John Hagee, who described the bombardment of Lebanon in the summer of 2006 as a “miracle from God,” has endorsed John McCain. Long-time readers will remember that he and Huckabee were consorting together not too long ago, which may be part of the reason for Huckabee’s weakness in capturing much of the Catholic vote in the primaries. When he is not glorying in the bombardment of countries with large Christian (and non-Protestant) populations, he pushes quite venomous anti-Catholicism. Glenn Greenwald finds the double standard applied to McCain, who happily accepted Hagee’s endorsement, and Obama, who has “denounced and rejected” Farrakhan, to be startling and glaring, but Greenwald can’t be all that surprised. Whatever his apocalyptic visions (which the secular supporters of Israel regard as nonsense), Hagee is on board with hard-line policies towards Palestinians and Israel’s neighbours that count as respectable and “responsible” views, while Obama is being linked, either through his pastor or otherwise, with figures who obviously do not endorse those policies, so in this truly odd view a Hagee endorsement is a feather in McCain’s cap and Obama’s associations are troubling and in need of clarification.
While it is, of course, true that Hagee’s vision of Armageddon is not what anyone could reasonably call “pro-Israel,” the working definition of what it means to be “pro-Israel” in America is already fairly unreasonable. Obama recently received praise in some quarters and scorn in others for distinguishing between pro-Likud and pro-Israel positions, but when it was the current Israeli Kadima government that embarked on one of the most counterproductive campaigns and suffered one of the most ignominious military failures of Israeli history (which Obama dutifully supported in the Senate) this does not really reflect all that well on his policy views. What I haven’t seen anyone mention is that Obama endorsed the same campaign in Lebanon in terms that would have been quite satisfactory to John Hagee. By the conventional definition of these things, this means that Obama is clearly not “anti-Israel.” However, if the sort of overreaching military responses that Hagee endorses and McCain, Lieberman and Obama all support are not really in Israel’s best interest it may not be all that desirable that Obama can demonstrate his “pro-Israel” bona fides. What the double standard of treatment means, however, is that Obama is going to have to overemphasise his willingness to endorse dangerous and reckless policies towards Iran and other Near Eastern states to overcome the completely false perception that he is somehow insufficiently “pro-Israel.”