Catholic/gay/Muslim/ACLU/Russia/China basher John Hagee just sent a letter to Bill Donohue of the Catholic League (dude in his basement with his cats claiming that liberals are out to destroy Catholicism and the world). Donohue accepted the apology. Hunter has a good line-by-line of Hagee's apology letter if you're interested in that level of detail on the subject.
What's more relevant, yet less surprising, to me is the way these people are falling in line. The Republican battle for the nominee was supposed to have divided the party as they were looking for someone remotely presentable to be the face of the party, for someone remotely unifying to appease their major constituencies. Instead, they got stuck with John McCain.
There were those conservative commentators out there saying that they'd never vote for him (yeah, whatever, they were never going to oppose the Republican nominee for president for all that long), but Donohue objection to Hagee's endorsement actually had some substance.
Here's Donohue's acceptance of the apology:
"After weeks of meeting with various Catholic leaders, and accessing scholarly literature on Catholic-Jewish relations, Pastor John Hagee has demonstrated an improved understanding of the Catholic Church and its history. In his letter to me, Hagee says, 'I want to express my deep regret for any comments that Catholics have found hurtful.' He specifically cites his emphasis of 'the darkest chapters in the history of Catholic and Protestant relations with the Jews,' and has pledged to provide a more complete and balanced portrayal going forward that will not reinforce mischaracterizations of the Catholic Church. And while he stresses that his invocation of terms like 'apostate church' and the 'great whore' were never meant by him to describe the Catholic Church, he acknowledges that anti-Catholics have long employed such language," Donohue said in his statement.
That easily? Hagee implied that he was just learning about the Catholic Church, threw in some "my junk was taken out of context" idiocy, a "I have Catholic friends," and then repeated that he thought that most Catholics will work with the Antichrist and veers pretty close to a "I'm sorry you have a problem with this" letter.
But of course Bill Donohue has to accept it! He might not get a better one in the future, so this might be his best chance to put bygones in the past and try to get his constituency (his mom and maybe that crazy neighbor who makes his own wine in his bathtub) out to vote for McCain.
The Catholic League isn't the NAACP of Catholics. It's hardly representative of the entire religion or its followers. Here's how Hunter describes him:
First off: Bill Donohue is not the Batman of Catholicism. If you want to issue an apology to Catholics, there is an enormous list of people with actual important positions in the Catholic Church. There are Bishops, Archbishops, Cardinals, and a currently-German guy we like to call "The Holy Father". If the Roman Catholic Church was the Justice League, Donohue wouldn't be Superman, or Flash, nor even the clever but distinctly non-super Batman, the guy with no actual powers but more personal gadgets than a CIA-funded Sharper Image store. No, Donohue would be the guy who shows up at the door in his own handmade suit and will not leave.
Indeed, he's a nobody. So why did Hagee apologize to him?
Well, it's all part of the Great Republican Kiss and Make Up Show - John McCain, being the Maverick that he is, has made all the constituencies so very mad. And now some people are working together to rebuild the party, changing their opinions, acknowledging their past wrong, even writing letters of apology! What more can we ask of a Maverick/Unifier?
Indeed, John McCain's happy that people are being brought together:
Campaigning in North Bend, Wash., McCain today said Hagee's apology was "very helpful," the Associated Press reported.
"Whenever somebody apologizes for something they did wrong, then I think that that's a laudable thing to do," he said.
In all of this, we don't see a full repudiation of John Hagee from McCain, because now one isn't needed. He can have his cake an eat it too, and these constituencies can all go back to fighting after November. Screw all the non-Catholics Hagee said God hated or wanted to destroy or would help the Antichrist.
And the media will continue to give him a pass on these issues, as opposed to the way they treated Jeremiah Wright. The Boston Globe pretty much says just that in their lede:
The Rev. John Hagee -- who in some eyes threatened to become to John McCain what the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. became to Barack Obama -- has apologized for remarks that offended many Catholics.
And just so no one thinks that Hagee isn't more crazy than Wright (he's far more crazy), here's a bit of good reading about Hagee's church from Matt Taibbi, who went undercover to investigate it:
Throughout the whole weekend, Fortenberry had been setting himself up as an athletic conqueror of demons. Now, on the final morning, he looked like a quarterback about to take the field before a big game. The life coaches assembled around the edges of the chapel, carrying anointing oil and bundles of small paper bags.
Fortenberry began to issue instructions. He told us that under no circumstances should we pray during the Deliverance.
"When the word of God is in your mouth," he said, "the demons can't come out of your body. You have to keep a path clear for the demon to come up through your throat. So under no circumstances pray to God. You can't have God in your mouth. You can cough, you might even want to vomit, but don't pray."
The crowd nodded along solemnly. Fortenberry then explained that he was going to read from an extremely long list of demons and cast them out individually. As he did so, we were supposed to breathe out, keep our mouths open and let the demons out.
And he began.
At first, the whole scene was pure comedy. Fortenberry was standing up at the front of the chapel, reading off a list, and the room was loudly chirping crickets back at him.
"In the name of Jesus, I cast out the demon of incest! In the name of Jesus, I cast out the demon of sexual abuse! In the name of Jesus. . . ."
After a few minutes, there was a little twittering here and there. Nothing serious. I was beginning to think the Deliverance was going to be a bust.
But then it started. Wails and cries from the audience. To my left, a young black man started writhing around in his seat. In front of me and to my right, another young black man with Coke-bottle glasses and a shock of nerdly jheri curl -- a dead ringer for a young Wayne Williams -- started wailing and clutching his head.
"In the name of Jesus," continued Fortenberry, "I cast out the demon of astrology!"
Coughing and spitting noises. Behind me, a bald white man started to wheeze and gurgle, like he was about to puke. Fortenberry, still reading from his list, pointed at the man. On cue, a pair of life coaches raced over to him and began to minister. One dabbed his forehead with oil and fiercely clutched his cranium; the other held a paper bag in front of his mouth.
"In the name of Jesus Christ," said Fortenberry, more loudly now, "I cast out the demon of lust!"
And the man began power-puking into his paper baggie. I couldn't see if any actual vomitus came out, but he made real hurling and retching noises.
Now the women began to pipe in. On the women's side of the chapel the noises began, and it is not hard to explain what these noises sounded like. If you've ever watched The Houston 560 or any other gangbang porn movie, that's what it sounded like, only the sounds were far more intense.
It was not difficult to figure out where the energy was coming from on that side of the room. Some of the husbands glanced nervously over in the direction of their wives.
"In the name of Jesus Christ, I cast out the demon of cancer!" said Fortenberry.
"Oooh! Unnh! Unnnnnh!" wailed a woman in the front row.
"Bleeech!" puked the bald man behind me.
Within about a minute after that, the whole chapel erupted in pandemonium. About half the men and three-fourths of the women were writhing around and either play-puking or screaming. Not wanting to be a bad sport, I raised my hand for one of the life coaches to see.
"Need... a... bag," I said as he came over.
He handed me a bag.
"In the name of Jesus, I cast out the demon of handwriting analysis!" shouted Fortenberry.
Handwriting analysis? I jammed the bag over my mouth and started coughing, then went into a very real convulsion of disbelief as I listened to this astounding list, half-laughing and half-retching.
"In the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, I cast out the demon of the intellect!" Fortenberry continued. "In the name of Jesus, I cast out the demon of anal fissures!"
The minutes raced by. Wayne Williams was now fully prostrate, held up only by a trio of coaches, each of whom took part of his writhing body and propped it up. Another bald man in the front of the chapel was now freaking out in Linda Blair fashion, roaring and making horrific demon noises.
"Rum-balakasha-oom!" shouted Fortenberry in tongues, waving a hand in front of Linda Blair Man. "Cooom-balakasha-froom! In the name of Jesus Christ, I cast out the demon of philosophy!"
By the end of the weekend I realized how quaint was the mere suggestion that Christians of this type should learn to "be rational" or "set aside your religion" about such things as the Iraq War or other policy matters. Once you've made a journey like this -- once you've gone this far -- you are beyond suggestible. It's not merely the informational indoctrination, the constant belittling of homosexuals and atheists and Muslims and pacifists, etc., that's the issue. It's that once you've gotten to this place, you've left behind the mental process that a person would need to form an independent opinion about such things. You make this journey precisely to experience the ecstasy of beating to the same big gristly heart with a roomful of like-minded folks. Once you reach that place with them, you're thinking with muscles, not neurons.
This dude's insane. But he's also el numero uno when it comes to Christian Zionism, itself a pretty crazy extension of evangelical Christianity. But I don't see how any tent can be big enough to hold all these constituencies unless they hold their breaths until November for their own self-interest.