Televangelist Pat Robertson's flip-flop on his fantasy moment as an international assassin reminds me of a famous, if possibly apocryphal, story about David Niven as told by Christopher Buckley.
Niven is standing with another gentleman at the base of a staircase as two ladies in evening gowns descend.
Niven says: "That's the ugliest woman I've ever seen."
Other man replies: "That's my wife."
Niven: "I meant the other one."
Other man: "That's my daughter."
Niven: "I didn't say it."
Like Niven, Robertson backed off his now famous - would that it were apocryphal - remark that the U.S. should assassinate Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. His exact quote from his Christian Broadcasting Network program was:
"You know, I don't know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he (Chavez) thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it."
Seems clear enough. That is one ugly woman. But, no, on Wednesday Robertson said he didn't say it. He said he was "misinterpreted":
"I said our special forces should, quote, 'take him out,' and 'take him out' can be a number of things, including kidnapping," said Robertson.
But then Robertson apparently reconsidered - or re-remembered - and apologized for what he didn't say: "Is it right to call for assassination? No, and I apologize for that statement. I spoke in frustration that we should accommodate the man who thinks the U.S. is out to kill him."
Well, we've all had days like that. You think it might be a good idea to "take someone out" when they're giving your country a hard time . and then you recall that it's illegal, against U.S. policy and, well, a tad un-Christian.
Robertson, of course, is well known for his spontaneous foot tastings. This is the same Pat Robertson who has urged his flock to pray for a U.S. Supreme Court vacancy "one way or the other."
The same Pat Robertson who in 2003 responded to a book criticizing the State Department by saying, "If I could just get a nuclear device inside Foggy Bottom, I think that's the answer. I mean, you get through this (book), and you say, 'We've got to blow that thing up.'"
And the same Pat Robertson who agreed (by nodding his head) with fellow televangelist Jerry Falwell when the latter said that the Sept. 11 attacks were the consequence of "the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way - all of them who have tried to secularize America."