As Jon Steward said on The Daily Show, Rev. Jeremiah Wright has been dominating cable news coverage like a missing White girl. Meanwhile, John McCain has his own Rev. Wrong in the form of Rev. John Hagee, a San Antonio-based minister who refers to the Catholic Church as the "Great Whore" and calls Hurricane Katrina divine retaliation for New Orleans' support of gays and lesbians.
Unlike Obama, McCain actively sought and accepted the support of Hagee. The Democratic frontrunner has been hammered about controversial statements of his former pastor even after strongly rejecting them.
Not counting last weekend's stories, a study by Media Matters for America, a monitoring group, the New York Times and the Washington Post have published 12 times as many articles mentioning Obama's ties to Wright as they have on McCain's link to Hagee. From Feb. 27 until the past week, the Washington Post had published 53 stories mentioning Obama's relationship with Wright, but only three articles mentioning McCain and Hagee. Over that same period, the New York Times published 46 stories mentioning Obama and Wright, but only five about the McCain and Hagee connection.
Writing in Sunday's New York Times, columnist Frank Rich stated, "…It is disingenuous to pretend that there isn't a double-standard operating here. If we're going to judge black candidates on their most controversial associates – and how quickly, sternly and completely they disown them – we must judge white politicians by the same yardstick."
However, that isn't the case. And it never has been. Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell blamed the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on abortion supporters, gays, feminists, the A.C.L.U. and People for the American Way, yet no one called on President George W. Bush, who enjoys their political support, to denounce and repudiate them.
As Rich pointed out in his column, former Republican presidential candidate Rudolph Giuliani allowed a former priest kicked out of a Long Island diocese in 2002 for sexual abuse to officiate one of Giuliani's weddings. The candidate was never asked to denounce and repudiate the defrocked priest.
So McCain, the Republican's presumptive nominee, he gets a pass on Hagee. Consider the following:
• Speaking on National Public Radio's Fresh Air [Sept. 18, 2006], Hagee said, "... The newspaper carried the story in our local area that was not carried nationally that there was to be a homosexual parade [in New Orleans] on the Monday that 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. … And I believe that the Hurricane Katrina was, in fact, the judgment of God against the city of New Orleans."
• He also said in that same NPR interview, "…Those who live by the Quran [Muslims] have a scriptural mandate to kill Christians and Jews."
• The Wall Street Journal [July 27, 2006], referring to Hagee's church bulletin, reported, "To help students seeking odd jobs, his church newsletter, The Cluster, advertised a 'slave' sale. 'Slavery in America is returning to Cornerstone,' it said. 'Make plans to come and go home with a slave.'
• Summarizing Hagee's record, Catholic League President Bill Donahue said, "For the past few decades, he [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.'"
• In his book, "What Every Man Wants in a Woman," Hagee said, "Do you know the difference between a woman with PMS and a snarling Doberman pinscher? The answer is lipstick. Do you know the difference between a terrorist and a woman with PMS? You can negotiate with a terrorist. "
• In another section of the book, Hagee writes: "Only a Spirit-filled woman can submit to her husband's lead. It is the natural desire of a woman to lead through feminine manipulation of the man."
On the April 20 edition of ABC's This Week, McCain, referring to Hagee, said: "I'm glad to have his endorsement." He explained, "I admire and respect Dr. Hagee's leadership of the — of his church."
That position disturbs Donahue of the Catholic League. He said, "Senator Obama has repudiated the endorsement of Louis Farrakhan, another bigot. McCain should follow suit and retract his embrace of Hagee."
George E. Curry, former editor-in-chief of Emerge magazine and the NNPA News Service.