So far as I and Google can determine, CNN is the only major news outfit so far reporting on the fatwa Mullah Pat Robertson issued against Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez Monday on "The 700 Club": "If he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it. It's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war .... We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability. We don't need another $200 billion war to get rid of one strong-arm dictator. It's a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with."
Chavez's sin? He's a left-wing populist with close ties to Cuban President Fidel Castro, and he's sitting on one of the major oil supplies in the world. Ah! Even Mullah Robertson's own Christian Broadcasting Network website can't disguise its glittery-eyed fascination with ALL THAT OIL. Here are the two opening sentences of CBN's background article on Chavez: "His name is Hugo Chavez. He is the president of oil-rich Venezuela...." Has lust ever looked more naked?
Chavez has said that he thinks the U.S. is trying to assassinate him (wonder where he got that idea?) and that he might consider cutting off the oil spigot. Robertson cracked under the strain of that suggestion, evidently, throwing in for good measure a wild accusation that Chavez is trying to make Venezuela "a launching pad for Communist infiltration and Muslim extremism all over the continent."
Robertson's utilitarian holiness is very instructive. He's long seen no prohibition in HIS Bible to killing annoying people. In 1999 he called for the lifting of the ban on U.S. government-sponsored political assassinations. In 2003 he off-handedly said that nuking the State Department might be a good idea. And he's recently famous for praying on air for God to "take out" a few more Supreme Court justices.
Not that we always disagree with the letter of the mullah's fatwas. In 1999 he said, "I know it sounds somewhat Machiavellian and evil, to think that you could send a squad in to take out somebody like Osama bin Laden, or to take out the head of North Korea. But isn't it better to do something like that, to take out Milosevic, to take out Saddam Hussein, rather than to spend billions of dollars on a war that harms innocent civilians and destroys the infrastructure of a country?" He said this two years before Osama bin Laden took down the Twin Towers.
He had a point, obviously, borne out by El Presidente's dimness (pre 9/11) and El Presidente's ineptitude (post 9/11). Robertson's frank advice might have saved Bush his present situation. Well, it's OUR situation, our national treasure, our human lives, not HIS. He's off biking somewhere and eating million-dollar barbecue. But we digress. I've always been in favor of surgical killer strikes -- the old Cruise missle through the tent flap -- but then I've also never claimed I was a Christian paragon entitled to lay down the path of holiness for everyone else. In fact, I seem to recall hearing that because I'm a Democrat, I lack a moral compass. If Mullah Robertson is our exemplar of morality, who exactly calibrates his compass? Ivan the Terrible?