Upper Left Coast

Thoughts on politics, faith, sports and other random topics from a red state sympathizer in indigo-blue Portland, Oregon.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Robertson apologizes

So Pat Robertson, who called for the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on Monday, has apologized.

The key graph: "Is it right to call for assassination? No, and I apologize for that statement. I spoke in frustration that we should accommodate the man who thinks the U.S. is out to kill him."

OK, apology accepted. But.

I found Robertson's invocation of Dietrich Bonhoeffer to be interesting. He notes Bonhoeffer's reasoning for participating in the attempted assassination of Adolf Hitler: “If I see a madman driving a car into a group of innocent bystanders, then I can’t, as a Christian, simply wait for the catastrophe and then comfort the wounded and bury the dead. I must try to wrestle the steering wheel out of the hands of the driver.”

Robertson goes on to say Bonhoeffer's example "deserves our respect and consideration today."

Leaving aside the urge to argue against comparing anything to Nazi Germany, is Robertson saying that Chavez and Hitler are somehow morally equivalent? Would he use this same reasoning to advocate bombing of abortion clinics or shooting abortion doctors?

And is he apologizing because he thinks what he said was wrong? Or is he giving the politician apology: "I'm sorry if you were offended by my comments, even though I don't take them back. If I could do it again, I'd say the same thing, I'd just rephrase it."

The last paragraph of his "clarification" makes me think the latter:
There are many who disagree with my comments, and I respect their opinions. There are others who think that stopping a dictator is the appropriate course of action. In any event, the incredible publicity surrounding my remarks has focused our government’s attention on a growing problem which has been largely ignored.
As an aside, I see that then-Bill Clinton advisor George Stephanopoulos wrote a 1997 Newsweek column headlined, "Why We Should Kill Saddam."

According to Newsmax, he wrote: "Assassination may be Clinton's best option. If we can kill Saddam, we should."

And predictibly, the press had no comment because it was one of their own making the comment.


  • At 8/25/2005 11:06 AM, Blogger spencer1948 said…

    There was a Mother Jones' article which listed all of the noteworthy people who supported assassinating Saddam at the time.


    I also recall, as an aside, that Saddam challenged Bush to a duel but Bush, not surprisingly, declined.

  • At 11/27/2007 12:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Pastor to Presidents

    Graham has had a personal audience with every sitting United States President since Harry Truman.[10] He visited in the Oval Office with Truman in 1950, urging Truman to counter communism in North Korea. However, Graham and his accompanying pastors were not aware of Washington protocol; they appeased the press corps waiting outside with details of the visit, with the three pastors even acquiescing to the calls of the press to kneel on the White House lawn, as if praying.[10] This led to Truman calling Graham a "counterfeit" publicity seeker, and Truman did not speak to Graham for years afterward.[2][10] Graham has often told the story, usually as a warning that he would not reveal his conversations with world leaders.[10] Graham became a regular in the Oval Office during the tenure of Dwight Eisenhower, who he urged to intervene with federal troops in the case of the Little Rock Nine,[2] and it was at that time, on a Washington golf course, that he met and became close friends with Vice-President Richard Nixon.[10] Eisenhower asked to see Graham on his deathbed.[16] Graham also counseled Lyndon B. Johnson, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, and the Bush family.[9]

    The single notable exception among modern presidents is John F. Kennedy, with whom Graham golfed; but Kennedy was Roman Catholic;[17] Graham enjoyed a friendship with Nixon and prominently supported him over Kennedy in the 1960 presidential election.[2] Nixon wrote to Graham after that election: "I have often told friends that when you went into the ministry, politics lost one of its potentially greatest practitioners."[2] Graham spent the last night of Johnson's presidency in the White House, and he stayed for the first night of Nixon's.[16]

    After Nixon's victorious 1968 presidential campaign, Graham was an adviser, visiting the White House and leading some of the private church services that the President organized there.[10] Nixon offered Graham the ambassadorship to Israel in a meeting they had with Golda Meir, but Graham turned down Nixon's offer.[2] Nixon appeared at one of Graham's revivals in East Tennessee in 1970; the event drew one of the largest crowds to ever gather in Tennessee.[10] Nixon became the first President to give a speech from an evangelist's platform.[10] However, their friendship became strained when Graham rebuked Nixon for his post-Watergate behavior and the profanity heard on the Watergate tapes; they eventually reconciled after Nixon's resignation.[10] Graham announced at that time, "I'm out of politics."[4]

    After a special law was passed on his behalf, Graham was allowed to conduct the first religious service on the steps of the Capitol building in 1952.[2] When Graham was hospitalized briefly in 1976, three Presidents called in one day to wish him well: former President Nixon, current President Ford and President-Elect Carter.[16]

    He was one of Reagan's personal guests at his inauguration and gave the benediction at George H.W. Bush's inauguration.[16] He stayed at the White House the night before George H.W. Bush (who called Graham "America's Pastor") launched the Persian Gulf War.[9] Two days before the 2000 presidential election, Graham spoke at a prayer breakfast in Florida with George W. Bush in attendance but did not officially endorse him.[citation needed] At a New York revival in 2005, Bill Clinton recalled how he had attended Graham's revival as a boy in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1959.[4]

    Graham has also spoken at one presidential funeral and one presidential burial. Graham presided over the graveside services for President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1973 and took part in eulogizing the former President with former Texas Democratic Governor John Connally, an LBJ protégé and fellow Texan who was wounded in the assassination. Graham also spoke at Connally's funeral and the funeral of former First Lady Pat Nixon within one week of each other in June 1993.[2] He also spoke at the funeral of Richard Nixon in 1994. Graham was unable to officiate the state funeral of Ronald Reagan on June 11, 2004, because of recent double hip replacement surgery, which former President George H.W. Bush acknowledged during his eulogy. Graham had been Reagan's first choice. Because Graham was hospitalized, Rev. John Danforth, a Missouri Republican Senator during Reagan's tenure, officiated the funeral. Failing health prevented Rev. Graham from officiating at the state funeral of former President Gerald R. Ford in Washington D.C., on January 2, 2007, as well as the funeral of former First Lady Lady Bird Johnson in July 2007.

    [edit] Foreign policy views

    Graham has been outspoken against communism and supportive of U.S. Cold War policy, including the Vietnam War. However, in a 1999 speech, Graham discussed his relationship with the late North Korean dictator Kim Il Sung, praising him as a "different kind of communist" and "one of the great fighters for freedom in his country against the Japanese." Graham went on to note that although he had never met Kim's son and current North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il, he had "exchanged gifts with him."[18]


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