Here’s a little bit of recent history – a January 1988 Time article about Pat Robertson (and Jesse Jackson), their runs for president and church/state matters. Let’s remember that Robertson ended up finishing second in Iowa – beating the sitting Vice President of the United States, registering a million new Christian voters….
Imagine the uproar if a television tape were discovered in which, say, Bob Dole argued that only devout Christians and Jews were entitled to serve in government.
Dole, of course, has never said anything like that. But his G.O.P. rival Pat Robertson made precisely that inflammatory statement in a 1985 broadcast of his 700 Club TV show. Robertson compounded the offense last fall by piously insisting that he had never harbored such sentiments, defiantly at odds with the constitutional tradition of separating church and state.
A month before the Iowa caucuses, has there been any outcry over Robertson’s TV tape? Not a bit. None of the Republican presidential candidates have dared to challenge Robertson on the church-state issue, even though the former televangelist may run third in Iowa. This seeming immunity from reproach is reminiscent of the see-no-evil response to Jesse Jackson’s “Hymietown” slurs about New York City in 1984. The Democrats running last time out made only muted responses to those anti-Semitic comments, nor did they stress Jackson’s ties with black Hatemonger Louis Farrakhan. Last fall Jackson received a similar free ride about a far more minor peccadillo: his brief and ill-advised commercial endorsement of a chain of business schools. Had another candidate made a comparable financial arrangement, his judgment would surely have been attacked.