When I innocently turned on the television last Wednesday to catch up on the weather (can't have the pipes freeze), I was momentarily stunned to witness Christian Broadcasting Network founder Pat Robertson endorse Rudy Giuliani's quest for the White House.
Said Robertson, "It's my pleasure to announce my support for America's mayor, Rudy Giuliani, a proven leader who is not afraid of what lies ahead and who will cast a hopeful vision for all Americans."
He continued, "Rudy Giuliani took a city that was in decline and considered ungovernable and reduced violent crime, revitalized its core, dramatically lowered its taxes, cut through a welter of bureaucratic regulations, and did so in the spirit of bipartisanship which is so urgently needed in Washington today."
I find it extremely entertaining when adherents of whichever party out of favor in government starts squawking about bipartisanship, but I digress.
A lot happens in the course of a general election that can make one snap one's neck around, but this was a huge case of whiplash. Until I thought about it.
Giuliani told The New York Times that he had a long conversation with Robertson on a flight from Israel: "I came away from it with a better understanding of Pat, what he's about, what he's trying to accomplish, and I think he came away with a different impression of me as well. We see the world, in many ways, the same way. Doesn't mean we agree on everything."
Perhaps not, but I suspect the views they do share aren't necessarily the best ones for furthering the cause of liberty, either at home or abroad, and this is why I think Robertson's endorsement of pro-abortion, pro-gay Giuliani makes sense.
First of all, both men are clearly crazy — smart, but nuts.
As I've listened to the candidate's rhetoric, I think that Giuliani's view of American freedom reflects his Roman Catholic heritage and education. For him, politics is a moral contest between good and evil and that the creation of a just authority forces a free people to choose liberty over license. Liberty, in this sense, is not instinctual but the result of citizens using that freedom, guided by authority, to contribute to the good of society.
There's not enough room here for further discussion, but suffice it to say, if you went to Catholic school, you know that AA stands for Aristotle and Aquinas.
For Giuliani, this translated into denigrating a successful first term as NYC mayor with a second term marked by "broken windows" policing, outrageous publicity stunts like the Brooklyn Museum fiasco, and efforts to stay in office after his term expired following 9/11.
It's also no secret that Robertson advocates a punitive version of Christianity, claiming that God routinely brings His wrath upon the United States because the country is too secular. In a well-publicized conversation with the late Rev. Jerry Falwell, Robertson agreed that feminism, homosexuality, paganism, and abortion were the causes of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
After his endorsement, Robertson told The Washington Post that "to me, the overriding issue before the American people is the defense of our population from the bloodlust of Islamic terrorists."
Both men know that fear is a strong motivating force with Americans. They're betting on preventing a Clinton presidency by capitalizing on terrorism apprehensions, largely based upon an unease toward dark-skinned people, of a complacent American electorate.
But while both men frequently ignore the essential message of Chrisitanity of "love your neighbor," it wouldn't be the first time that a religious teaching had been perverted to win an election.