Yesterday it was all over the news pages on the web: Pat Robertson says Ariel Sharon's stroke is an Act of God. I was toying with the idea of writing something about it, but wasn't feeling too excited about the whole idea. Pat Robertson has painted a bull's eye on his chest so many times since he ran for President that sometimes I think it's a deliberate ploy.
He'll make the most outrageous of comments, but in such a manner that when he's rightly pilloried for it, he can back off and look all innocent and confused. "Good gracious" he seems to be saying; "I didn't mean to cause such a ruckus". He will smile his folksy smile, chuckle his little laugh, and shake his head in rueful admission of his own foolishness.
If you keep at him after that he begins to come across like the victim, not the perpetrator in the circumstances. Not just to his followers either, but to anybody who falls for his aw shucks, folksy charm. All of a sudden he looks like the innocent country preacher who's ventured into waters he knows nothing about, and the sharks of the media have gone into a feeding frenzy over nothing of consequence.
The fact that he was able to trivialize calling for the assassination of a head of state into something minor is just one example of the man's political savvy. His experience with the press during his ill fated seeking of the Republican nomination back in 1992 taught him lessons he's not forgotten. He now knows how to use them to his best advantage.
He knows they will over react to anything he says. He can get his name in the news with an ease that most politicians and movie stars would envy. When he drops one of his little bombshells he does it knowing full well what kind of reaction it will elicit. He counts on it because of how well it suits his purposes.
Each time it happens he establishes himself, just that little bit more, as the one voice of reason speaking the word of God in a world increasingly hostile towards Christianity. He doesn't care what the media, or anybody else thinks of him. Every word out of his mouth is addressed to one audience and one audience only: the converted.
He's learned the truly valuable lesson that all politicians have learned when it comes to exploiting the media for their own gain: the almost total refusal of the press to offer any analysis of an event. He knows they will only report verbatim what he says and then seek out an opinion from an opposing source to serve as the rebuttal.