbang, Kim Priestap says Obama is "asking for big trouble with a capital T" if he considers the idea.

In a long, thoughtful post at Obsidian Wings, hilzoy explains why Hillary should step down and points out what's missing in the vast media coverage of the primary: "any sense that Clinton herself is a responsible moral agent. People are writing about her as though she were a bomb that needed to be expertly defused, as opposed to a person who can govern her own life, and is responsible for her own choices."

Read more about Hillary becoming Obama's VP. In Slate, David Greenberg explains why the ticket could work.

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