Pastor Patrol

That, and other news, in today’s Political Panorama.

It took a while, but John McCain has rejected and denounced two high-profile televangelists: John Hagee and Rod Parsley. The final straw for the former was the revelation of a comment Hagee made in which he said that Adolf Hitler was fulfilling God’s will by forcing Jews back to Palestine. The latter described Islam as an “anti-Christ” religion.

McCain, who has had a tenuous relationship with the religious right, courted their support this cycle, to the point where he declined to drop Hagee even well after it was known that the Texas pastor had a propensity for wacky pronouncements. (Catholics=”the great whore”). Many bloggers and some mainstream journalists pressed the double standard of it all, with Barack Obama’s campaign nearly derailed over Rev. Jeremiah Wright while Hagee and Parsley went largely unnoticed. But that was destined to change as time went on and progressive media outlets continued to produce pieces like this one, from Robert Greenwald’s Brave News Films.

The irony is that, given that the pastors are televangelists, their body of work is presumably much more accessible, available and familiar — and perhaps that is one reason why they didn’t have as great an impact in the way that Wright did. From the PTL scandals of the 1980s to Pat Robertson’s post-9/11 rants, it’s kind of what we’ve come to expect from the televangelists. Just turn on the TV any day to see Trinity Broadcasting (where Hagee has a time slot), and it is a bizarre stew of religious zealotry and Rococco stagecraft. It was McCain who called leaders on the religious right “agents of intolerance” in 2000 — so he knew what kind of territory he was venturing into as he courted their support this election cycle. That’s why it’s all the more intriguing that it has backfired.

Republicans in Hollywood: As I mentioned earlier this week, Republicans in Hollywood are organizing a big push for McCain, and today the Washington Times runs a list of McCain supporting celebrities. Among them: Wilford Brimley, Dick Van Patten and Rip Torn, all of whom have contributed. Suffice it to say, it does run longer, but what to watch for is if the Republican nominee gets any Clinton backers should she fail in her quest for the Democratic nod.

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