David A. Love
June 5, 2008
On the eve of the general election season, as much of the media focuses on the trivialities of Senator Barack Obama’s associations - and whether he should repudiate everyone he knows or doesn’t know - GOP candidate John McCain has been given a free ride. This, despite evidence that McCain, like George Bush, would open the White House to profiteers, influence peddlers, racists and religious extremists.
There was, at best, token coverage of statements made by two of McCain’s supporters, Rev. Rod Parsley of the World Harvest Church in Columbus, Ohio, and Pastor John Hagee of Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas. Parsley said that America was founded to destroy Islam, which he calls a false religion. Meanwhile, Hagee - who is known for his homophobic, anti-Muslim, and anti-Jewish sentiments - said in a late 1990s sermon that Adolph Hitler was sent by God to hunt the Jews and carry out the Holocaust, leading to the establishment of the state of Israel. In his 1996 book, The Beginning of the End, he expressed praise for Yigal Amir, the assassin of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, and characterized the murder as a fulfillment of prophecy. And on March 16, 2003, Hagee proclaimed that the Antichrist will be gay, will “make Adolph Hitler look like a choirboy,” and “is at least going to be partially Jewish, as was Adolph Hitler, as was Karl Marx.”
Hagee, oddly enough, has spoken before the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the largest pro-Israel lobbying organization, a fact which may speak more about AIPAC than anything else. He even received a standing ovation at the 2007 AIPAC convention. And McCain supporter, Sen. Joe Lieberman, who called Hagee “a man of God,” has decided to speak at Hagee’s July 2008 Christians United For Israel (CUFI) conference. Advocating confrontation with Iran and a denial of aid to the Palestinians, CUFI believes that Israel’s expansion into Palestinian territory is “a biblical imperative.”
J Street, a pro-peace, Jewish political group that hopes to reverse the rightward shift in U.S. Mideast policy and the influence of AIPAC, has called upon Lieberman to withdraw his participation in CUFI’s conference. Perhaps for Lieberman and others, Hagee’s unflinching support of the Israeli government’s hard line policies trumps his intolerance and anti-Semitism. While the media have seemed fixated on one pastor who rightly condemned U.S. foreign policy and racism (Dr. Jeremiah Wright) and another who condemned white-skin privilege (Father Michael Pfleger), very little is said of Hagee. The double standard is clear.
McCain repudiated Hagee and Parsley, but that is beside the point. Rather than focus on individuals, it is necessary to examine the interests they represent. Why would McCain and the Republicans seek the support of such loathsome people and embrace their twisted interests, inviting them to sit at the table? And why do they have such influence in mainstream U.S. politics, and the Mideast policy debate?
Hagee, Parsley, and people of that ilk are members of what is known as Christian Zionism. Christian Zionists support Israeli government acts of military aggression, do not want peace in the Mideast region, and reject self-determination and statehood for the Palestinian people. Most of all, and this is key, they believe that Muslims, Jews, and those who do not accept Jesus Christ as their savior will perish when Armageddon comes, and Jesus returns. These far Right Christians are part of the GOP base, the GOP faithful whose support McCain has coveted, and from whom McCain will be unable to distance himself, even if he repudiates a few of their leaders.
Although he has positioned himself as a reformer and an independent, straight-talking maverick, John McCain is little more than a Bush shill. A Johnny One Note of American politics, McCain might as well be the nominee for President of Iraq, offering few policies other than perpetual war in Iraq, no talking to enemies and more atrocious Supreme Court nominees.
McCain talks little about domestic policy, and admits he knows little about economics. But his campaign co-chair, former Senator Phil Gramm, knows a great deal about economics and has that covered. While advising McCain on economic policy, Gramm lobbied Congress on behalf of UBS, a Swiss Bank, in its effort to block legislation to help the victims of the subprime mortgage crisis. Gramm, who has a doctorate in economics and is a vice-chair at the UBS banking division, was the architect of the very deregulation in the banking industry which allowed the subprime disaster to take place. Further, UBS has advised its bankers to avoid traveling to the U.S., where they face questioning and possible arrest for helping clients evade taxes.
Another close McCain advisor, influence peddler Charlie Black, is a longtime associate of George Bush and Karl Rove. Black’s lobbying firm, BKHS, is owned by Burson-Marsteller, which in turn is chaired by Hillary Clinton campaign advisor Mark Penn. Black’s clients are a who’s who of barrel-scrapers, including dictators such as Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire, Angolan rebel leader Jonas Savimbi, the late Filipino President Ferdinand Marcos, hustler Ahmed Chalabi of the Iraqi National Congress and fake-WMD fame, and Blackwater founder Erik Prince.
Coddling racists, homophobes and Holocaust revisionists on the one hand, and embracing corporate pimps, subprime profiteers and influence peddlers on the other - important Republican constituencies - McCain has a lot of repudiating to do.