All the big papers and pundits (NYT
, NY Daily News
)are missing the point. Make no mistake about it. Pat Robertson is a liar and a thief, a master charletain, a snake oil salesman that preys mostly upon gullible Christians. But he is smart, as Steve Gilliard pointed out yesterday. (link
) As the son of a former US Senator from Virginia and as a former presidential candidate himself (though he never made it past the primaries), Robertson also understands the dynamics of a political campaign. He knows the potential negative impact his comments could have on Bush's chances for re-election.
So why did Robertson say Bush told him there would be no Iraq casualties? It's probably a mixture of things. There is the distinct possibility that he made this comment as payback for some perceived slight by Bush insiders. Maybe he hasn't gotten as high a profile as he would like. Maybe his phone calls have gone unanswered. Etc., etc.
This administration has a plethora of oversized power-hungry egos looking for an opportunity to push out potential challengers with a sharp elbow when the cameras aren't watching. Cheney and Rumsfeld have both had failed presidential bids, Rove's lust for power is well-documented, and the pResident's body language betrays his belligerence even if you haven't read any of the increasing number of insider stories that confirm it. And that's just most of the major White House players and doesn't include the healthy supporting cast of imperialistic neocons like Richard Perle or Paul Wolfowitz and partisan thugs like DeLay and Gingrich. So it is entirely possible that Robertson feels he has been thrown one or more elbows and that he is just returning the favor.
But I think the biggest reason Robertson said Bush told him there would be no Iraq casualties is that he has lost confidence in Bush's leadership and wants to undermine public confidence in the pResident even as he pretends to support Bush. As mentioned above, Robertson plays others for the fool but he isn't easily fooled himself. If Robertson had been slighted but still thought Bush was capable of handling the job without throwing the world into irretrievable chaos, he would not have risked angering the President but would have instead worked to curry favor and find a way to make himself an invaluable asset. That's the way he works.
If this is the case, if Robertson has lost faith in the President's ability to handle the job, it doesn't really matter if the story about Bush's Iraq comments is true. The more the White House and Bush surrogates seek to deny it, the more play it gets in the press. It is a perfect poison pill because it can't be disproven and it raises questions in the public consciousness about the President's judgment a mere two weeks before the election. And there is no way Robertson unleashed this poison pill by accident.
Robertson and the pResident both seem to have the troubling habit of confusing what they think, their gut instinct, with the voice of God whispering divine insight and guidance. Since Robertson is smarter, his version of God's voice usually comes off looking a good bit smarter than the President's inner voice. Since Robertson says that God told him Iraq "was going to be a), a disaster, and b), messy," one can reasonably infer that Robertson realizes that if the President were as smart as a President needs to be he too would have realized the potential messiness of Iraq and would have prepared better.
This doesn't even get to the ludicrous notion of competing voices of God. Frankly, I don't think God talks very much to charletains or stubborn jackasses. But if he/she did I think it would be a clear message like "repent or die" or "get out of the way or get fried." I'm pretty sure God wouldn't tell one person that there was a need to prepare the US for casualties and tell another person there wouldn't be any casualties. I think you can take that one to the bank and trade it for cash.