Televangelist Pat Robertson, who in 2004 claimed he warned President Bush there would be casualties in the war in Iraq, said Thursday he doubts there is much the president can do to drum up support for his recent decision to send 21,000 more troops.
“I was opposed to this war,” Robertson said on his “700 Club” program. “I felt grave misgivings and have said so on this program a number of times. In my spirit and my heart I felt it was wrong.”
After spending half a trillion dollars on “failed policy after failed policy,” Robertson said, “Now we’re going to try to add a little something more to it, and there’s going to be tremendous opposition in the country.”
“But this is the last shot for the president,” he said. “And he’s so entangled with this Iraq problem that he isn’t able to do much of anything else. His credibility is going down dramatically. So we’ll see what happens. I doubt very seriously if he does a barnstorming tour to try to rally support around the country he’s going to be successful. But you never can tell. There may be enough people in Congress to say, ‘He’s the commander in chief, let’s give him one more shot.’ And this of course is it.”
In 2004 Robertson told CNN’s Paula Zahn that Bush told him in a meeting before the war he didn’t think there would be any casualties.
“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.
“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.”
The White House denied the conversation ever took place.
U.S. casualties in Operation Iraqi Freedom numbered 3,010 as of Friday morning, according to the Department of Defense.
In Wednesday’s speech to the nation, President Bush accepted responsibility for mistakes in Iraq.
That is something Robertson advised back in 2004. Asked why the president did not admit mistakes in televised debates before his re-election, Robertson said: “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 hasn’t always opposed the president’s handling of the war, however. In 2005 he accused Democratic critics of the war of treason. In 2003 he said a decision to minimize civilian casualties met criteria of a just war.
In November Robertson suggested the U.S. solve the crisis in Iraq by handing it to Syria, saying the Bible prophesied peace between Israel and “Assyria,” the new country formed by Syria and Iraq.
Robertson recently made headlines when he said the Lord told him that a terrorist attack on the U.S. would result in mass killing in late 2007.
“I’m not necessarily saying it’s going to be nuclear,” he said. “The Lord didn’t say nuclear.”
Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaily.com.