Ask Pat Robertson

Pat Robertson says his call to halt impeachment was just "political analysis." A look at the reverend's worldly wisdom.

By James Poniewozik
January 24, 1999 1:00AM (UTC)
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Religious broadcaster, former presidential candidate and sweater model Pat Robertson stunned much of the conservative right Wednesday by declaring that President Clinton "hit a home run" in his State of the Union address, and "they might as well dismiss this impeachment hearing and get on with something else, because it's over as far as I'm concerned." The tide must be turning in the president's impeachment trial, it seemed, if one of Clinton's most outspoken critics was now calling on the Senate to drop it and move on.

Or so we thought for a moment. It turns out that Robertson is a big enough man to learn from the pot-smoking draft-dodger he has reviled for years. Backing away from his statement, Robertson revealed that he's able to "compartmentalize" his public actions as well as any skirt-chaser in the White House. "I was speaking in my capacity as a political analyst," Robertson said through a spokesperson. "I was not advocating this, nor do I favor this."


It's a useful reminder that Robertson gives us, for, as viewers of his broadcasts on "The 700 Club" or readers of his columns at the Christian Broadcasting Network Web site know, Pat is no mere fire-breathing prophet of the apocalypse. By goodness, he's as dispassionate, detached and bloodless an analyst of the world political, economic and social scene as any Jeff Greenfield, Lou Dobbs or Cokie Roberts -- a secular prognosticator who sets aside personal passion and dogma to give us his cold-eyed read on the way the ballgame is played.

But in case you don't believe it, we've culled a few examples from Robertson's level-headed oeuvre, from the "Pat's Perspective" section of the CBN Web site.

Here's Pat Robertson, speaking in his capacity as a welfare-reform analyst:


Some years ago I talked one Sunday night to a volunteer receptionist who was completely upset. She was partially disabled, but under revised guidelines she no longer qualified to receive welfare assistance. Her world had collapsed around her. I knew that despite her physical disability, she was uniquely gifted in making exquisite Christmas ornaments with religious scenes. I challenged her to use her talents.

International-terrorism analyst:

They have small nuclear weapons they can bring into this country and detonate in any of our major cities. If you think that's not going to happen in the next few years, you are living in a fantasy world, because the Middle East is a flaming cauldron. All this is a result of America rejecting God ... God is not going to put a hedge of protection around sodomy and abortion.

Personal-finance analyst:

We owe the payment of taxes for the necessary services government renders to us ... (But) when any civil government steps outside the mandate authorized by God Almighty, then that government does not have any further claim over its citizens.

After that, we ask God for our daily bread -- whatever we need to carry out His work. It may be money, a car, food, clothing, a house, or a $20 million budget for a Christian organization.

Clinical-psychology analyst:

As I struggled to wake up, I realized I was under demonic attack. I immediately took control over it and said, "Satan, in the name of Jesus, I cast you forth." The minute I said that, my mind was free and my despair was gone.

Population-demography analyst:

I realized later that the Seattle-Tacoma area led the nation in suicides. The spirit that was coming upon me was a suicidal spirit, the sort of influence that would lead to such depression that a person would wish to kill himself. I was in an area where many had been gripped by this kind of demon.

Music-industry analyst:

And then you add a rock group like Marilyn Manson, who's apparently depraved ...

Divorce-law analyst:

The Pauline privilege (see I Corinthians 7:15), which I mentioned earlier, permits divorce on the grounds of desertion by an unbelieving spouse ... Obviously, a couple composed of two born-again Christians does not fall under the Pauline privilege.

And finally, Pat Robertson, speaking in his capacity as a medical analyst:

Let's assume you had an accident in which your leg is broken. You can say, "I broke my leg. It hurts. But God's power is healing my leg right now. The pain is leaving. Jesus is doing a miracle, and I thank Him for it. I thank Him that regardless of what happened to my leg, a miracle is taking place. Therefore I command my leg to knit together and be healed. Praise God!"

James Poniewozik

James Poniewozik is a Time magazine columnist on TV and media.

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