Saturday, January 07, 2006

Pat may be a loon, but he's our loon

Yesterday, after Pat Robertson's inspired remarks about Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's stroke as divine retribution for giving up the Israeli settlements in Gaza, I asked if we can all finally agree that Robertson is beyond the pale. A lot of us, apparently, can: the White House has condemned Pat's remarks as "wholly inappropriate and offensive," and Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's ethics and religious liberty commission, says he is "stunned and appalled that Pat Robertson would claim to know the mind of God concerning whether particular tragic events ... were the judgments of God." But tonight, I was pretty stunned myself when former Congressman-turned-Fox News talk show host John Kasich, subbing for Bill O'Reilly on "The O'Reilly Factor," offered a sort-of defense of Robertson, whom he judged to be guilty only of poor timing.

After offering some mild criticism of Robertson while questioning Christian radio talk show host Janet Folger, Kasich inquired of his other guest, Fordham University media studies chairman Paul Levinson:


John Kasich: Your feelings about this, Mr. Levinson? I mean --- is the media sort of grabbing onto everything Pat says and tries to blow it up? I mean, you saw his statement, right? It wasn't a statement out of some mean guy -- he claims that he was quoting the book of Joel, and if you read the Book of Joel and what it says here -- he's basically saying, it wasn't him, it was something he quoted out of the scripture.

Paul Levinson: I have an enormous amount of respect for the scripture, but when people in our modern age try to apply it literally in a fanatical way, it leads to graceless, absurd statements such as Pat Robertson made. If you think about the fact -- the only other public figure who' commented about Sharon's dying being appropriate in any way is the President of Iran, who's a fundamentalist Islamic nutcase.

John Kasich: (chuckles) You're not trying to compare Pat Robertson to the--this lunatic over in Iran, are you?

Janet Folger: I hope not.

Paul Levinson: I'm comparing two people who are fundamentalists and who don't seem to have a modern view of the world -- who don't seem to understand that the Prime Minister shouldn't be judged according to scripture when he's on his deathbed.

John Kasich: So let me ask you this, then. I mean -- are you saying that what is written in the Bible cannot be applied today? You said that, you know, what we're doing is trying to apply things too literally -- don't you think that in America today, we don’t apply it at all, too much of the time?

Paul Levinson: No, I think we apply it just fine in the United States.

John Kasich: Yeah, but when we look at --

Paul Levinson: We have a diversified --

John Kasich : Yeah, but when we look at problems of character, integrity -- whether it's professional athletes, pop culture, whatever -- aren't you basically saying that, you know, let's modernize the whole book? And I think what Pat Robertson is saying, rightly or wrongly, is -- that book shouldn't be modernized. It ought to reflect what that Old Testament says.

Paul Levinson: I'm not saying that the Old Testament is wrong. I'm saying that the literal application of it to a Prime Minister who is trying to bring peace to his region when he is on his deathbed is a very inappropriate statement.

John Kasich: Fair point. Now, Janet, what I need to know from you is, when Pat does things like this or says things like this -- and I think you would agree, it wasn't the appropriate time. Agree with that? It was just not the right time to be talking about this.

Janet Folger: Look, the time you make statements like that is when you can do something about it -- don't divide the land.

John Kasich: So, inappropriate time. The question is, does Pat sort of undermine the movement when he makes a statement like this -- that he might -- which he says was taken out of context or whatever -- does it undermine the movement, the Christian movement? People say, I’m not gonna listen to that.

Janet Folger: You know - again, I'm not gonna be another voice to bully up or beat up on PR. He's free to defend himself and he's very capable of it --

John Kasich: Yeah, but I want to know what you think.

Janet Folger: -- but I don't think we should blame him for reading from the bible. And I'll be honest with you -- the way I read the Bible, it talks about -- nations that bless Israel are gonna be blessed, nations that curse Israel are gonna be cursed -- and I'll be honest with you, where I worry about the judgment being cast is that I think we need to look in the mirror -- because we're one of the groups, the nations that actually strong-armed the prime minister into giving up land, making Israel less secure. And --

John Kasich: I got you. Now -- People for the American Way, professor -- you know -- against flag desecration -- they're not like some mainstream group, you know -- they're way out there. It's like they grab everything that Pat says, they monitor everything he says. You're in communications -- have we gotten to the point now in America where, with the blogs and the 24-hour news cycle, you can't say anything? It's going to be analyzed, overanalyzed, taken out of context? Don't you think that's fair?

Paul Levinson: No. Criticism of what public figures say is a crucial part of dialogue in a democratic society, which we have. We don't live in a totalitarian state where religious or political leaders can say whatever they please and they're beyond criticism. Pat Robertson chose to say this in a public forum and I think that he's fair game for criticism. It's not the end of the world that he said it -- I don't think he should be executed, I'm not a fanatic myself --

John Kasich: Yeah, and I wouldn't compare him --

Paul Levinson: Well, it's an indication of what happens you apply in a fanatical, fundamentalist way --

John Kasich: Look, I don't think it's a fanatical way -- it's a reading of the Old Testament -- he has his view, to label it somehow, you know, off the deep end, I don't think is fair. Janet, what I'll say to you is, I know Pat, I like him very much, he's been a great leader. He's got to be a little more careful with how he says things and when he says things.

(The complete transcript of the segment can be found here.)

So, let me see if I'm getting this straight. What Pat Robertson says cannot be labeled as fanatical or "off the deep end," because his views are rooted in his reading of the Old Testament. And, of course, you can't possibly compare him to "this lunatic over in Iran," whose views are rooted in his reading of the Koran.

And no, I'm not saying that there's no difference between Pat Robertson and fundamentalist Islamic fanatics. Pat isn't urging people to strap on explosives and go blow up the infidels, nor is he calling for unchaste women to be stoned to death. But, just out of curiosity, if Pat did call for the stoning of adulteresses, would Kasich consider that "fanatical" and "off the deep end," or not? After all, that's based on a very literal reading of the Old Testament.

There's been a lot of talk in recent years about how religiously based opinions have the same right to be heard in the public square as opinions rooted in secular ideas. That's all good and fine; I certainly don't think that someone's position on any given issue is illegitimate because it's influenced by religion, and I think that a lot of the time, secular liberals have been dismissive of certain conservative views for no other reason. But if religiously based ideas should have equal access to the public square, they should not be off-limits to harsh criticism and even ridicule, any more than secular ideologies. If you can spout vicious nonsense and then have it excused on the grounds that it's your interpretation of the Bible, then maybe you don't belong in a public forum.

And how pathetic that, instead of firmly repudiating the odious Pat Robertson, Kasich should try to shoot the messenger and bizarrely suggest that it's unfair for the statements of public leaders to be analyzed too much.

More: Some of my commenters have suggested that Pat Robertson is not that important a political figure, and that his comments are being blown out of proportion. Robertson was the founder of the Christian Coalition, which played a leading role in organizing the conservative Christian base as a voting bloc in the 1990s. It's true that he stepped down as head of the Christian Coalition in 2001, and that the Coalition's political influence has waned. It is also quite true that, as this Washington Post article published last October points out, Robertson's own influence in the GOP is not at all what it used to be. Nonetheless, he is important enough that his endorsement of Bush Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers (remember her?) was treated as news by conservative media. Robertson has also met with Bush and Karl Rove; we're hardly talking about a minor figure.

54 comments:

Pooh said...

What, no instalanche for criticizing Fox News?

In all seriousness though, not having a good grasp on the internal dynamics of the hard religious right, how much influence does Robertson really have, and for how many does he speak? (Especially considering the whole 'unhinged' business, it seems prudent to not instantly generalize views which we find to be slightly nutty.)

Cathy Young said...

What, no instalanche for criticizing Fox News?

Oh, the night is still young ... or the day... or whatever...

Anyway, I do think Pat Robertson is widely regarded as one of the leaders of the conservative Christian voting base -- though I think his influence has lessened over the past few years.

And, "slightly" nutty? *G*

Paul said...

Pat Robertson needs to pray more and talk less. He is becoming a buffoon. No one can presume to speak for God !!

reader_iam said...

Robertson is a loon.

Kasich has made an ass of himself.

Ever notice how often a silly ass eventually morphs into an outright loon? Robertson, for example ...

Anonymous said...

Cathy, I'm a Christian and a Republican and nobody I know of has taken Robertson seriously in, at least, a decade. The man is a moron, a putz, and has an, at best, fleeting knowledge of the Bible.

Does the man do some good? Yes. He does some good charity and missionary work. He's still a useless slug.

HOWEVER, is he as bad as the President of Iran? No, because, unlike that President, none of Robertson's mindless babble can actually become the law of the land. Not one word.

I do think there is a difference between a guy with inane views and no political clout or power and a guy with inane views who can make his inane views law.

People need to stop overstating Pat's influence. Few take him seriously. He has little sway, at all, amongst conservatives. Heck, I'd be stunned if half of his TV audience isn't just his critics. I can't name a major Republican who actually takes the man seriously.

But, it is a little baffling that the press can catch every moronic utterance from Pat on "The 700 Club" --- but inane utterances from Cindy Sheehan or Democratic leaders seems to get lost in the shuffle.
-=Mike

mythago said...

So if the press gives space to a Michael Moore rant, they're a biased liberal media, but if they don't publicize leftist idiocy, they're unfairly targeting the right? That's a neat little package.

Kasich is apparently the sort of nitwit who claims to believe in the truth of the New Testament, yet runs and hides behind a half-assed interpretation of the Old Testament whenever they want to be hatin' on someone. It's especially ironic when they do this to club the religion that actually follows, and interprets, the Old Testament.

Anonymous said...

So if the press gives space to a Michael Moore rant, they're a biased liberal media, but if they don't publicize leftist idiocy, they're unfairly targeting the right? That's a neat little package.

If you wish to compare the treatment of, say, "Passion of the Christ" and, well, any Michael Moore movie and try to claim that there is no bias, feel free.

It's just odd that a show conservatives don't watch seems to make front page news on a nearly weekly basis. The NY Times finds this endlessly newsworthy --- but Air America stealing money from a charity? Nah, no story there.

Kasich is apparently the sort of nitwit who claims to believe in the truth of the New Testament, yet runs and hides behind a half-assed interpretation of the Old Testament whenever they want to be hatin' on someone. It's especially ironic when they do this to club the religion that actually follows, and interprets, the Old Testament.

Your knowledge of Christianity is, clearly, lacking.

The NEW Testament is the basis of the Christian faith. The Old Testament is the foundation, but the NEW is the one that is the entire basis of the entire Christian faith.
-=Mike

mythago said...

It's just odd that a show conservatives don't watch seems to make front page news on a nearly weekly basis.

It's not especially odd that when a world leader is on the edge of death, and a prominent figure on the US political scene makes a kooky remark, that the newspapers would print it. Are you really saying that if Michael Moore had said "Sharon is being punished by God for picking on the Palestinians," that it would have been buried on page 8?

but the NEW is the one that is the entire basis of the entire Christian faith.

Exactly. Which is why it's so odd when a self-professed Christian overlooks the New Testament and Jesus' dictates in favor of mining something blood-and-thundery from the Old Testament.

Anonymous said...

It's not especially odd that when a world leader is on the edge of death, and a prominent figure on the US political scene makes a kooky remark, that the newspapers would print it.

Randi Rhodes advocates the assassination of George Bush on-air.

That didn't make, you know, front page news or mentions on the nightly news.

Are you really saying that if Michael Moore had said "Sharon is being punished by God for picking on the Palestinians," that it would have been buried on page 8?

No, I'm saying it wouldn't be mentioned whatsoever. Conservative blogs would mention it, but the nightly news would ignore it and the NY Times would ignore it.

I have history to back up my assertions.

Exactly. Which is why it's so odd when a self-professed Christian overlooks the New Testament and Jesus' dictates in favor of mining something blood-and-thundery from the Old Testament.

You can't ignore the Old Testament, but the New Testament is the final word and if there is a conflict between what is said in the New and Old Testaments, the New Testament's word is the gospel.
-=Mike

Darleen said...

a prominent figure on the US political scene

How does Robertson qualify? Is he more, or less, such a figure (with a religious background) than Jesse Jackson?

Pooh said...

"Are you really saying that if Michael Moore had said "Sharon is being punished by God for picking on the Palestinians," that it would have been buried on page 8?"

No, I'm saying it wouldn't be mentioned whatsoever. Conservative blogs would mention it, but the nightly news would ignore it and the NY Times would ignore it.

I have history to back up my assertions.


Links please. I am HIGHLY skeptical that this would not be NYT worthy.

Interesting BTW that the right is minimizing Pat Robertson while miaximizing Michael Moore's influence - I'm not making a comparison, just noting the dynamic (and I think we all do this when someone on one extreme says something, ok Cathy really nutty).)

Basically this proves nothing other than that Robertson is an ass. But we knew that already. (Substitute Moore and the statement still holds true).

Anonymous said...

Links please. I am HIGHLY skeptical that this would not be NYT worthy.

The NY Times ignored Randi Rhodes advocating Bush's assassination on two seperate occasions and also chose to ignore the stealing from a children's charity that Air America engaged in. The book released that was ALL about assassinating Bush was not condemned in the slightest by the press.

Links? If they ignore the story, links will not be forthcoming, obviously.

nteresting BTW that the right is minimizing Pat Robertson while miaximizing Michael Moore's influence - I'm not making a comparison, just noting the dynamic (and I think we all do this when someone on one extreme says something, ok Cathy really nutty).)

Hmm, you had Dem Congressmen and the then-head of the DNC applauding Moore, all going to viewings of his latest fictional documentary, and embracing him.

You don't see GOP power brokers doing that with Robertson --- well, ever.
-=Mike

Y said...

I assume this is the Randi Rhodes thing.
Randi Rhodes:
Repeat offender
Radio host who ran bit threatening Bush joked about killing president 1 year ago
http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=44025

Was a very quick Google.

This is both troubling to me, and thought provoking. I do not buy the "don't worry about Pat/Rush/Ann/Bill thing, he/she/it is just a clown" stuff, because these people know that some who listen to them will take their words seriously. I worked with a guy who religiously listened to Bill O'Reilly, and spoke repeatedly of how logical O'Reilly was. This was not some one living in a trailer park in Georgia, but an ethnic Hispanic IS director at a company of about 200 people in Massachusetts. While the amount of influence and power any one on the television or radio has is open to debate, it is silly to pretend there is none.

I was raised to think that one of the marks of a character of a man (or woman) was their ability to debate and discuss issues with people that disagree with them in a logical and well thought out manner. Some might assume I had some sort of elitist background and education, but in fact, most of my growing up years and schooling was in a small town in the Midwest, and while I never remember going to bed hungry, I know I didn't grow up rich.

Calling for assassinations, nuclear weapons to go off at the State Department, bombings of the New York Times, or calls for God's wrath to be felt on San Francisco or Dover, Pennsylvania are not funny or clownish to me. Moreover, if the left-wing feels they need to imitate that style of speech, then I would look at them as just as morally and intellectually bankrupt.

It is amazing to me that the social costs (falling ratings, boycotts, sponsor withdrawal) to these people for rather uncivil statements, is nearly nothing. Does not speak very highly of our societal expectations.

thecobrasnose said...

I'm with Mike--Pat Robertson is not a spokesman for the "religious right," which is a generalization, not a political party. He isn't elected, and has no influence outside of his own flock, whatever that number might be. An equally absurd equivalent would be calling Bill Maher the chief spokesman for libertarianism because he keeps saying he is libertarian and has his own show.

Robertson said (and continues to say) contemptible things and it would be swell if he stopped getting invites to TV shows, and if the likes of Kasich stopped giving him a pass the political dialogue would be immeasurably improved.

Revenant said...

What, no instalanche for criticizing Fox News?

Be fair, Instapundit is very strong anti-Robertson.

I don't think it is necessarily absurd that Kasich is resistant to calling Robertson's comment fanatical. It wasn't any worse than countless similar statements from everyone from Noam Chomsky and Michael Moore to Ann Coulter. I can see a case for reserving the word for people who actually act on their words, such as terrorists and the like.

I do, however, think it is fair to call Pat a fanatic, because the man is deeply insane. I honestly don't think there's much difference between Pat Robertson and an Iranian Mullah, except that they have political authority and he does not. Comparing him to a terrorist would be unacceptable, because I don't think he supports mass murder. But his track record does show a pretty appalling support for dictatorship and theocracy, and I don't think he would worry himself too much if some non-Christians (or Christians of the wrong sort) died along the way.

Revenant said...

Interesting BTW that the right is minimizing Pat Robertson while miaximizing Michael Moore's influence

Well let's see. The premiere of "Fahrenheit 9/11" was attended by numerous Democratic party leaders, including DNC chair Terry McAuliffe as well as senators Daschle, Hollings, Harkin, Nelson, and Grahamn. The Democratic Party bought and distributed tickets to the film, as well as copies of the DVD. Finally, Michael Moore was given a seat of honor at the Democratic National Convention.

Now, it might be that Moore isn't actually influential. It could be that it is just that the DNC already agreed with him, and supported him because he was saying what they wanted to hear. But either way, Moore is a much higher-profile figure in Democratic circles than Robertson is in Republican circles. Robertson had no role in the 2004 election and the Republican party didn't devote its time and energy to plugging his show.

Robertson *used* to be a significant figure in Republican politics. But that was many years ago.

Pooh said...

Be fair, Instapundit is very strong anti-Robertson.

Oh come on, it was a good line nothing more...

But yeah, I basically agree with you about Robertson.

As far as Randi Rhodes, I've seriously never heard of him before this thread. (Does that prove your point or mine? I'm not sure)

Revenant said...

As far as Randi Rhodes, I've seriously never heard of him before this thread. (Does that prove your point or mine? I'm not sure)

Mike was the one who mentioned her, actually. She's a left-wing radio personality, currently on Air America.

Lori Heine said...

I appreciate the fact that Cathy specifically refers to the "CONSERVATIVE Christian voting base." The honesty is appreciated -- and much rarer than it should be. Kasich puts forward the usual Right-Wing lie that conservative Christians are the ONLY Christians when he refers to "the Christian movement," period.

I have been a Christian since I was eleven years old. I'm a devoted member of a progressive Lutheran church. I write for a magazine that ministers to gay and lesbian Christians. I am willing, in every issue, to put my full, real name on my work -- and to open myself to any loony hiding in the shadows who decides to take me on. I dare any of those on the Right, who claim I'm somehow not a "real" Christian, to claim that they risk more for the sake of their faith than I do.

People like Kasich don't even have the honesty to qualify their remarks by saying "the REAL Christian Movement" -- as opposed to what he would no doubt consider the "fake" one: those of us who supposedly want to make cats bark and dogs meow, overthrow the church and bring civilization to a fiery end.

I appreciate the level-headedness I so often find on this blog -- both from Cathy and from those who comment here. If only this sort of fair discourse were more widespread, perhaps it could help to bring this country back to its senses.

Cathy Young said...

The New York Times ignored some nutty things Randi Rhodes has said? Big deal. They also routinely ignore the nutty things Michael Savage says, and he's got a much bigger audience than Randi Rhodes.

Michael Moore was briefly welcomed by the Democrats when it seemed like Fahrenheit 9/11 could help mobilize the anti-Bush vote. As far as I know, he has, at present, no real ties to the Democratic Party. (Correct me if I'm wrong.)

As for Pat Robertson: he was the founder of the Christian Coalition, an organization that played a key role in organizing the conservative Christian base. Now, it's true that he stepped down as head of the CC in 2001, and the CC's political influence has waned. And it is quite true that, as this Washington Post article published last October points out, Pat's influence in the GOP is not at all what it used to be. Nonetheless, his endorsement of Harriet Miers was treated as news by conservative media. It is also worth noting that at least as recently as three years ago, Robertson has met with Bush and Karl Rove. We're hardly talking about a minor figure.

Cathy Young said...

Lori, thanks for the kind words. :)

thecobrasnose said...

A couple of niggling points. First, GWB amically met with Cindy Sheehan less than three years ago, but you'd hardly say they see eye to eye now. And while Randi Rhodes's audience is smaller than Robertson's, he made major headlines when he advocated the assasination of a foreign leader, she made almost none when she advocated the assassination of the President of the United States. Sure you could write it off as a hilarious Air America joke (hard to decide where to put the irony quotes in that phrase), but still worthy of widespread condemnation, no?

Cathy Young said...

How many headlines did Ann Coulter (who was much better-known than Randi Rhodes) make when she advocated the assassination of Bill Clinton?

I don't think the Cindy Sheehan analogy is really applicable here, either. Bush met with Cindy Sheehan as part of a group of mothers of soldiers killed in Iraq, not with Cindy Sheehan as a political activist/organizer.

It seems to me that there is just no disputing the fact that until recently Pat Robertson was a major political organizer of the Republican base.

Incidentally, Jay Sekulow, the head of the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), also founded by Robertson -- and apparently still a close Robertson associate -- is one of the people vetting Bush judicial picks. (That's reported in the Washington Post article I linked.)

Anonymous said...

How many headlines did Ann Coulter (who was much better-known than Randi Rhodes) make when she advocated the assassination of Bill Clinton?

Far as I'm aware, Coulter never did that. Could you provide a link?

It seems to me that there is just no disputing the fact that until recently Pat Robertson was a major political organizer of the Republican base.

His influence, legitimately, has been lowered to being nearly non-existant, and has been that way since at least 1998.

As for NewsMax mentioning his support of Miers, it was news because anybody conservative who supported her was news. She was a horrible pick.
-=Mike

Y said...

I haven't been able to find an actual recording of Ms. Rhodes show where these 'assassination threats' occurred. But from the articles (mostly in conservative press or blogs online) it seems clear that what was broadcast on her show were "skits" that she herself did not perform in, and put in the context of some generalized group of people would be so angry at something the Republican administration had done or was contemplating doing, that they would strike at the President. One of those groups being senior citizens.

Mr. Robertson's comments were not skits, nor viewed by anyone as humor or parody and quite direct in form and intent.

I can't say I find Ms. Rhodes humor that funny, but I also find it to be quite a leap to say her skit is as threatening as Mr. Robertson's call for direct action.

thecobrasnose said...

Regarding the Bush-Sheehan meeting, of course it isn’t directly equivalent to a Bush-Robertson meeting. The point is a major political leader meets with all sorts of people with whom he or she might later come to find distasteful (or vice versa), or who might be detrimental to his or her current public standing. If Hugo Chavez were found dead soon after Robertson mentioned it would be a great idea if he were killed, or if the President quoted the Bible to further the idea that God smote Sharon there might be a point to continue to exaggerate Pat Robertson’s importance to the current Republican scene.

I was raised in a majority conservative, Christian, Republican environment and don’t recall hearing a single word of praise for Pat Robertson. There’s an old saying about having no permanent allies, only permanent interests that is applicable here. Why, when few would have any political interest in Robertson is his status as ally so taken for granted? Unless somebody truly takes Robertson as a prophet or a major figure in politics at this point in time—and I don’t think anybody posting here has made that claim—why should his utterances as religious leader be taken that much more seriously than a mainstream entertainer?

mythago said...

Links? If they ignore the story, links will not be forthcoming, obviously.

Mike, you asserted that if Michael Moore had said something similar, that the mass media would ignore it and you have evidence of this. When asked to provide such evidence, you say that you will if and when it happens.

The conflict between the Old and New Testaments (or at least, certain interpretations thereof) is exactly what I was getting at. Jesus didn't teach us that we can know that God is picking on our enemies, that God sends hurricanes to kill off sinners, or that if a politician gives lands to the Palestinians, some long time after the land-giving is already underway, God might afflict somebody who disagrees with Pat Robertson's Israel policy.

The fact that Robertson had to reach into the book of Joel for flimsy support tells us quite a bit about whether his cries of "Lord, Lord" are genuine.

lori, thanks for speaking up, by the way--Robertson et al do not speak for all Christians.

C said...

Great column, Cathy. I love your stuff in Reason, too.

IMHO, Robertson has credibility among the right, but it's kind of a credibility where people respect him and his opinions, but they still seek to distance themselves from him. Kinda like Rush Limbaugh. You hear people parroting Rush, but they still qualify it in some way as to minimize his influence.

Cathy Young said...

C -- thanks.

Mike: here's the link to the Coulter quote.

For good measure, here's Coulter fantasizing about the lynching of Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta.

cobra: I'm certainly not saying that every conservative Christian household, or even most of them, took Pat Robertson seriously or regarded him as a leader. The point is still that he played a pretty major role in organizing the religious conservative base as a voting bloc.

Revenant said...

Pat's influence in the GOP is not at all what it used to be. Nonetheless, his endorsement of Harriet Miers was treated as news by conservative media.

It wasn't treated as news by Fox or the WSJ, so far as I can tell. Most of those two sources' coverage of Robertson seems to consist of reporting whatever his most recent nutty statement is, and the criticism from the left and the right that typically follows.

It is also worth noting that at least as recently as three years ago, Robertson has met with Bush and Karl Rove.

I don't think anyone is arguing that Pat Robertson is *completely* insignificant. But the President meets with and talks with many thousands of people who don't necessarily have influence over him. Indeed, in the link you provided Robertson claims that he warned Bush that Iraq would be a disaster -- does that sound like a meeting that influenced Bush?

He did run the Christian Coalition for many years. But the CC's influence peaked in 1996 (and, given that it failed to meet its goals in that year, may have been sigificantly exaggerated in the first place).

Anonymous said...

Mike: here's the link to the Coulter quote.

For good measure, here's Coulter fantasizing about the lynching of Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta.


1) I'll have to actually look at the book, considering Media Matters fairly long history of EXCEPTIONALLY selective quoting. If they included a page for the quote, it would've been easier. I also checked various left-wing sites and none of them mention a page, either, which indicates that ALL of them have the exact same source.

The moment I can actually find that quote, I'll post a comment.

2) I read that entire column. I missed any mention of lynching Mineta. Not even in the opening paragraph --- just a comment that some passengers rioted and lynched a Sec. of Transportation and some people's hopes were dashed that Mineta wasn't the one.

Not mention of her personal feelings. Her utter disdain of Norm is well-known, but she has never advocated violence. Just that Bush should've turfed him immediately and that he is too inept to have a position of any influence.

Just comments on his sheer ineptitude --- a very, very fair comment. Most conservatives want the man gone and feel his policies are the single weakest part of the entire War on Terror.

I can't say I find Ms. Rhodes humor that funny, but I also find it to be quite a leap to say her skit is as threatening as Mr. Robertson's call for direct action.

"It's God's will" is a direct call for action? Or was it his call that we should make Huge Chavez' fear of us "eliminating" him come true?

Mike, you asserted that if Michael Moore had said something similar, that the mass media would ignore it and you have evidence of this. When asked to provide such evidence, you say that you will if and when it happens.

The press ignored his comment that the 9/11 bombers made a mistake because the people they killed didn't vote for Bush.

IMHO, Robertson has credibility among the right, but it's kind of a credibility where people respect him and his opinions, but they still seek to distance themselves from him. Kinda like Rush Limbaugh. You hear people parroting Rush, but they still qualify it in some way as to minimize his influence.

I find it amazing that the people here who openly admit to BEING Republicans who state Robertson has virtually zero influence over the party are disbelieved by non-Republicans who, clearly, cannot and do not know better.

cobra: I'm certainly not saying that every conservative Christian household, or even most of them, took Pat Robertson seriously or regarded him as a leader. The point is still that he played a pretty major role in organizing the religious conservative base as a voting bloc.

He WAS once relevant. Those days passed at least 10 years ago.

As for Robertson's support of Miers, I believe Nat'l Review, who could not have opposed her more than they did, mentioned it almost as a joke.
-=Mike

Cathy Young said...

Mike: I've seen the "impeach or assassinate" quote in many places. I've never seen Ann Coulter repudiate it.

I read that entire column. I missed any mention of lynching Mineta. Not even in the opening paragraph --- just a comment that some passengers rioted and lynched a Sec. of Transportation and some people's hopes were dashed that Mineta wasn't the one.

Not mention of her personal feelings.


Oh, come on. Are you serious?

Coulter opens with a paragraph about a minister of transportation being lynched by irate passengers, and then basically says "too bad it wasn't Norman Mineta." Who do you think she's talking about when she says "some people's hopes were dashed"? Just how far are you willing to go to give so-called conservatives a pass when they engage in hateful speech?

As for Robertson, I agree that his influence has declined, but I don't think it's true that he's not newsworthy anymore.

Has anyone noticed that John Kasich, a former Republican congressman, refers to him as a "great leader"?

Y said...

Anonymous Mike, the remark by Mr. Robertson was
"You know, I don't know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it."
and then as his clarification a few days later
"I didn't say 'assassination.' I said our special forces should 'take him out.'"

Pat seems to have a bit of an issue with misquoting himself.

It seems as if part of the argument being advanced is it is regular everyday speech to say some one should be bombed or killed, and therefore, perfectly acceptable at the pundit/talking head/spokesperson level. This does not make sense to me.

I am curious about the conservative apologists’ reaction to this attempt at satire. If Randi Rhodes is comparable to Pat Robertson, then is Jesus General comparable to Ann Coulter?

Anonymous said...

The NEW Testament is the basis of the Christian faith. The Old Testament is the foundation, but the NEW is the one that is the entire basis of the entire Christian faith.
-=Mike


Mike, I think it would be an astonishingly good thing if this were as true as you seem to think it is. I am of the opinion that some substantial portion of those who consider themselves to be conservative Christians in fact pay far more heed to the old testament than the new one. And that's a shame.

--BK

Anonymous said...

Mike: I've seen the "impeach or assassinate" quote in many places. I've never seen Ann Coulter repudiate it.

And all I'm saying is that I'd like to see the quote in some context as I don't buy the selective quoting. Ann is accused of a lot of things. Some true, quite a bit blatantly false.

If I posted a quote from, say, Bill Moyers from MRC.com, would you believe that it was an accurate quote?

No, and you'd probably be quite correct in doing so.

Coulter opens with a paragraph about a minister of transportation being lynched by irate passengers, and then basically says "too bad it wasn't Norman Mineta." Who do you think she's talking about when she says "some people's hopes were dashed"? Just how far are you willing to go to give so-called conservatives a pass when they engage in hateful speech?

She has never once personally called for violence against him. Just his termination, which is a legitimate desire. There is a massive difference between calling a man incompetent and inept --- a very fair assessment --- and calling for his lynching.

As for Robertson, I agree that his influence has declined, but I don't think it's true that he's not newsworthy anymore.

Has anyone noticed that John Kasich, a former Republican congressman, refers to him as a "great leader"?


Kasich is a "former" Republican congressman, not a current one.

It seems as if part of the argument being advanced is it is regular everyday speech to say some one should be bombed or killed, and therefore, perfectly acceptable at the pundit/talking head/spokesperson level. This does not make sense to me.

Again, conservatives IGNORE Robertson. He is a running joke and has been for the better part of a decade.

If you REALLY wish to state that offensive comments from a now-obscure conservative as a sign that the right-wing has a problem with violent rhetoric, I can post comments from equally obscure left-wing sites and tar the entire left-wing side of the equation.

But, I do not.

I am curious about the conservative apologists’ reaction to this attempt at satire. If Randi Rhodes is comparable to Pat Robertson, then is Jesus General comparable to Ann Coulter?

It's funny that you seem to have no problem with the Alito parody that was 2 posts down at that site.
-=Mike

William R. Barker said...

TheCobraNose... (*SMILE*)... I agree with your unstated feeling (at least as I read them reading "between the lines") that Cathy - while certainly not a liberal or Democrat by ANY stretch of the imagination - makes a habit of going out of her way and really "reaching" in order to try and show a "balance" between the loony-left faction of the Democratic MAINSTREAM and the wacky-right of the MAINSTREM Republican Party. (*SMILE*)

Darleen... I'd go with your comparison of Robertson and Jackson... but only to a point. The difference... blacks are politically a much more homogenious voting block than Christians, therefore, black "leaders" don't dilute each other's politically partisan influence (moderate Democrat... liberal Democrat... Left Democrat... Far Left Democrat...) to the extent that mainstream protestantism is liberal Democrat leaning vs. fundamentalist "born again" protestantism which veers Republican. (And then of course we have the tensions in the Catholic Church between "traditionalists" and social activists; the "conservative" nature of the establishment in tension with the social mission.)

Lori Heine... good points which I think I've echoed above. The more I actually see and listen to Kasich the less I regret his having left Congress, HOWEVER, while I may not always agree with him or Bill O'Reilly or indeed "WHOEVER," that doesn't mean you shouldn't give them a bit more benefit of the doubt in terms of their having good intentions.

C... I don't know what circles you travel in, politically speaking, (*GRIN*)... but I can assure you from the standpoint of a guy with a fair number of years of involvement in a New York suburban/rural county Republican Committee that Pat Robertson and indeed the "religious right" in general plays no appreciable part in local, county, or even state Republican politics that I've ever seen. Hasidic Jews have MUCH MORE INFLUENCE... in BOTH the Republican and Democratic Parties in New York.

Cath... I'm begg'in ya, kiddo... get off the "Ann Coulter is the devil" bandwagon. (*GRIN*) Seriously... I know she's one of your "go to" gotcha picks... but she's simply not much more than "in your face" and yes, oftentime obnoxious, "entertainment." I think I can safely assure you, Cathy, (*SMILE*) that Coulter wasn't seriously advocating the assasination of Bill Clinton.

BILL

Richard Aubrey said...

Pat Robertson is necessary to the left.
If he didn't exist, he'd have to be invented, in order to discredit by association Christian beliefs.

Some time back, I was discussing Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton on line and a black woman said, in frustration, what makes you think we like those guys. You [not me, for sure] make those guys out to be our leaders. Isn't so.

I guess this is pretty close to the Robertson leader schtick.

Y said...

Anonymous Mike

(to use your formatting)
If you REALLY wish to state that offensive comments from a now-obscure conservative as a sign that the right-wing has a problem with violent rhetoric, I can post comments from equally obscure left-wing sites and tar the entire left-wing side of the equation.

But, I do not.


Why not? Please do! Open up a blog, collect all of the quotes and the links, and post here your blogs address. I for one would be very interested in what you find. I can think of no better way to demonstrate the validity of your argument.

So far, the only example has been one left wing radio host versus Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, and Pat Robertson. If there is more information out there, let's hear about it.

I disagree with your definition of "obscure". Depending on the source, the 700 Club's daily audience is between 700,000 and 1,000,000 viewers. While I will not argue with anyone about the relative size of that audience compared to some other show, something that has about three quarters of a million people, as an audience is by no means "obscure".

It's funny that you seem to have no problem with the Alito parody that was 2 posts down at that site.

That link, the "parody" you so kindly noticed, was the very point of the question. What trouble should I have had with this parody, from your point of view?

Revenant said...

something that has about three quarters of a million people, as an audience is by no means "obscure".

I wouldn't say that -- after all, another way of putting it is that 99.7% of Americans don't watch the show. You could easily talk to hundreds of people and not find a single one who watches the show -- especially if you're talking to educated and/or successful people, who are underrepresented in Pat's audience.

Personally I suspect that there are more conservative pundits' calls for violence than there are left-wing pundits', if only because the former significantly outnumber the latter. However, at the grass-roots level the calls for bloodshed are much more commonly heard on the left; just about every "peace" rally and anti-WTO protest in the last few years has had no shortage of banners calling for the deaths of American troops and/or Jews.

Cathy Young said...

Mike and Bill: Your double standard for right-wing and left-wing speech is so obvious, it's not even funny. Of course I know that Ann Coulter is not seriously advocating anyone's assassination or lynching. But you're not willing to make similar excuses for Randi Rhodes' Bush assassination skit, are you?

Anonymous said...

Pat is a corrupt Elmer Gantry who bilks his followers to line his own pockets. His Christian Zionism bent just happens to include a free lease for 125 acres for a biblical Disneyland-ish park on the Sea of Galillee - on land still considered by many to be 'occupied' territory.

He has diamond mines in South Africa, a band in Scotland - is a billionaire and is part of the corrupt lobbying scene in Congress.
blony@blony.com

bamaxena said...

Taken out of context? Inappropriate time? As if there were a proper context for his remarks? An appropriate time to say something as stupid and inane as what Pat Robertson said, on national, no, global television? I shudder every time he opens his mouth. Only a short while back he was calling for the assassination of the leader of Venezuela. What a lunatic. What an embarrassment. What a shame he has so many followers willing to send him so much money to keep him and his lunatic comments on the air. It's a crying shame.

Anonymous said...

Too busy to say much, but (hat tip to Andrew Sullivan) I thought I'd point out just how many Americans are on the same page as Pat Robertson (despite assertions to the contrary):

Fully 44% of Americans believe that God gave the land that is now Israel to the Jewish people while a substantial minority (36%) thinks that "the state of Israel is a fulfillment of the biblical prophecy about the second coming of Jesus." White evangelical Protestants and, to a lesser degree, African-Americans accept both of these propositions. Significantly fewer white Catholics and mainline Protestants believe Israel was granted to the Jews by God or think that Israel represents a fulfillment of the Bible's prophecy of a second coming.

It is also worth noting that this 2003 Pew poll pointed out how many white evangelicals(83%) vs blacks(64%) oppose gay marraige.

link:
pewforum.org/docs/index.php?DocID=26

Z

William R. Barker said...

Cathy Young writes...

Mike and Bill: Your double standard for right-wing and left-wing speech is so obvious, it's not even funny. Of course I know that Ann Coulter is not seriously advocating anyone's assassination or lynching. But you're not willing to make similar excuses for Randi Rhodes' Bush assassination skit, are you?

Mike and Bill: Your double standard for right-wing and left-wing speech is so obvious, it's not even funny. Of course I know that Ann Coulter is not seriously advocating anyone's assassination or lynching. But you're not willing to make similar excuses for Randi Rhodes' Bush assassination skit, are you?

----------------------------

SURE I AM, CATHY!!! I never said, wrote, or indicated anything to the contrary!!!

I never frigg'n MENTIONED Randy Rhodes!!!

Jeez, Cath... tone down the innuendo and unwarranted attacks. Frankly, you're being really obnoxious and - your blog or not - this type of behavior is absolutely unacceptable, rude, and petty.

You weren't actually "questioning" me, Cathy; you were ACCUSING me.

Well, in any case, I've answered your question. I look forward to your apology.

BILL

Cathy Young said...

Bill: to be honest, I found the tone of your post to me pretty obnoxious as well. I suggest you re-read this:

Cath... I'm begg'in ya, kiddo... get off the "Ann Coulter is the devil" bandwagon. (*GRIN*) Seriously... I know she's one of your "go to" gotcha picks... but she's simply not much more than "in your face" and yes, oftentime obnoxious, "entertainment."

Maybe you think you're being cute and friendly, but it comes off as obnoxious, rude, and condescending. I don't particularly appreciate being told what I should and shouldn't write about. I particularly don't appreciate it in this kind of tone. And if you want to talk about "accusing"... how about this:

Cathy - while certainly not a liberal or Democrat by ANY stretch of the imagination - makes a habit of going out of her way and really "reaching" in order to try and show a "balance" between the loony-left faction of the Democratic MAINSTREAM and the wacky-right of the MAINSTREM Republican Party. (*SMILE*)


And by the way, while you didn't say anything about Randi Rhodes, I also didn't see you objecting to Mike citing her Bush assassination skit as something that deserved equal attention with Pat Robertson's comments.

As for Ann Coulter, any self-respecting conservative should consider her an embarrassment.

Revenant said...

I thought I'd point out just how many Americans are on the same page as Pat Robertson (despite assertions to the contrary):

Hold on a minute. If all Pat was saying was that God gave Israel to the Jews and that the new Israel was a sign of the second coming nobody would consider that newsworthy. There's nothing wrong with either belief.

Pat is under fire for claiming that God stuck down Sharon for "dividing the land". Is *that* a belief widely held by Americans? I doubt it.

Cathy Young said...

I agree, Rev -- that's hardly "on the same page."

William R. Barker said...

Cathy wrote...

And by the way [Bill], while you didn't say anything about Randi Rhodes, I also didn't see you objecting to Mike citing her Bush assassination skit as something that deserved equal attention with Pat Robertson's comments.

================================

So now I'm under some obligation to "object" to EVERYTHING I don't agree with written by you or anyone else on this blog??? Boy... pretty high standard. (*SMIRK*)

But anyhow... since you freely ADMIT that I never mentioned Randy Rhodes and thus logically you had NO cause to unjustly and incorrectly declare (yes... in the form of a "question," but unless I'm mistaken you meant it as more of am assumption/accusation) that I had EVER accused Randi Rhodes of seriously calling for Bush's assasination... all I can do is reiterate my initial chidding of you.

And by the way, Cath... I *am* a pretty friendly guy... "cute" is in the eye of the beholder.

Regarding your other false claim that I told you what you should and shouldn't write about...

Never, Cath! Just the opposite. All I asked was that you didn't falsely accuse me of holding positions I don't hold. I've written time and time again throughout numerous threads words to the effect that "this is Cathy's blog and she's free to focus on whatever she wants to focus on."

Finally... as to my freely and forthrightly posted contention that you bend over backwards to try and show a rough equivilency to "bad right" vs. "bad left" with regard to degree and nature... I stick by it. If you feel insulted I'm sorry and it's not my intent to insult you... but I call 'em like I see 'em and as I did with the Rhodes example you're free to "defend" yourself and try to convince me I'm wrong.

You see, Cath... I have an open mind. I consider the possibility that I misread you! (*SMILE*) Are you as open-minded?

Cathy Young said...

William: so, are you willing to stand up and say that conservative commentators and bloggers such as Michelle Malkin are being silly when they cite the Randi Rhodes skit as an example of how vicious and unhinged the left has become?

I'm sorry about my curt tone, though apparently you simply don't see how insulting (however unintentionally) your post was toward me. Incidentally, "chiding" is something you do to a child or a servant. When you address an adult and an equal, you criticize them.

I stand by my claim that you have an egregious double standard toward nasty speech on the right and on the left. Your earlier claim that Julianne Malveaux's crack about how she wishes Justice Thomas's wife would feed him lots of fried foods so he would die early was immeasurably worse than Coulter's "impeach or assassinate" proves that in abundance.

William R. Barker said...

And so we've both had our say, Cath. On to other topics. I'm sure we'll revisit this issue in the future, though. Always feel free to ask me direct questions and I'll do my best to respond to them.

P.S. - To answer your question regarding whether I think Malkin was being silly when she cited the Randi Rhodes skit as an example of how vicious and unhinged the left has become...

1) Again... RESPECTFULLY... may I remind you that I never brought up Malkin or Rhodes???

2) Since I'm not familar with the specific writings or sayings of Malkin that you're referring to with regard to criticism of Rhodes...NOR have I actually heard or seen Rhodes' skit (seeing or listening to it would be better than reading toneless text, you'd agree?)... it's hard for me to give my opinion.

Perhaps this will suffice: If YOU say it's clear Rhodes' was engaging in black humor rather than serious policy prescription... I gladly and happily take your word for it.

Fair enough, Cath?

BILL

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