On October 25, while an overflow crowd of 1,500 poured into the first convention of the progressive-leaning Israel-oriented lobbying organization J Street, Elie Wiesel addressed a crowd of 6,000 Christian Zionists at Pastor John Hagee’s “Night To Honor Israel.” According to the San Antonio Express News, while Wiesel sat by his side, Hagee trashed President Barack Obama, baselessly accusing him of “being tougher on Israel than on Russia, Iran, China and North Korea.”
Meanwhile, Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren, who appeared at Hagee’s Christians United for Israel summit earlier this year, rejected J Street’s request to speak at their convention, instead dispatching a low-level embassy official to “observe” the event. Oren then accused J Street of “impair[ing] Israel’s interests.”
In blessing Hagee while damning J Street, Wiesel and Oren chose an anti-Semitic group led by a far-right End Times theology preacher over a fledgling progressive organization that bills itself as “pro-Israel, pro-peace.” And both Wiesel and Oren seem to be embroiled in yet another controversy over involvement with the extremist preacher.
During the 2008 presidential campaign, Senator John McCain avidly sought Hagee’s endorsement, appearing by the pastor’s side during a widely publicized press conference to announce it. McCain was intent on winning a seal of approval from a figure of the Christian right, especially since he had lambasted Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson in the 2000 Republican presidential primaries.
Hagee: The Antichrist will be “partially Jewish…as Hitler was”
Bob McDonnell and his mentor Pat Robertson in 2007
Last summer, after Virginia state Senator Creigh Deeds crushed his rivals in the Democratic gubernatorial primary, a veteran Democratic consultant named Lowell Feld offered the Deeds campaign some advice. Feld told me he urged Deeds to immediately launch an attack campaign painting his Republican rival, state Attorney General Bob McDonnell, as “Pat Robertson’s Manchurian Candidate.” If Deeds wavered, Feld was convinced McDonnell could make inroads in the liberal-leaning but fiercely competitive suburbs of Northern Virginia.
While many Republican candidates pander to the Christian right to win elections in evangelical-heavy states, McDonnell has done exactly the opposite in the Virginia governor’s race: He’s appealing to the sensibilities of comparatively moderate Northern Virginian voters. But that’s not because he’s a moderate. In fact, McDonnell is a consummate culture warrior; a graduate of Pat Robertson’s law school, Regent University, and a personal friend of the far-right televangelist, who donated heavily to his past campaigns.
During an appearance on Robertson’s 700 Club in 2007, McDonnell said his four years at Regent “gave me the insight about what our Founders believed about government and about their view of the Constitution that I’ve been carrying with me on the job today.”
Before I first appeared on Morning Joe on September 22, I was warned about Joe Scarborough’s tendency to filibuster guests he does not agree with, and to do so in a belligerent manner. But to my surprise, the former Republican congressman proved a remarkably genial host, presiding over a civil but spirited discussion of my book, Republican Gomorrah and extremism in the GOP.
Perhaps Joe’s civility was rooted in cluelessness; when I was announced on the set as “the YouTube Michael Moore,” Scarborough excitedly asked a producer if I was “the ACORN guy,” referring to James O’Keefe, the young right-wing activist whose hidden cameras prompted a congressional investigation into the Obama-linked community- organizing group. Nevertheless, by the end of my segment, Joe promised to bring me back on. “I want to debate you more on this,” Scarborough insisted.
I returned on October 7, just days after Scarborough instigated a food fight with Rush Limbaugh, by criticizing his higher-rated competitor for celebrating Obama’s failure to secure the 2016 Olympics for Chicago. Scarborough opened the segment by launching a scattershot of breathless accusations at me, including that I was being “intolerant” of evangelical Christians “concerned by the radicalism of the 1960s.”
NPR’s Here And Now aired Robin Young’s interview with me today. We were able to cover lots of new territory in the interview, from the roles of Francis Schaeffer and R.J. Rushdoony in inspiring the Christian right’s tactics and goals, to Dwight Eisenhower’s prophecy about the radical right, to the birth of the terrorist wing of the anti-abortion movement, to the weird intersection of the LaRouche cult and the anti-Obama crazies. Listen to it at the 4:20 mark here.