Deal Hudson: "McCain Campaign Learns Its Lesson About Catholics"
Deal Hudson writes at InsideCatholic:
After nearly thirty-six hours of escalating criticism from Bill Donohue of the Catholic League, Sen. John McCain issued a press release late this afternoon:My Comments:"Yesterday, Pastor John Hagee endorsed my candidacy for president in San Antonio, Texas. However, in no way did I intend for his endorsement to suggest that I in turn agree with all of Pastor Hagee's views, which I obviously do not.For McCain to make this admission on the eve of the Texas primary shows his determination to reach out to Catholic voters -- that he got himself into this situation in the first place, well, it didn't need to happen.
"I am hopeful that Catholics, Protestants and all people of faith who share my vision for the future of America will respond to our message of defending innocent life, traditional marriage, and compassion for the most vulnerable in our society."
Gov. Mike Huckabee had already received torrents of criticism for speaking at Pastor Hagee's church several months ago -- anyone following the primary campaign would have seen at least some mention of it.
That McCain would fall into the same trap, when he has the nomination virtually won and is already preparing for the general election, is, and it has to be said, simply a campaign mistake. (I understand the adjustments have already been made inside campaign headquarters so that there will be no repeat offenses toward Catholic voters.)
I think it is a certainty that the McCain campaign has learned a lesson about Catholics.
Bill Donohue, in his response to the McCain press release, accepts McCain at his word but wishes he had gone as far in his repudiation of anti-Catholic bias as George W. Bush in letter to Cardinal O'Connor in the 2000 campaign.
It is not without irony that Bush's apology to Catholics was necessitated by the McCain campaign's pointing out the anti-Catholic statements it found buried in the web site of Bob Jones University where Bush had appeared.
I always thought McCain's criticism of Bush's speaking at Bob Jones University - something that presidential candidates had done for years - was completely bogus. Remember this?
In calls made to Michigan voters McCain's campaign personnel said that Bush "stayed silent [about] anti-Catholic bigotry...[while] seeking the support of Southern fundamentalists."
There's not an ounce of anti-Catholicism in George W. Bush's body. Nor is he the type of person who would be insensitive to such issues. The McCain camp, as Hudson notes, had to dig for something on the Bob Jones U website in order to try to tar Bush with the anti-Catholic nonsense.
Thus, I find it not only ironic, but his just desserts that Mr. Straight Talk is now having to backpeddle away from Hagee and dig himself out of a hole of his own making, after doing exactly what he accused Bush of doing in 2000: staying silent about anti-Catholic bigotry while seeking the support of Southern fundamentalists. Serves him right, the hypocrite!