Pat Robertson: Looking Out For Number One

walter-2.jpg Civilizer

Pat Robertson endorsed Rudolph Giuliani today, thereby following in the footsteps of his personal Lord, Savior, and Action Hero by performing a miracle all his own.  He somehow made the Giuliani candidacy even less appealing.

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I will freely admit that I wasn’t quite expecting this one.  I thought Robertson might eventually come around to Mitt Romney, as Mitt is the one plausible Republican most aggressively courting the Christian right and who tried, early in his candidacy, to shed his Massachussetts image.  Given that, I figured Robertson would stand behind Romney on the basis of their shared Christian principles, even though Romney’s version of them is really weird.  But instead, there was Pat in Washington today, slapping Rudolph on the back and lavishing glowing, almost baroque praise like “a proven leader” and, my favorite, “more than acceptable to people of faith.”  I can’t tell you how many nights I spent as a lad, choking back tears of disappointment, and wishing that one day my father would tell me that he found me “more than acceptable.”

How Giuliani is A-OK for people of faith is a puzzler.  When he entered the race, he made it a point to re-affirm his support for gay rights, abortion, and gun control, the kinds of opinions that don’t get you invited for an afternoon of milk and wafer at Regent University.  Robertson condemns abortion in the strongest language possible.  He not only condemns it as evil, but runs the full crazy mile by linking it to natural disasters and terrorist attacks.  To wit:

“You know, it’s just amazing, though, that people say the litmus test for [Supreme Court nominee John G.] Roberts [Jr.] is whether or not he supports the wholesale slaughter of unborn children. We have killed over 40 million unborn babies in America. I was reading, yesterday, a book that was very interesting about what God has to say in the Old Testament about those who shed innocent blood. And he used the term that those who do this, “the land will vomit you out.” That — you look at your — you look at the book of Leviticus and see what it says there. And this author of this said, “well ‘vomit out’ means you are not able to defend yourself.” But have we found we are unable somehow to defend ourselves against some of the attacks that are coming against us, either by terrorists or now by natural disaster? Could they be connected in some way? (700 Club, September 12, 2005)

Giuliani, on the other hand, has bluntly stated throughout his public career that he is pro-choice; he doesn’t even support a ban on partial-birth abortion.  Pat Robertson endorsing a guy like Giuliani is like a vegan marrying Colonel Sanders.   

So I wasn’t expecting this, but I am not surprised in the least.  This will (or, should) come as news to no one, but Pat Robertson is of the most repugnant breed of Christian.  The strain that uses the unique place of Christianity in American society as nothing but a vehicle to achieve power and influence, power and influence of the kind that are based upon fear, bigotry, prejudice, sanctimony, and divisiveness.  He has made his reputation by telling his followers who they should hate, who is evil, and who is out to get them.  I’m a Catholic, which means I don’t read the Bible much, but I’m pretty sure that Jesus didn’t get as popular as he is by advocating those sorts of things – but I don’t own the King James version, so maybe that stuff’s all in there.  In any event, while it’s somewhat unexpected that Robertson endorsed a candidate whose views are rejected by those people foolish enough to believe what the reverend says every week, it’s not at all surprising that Robertson has completely abandoned many of his core principles when he chose to back a candidate.  Robertson doesn’t have values, or even faith, only a lust for power – and Giuliani is the leader in the Republican polls

So forget those unborn kids that Robertson professes to love so much…if he hitches his horse to the right wagon, he could end up with a good buddy in the White House, one that owes him a few favors.  And what better way to regain the influence that Robertson has been steadily losing amongst Christian conservatives?  If it hasn’t been proved already, it certainly has been now: the question for the reverend isn’t What Would Jesus Do, it’s What Is Best For Pat?  

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Hillary Clinton: The Piñata That Won’t Give Up The Candy

walter-2.jpg Civilizer

Newsweek poll released this weekend gives the damage report from the big Democratic pile-on last week, which saw the candidates chasing Hillary Clinton do their best to unhorse the Senator from New York with broadside after rhetorical broadside.  The attacks were frequent and varied, confronting Clinton on her Iran resolution vote, her reluctance to make certain documents from her time as First Lady public, and her tendency to engage in “doubletalk.”  So after absorbing a sustained, at times withering attack from her fellow Democratic candidates, how much damage was done to Hillary?  According to the poll, not much.

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In other news, an X-ray from Sen. Clinton’s recent medical examination has leaked.  The Senator was revealed to be an indestructible robotic intelligence. [source: The New England Journal of Medicine]

Clinton retained her spot at the top, claiming 44% of the Democratic vote for the nomination, according to the poll.  Barack Obama remains in second, with 24%, and actually lost a point from August.  John Edwards and his pretty hair lost two points to slide to 12%.  Which isn’t to say that the opposition didn’t try really hard – here are some of the haymakers thrown Hillary’s way:

  • Senator Clinton in her campaign, I think, has been for NAFTA previously, now she’s against it. She has taken one position on torture several months ago and then most recently has taken a different position. She voted for a war, to authorize sending troops into Iraq, and then later said this was a war for diplomacy. I don’t think that — now, that may be politically savvy, but I don’t think that it offers the clear contrast that we need. (Obama)

  • Senator Clinton says that she believes she can be the candidate for change, but she defends a broken system that’s corrupt in Washington, D.C. She says she will end the war, but she continues to say she’ll keep combat troops in Iraq and continue combat missions in Iraq. To me, that’s not ending the war; that’s the continuation of the war. (Edwards)

  • Well, I just listened to what Senator Clinton said, and she said she wanted to maximize pressure on the Bush administration. So the way to do that is to vote yes on a resolution that looks like it was written literally by the neocons? I mean, has anyone read this thing? I mean, it literally gave Bush and Cheney exactly what they wanted. (Edwards)

  • We have just gone through one of the most secretive administrations in our history, and not releasing, I think, these records at the same time, Hillary, as you’re making the claim that this is the basis for your experience, I think, is a problem. (Obama)

  • I mean, another perspective on why the Republicans keep talking about Senator Clinton is, Senator, she — they may actually want to run against you, and that’s the reason they keep bringing you up. (Edwards)

  • Whether it’s fair or not fair, the fact of the matter is that my colleague from — from New York, Senator Clinton, there are 50 percent of the American public that say they’re not going to vote for her. (Dodd)

hillary-clinton-debate.jpgAnd then of course there was the made-for-attack-ad flip-flop on New York Governor Elliot Spitzer’s drivers’ licenses for illegal immigrants plan.  No matter which way you cut it, Hillary Clinton got blitzed and driven to the turf several times last Tuesday, and yet when she left the field, her jersey looked like Tom Brady’s does most weeks – not a grass stain to be found.  I’m a bit bewildered, as these were not your typical irresponsible, slash-and-burn, win-at-all-costs attacks, but rather some fairly substantive policy-related arguments.  The vote in the Senate to label the Revolutionary Guard a terrorist group can provide a pretext to go to war with Iran (though for the record, I don’t think we’ll do that no matter what – as a matter of simple logistics, the armed forces have been too depleted by Iraq, and air strikes would not have a decapitating effect, would turn the Iranian population firmly against us, and might lead Iran to shut down the Strait of Hormuz, and then hello, $8 a gallon oil).  Clinton does have a record of staking out politically expedient positions and sounding awfully Republican at times, which ought to undercut her credibility as a true Bush alternative.  And Clinton does have serious electability issues in the general round.  Despite her rivals pointing all these out, Clinton emerged as the Teflon candidate.

So what does this mean?  Well, first, you’re going to see her camp pushing the “inevitability” angle a lot more.  But more interestingly, it might be time for the “politics of personal destruction” to slither into the race.  If Hillary keeps her lead up, and the other candidates realize that going after her on substance, for whatever reason, isn’t working, they might decide it’s time to call in their hatchet men.  This is where Hillary might be in serious trouble, because her shady past is a pretty deep well.  There’s the ethically questionable Rose Law Firm, the Whitewater scandal, the Lincoln bedroom sleepovers for big donors, and absconding with White House (i.e. your) furniture in 1999 before she left for New York.  Also, you may or may not be aware of this, but her husband is a bit of a skirt-chaser. 

Democrats may have their minds made up already, and going negative can often backfire.  However, when rivals make salient political arguments, arguments that Clinton doesn’t always answer very well, and nothing happens to her, you have to wonder – is Clinton really who the Democrats want, or is it simply possible that nobody’s paying attention?

Much Easier Being Green: Trend Or Paradigm Shift?

treebeard.jpg Tree-Hugger Civilizer

I can’t decide if the corporate scramble to go green is good, bad, or neutral.

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If you don’t think too hard about it, it’s got to be good.  After all, it wasn’t long ago that the environment was completely ignored by virtually the entire market.  Even after the Exxon Valdez belched its goopy contents into Prince William Sound, the effects of a consumptive, consumer economy on the planet didn’t get a lot of traction in the media, and as long as there was no outcry from the public, corporations weren’t going to bother marketing their solutions to a problem that no one cared about. 

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Well, that sure has changed.  The corporate world is tripping all over itself to convince consumers they’re eco-friendly.  That’s good, right?  It’s almost like environmental responsibility is getting baked into the market – and this push for fuel efficiency, clean burning biofuels, energy-efficient electrical appliances, wind and solar power, while not a panacea, at least represent a concerted effort to turn the ship around, don’t they?  I mean, before, we had companies dumping their refuse in the middle of the woods in the middle of the night.  Now, we’ve got waste management companies turning landfills into wildlife refuges.

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Nothing but good can come of this, you could argue.  It represents a new age for the First World economy – our vaunted economies of scale working in reverse.  Hundreds of millions of people burning less gas, using less electricity, recycling more and producing less waste, and the cumulative effect is a far less onerous burden on the planet and its resources.  I would like to point out one thing – this is happening because of market pressure.  Market pressure is not an indefinitely sustainable force…we often start paying attention to other things after a while.  Remember that story about the Gap and child labor this week?  Barely a blip.  But a few years ago, a story like that nipped at the heels of Kathy Lee Gifford and Nike, and followed them around for weeks.  If the public stops caring so much about the environment, it doesn’t mean that companies will completely stop pledging environmentally conscious activities, but it does mean that pledging is about all that will be happening once global warming slides off the front page and nobody is bothering to really audit fuel efficiency, energy efficiency, and waste management practices any more. 

The beautiful thing about a free market economy is that the priorities are directed by the consumer.  And where the environment is concerned, that’s also a free market economy’s greatest liability.