Christian Coalition founder Pat Robertson said on CNN that he warned George W. Bush about casualties before going to war with Iraq, but the president dismissed him by saying “We’re not going to have any casualties.”
The religious broadcaster shared the story Tuesday on “Paula Zahn Now,” according to a program transcript.
“I met with him down in Nashville before the Gulf War started. And he was the most self-assured man I ever met in my life,” Roberston said of the meeting with Bush prior to the March 2003 invasion.
“You remember, Mark Twain said, ‘He looks like a contented Christian with four aces.’ He was just sitting there, like, I’m on top of the world, and I warned him about this war. I had deep misgivings about this war, deep misgivings. And I was trying to say, Mr. President, you better prepare the American people for casualties.
“Oh, no, we’re not going to have any casualties.
“Well, I said, ‘It’s the way it’s going to be.’ And so, it was messy. The Lord told me it was going to be a.) a disaster and b.) messy. And before that, I had deep–in my spirit–I had deep misgivings about going into Iraq.”
U.S. military deaths in Iraq totaled 1,102 in a Pentagon report released Tuesday. Another 8,000 troops have been wounded, according to CNN, with casualties increasing significantly during the last six months.
Robertson said he believed President Bush should admit his mistakes to the American people, something he avoided in three televised debates. Asked why the president had not done so, Robertson, a former presidential candidate, replied: “I don’t know this politics game. You can never say you’re wrong, because the opposition grabs on it. ‘And, you see, he admitted he screwed up.’ And so I don’t know.”
Robertson said he suspected Bush went to war with Saddam Hussein because: “I just think he was so sure that this man was a tyrant, he was evil and he needed to be taken out. I mean, he just felt it.”
He also said the president was likely influenced by advisers saying, “Mr. President, go get him, and we will liberate these oppressed people.”
Robertson said Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry is “a good senator, probably,” but “he ought to stay in the Senate.”
Robertson said in January that he believed God was telling him Bush would win re-election in a “blowout.” On Tuesday he revised that forecast.
“I thought it was going to be a blowout, but I think it’s razor thin now,” he said. “But the president, in my opinion, in the next couple of weeks–we only got two more weeks–is going to pull ahead of Kerry and I think he will have a substantial Electoral College victory when it’s all over.”
Robertson repeated earlier claims that God is blessing President Bush but acknowledged a person can be a Christian without being a Republican.
“Well, I was a Democrat for about 55 years, so I guess so,” he said. “You know, the party left us. The Democratic Party went far to the left, I think, and left some of us stranded on the beach, so we went to the Republican Party.”
Zahn pointed out that some Christians disagree with him, mentioning Sojourners magazine, which she identified as by admission a “liberal Christian magazine.”
“Semi-socialist,” Robertson replied.
“But they’re running an ad right now that rebuts your claim that God has taken a side in this election,” Zahn said. “They say–quote—’We believe that claims of divine appointment for the president, uncritical affirmation of his policies, and assertions that all Christians must vote for his reelection constitute bad theology and dangerous religion.'”
Roberston answered: “I would never say somebody had to vote for anybody. That would be terrible. I haven’t said that.
“I just said, I think God’s blessing him, and I think it’s one of those things that, even if he stumbles and messes up–and he’s had his share of goofs and gaffes–I just think God’s blessing is on him. And you remember, I think the Chinese used to say, you know, it’s the blessing of heaven on the emperor. And I think the blessing of heaven is on Bush. It’s just the way it is.”
Contacted by EthicsDaily.com Sojourners‘ executive editor said Robertson’s depiction of the magazine as “semi-socialist” reflects “how far from the real world his political commitments have taken him from a biblical faith.”
Describing Sojourners as “a deeply Christian magazine,” David Batstone criticized Robertson for proclaiming “a pro-rich, pro-war, America-right-or-wrong gospel.”
“How is it that the pursuit of justice, liberty and equality came to be regarded in some political circles as ‘semi-socialist?'” he asked.
Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaily.com.