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Endorsement Says More About Pat Than Rudy

November 19, 2007

Pat Robertson has endorsed Rudy Giuliani for the presidency. Excuse me while I yawn.

Apparently, Pat didn't get the memo that Rudy stands for all the things he (Robertson) has claimed to oppose with every fiber of his being for the last forty years. And apparently Rudy didn't get the memo that Pat's influence with the so-called "religious right" peaked about a decade ago and has been declining rapidly ever since.

Dr. Marion G. "Pat" Robertson is a very intelligent man. He holds a law degree from Yale and a doctor of divinity degree from Princeton. He founded the Christian Broadcasting Network, Regent University and the Christian Coalition, the once-powerful pro-family organization formed after his failed 1988 campaign for President of the United States. By any standard, including his dazzling personal wealth, he is, at 77, a highly successful man.

Once upon a time, Pat Robertson's opinion meant a lot among pro-family voters. At the height of its influence, in the 1990s, the Christian Coalition was the flagship organization of the pro-life and pro-family movements. With affiliates in every state and membership rolls in the millions, the Christian Coalition was a political colossus. From 1989 until 1997, under the sure and steady leadership of the organization's young executive director, Ralph Reed, the fortunes of many a federal, state or local politician rose or fell because of the Coalition's potent voter guides, which spelled out candidates' positions on issues of importance to religious conservatives.

But Reed left the Christian Coalition a decade ago, and since that time Robertson has watched his once-mighty organization falter and become a mere shadow of itself. As the Christian Coalition's chairman and president, Robertson went through a succession of executive directors, field directors and state leaders. I know. I was one of them, having served as a Christian Coalition state executive director for three years in the mid-nineties, and having left at the same time Reed did.

Pat Robertson has made some highly publicized statements over the years that have eroded his credibility with social conservatives. He said that hurricanes were part of God's judgment on America. And he told the grieving families of those murdered on September 11, 2001, that their loved ones were snuffed out because of abortion and homosexuality.

For me, however, the last straw with Robertson came well before 9/11, in the spring of 2001, when CNN's Wolf Blitzer asked him about China's abhorrent one-child policy, which has led to a holocaust of forced abortions and other atrocities.

Robertson, who was reported to have had investments in China at the time, said: "I don't agree with it, but at the same time, they've got 1.2 billion people, and they don't know what to do. If every family over there was allowed to have three or four children, the population would be completely unsustainable. I think that right now they're doing what they have to do. I don't agree with forced abortion, but I don't think the United States needs to interfere with what they're doing internally in this regard."

As I wrote in a column at that time, "while it is true that no one has had a greater impact on the conservative political agenda than Pat Robertson, it is also true that it is time for the grand old man of the religious right to retire."

The Christian Right is now leaderless, and Pat Robertson only makes matters worse by continuing to pretend that he speaks for a splintered, disenchanted movement.

Jerry Falwell is gone. Dr. James Dobson says he may endorse a third party candidate, while ignoring solid pro-family Republicans. Activist Christian leaders Paul Weyrich and Bob Jones III have endorsed Mitt Romney. Sen. Sam Brownback dropped out of the race himself and threw his support behind John McCain. And Pat Robertson has endorsed "America's Mayor," the pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage, pro-gun control, pro-illegal immigration Rudy Giuliani.

Once, Pat Robertson spoke for me and my family. Now, sadly, he can't even seem to speak for himself.

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Copyright ©2007 Doug Patton

Doug Patton describes himself as a recovering political speechwriter who agrees with himself more often than not. His weekly columns are syndicated by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate. Readers are encouraged to email him at dpatton@cagle.comand/or to follow him on Twitter at @Doug_Patton.