Remember that great scene in The Crucible when John Proctor is pressed to recall the ten commandments and prove his devotion to God? He can remember them all, save one. He stammers, repeating some, but can't seem to come up with ten. His wife, Elizabeth, quietly chides him, "Adultery, John."
Such was playwright Arthur Miller's brilliant, psychological insight. The husband, whose affair with the young Abigail Williams has set a catastrophic sequence of events in motion, can't remember the commandment that names his sin.
Well, Pat Robertson seems to be revealing more and more of the strange, inner workings of his mind, lately. Last week it was a cringe inducing discussion about Shades of Grey. (Women like pornography? Since when?) And now comes this shameless apologia for the career ending indiscretions of General David Petraeus.
Robertson's reasoning goes like this: David Petraeus "is a man." Paula Broadwell is an "extremely good looking woman" and she was "throwing herself at him."
Such boys will be boys defenses of Petraeus's actions are to be expected... just not so much from an evangelical Christian minister on live television. I mean... has Pat Robertson actually read the Bible? It's only the seventh commandment. You know, that list of moral precepts that Robertson and his ilk have been demanding we all need to get back to?
This is varsity level cherry-picking of the Bible. I have been very critical of fundamentalist dissonance on issues like homosexuality -- which is only condemned in obscure passages and not entirely clearly -- and abortion -- which not only isn't forbidden in the Bible, but actually seems to be endorsed. I have yet to see Christian hardliners get as het up about pork, shellfish, polyester blends, and the numerous other things that are forbidden in the holy scripture they claim is the infallible word of God. But most of them at least have the good grace to condemn adultery.
Bear in mind this is the same Pat Robertson who has said things like this:
“When you see the rise of blatant open homosexuality and lesbianism, what you also know is God has given a society up...and we’re at the mercy of the elements, the mercy of war, the mercy of economic disaster.” - 700 Club, 4-26-93 (source: People for the American Way Foundation)
“The concept, the word for homosexual behavior is sodomy. That is what is used in the official documents. It is sodomy. It is repugnant. It has been prohibited and proscribed by sane society throughout countless millennia, centuries. People have understood that it is wrong. Now in America, not only is it happening, it is getting civil rights protection in the law, and these people are invading churches.” - 700 Club, 1-18-94 (source: People for the American Way Foundation)
And my all-time favorite:
"The feminist agenda is not about equal rights for women. It is about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians." - 1992 Iowa fundraising letter opposing a state equal-rights amendment ("Equal Rights Initiative in Iowa Attacked", Washington Post, 23 August 1992)
Cheating on your wife, though. That's cool. You know. If a chick is hot, sometimes you just have to hit that. I'm sure God will understand.
It would be tempting to write this off to senility, but Robertson has too long a history of spouting insane, sexist, patriarchal, nonsense, not to consider this of a piece with his ramblings. The creepy lasciviousness, though, seems new, and less than morally upright. So now we know, Pat Robertson isn't just a hypocrite. He's really just a dirty, old man.