Fractures on the Far Right


When televangelist and San Antonio mega-church pastor John Hagee endorsed John McCain on Feb. 27, the Republican nominee must have breathed a sigh of relief. Task one for McCain's once-struggling primary campaign had been to build trust among anti-choice social conservative voters, who in 2000 were inundated with smear attacks against McCain, accusing him of being gay and fathering an African American child out of wedlock. (In fact, McCain and his wife, Cindy, have an adopted daughter from Bangladesh). The Hagee endorsement was calculated to provide McCain with instant credibility among evangelical Christian voters ahead of the March 4 Texas primary, where McCain faced the last stand of Mike Huckabee, a candidate who made Christian conservatism his calling card by vowing to amend the Constitution to outlaw abortion and same-sex marriage.

Instead, the Hagee endorsement blew up in McCain's face, exposing a key fracture within the Republican coalition: tensions between right-wing Catholics and right-wing evangelical Protestants. Catholic anti-choicers were among the first members of the religious right to flock to the McCain campaign, in part because of suspicions of anti-Catholicism within Huckabee's evangelical movement. Now McCain's Catholic supporters are incensed by their candidate's solicitation of an endorsement from a man who has long derided Catholicism, calling it "the great whore," "the apostate church," and a "false cult system." Despite loud complaints from groups and individuals across the Catholic political spectrum, McCain is refusing to denounce Hagee, saying only that he doesn't agree with all of the pastor's positions.

Of course, Hagee's overheated rhetoric extends to women. "Do you know the difference between a woman with PMS and a snarling Doberman pinscher?" he once asked. "The answer is lipstick. Do you know the difference between a terrorist and a woman with PMS? You can negotiate with a terrorist." And this Hagee tidbit is just right-wing boilerplate: "[T]he feminist movement today is throwing off authority in rebellion against God's pattern for the family."

Opposition to Hagee from the left is to be expected, but dissent among the religious right is a major concern for McCain and the Republican Party in a presidential election year. Catholics, who make up almost a third of the Ameican electorate, are considered a swing constituency in the general election; they preferred George W. Bush over John Kerry by just 5 points in 2004. Alienating Catholics could have serious consequences for McCain's presidential hopes.

Until the Hagee endorsement, right-wing Catholic leaders had been key to McCain's strategy to undo his (largely unearned) reputation as a social moderate. It's true that McCain supports stem cell research, which most anti-choicers oppose. But he has said he would appoint Supreme Court justices who would overturn Roe v. Wade, and he supports abstinence-only education and the Global Gag Rule, which prevents U.S. foreign aid from funding contraceptives and abortion in the developing world. McCain even voted against legislation that would require insurance companies to cover birth control right here in the U.S. In March 2007, when a reporter asked McCain if he believed condoms could prevent the spread of HIV, the candidate replied, "You've stumped me. … I'm not informed enough on it. Let me find out. You know, I'm sure I've taken a position on it on the past." 

Of course, McCain hasn't let his ignorance of reproductive health issues stop him from making them a major part of his campaign. As the "Straight Talk Express" rolled from Iowa and New Hampshire into the South, overt attacks on women's reproductive freedoms occupied center stage. To observers who bought into McCain's "maverick moderate" image, it seemed quixotic when former presidential candidate Sam Brownback announced his support for McCain last November. After all, the Kansas Senator and Catholic conservative opposes even rape victims' right to choose. But then a spate of extreme social conservative endorsements showed Brownback knew exactly who he was supporting: McCain is dead serious about governing on behalf of the hard right.

In South Carolina, the campaign trotted out Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn to call McCain "an unwavering voice in Congress for the rights of the unborn." A doctor himself, Coburn supports the death penalty for physicians who perform abortions. In January, McCain attracted endorsements from Cathy and Austin Ruse, a prominent couple in the Catholic anti-choice movement. Cathy is a former pro-life spokesperson for the United States' Congress of Catholic Bishops, and Austin is president of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, which lobbies the United Nations in opposition to family planning and abortion services worldwide. "We believe that abortion is the greatest civil rights issue of our day," the Ruses said in their statement of support for McCain. (No word on how the Ruses feel about income inequality or housing and workplace discrimination.) Also this winter, Sen. Mike DeWine of Ohio, a leader in the effort to ban so-called "partial-birth abortions," signed onto the McCain campaign.

With those endorsements, McCain had plenty of anti-choice credibility even before his ill-fated pas de deux with John Hagee. But in his rush to the Bush right, McCain will leave no stone unturned — even if lurking underneath is the possibility of angering over 60 million American Catholics. Of course, McCain has never been a shoe-in for the Catholic vote; ironically, polls show that like most Americans, Catholics believe abortion should be generally legal. Just more evidence to support the fact that John McCain's views on reproductive health lie well outside of the mainstream.

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  • invalid-0

    “polls show that like most Americans, Catholics believe abortion should be generally legal…”

    What polls. You are out of touch with reality. This is simply a lie.

  • invalid-0

    about what every single person who identifies as Catholic should believe but it doesn't mean it's true or that it should be true. You are free, because of the religious freedom we are blessed with in this country, to believe whatever you wish. However, if you then believe that your religion should dictate public policy for all, you are infringing on my religious freedom. That said, here are some polls that confirm Dana's assertion:

    http://www.catholicvote.net/issues/additional_resources/2004democrats.htm http://www.pollingreport.com/abortion.htm

    (You'll need to scroll down to find the CBS poll that asked Catholics their opinions on abortion laws)

  • scott-swenson

    Here is one survey from 2004 that indicates rank-and-file Catholics consider themselves pro-choice 53% to 45%, with Democrats and Independents even stronger, and only Republicans considering themselves pro-life.

    There are many polls I've seen working on a range of issues that demonstrate the political hierarchy of the Catholic and Evangelical movements are significantly out of step with the reality people in the pews deal with in their own lives.

    Be the change you seek,

    Scott Swenson, Editor

  • http://danagoldstein.typepad.com invalid-0

    I’d also encourage everyone to take a look at the PDF I link to in the piece, compiled by Catholics for Choice. The Catholic rank and file IS of a different mind on these issues than the hierarchy.

  • invalid-0

    Don’t believe one optimistic word from any public figure about the economy or humanity in general. They are all part of the problem. Its like a game of Monopoly. In America, the richest 1% now hold 1/2 OF ALL UNITED STATES WEALTH. Unlike ‘lesser’ estimates, this includes all stocks, bonds, cash, and material assets held by America’s richest 1%. Even that filthy pig Oprah acknowledged that it was at about 50% in 2006. Naturally, she put her own ‘humanitarian’ spin on it. Calling attention to her own ‘good will’. WHAT A DISGUSTING HYPOCRITE SLOB. THE RICHEST 1% HAVE LITERALLY MADE WORLD PROSPERITY ABSOLUTELY IMPOSSIBLE. Don’t fall for any of their ‘humanitarian’ CRAP. ITS A SHAM. THESE PEOPLE ARE CAUSING THE SAME PROBLEMS THEY PRETEND TO CARE ABOUT. Ask any professor of economics. Money does not grow on trees. The government can’t just print up more on a whim. At any given time, there is a relative limit to the wealth within ANY economy of ANY size. So when too much wealth accumulates at the top, the middle class slip further into debt and the lower class further into poverty. A similar rule applies worldwide. The world’s richest 1% now own over 40% of ALL WORLD WEALTH. This is EVEN AFTER you account for all of this ‘good will’ ‘humanitarian’ BS from celebrities and executives. ITS A SHAM. As they get richer and richer, less wealth is left circulating beneath them. This is the single greatest underlying cause for the current US recession. The middle class can no longer afford to sustain their share of the economy….. Their wealth has been gradually transfered to the richest 1%. One way or another, we suffer because of their incredible greed. We are talking about TRILLIONS of dollars. Transfered FROM US TO THEM. Over a period of about 27 years. Thats Reaganomics for you. The wealth does not ‘trickle down’ as we were told it would. It just accumulates at the top. Shrinking the middle class and expanding the lower class. Causing a domino effect of socio-economic problems. But the rich will never stop. They will never settle for a reasonable share of ANYTHING. They will do whatever it takes to get even richer. Leaving even less of the pie for the other 99% of us to share. At the same time, they throw back a few tax deductible crumbs and call themselves ‘humanitarians’. Cashing in on the PR and getting even richer the following year. IT CAN’T WORK THIS WAY. Their bogus efforts to make the world a better place can not possibly succeed. Any ‘humanitarian’ progress made in one area will be lost in another. EVERY SINGLE TIME. IT ABSOLUTELY CAN NOT WORK THIS WAY. This is going to end just like a game of Monopoly. The current US recession will drag on for years and lead into the worst US depression of all time. The richest 1% will live like royalty while the rest of us fight over jobs, food, and gasoline. Crime, poverty, and suicide will skyrocket. So don’t fall for all of this PR CRAP from Hollywood, Pro Sports, and Wall Street PIGS. ITS A SHAM. Remember: They are filthy rich EVEN AFTER their tax deductible contributions. Greedy pigs. Now, we are headed for the worst economic and cultural crisis of all time. SEND A “THANK YOU” NOTE TO YOUR FAVORITE MILLIONAIRE. ITS THEIR FAULT. I’m not discounting other factors like China, sub-prime, or gas prices. But all of those factors combined still pale in comparison to that HUGE transfer of wealth to the rich. Anyway, those other factors are all related and further aggrivated because of GREED. If it weren’t for the OBSCENE distribution of wealth within our country, there never would have been such a market for sub-prime to begin with. Which by the way, was another trick whipped up by greedy bankers and executives. IT MAKES THEM RICHER. The credit industry has been ENDORSED by people like Oprah, Ellen, Dr Phil, and many other celebrities. IT MAKES THEM RICHER. Now, there are commercial ties between nearly every industry and every public figure. IT MAKES THEM RICHER. So don’t fall for their ‘good will’ BS. ITS A LIE. If you fall for it, then you’re a fool.. If you see any real difference between the moral character of a celebrity, politician, attorney, or executive, then you’re a fool. WAKE UP PEOPLE. THEIR GOAL IS TO WIN THE GAME. The 1% club will always say or do whatever it takes to get as rich as possible. Without the slightest regard for anything or anyone but themselves. Reaganomics. Their idea. Loans from China.. Their idea. NAFTA. Their idea. Outsourcing. Their idea. Sub-prime. Their idea. The commercial lobbyist. Their idea. The multi-million dollar lawsuit.. Their idea. $200 cell phone bills. Their idea. $200 basketball shoes. Their idea. $30 late fees. Their idea. $30 NSF fees. Their idea. $20 DVDs. Their idea. Subliminal advertising. Their idea. Brainwash plots on TV. Their idea… Prozac, Zanex, Vioxx, and Celebrex. Their idea. The MASSIVE campaign to turn every American into a brainwashed, credit card, pharmaceutical, love-sick, couch potatoe, celebrity junkie. Their idea. All of the above shrink the middle class, concentrate the world’s wealth and resources, and wreak havok on society. All of which have been CREATED AND ENDORSED by celebrities, athletes, executives, entrepreneurs, attorneys, and politicians. IT MAKES THEM RICHER. So don’t fall for any of their ‘good will’ ‘humanitarian’ BS. ITS A SHAM. NOTHING BUT TAX DEDUCTIBLE PR CRAP.. In many cases, the ‘charitable’ contribution is almost entirely offset.. Not to mention the opportunity to plug their name, image, product, and ‘good will’ all at once. IT MAKES THEM RICHER. These filthy pigs even have the nerve to throw a fit and spin up a misleading defense with regard to ‘tax revenue’. ITS A SHAM. THEY SCREWED UP THE EQUATION TO BEGIN WITH. ITS THEIR OWN DAMN FAULT. If the middle and lower classes had a greater share of the pie, they could easily cover a greater share of the federal tax revenue. They are held down in many ways because of greed. Wages remain stagnant for millions because the executives, celebrities, athletes, attorneys, and entrepreneurs, are paid millions. They over-sell, over-charge, under-pay, outsource, cut jobs, and benefits to increase their bottom line. As their profits rise, so do the stock values. Which are owned primarily by the richest 5%. As more United States wealth rises to the top, the middle and lower classes inevitably suffer. This reduces the potential tax reveue drawn from those brackets. At the same time, it wreaks havok on middle and lower class communities and increases the need for financial aid.. Not to mention the spike in crime because of it. There is a dominoe effect to consider. So when people forgive the rich for all of the above and then praise them for paying a greater share of the FEDERAL income taxes, its like nails on a chalk board. If these filthy pigs want to be over-paid, then they should be over-taxed as well. Remember: The richest 1% STILL own 1/2 of all United States wealth EVEN AFTER taxes, charity, and PR CRAP. A similar rule applies worldwide. There is nothing anyone can say to justify that. Anyway, there is usually a higher state and local burden on the middle class. They get little or nothing without a local tax increase. Otherwise, the red inks flows like a waterfall. Service cuts and lay-offs follow. Again, because of the OBSCENE distribution of bottom line wealth in this country. I can not accept any theory that our economy would suffer in any way with a more reasonable distribution of wealth. Afterall, it was more reasonable 30 years ago. Before Reaganomics came along. Before GREED became such an epidemic. Before we had an army of over-paid executives, celebrities, athletes, attorneys, investors, entrepreneurs, developers, and sold-out politicians to kiss their asses. As a nation, we were in much better shape. Lower crime rate, more widespread prosperity, stable job market, free and clear assets, lower deficit, ect. Our economy as a whole was much more stable and prosperous for the majority. WITHOUT LOANS FROM CHINA. Now, we have a more obscene distribution of bottom line wealth than ever before. We have a sold-out government, crumbling infrastructure, energy crisis, home forclosure epidemic, 13 figure national deficit, and 12 figure annual shortfall. ALL BECAUSE OF GREED. I really don’t blame the 2nd -5th percentiles. No economy could ever function without some reasonable scale of personal wealth and income. But it can’t be allowed to run wild like a mad dog. GREED KILLS. Bottom line: The richest 1% will soon tank the largest economy in the world. It will be like nothing we’ve ever seen before. and thats just the beginning. Greed will eventually tank every major economy in the world. Causing millions to suffer and die. Oprah, Angelina, Brad, Bono, Drew, and Bill are not part of the solution.. They are part of the problem. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A MULTI-MILLIONAIRE HUMANITARIAN. EXTREME WEALTH HAS MADE WORLD PROSPERITY ABSOLUTELY IMPOSSIBLE. WITHOUT WORLD PROSPERITY, THERE WILL NEVER BE WORLD PEACE OR ANYTHING EVEN CLOSE. GREED KILLS. IT WILL BE OUR DOWNFALL. Of course, the rich will throw a fit and call me a madman. Of course, their ignorant fans will do the same. You have to expect that. But I speak the truth. If you don’t believe me, then copy this entry and run it by any professor of economics or socio-economics. Then tell a friend. Call the local radio station. Re-post this entry or put it in your own words. Be one of the first to predict the worst economic and cultural crisis of all time and explain its cause. WE ARE IN BIG TROUBLE.

    By the way. Save the jealousy, envy, socialist, communist crap. My God people. Look a little deeper. I didn’t even write this. I just happen to agree with most of it.