Both Fox News in this this piece and the NY Times in this one are giving it the college try despite McCain's previously spoken regrets and despite the fact he's not a member of the church nor did he have any kind of mentoring personal relationship with Hagee.
Fox was fair in their assessment, but Frank Rich's column for the Times reads like a rambling mess without much of a clear point, sort of like slinging mud on the wall and hoping something sticks. Somewhere in there he placed Hagee on the same level as Wright and ergo, McCain in Barack's hot seat. Here's an example:
I wonder if Mr. McCain would have given the same answer had Mr. Stephanopoulos confronted him with the graphic video of the pastor in full “Great Whore” glory. But Mr. McCain didn’t have to fear so rude a transgression. Mr. Hagee’s videos have never had the same circulation on television as Mr. Wright’s. A sonorous white preacher spouting venom just doesn’t have the telegenic zing of a theatrical black man.It's likely Hagee was more well-known than Wright before all this broke since millions of people watch his sermons on the religious network. No, he didn't have the honor of his snippets being looped on Fox or CNN but there's some obvious differences.
Hagee preaches a version of the Bible many Americans recognize--hellfire and brimstone. It's about sin--moral sin--and about the wages of sin. The Bible considers fornication immoral therefore homosexuality AND sex outside of marriage is de facto immoral. If Rich cares to look he'll find many examples of this in the Bible. By effectively calling Hagee a nut he's calling into question the book he preaches from to some degree as well.
Now, I don't personally agree with Hagee's analogy that Katrina was the fault of N'awlens because they were hosting a gay parade that weekend. Thing is, he'd likely have said something similar had they been hosting a "proud parents of children born out of wedlock" parade or somesuch. Preachers have been doing this for ages.
On the other hand, Wright's continuously looped condemnations completely avoided moral or sexual sin and focused on government sin, which plays more towards a subversive crowd, many of whom are being told the white government is the root of all evil. It's the same blame America first mentality that permeates liberalism and voters have every right to know where Obama stands on that, since he wrote Audacity of Hope based on one of Wright's sermons.
In other words, what methodology do they propose for reaching their 'promised land'? It's a legitimate question, similar to the left's fears that Bush or other conservatives were planning to turn America into a theocracy.
Keep in mind pastor Jeremiah was preaching Democrat politics in the pulpit in 2003 before the last election, using racist conspiracy theories and even mentioning names. This goes against the separation of church and state and questions his IRS exemption as well, whereas Hagee was most likely preaching about moral sin back in 2003, perhaps hinting that a more liberal president would be more tolerant towards that end but doubtfully ever naming names or waving any campaign flags.
As Wright would probably be the first to admit, literal Biblical preaching can be offensive at times especially in regards to fornication issues, but it's a far cry from saying Jesus was black or the government created AIDS to control the African population or that America is damned because we stopped World War II by bombing Japan. Or that we're al Qaeda holding a different battle flag. That's why this Hagee thing amounts to a butterfly chase for Rich and his buddies while at the same time working in McCain's favor, since he's got many other real vulnerabilities to exploit besides this.