A cosmic thinker from way back, which all by itself makes him a rarity among prominent public figures, he is also a man of the cloth, which endows his utterances with special gravitas. What gives his observations unusual resonance, moreover, is that he voices them on his very own television show, which commands a loyal and attentive audience of some one million souls.
Unlike many of his fellow preachers who confine themselves to more traditional admonishments of flawed morality and human foible, Mr. Robertson demonstrates scant reluctance to identify with admirable specificity the divine retribution that is destined to issue from sinful behavior. He has warned, for example, of natural disasters wreaking their havoc on Orlando, Fla., because of the congeries of gay visitors to Disney World. And, while there have been the usual meteorological explanations for the inordinate number of hurricanes that have lashed the state, we wonder.
Not surprisingly for a man who sought the presidency, Mr. Robertson has an abiding interest in affairs of state, and his views on that score can also be refreshingly unorthodox. Take his latest pronouncement on Hugo Chavez, the pesky president of Venezuela. As Mr. Robertson explained, Chavez is a bee in our bonnet, a chum of Fidel Castro and, with malice aforethought, is turning his oil-rich country into a “launching pad for communist infiltration and Muslim extremism” in our backyard. So why not just take out the bugger?
A man with a keen appreciation of balance sheets and income statements, Mr. Robertson pointed out that eliminating Mr. Chavez would be a “whole lot cheaper than starting a war” to get rid of the rogue. And he added reassuringly that a little assassination wasn’t apt to interrupt oil shipments.
Needless to say, the shilly-shalliers at the State Department were appalled at the straight-from-the-shoulder proposal and were quick to go public with a rousing denunciation of it as “inappropriate.” After consulting with Defense Department lawyers, Donald Rumsfeld somewhat regretfully opined that it would be illegal.
Predictably, Mr. Robertson’s suggestion prompted a paroxysm of harrumphing from lily-livered liberals and the like (if you don’t like, just leave it at from lily-livered liberals). Jesse Jackson urged the FCC to launch an investigation as it did after Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction during the half-time show at the Super Bowl on the grounds that “This is even more threatening to hemispheric stability than the flash of a breast on television during a ballgame.”
A close call, we’d say.
The fuss proved sufficiently discomforting for Mr. Robertson to cause him to recant. Which, frankly, we feel is a shame. Not that we believe dispatching Mr. Chavez is a particularly compelling priority. But the concept of effecting regime change on the cheap appeals to us.
Certainly, even the most cursory spectator of the global political scene can rattle off the names of at least a dozen no-good-niks who would be ideal candidates for the coup de grâce. And they don’t even have to be mass murderers or ethnic cleansers; blamed nuisances would do fine. And we needn’t worry too much about world opinion: We could always outsource the work. If the administration is right and everything is going to be hunky-dory in Iraq, there’ll be a lot of idle assassins hanging around street corners in Baghdad who’d be only too happy to pick up a few bucks. Or, we could insource the job to the Mafia, whose business, thanks to the zeal of prosecutors and the eagerness of capos to spill the fava beans, isn’t the killer it used to be.
Come to think of it, the approach is fraught with possibilities right here in the good old USA. It might be a quite useful device for our own polity as a kind of permanent term limit for especially deserving office holders. It also might prove an extremely efficacious tool for corporate governance as a means of getting rid of crooked CEOs, a quick and irrevocable way to enhance shareholder value (avoiding those costly golden handshakes, etc). And it holds particular promise for our own beloved Wall Street, where capital crimes are committed every day and the perpetrators live to crow about it.
Thank you, Mr. Robertson.