Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Robertson's Remarks Reflected the President's: Only Regime Change at Home Can Restore Respect for the White House

Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Robertson's Remarks Reflected the President's: Only Regime Change at Home Can Restore Respect for the White House

Article excerpt

It was with a curious sense of deja vu that I listened to Pat Robertson's outrageous call for the United States to assassinate Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. I was sure I'd heard it all before. An Arnold movie?

Then it came to me: Ari Fleischer, former press secretary for President Bush.

In October 2002, as the Bush administration was beating the drum for war in Iraq, Mr. Fleischer was asked about a Congressional Budget Office estimate that a war to topple Saddam Hussein might cost as much as $9 billion a month. Mr. Fleischer replied, "The cost of one bullet, if the Iraqi people take it on themselves, is substantially less than going to war." When such blunt talk of assassination prompted criticism, he clarified his position by stating, "Regime change is welcome in whatever form that it takes."

That was my real moment of outrage. The spokesperson for the president of the United States of America was "welcoming" the murder of another country's president, albeit a dictator. After the Clinton sex scandal, I had been supportive of President Bush's stated resolve to restore dignity to the office of the presidency. Why then was his press secretary talking like a mobster?

I thought at the time that our society had become so inured to violence that even high government officials now expressed themselves in these terms. True enough, but in the intervening three years it has become clear that the problem isn't only with our culture of violence. This particular administration divides the world into "us" and "them" and considers its perceived enemies to be almost subhuman. …

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