Prominent Conservatives Reaffirm Support for Hagee

Daniel Pipes puts John Hagee in context:

[Hagee] is someone who is not at the extremes of American life, who is dealing with and close to or endorsed by those who hate the United States. This is someone who’s a patriot…[Hagee] is working within the mainstream of American political life. He is a serious and important actor in the pro-Israel movement. And I might add that I’ll be speaking for him next month at his conference.

In fact, Pipes is to some extent quite correct, and if you’ve ever read Richard Hofstadter’s famous essay on “The Paranoid Style in American Politics” you’ll know that what Hagee stands for has a pedigree (Chip Berlet has more background here). Here’s (once again) the “serious and important” Hagee in full-throttle on the New World Order and the Illuminati and such (Hagee’s voice is in the audio; the video and musical backing has come from another source):

Participants at the recent AIPAC conference have also reaffirmed their support for Hagee; although he wasn’t at the recent conference, The Forward reports that his name elicited applause and an ovation:

…Speakers at the session, titled “Friends in Faith: Evangelical Christians and the Pro-Israel Movement,” included Gary Bauer, president of American Values; John Buhler, founder of Christian Advocates for Israel, and David Brog, executive director of Christians United for Israel, the group led by Hagee.

“I want to take a moment to discuss with you a good man, evangelical pastor John Hagee,” Brog said to the audience. Before Brog could finish the sentence, the crowd broke into a lengthy round of applause, ending in a standing ovation. Among the few attendees who did not cheer at the mention of Hagee’s name was the Anti-Defamation League’s national director, Abraham Foxman, who has occasionally been critical of the ties between the Jewish community and Christian Zionists.

Brog, who runs Christians United for Israel on behalf of Hagee, has been busy defending the pastor over the past week or so, putting forward the argument that Hagee’s detractors are guilty of religious prejudice. As I blogged back in 2006, Brog is the author of Standing with Israel: Why Christians Support the Jewish State, which has a foreword by Hagee. The book is a call for his fellow American Jews to stop worrying and to learn to love evangelical Christians, much as Merrill Simon’s Jerry Falwell and the Jews did back in 1984.

Meanwhile, Bauer’s response to the McCain repudiation of Hagee featured recently on OneNewsNow:

“The only winner in all this has been the radical left and big media, who despise Senator McCain and also despise Pastor Hagee — and not incidentally, [also] despise Israel,” he contends.

When all is said and done, Bauer continues, the other side has scored a victory. He says the left-wing blogs, including the Huffington Post, distorted Hagee’s comments in order to “drive a wedge” between evangelical voters and McCain.

Actually, most of the work in bringing Hagee’s views to wider attention was undertaken by religious-right watchers alarmed that someone like Hagee should enjoy being courted by serious politicians when he ought to be “out in the street, shouting and hollering with a cardboard sign and selling pencils from a cup” (to borrow a phrase from Christopher Hitchens’ memorable dyslogy after the death of Jerry Falwell). And, as Matthew Avery Sutton has recently noted, McCain (who sought out Hagee against his better instincts) could have avoided the entire fiasco:

In his efforts to court the Religious Right, he has taken the worst approach possible. Rather than build bridges to the new generation of evangelical power players such as Rick Warren, Bill Hybels, and Joel Osteen, each of whom tries to put the emphasis on the compassion in “compassionate conservative,” he has instead been wooing tongues-speaking, fire-breathing, ministers of doom…That McCain didn’t see it coming reveals what terrible advice he is getting and how truly out-of-touch he is with religious conservatives. In picking some of the most extreme agents of intolerance to buddy up to in an effort to mend fences with the Religious Right, and then having to publicly denounce them, McCain has done the unthinkable—he has simultaneously lost face with the moderates who liked his independent streak and the religious conservatives that he so badly needs.