John McCain needed an evangelical to embrace and send a message to the Christian right that he will do their bidding, even if he's not quite one of them. He settled on San Antonio End-Timer John Hagee.
Hagee's bizarre theology would be harmless enough (perhaps) if confined to his multimillion-dollar temple. But John Hagee has a constituency that extends beyond his congregation. He used that constituency to build a foreign-policy advocacy organization--Christians United for Israel (CUFI)--that is now pressing for a pre-emptive war with Iran. CUFI brought 4,500 End Times activists to Washington for its July 2006 inaugural event, followed by a day of lobbying on the Hill.
Hagee was straightforward in announcing his agenda: "The United States must join Israel in a pre-emptive military strike against Iran to fulfill God's plan for both Israel and the West," he said.
John McCain has been pressed to renounce Hagee. He cannot. Louis Farrakhan, the Nation of Islam leader, whose unsolicited "endorsement" created a problem for Sen. Barack Obama, can preach religious hate. But he works on the fringe of American religion and politics and is an unlikely guest at anyone's White House. The influence of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright--Obama's longtime pastor who is cut from a different cloth than Farrakhan--doesn't extend beyond the African-American community in Chicago.
The Republican Party, on the other hand, is deeply invested in John Hagee and his followers.