Tuesday, August 23, 2005

The Assassination Of Pat Robertson

The fact that Pat Robertson is clinically insane is not news. The fact that Robertson periodically says stupid and inflammatory things -- also not news. I find it curious that in a climate that marginalizes people like Sean Penn or Susan Sontag, no matter how clearly and methodically they present their arguments, people like Robertson and Jerry Falwell get comparatively little heat and brief attention for things like this.

On the broadcast of the Christian television program "The 700 Club," Falwell made the following statement:

"I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America. I point the finger in their face and say 'you helped this happen.'"

Falwell, pastor of the 22,000-member Thomas Road Baptist Church, viewed the attacks as God's judgment on America for "throwing God out of the public square, out of the schools. The abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked."

But in a phone call to CNN, Falwell said that only the hijackers and terrorists were responsible for the deadly attacks.

"I do believe, as a theologian, based upon many Scriptures and particularly Proverbs 14:23, which says 'living by God's principles promotes a nation to greatness, violating those principles brings a nation to shame,'" he said.

Falwell said he believes the ACLU and other organizations "which have attempted to secularize America, have removed our nation from its relationship with Christ on which it was founded."

"I therefore believe that that created an environment which possibly has caused God to lift the veil of protection which has allowed no one to attack America on our soil since 1812," he said.

Pat Robertson, host of the 700 Club program, seemed to agree with Falwell's earlier statements in a prayer during the program.

"We have sinned against Almighty God, at the highest level of our government, we've stuck our finger in your eye," said Robertson. "The Supreme Court has insulted you over and over again, Lord. They've taken your Bible away from the schools. They've forbidden little children to pray. They've taken the knowledge of God as best they can, and organizations have come into court to take the knowledge of God out of the public square of America."

Mind you, these traitorous, despicable statements were made mere hours after we all watched the towers of the World Trade Center collapse, after we watched people jump dozens of stories rather than be burned alive, after we watched New York City get turned into a smoke-filled nightmare of chaos and pain. So maybe that's how Falwell and Robertson got away with that, because we were all still reeling from the pain and confusion.

Or maybe it's because "men of God" always get a pass. They are never held liable for the horrible things they say. If they were, they wouldn't keep saying them.

I think it's funny (and by "funny", I mean pathetic) that the media has thus far been selling this story as an "oh, that boy" kinda thing. In addition to his public America-hating seditious bullshit during our darkest hour, Robertson has been holding regular "prayer vigils" for some time now, regularly beseeching the bloodthirsty demon he pretends to worship for a vacancy to emerge in the Supreme Court. Objectively, he's publicly praying for John Paul Stevens to die.

I'm not sure whom I have more contempt for, Robertson himself, or the enabling planarians that still give him money. Frankly they can all fuck off and rot in hell.

One thing which never seems to get pointed out by the professional commentariat is the obvious -- Robertson, his followers, and undoubtedly his colleagues and their followers, are stone hypocrites. Everything they do is overtly, deliberately centered around getting religion -- their religion, of course -- as involved in politics as possible. But God forbid politics intereferes in their sacred superstition.

Look, assholes, if you don't want peanut butter all over your chocolate, then quit sticking your chocolate in everyone's peanut butter. That probably sounds filthier than it needed to, but for once, it was actually unintentional.

Another thing that struck me was how the context of all this -- both of Robertson's history and the US' history in political mal-fee-ance -- was framed by the "liberal media" in its coverage. Let's look at a few examples.

Los Angeles Times:

The scope of Robertson's influence drew considerable debate. His syndicated television program, which had only recently been described as reaching an audience of at least a million, has drawn an average audience of 863,000 a day during the 2004-2005 television season, according to Nielsen Media Research.

His political reach was at an apex in the 1988 presidential campaign.

However, a leading national evangelical figure said Robertson's influence among evangelicals in the United States had ebbed.

"He's an old man and there's a group of old women and old men who watch him," said this leader, who asked to remain anonymous because he said he respected Robertson's past ministry and also did not want to alienate Robertson's followers. "The spokespeople for evangelicalism are significantly distanced from him politically and spiritually. The Moral Majority days are long gone. It's a different world."

Bullshit. This is someone who has had his own TV show and network for decades, who has publicly claimed to have spoken and counseled with presidents, including the current seat-warmer. To try to downplay Robertson's wealth and political connections, to insist that he only speaks to a few addled pensioners is about as disingenuous as it gets. His viewers are certainly addled, and most are probably too old and feeble to get the remote and turn it to something more rewarding, like a snuff film, but Robertson still has pull.

In fact, call me crazy, but I've always had a sneaking suspicion that his quixotic presidential campaign back in 1988 was a briar-patch maneuver to secure the extra-chromosome vote to hand off to Poppy Bush. Nothing would surprise me with this gang anymore.

USA Today:

The United States was believed in the past to have been involved in the assassination in 1963 of South Vietnam President Ngo Binh Diem and attempts to assassinate Fidel Castro of Cuba.

Political assassination was put off-limits by former President Gerald R. Ford in an executive order in the mid-1970s.

[Note also the photo of Robertson shaking hands with Donald Rumsfeld, which puts him two degrees from Saddam Hussein, and five from Kevin Bacon. -- ed.]

Heh. That's all they have to say about decades of Cold War meddling in over a dozen countries around the world by the US. We might have got Diem and gosh, we tried to get Castro, but were mesmerized by his beard. It's really hypnotic if you're not careful.

Of course, the US Media can always count on the American public to be too gulled by "God Bless George Bush" t-shirts and repeated exposure to American Idol to have any clue as to who Lumumba or Mossadegh or Allende were, and how their respective overthrows affected history and how other countries still view us.

Nice try. Why, we would never think of fomenting or bankrolling a nasty coup against dear Mister Chavez! Gerald Ford made it illegal! Gee, I guess that settles all that don't it?

And of course the Venezuelans are real thrilled about all this too, as well they should be. Should we worry? Maybe. We may be their biggest customer, but Chavez has cultivated ties with the Chinese, including deals for oil and weapons. He's already trying to steer his country toward the day when they don't have to take our shit anymore.

Imagine, for a second, if some asshole crony of Chavez publicly popped off about "taking out" Bush. Regardless of your feelings about Bush, you'd want something done about it, right?

So what are we gonna do? Well, nothing, obviously. We'll all just sit and pretend that Pat Robertson is just a harmless old coot who says funny things once in a while, but no one listens to him.

It's a goddamned lie. The Republican Party has an attic full of crazy aunts; Robertson's just the one who slipped out this week.


Craig Heath said...

I don't think I have ever seen a more brilliant use of a banal mid-80's commercial tag line as a cultural touchstone than your "chocolate / peanut butter" reference. Sweet.

And thank you for saying plainly that the "old coot" ruse is just that - a way to get him and his nutter ideas under our radar. Can you say "Trial Balloon"?

The only difference between Diem (and all of D'em) and what Pat proposes is the idea that maybe we are dropping the mask. Maybe we want to come right out and choose assassination as a "practical" move, as this Jesus-addled snake-oil-salesman proposes. After all, it would be "cheaper" than a full out war.

And hey, "the oil shipments won't stop". So why worry?

Heywood J. said...


Mucho huevos garcias for the mad props. It is well known that I blush and giggle like a Japanese schoolgirl at the word "brilliant" -- which unfortunately got me kicked out of the Brilliant Academy For The Academically Brilliant when I was but a pup.

If you liked that Reese's riff, wait till I perfect my catchy updating of the old "where's the beef?" schtick.

Anyway....I actually hadn't thought about "trial balloon" too terribly much. Usually that sort of serious CIA spook stuff is floated by creatures like Chuck Krauthammer. It's possible, but I tend to doubt it.

The thing is, as much as these guys profess their Christianity and iron it to their sleeves for all to ooh and aah over, the fact is that they're insincere. Oh, Bush might go to church every now and again, and he may even really believe in God, or think he does. But obviously these people use faith in a very cynical way. It's a marketing strategy for them.

Robertson is cynical too, but in a more covert way. He's known to have financial interests in extraction industries (diamond mines, oil exploration, etc.) in troublesome Third World countries. So he is after money.

But he also seems to sincerely believe the crazy shit he spouts. This cannot be anything but troubling to a corporate-style management team like Cheneyco. They prefer to float their bad ideas and twisted fantasies either through professional fake loons like Limbaugh and Coulter, or "serious" inbred Beltway poodles like Novakula or, again, Krauthammer.

So I do think Robertson actually stepped off the reservation on this one. It wouldn't be the first time. His relationship with this administration -- and remember, most of them are old Reagan/Bush I cronies -- is strangely symbiotic, and dates back to his own glory days of the mid-80s.

But Christianity has been co-opted and commodified by groups with much more corporate-style hierarchies -- and thus much more predictable, reliable, and useful to the political hacks who covet that voting bloc.

So the neo-cons have let him hang out this long because of old times, but they have nothing left to lose by kicking him to the curb at this point. They have far better salesmen targeting that demographic, without all the baggage. Pat Robertson is about as relevant at this point as a Human League reunion tour. He just doesn't get it yet, because he really is crazy.

But I find the seeming unanimity amongst the punditocracy to be just a little too coincidental and convenient. A little too....well, pat. They can try to marginalize and downplay him all they want, but the track record is out there.

This is someone whose counsel Bush sought as he prepared to invade Iraq. This is someone who has fancied himself a political pundit for quite some time, and has been praying for Supreme Court justices to die already. You know the list. The guy is shithouse-rat crazy, but also allowed access to the power elite. This is unconscionable.

The quick timing and the multi-part harmony of the journamalistic class has just been amazingly disingenuous. Just when you thought they couldn't get any lazier or more craven.

The fact that they haven't forcefully disavowed Robertson's meddling lunacy indicates to me that they're a bit scared. They've lost support on all fronts, and really are in danger of losing huge in the midterms if the Democrats get it together. (Big if, of course.)

So they're gun-shy on losing any of the extra-chromosomers, so they go to plan B -- feint with a "Pat who?", and take a deep breath, wait for the news cycle to click over to pre-9/11 coverage in a week or so.

That's their strategy with every fuck-up -- they just wait it out. People always forget. Most Americans have no clue as to where or what a Venezuela might be.

Mitch said...

The fact that they haven't forcefully disavowed Robertson's meddling lunacy indicates to me that they're a bit scared.

Did you happen to catch Trent Lott on TDS earlier? When the conversation turned to the religious bloc, he started acting like a battered wife.

Lott seems like he could be halfway decent if he went through some grueling sessions on the couch, followed by a few weeks of holding therapy. He's dying to get his hair mussed.

"Imagine, for a second, if some asshole crony of Chavez publicly popped off about "taking out" Bush. Regardless of your feelings about Bush, you'd want something done about it, right?"

Fascinating. Tell us more ...

Heywood J. said...


Yeah, I saw Lott on TDS. I had heard him earlier that day on NPR, actually, and was somewhat surprised by how reasonable and collegial he was.

Lott's never been a real firebrand, but I think after being taken aback by his weird obeisance to the wizened coot Thurmond (who at the end looked like Grandpa from the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre), perhaps we expect someone more hacky and blindly partisan.

And that toupée of his is something glorious to behold. I haven't seen a rug like that since Howard Cosell's days in the booth with Giff and Dandy Don.

As for my comment about what if the tables were turned, don't read too much into "you'd want something done about it". I don't mean start a war over such a comment or anything. But demanding an abject apology or facing sanctions at the very least would be required. That kind of shit just cannot stand in civilized countries.

Which is why we'll have forgotten about the whole thing by Labor Day.

jurassicpork said...

"His viewers are certainly addled, and most are probably too old and feeble to get the remote and turn it to something more rewarding, like a snuff film..."

Dude, that's one that's worthy of Driftglass and the Rude Pundit.

I've been writing about Robertson on my blog for two weeks now, specifically in my Assclowns of the Week feature.

It was kind of shocking to discover that Falwell and Robertson made those comments just hours after the planes hit. It ain't the terrorists who are the problem, you know, it's the damnned lib'rals, ya know!

Apparently, Baby Jebus is scared shitless of us danged lib'rals.