Initially, I wasn’t sure if shock or utter frustration was the dominant emotion evoked by the news of Pat Robertson’s endorsement of Rudy Giuliani. The more I have had time to think about it, the more I’m convinced it’s the latter rather than the former.
On the merits, Robertson’s stated reasons for supporting Giuliani do not measure up to what pro-life voters expect from leaders in the pro-life movement. In announcing his endorsement, Robertson said that he believes “the overriding issue before the American people is the defense of our population from the blood lust of Islamic terrorists” (source). The “overriding issue”? Does he really think that one has to make a choice at this point between protecting the unborn and protecting the nation from terrorists? Isn’t he aware that there are several other candidates who are just as strong on national defense as Giuliani but who are also pro-life? Anyone who cares about protecting the unborn would choose one of the many candidates who is both pro-life and strong on national defense. To back a pro-choice candidate at this point makes no senses at all. This is primary season, after all, not the general election.
But should we really be all that shocked anymore at the gaffes of Pat Robertson? In August of 2005, Robertson recommended that the U.S. government should stage a covert action to assassinate Venezuelan president Hugo ChÃ¡vez, (source). In November of 2005, he suggested that God might afflict Dover, PA with a natural disaster because some citizens there opposed the idea of intelligent design (source). In January of 2006, he said that God had struck Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon with a debilitating disease because of Sharon’s attempt to divide the land of Israel with the Palestinians (source). I’m really not shocked anymore by the things that Pat Robertson says and does. He’s been off the reservation for quite some time.
If anything, Robertson’s endorsement just confirms that fact that he is becoming increasingly irrelevant to conservative evangelical voters. Younger evangelicals are simply embarrassed by him. Older evangelical political leaders do their planning and strategizing without him. As the New York Times notes, “he no longer attends the big strategy meetings of the new leaders” of the religious conservative movement. He wasn’t a part of the group from the Council on National Policy that threatened to run a third party candidate if Giuliani is the nominee, and he wasn’t a player in the “Values Voter Summit” that Tony Perkins and the FRC hosted last month.
All Robertson has done with this endorsement is to show that he is willing to step over the corpses of 40+ million unborn babies to achieve some lesser end. Not only is his political calculation way off, but so is his judgment. Pat Robertson has never been more irrelevant than he is now.