Hat-tip to Echidne:
[Link] In a perfect world, a reporter at last week’s press conference with George Bush and Tony Blair would have asked Bush, in the presence of his principal European ally, if he believes the European Union is the Antichrist.
Although it sounds like the kind of Pat Robertson lunacy that makes even the wingnuts run for the nearest exit, it’s a question Bush should be forced to answer. Bush and other leading Republicans have lined up behind a growing movement of Christian Zionists for whom a European Antichrist figures prominently in an end-times scenario. So they should be forced to explain to the rest of us why they’re courting the votes of people who believe our allies are evil incarnate. Could it be that the central requirement for their breathlessly anticipated Armageddon — that the United States confront Iran — happens to dovetail so nicely with the neoconservative war agenda?
At the center of it all is Pastor John Hagee, a popular televangelist who leads the 18,000-member Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas. While Hagee has long prophesized about the end times, he ratcheted up his rhetoric this year with the publication of his book, “Jerusalem Countdown,” in which he argues that a confrontation with Iran is a necessary precondition for Armageddon and the Second Coming of Christ. In the best-selling book, Hagee insists that the United States must join Israel in a preemptive military strike against Iran to fulfill God’s plan for both Israel and the West. Shortly after the book’s publication, he launched Christians United for Israel (CUFI), which, as the Christian version of the powerful American Israel Public Affairs Committee, he said would cause “a political earthquake.”
Of course, moderate Republicans would shrink at the thought. Why, of course they aren’t that bad! They support the war on Iran for secular, rational reasons! Their kill-all-Muslims rhetoric is the center between moonbats who don’t want to embark on a costly bombing that will kill many civilians and still achieve nothing, and wingnuts who want to bring on Armageddon. Except, of course, that
Republican National Committee Chair Ken Mehlman told the group that “no regime is more central to the global jihad” than Iran. Just two days before, Newt Gingrich and John McCain made the rounds of the Sunday talk shows to sound the same message, leading Benny Elon, a member of the Israeli Knesset, to comment to the Jerusalem Post that their remarks originated with Hagee.
Benny Elon may be an extremist who thinks Israel should rule both Israel and Palestine and the region’s Arab inhabitants must be thrown off to Jordan, but he’s honest. Unless I see strong evidence that McCain, that maverick who was considered a possible Kerry running mate in 2004, is not connected to Hagee, I can presume he is.
What’s really happening is that a group of powerful Christian theocrats is at one extreme. That includes McCain, whose moderate persona is as real as the liberal persona of Howard “I opposed the war on Iraq as soon as I realized it was an oil well of votes” Dean. The other extreme isn’t the left; it’s Ahmadinejad, Al Sadr, and Nasrallah.
We the people who just want to live our lives peacefully without being bombed and without bombing others for no good reason are the sensible side of all this. As far as I’m concerned, Hagee’s 18,000 followers and 18,000 followers of Sadr can go to an island and kill each other all they like.
Hagee doesn’t fear a nuclear conflagration, but rather God’s wrath for standing by as Iran executes its supposed plot to destroy Israel. A nuclear confrontation between America and Iran, which he says is foretold in the Book of Jeremiah, will not lead to the end of the world, but rather to God’s renewal of the Garden of Eden. But Hagee is ultimately less concerned with the fate of Israel or the Jews than with a theocratic Christian right agenda. When Jesus returns for his millennial reign, he tells his television audience, “the righteous are going to rule the nations of the earth When Jesus Christ comes back, he’s not going to ask the ACLU if it’s all right to pray, he’s not going to ask the churches if they can ordain pedophile bishops and priests, he’s not going to ask if it’s all right to put the Ten Commandments in the statehouses. He’s not going to endorse abortion, he’s going to run the world by the word of God The world will never end. It’s going to become a Garden of Eden, and Christ is going to rule it.”
The real question shouldn’t be directed to Bush, an unpopular President who’s becoming more and more of a lame duck as time passes. It should be to McCain: why do you support John Hagee, a man who wants to trigger conflict in Iran in order to cause Armageddon?
With any luck, the Religious Right will vote him in the primary and the issue will stick, making even Hillary Clinton electable.