Senator Joseph Lieberman is scheduled to headline Pastor John Hagee's 2008 Christians United For Israel Washington-Israel Summit this July 22. In accepting Hagee's invitation, Lieberman became the most senior elected representative confirmed to appear at the annual gala. Last year, when Lieberman spoke at Hagee's summit, he compared the Texas televangelist to the biblical prophet Moses, dubbing him "an Ish Elochim," or "a man of God." Unless he rescinds his pledge to appear at this year's summit, Lieberman can be expected to deliver another soul-stirring tribute.
Hagee's vitriolic condemnation of Catholicism, his jeremiad declaring Hurricane Katrina divine punishment for New Orleans' hosting of a "homosexual rally," and his generally disturbing apocalyptic theology became national news last February when John McCain accepted his endorsement in a widely publicized ceremony.
While initially resisting pressure to reject Hagee's endorsement, McCain finally ended his relationship with Hagee when a sermon by the preacher describing the Holocaust as the will of God registered on the mainstream media's radar (Hear the now-infamous sermon here).
"Obviously, I find these remarks and others deeply offensive and indefensible, and I repudiate them. I did not know of them before Rev. Hagee's endorsement, and I feel I must reject his endorsement as well," McCain said on May 22.
Lieberman was aware of many of Hagee's vile statements well before McCain renounced him. On May 13, Fox News' Megyn Kelly asked Lieberman to respond to the gathering criticism of Hagee's remarks. But instead of distancing himself from Hagee's views as McCain had, Lieberman launched into a spirited defense of the televangelist, describing him as someone who "represents a lot of people in this country, particularly Christians who care about the state of Israel."
At the time, prior to McCain's sweeping renunciation, Lieberman could have reasonably claimed to be unaware of the preacher's repugnant views on the Holocaust. Now, he has no excuse for ignorance. As a key McCain surrogate who McCain may select as his running mate, Lieberman must know why Hagee is no longer welcome on the so-called Straight Talk Express.
So why the silence? Why won't Lieberman, who is married to the daughter of Holocaust survivors, end his relationship with Hagee as well? Why, in apparent defiance of the McCain campaign, does he remain scheduled to headline Hagee's upcoming summit? If Lieberman plans to continue touting his moral fiber and independence as his greatest assets, he must renounce the hate-mongering Hagee.