When Joe Lieberman agreed to headline John Hagee’s Christians United For Israel Washington Summit, it was some months ago, before the political controversy over Hagee’s radical worldview, and before even John McCain decided Hagee is a little too nutty to be associated with. I thought it was at least possible that Lieberman, citing his loyalty to McCain, would back out of the event.
Mr. Lieberman was greeted by a boisterous standing ovation in a room decked out with United States and Israeli flags. “I am your brother Joseph,” he said.
Asserting that Mr. Hagee had worked hard to fight anti-Semitism, Mr. Lieberman said: “I don’t agree with everything Pastor Hagee has said, and I can safely say that the pastor doesn’t agree with everything that I’ve said. But there’s so much more than that that we agree on.”
Mr. Lieberman added, “I will tell you tonight the bond that I feel with Pastor Hagee and each and every one of you is much stronger than that and I am proud to stand with you tonight.”
I argued a while back that Lieberman either a) has no idea what Hagee believes, but stands by him anyway; or b) knows what Hagee believes, but doesn’t care. Given Lieberman’s speech last night, it’s clearly the latter.
Indeed, Lieberman acknowledged the controversy surrounding Hagee, and proceeded to compare the radical evangelical to Moses. Seriously.
A friend of mine alerted me to this transcript of Lieberman’s remarks:
“The political controversy that has swirled around Pastor Hagee reminds me of one of the unique lessons in the Bible about leadership. In Greek mythology, the leaders were flawless and virtual demi-gods. It was impossible for mere mortals to try to emulate them. The heroes of the Bible, however, are humans, great humans, but with human failings.
“Even Moses fell short of God’s expectations. He made a mistake and hit the rock rather than speaking to it as God commanded. His sister, the prophetess Miriam, sinned too when she spoke badly about Moses. But this didn’t make Moses and Miriam bad people or failed leaders. Their shortcomings were only part of the larger fabric of their remarkable lives of faith and service. And that’s the way the Bible and those who read it view them.
“And that’s why I would say Moses and Miriam were fortunate that they did not live in the merciless attack-counterattack political culture of our time which would undoubtedly have stressed their shortcomings and ignored their great deeds. I can only imagine what the bloggers of their day would have had to say about Moses and Miriam.”
Keep in mind, Lieberman thinks liberal bloggers are foul-mouthed, and political leaders shouldn’t be associated with groups like MoveOn.org, but John Hagee is respectable because of his life work fighting anti-Semitism and building bridges between Christians and Jews.
I see. So, Lieberman is fine with the fact that Hagee’s support for Israel is “rooted in the belief that the Jewish state will — soon — be the site of Armageddon,” and his “brand of Christian Zionism closely links support for Israel to the end of the world and the conversion of the Jews to Christianity.”
And Lieberman is fine with the fact that Hagee believes Jews have been persecuted over the centuries, but it’s their own fault.
And Lieberman is fine with the fact that Hagee’s “support” for Israel is rooted in the notion that Hagee welcomes Israel’s destruction.
It’s not that Hagee loves Israel, so much as he foresees a blood-soaked war in the Middle East that leads to Jesus’ return, at which point the Jews who survive will become Christians. This is the man Lieberman wants to be associated with — and publicly compares to Moses.
For that matter, I’m emphasizing Jewish concerns, but let’s not forget that Hagee has also levied jaw-dropping attacks against Catholics, African Americans, women, Muslims, and gays.
The NYT reported, “Over 40,000 signatures were delivered to Mr. Lieberman’s office encouraging him not to speak at the event.” For the sake of what’s left of his reputation, he really should have listened.