The only fawning stroke that Pat Robertson failed to offer President Trump in this morning’s sit-down was a big, wet kiss. Sports metaphors abound. He lobbed softballs ― actually, it was more like t-balls ― for the President, because, well, Pat’s significant tribe of Evangelical Christians voted for the guy. Moreover, they like him! They really like him. Hey, Mikey!
I apologize for the light-heartedness, because this was an important cultural moment, and we all need to pay attention. The interview ended discussing the “visceral hatred” from “the left” and with taking a shot at the press in the same breath. This is because both men view the press as a liberal adversary - extraordinary even - that treats the President unfairly. “That’s why I do interviews with you,” the President told Pat. After the interview, Robertson told his 700 Club audience that, “We didn’t talk about that garbage - referring to that which is dominating the news about his administration - because people don’t care about it.”
“They care about jobs,” he continued, “and health care. The man is doing remarkably well. The people love him.”
The people Pat Robertson is referring to are his Evangelical Christian base, eighty-three percent of whom voted for Trump in the election. These are the people that I helped “train” as Pat’s Executive Producer in the 1980s, which is just one of the reasons I wrote The Gospel of Self: How Jesus Joined the GOP. The line between politics and the church has been fuzzy for decades, but President Trump has now repealed the Johnson Amendment, which prohibited tax exempt organizations, such as churches and preachers, from directly speaking about politics from the pulpit. This move effectively turns all religious institutions - even amateur ones - into lobbying organizations, and it’s hard to imagine evangelicalism won’t be at the very top of that list. Robertson went on to talk about how well the White House is functioning despite efforts by the New York Times and the Washington Post to suggest it is in complete disarray.
Here are some examples of issues that Pat Robertson feels are going so well according to his questioning in the interview:
North Korea - Trump says China is key and that we have leverage with the Chinese through trade.
Terrorism - Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia is putting the squeeze on terrorists by going after their funding. ISIS is almost done.
Russia - Putin wants what’s best for Russia; Trump wants what’s best for the U.S. We “need” some kind of a relationship, because we’re super powers.
Nuclear weapons - Imagine how weak we’d be if Hillary had been elected. She was going to decimate the military.
Federal Regulations - This is seen as the ultimate blight on the economy, and President Trump as the hero providing relief.
Obamacare has to go - “Repeal and replace” is the answer. Senators need to do their job.
Small business needs a tax cut - Cutting the corporate tax will be easy after healthcare. “This will be the largest tax cut in the history of the United States,” according to the President.
Infrastructure - We’ve spent almost seven trillion dollars in the Middle East and we have absolutely nothing to show for it. Pat suggested he use a “big slush fund” that the Federal Reserve has on hand.
Pat was clearly very much in sync with Trump’s entire vision and government and predicted that he would be easily re-elected if he is able to get health care and taxation under control. He reminded the President that thousands and thousands of Christians are praying for him and will continue to do so.
Nothing presented here today was surprising or revealing, but it was a strong reminder of how far to the right we’ve moved as a country. Pat Robertson was and always will be a representative of the aristocrats, and he views life through that lens. As such, he has made the beliefs of the ruling class the beliefs of the Gospel of Self, which is a living, breathing dream for the politically conservative. That those farther down the economic scale fully trust their “masters” is the single greatest cultural feat accomplished in the last 100 years or more, and it perplexes those who rely on education and reason. This is why I called the interview today “an important cultural moment,” for if the observers continue to ignore this happening, more surprises will be in store at the polling places of America.
Pat Robertson’s vision includes building an Evangelical Christian “shadow government” that will eventually take over when the left completely fails. In Donald Trump, Pat has found his leader.
This wasn’t an interview; it was a reverential hand job.