WASHINGTON -- When the founder of the Christian Coalition, who blames national disasters on abortion, gives his support to a thrice-married, pro-abortion, pro-gay-rights Catholic, does religion really matter anymore?
Pat Robertson's endorsement Wednesday of Rudy Giuliani for president just shifted "strange bedfellows" into "the weird turn pro" category. Robertson, who famously blamed Hurricane Katrina on our wanton ways -- and urged the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez -- announced his vote of confidence, saying that Giuliani has "proven time and time again that he is a social conservative."
Except that Giuliani hasn't and isn't, but that's OK because what Giuliani has proved time and again is that he was mayor of New York City on 9/11. And, as Robertson also said, Giuliani can be relied upon to defend the country against "the blood lust of Islamic terrorists."
Robertson's endorsement must have been a sticky moment for Giuliani, who couldn't rightly say, "no thanks," even if he might not relish being captured in the same frame with a man whose fellow evangelicals consider him only intermittently sane.
Generally speaking, politicians can move pretty quickly when they're about to be caught by the camera lens standing next to a fellow known for saying such things as liberal judges are a greater danger to America "than a few bearded terrorists who fly into buildings."
Then again, Robertson still holds sway with a daily average audience of almost 900,000 with his Christian Broadcasting Network's "The 700 Club." And Giuliani shares Robertson's concern about liberal judges, if not his sense that they're more dangerous than terrorists. Every chance he gets, Giuliani assures conservative audiences that, if elected, he'll appoint strict constructionist judges.
To evangelicals such as Robertson, that promise can be understood to mean: "I'm really on your team, but I have to get elected, don't I?"
But even conservative judges and Giuliani's tough posture on terrorism fail to tell what many believe is really behind Robertson's anointing of the most liberal Republican candidate for president. The real issue isn't fetuses or embryos or same-sex unions or bearded bad guys.
When it comes to that ol' time religion, nothing quite sparks the evangelical spirit like the thought of Bill and Hillary back in the White House and all the attendant imagery forever tattooed on buttoned-up brains.